Jinns: Mohammed’s other OTHER invisible friends.
If you have already read the last post, then you know that jinns have made their Quranic debut. If you haven’t read the last post yet, whoops! I’m sorry for the spoiler. I’m an ass. But you keep coming back here, which makes you an ass, too. High five!
A couple of hours after I posted, I got an IM from a good friend asking, “People don’t actually believe that jinn shit, do they?” And then I got two emails basically asking the same thing. It might be worth discussing further, because, holy hell, the whole thing is just so ludicrous. If you’ve never really heard a jinn story before, you are in for a treat: I’m going to start by telling a jinn story from my own family!
I was really torn about discussing my family too much. It’s personal information that most people are probably not interested in. At the same time, though, my family indoctrinated me with Islam. They filled my head with all kinds of bullshit and it took me a long time to deprogram some of it. So fuck it. I’m dragging them out into the spotlight.
I think I should take a moment to confess that I do have some crazies in my family. You’ve probably already read about my borderline senile grandmother. There’s also my uncle who thinks his dreams are omens, and that he can use them to predict the future. I have another uncle who believes only in homeopathic medicine — he chews plant roots, drinks herbal potions, and constantly wonders why his back problems won’t go away. And a cousin who had the spirit of an old imam living in her closet, and another cousin who communicated with dead people through the Ouija board.
And then there’s my aunt who believes that she was once possessed by a jinn.
…ever wish you were adopted? I do. A lot. A lot lot.
Anyway, this story takes place in the 1960s. My aunt was 15 or 16 years old at the time. Her father had recently died, and she must have been going through a lot emotionally. She started dropping weight like crazy even though she ate normally. Her eyes got all crazy looking. She stopped sleeping, developed a fever that wouldn’t go away, and started losing hair. Then she started physically lashing out at people, scratching them with her nails and pulling at their hair, and she started talking to herself. In gibberish. Oh boy.
Her mom — yes, my grandmother who thought that the left hand is the hand of the devil — called the imam, and he told them that a jinn who lived in a tree had fallen in love with my aunt. This jinn jumped out of the tree and into my aunt, and the only way to get him out was to pray and read the Quran. The imam, being a man of God and all, agreed to boost their GodPower by praying and reading the Quran in my aunt’s bedroom (for a small fee, of course!).
So they did. They prayed and read the Quran over and over until she snapped out of it. Things suddenly went back to normal, and everyone thanked God and the imam. They even paid him extra to sacrifice a goat in God’s name (yes, people actually do that shit, too).
A couple of years later, my aunt was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Here’s a list of symptoms that I found on a medical blog:
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can mimic those of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric symptoms can include psychosis, paranoia, anxiety, social withdrawal, intrusive thoughts of violence or bizarre sexual ideation, cognitive impairment, apathy, depression, mania, irritability and emotional lability.
Gee, that sounds an awful lot like my aunt’s possession, doesn’t it? When I read about the link between hyperthyroidism and schizophrenia a few years ago, I immediately made the connection. I called my aunt to tell her about it. Did she change her mind about what happened now that science could explain it away? Hell no! She reacted in totally the opposite way of what I had imagined. She got mad at me and insisted that she had been possessed.
My aunt is no fundie, I assure you. She isn’t the burka-wearing, praying-5-times-a-day kind of Muslim you see on TV. Yet she really and truly believes that an invisible man made out of smokeless fire had jumped from his fucking tree house into her body, and that he was the one thrashing around trying to scratch people’s eyes out. She honestly believes that prayer and the Quran made him go away.
The Middle East, that’s why. Jinns were a part of Arab mythology long before Islam reared its butt-fugly head. They might even have been worshipped as gods by some pagan tribes. Mohammed stole the idea — I’m sensing a fucking pattern, here — but he puts his own special twist on the jinns. They were now created by God before man. And, like man, but unlike angels, God granted them free will. (Angels in Islam have no free will. They can’t sin and they can’t disobey God. God loves him a good Yes Man!)
One jinn named Iblis actually showed off this free will by refusing to bow before Adam. That’s right. Satan is not an angel, but a jinn. After that little stunt there, satan and his cronies get booted from heaven and officially become shaitan, which literally translates to “adversary.” He somehow manages to sneak past God and get back to heaven. Must have been God’s naptime. And he totally screws over Adam and Eve by tempting Adam to eat from the forbidden tree. Yup, Adam gets tempted by the devil, not Eve. Ha! Suck on that, The Bible. Don’t get too excited, though. Muslim women are basically fucked, regardless of who ate the apple.
That’s it. That’s why my family believes in jinns. A regional myth from thousands of years ago that got co-opted and turned into a religion by a deranged lunatic.
I have to admit, it makes for a decent story. If I hadn’t heard it, oh, 2,384,093,284,392 times already, I might be impressed. I might even buy the book and proudly put it on my bookshelf, right where it belongs: in between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Iliad. Two other books I really enjoyed but didn’t actually fucking accept as reality!
Holy shit, you guys, people believe this bullshit! People I know believe this bullshit! People I’m related to believe this bullshit!! Oh lawsie mercy, the room is spinning. I need to put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag. No, fuck it, I need to wear the fucking bag over my fucking head for the rest of my fucking life.
Do they have a support group for shit like this? Islam Anonymous or something?
Hi, my name is Kafir Girl. And my family believes in jinns.