In Arabian and Muslim folklore jinns are ugly and evil demons having supernatural powers which they can bestow on persons having powers to call them up. In the Western world they are called genies.
In the Old Testament King Solomon had a ring, probably a diamond, with which he called up jinns to help his armies in battle. The concept that this king employed the help of jinns probably originated from 1 Kings 6:7, «And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought there, so there was neither hammer nor axe nor and tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.»
In Islam, jinns are fiery spirits (Qur’an 35. 15) particularly associated with the desert. While they are disruptive of human life, they are considered worthy of being saved. A person dying in a state of great sin may be changed into a jinni in the period of a barzakh, separation or barrier.
The highest of the jinns is Iblis, formerly called Azazel, the prince of darkness, or the Devil. The jinns were thought by some to be spirits that are lower than angels because they are made of fire and are not immortal. They can take on human and animal shapes to influence men to do good or evil. They are quick to punish those indebted to them who do not follow their many rules.
In the «Arabian Nights» jinns or genies came from Aladdin’s Lamp.
There are several myths concerning the home of the jinns. According to Persian mythology some of them live in a place called Jinnistan. Others say jinns live with other supernatural beings in the Kaf, mystical emerald mountains surrounding the earth. A.G.H.
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 502 Riland, George, The New Steinerbooks Dictionary of Paranormal, New York, Warner Books, Inc., 1980, p. 147
Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, New York, Carol Publishing Group Edition, 1996, p 373
Shepard, Leslie A., ed., Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 3rd ed., Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1991