Angels and Jinn
Muslim dogma lists humans as the third spiritual creature created, behind that of angels and jinn. Most Christians are familiar with angels. For example, angels guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). Angels worship the Lord by singing his praises (Isaiah 6:3). Angels carry messages from God, such as Michael (Revelation 12:7-8) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19). Islamic tradition indicates that angels do not have free will. Their purpose was to serve God’s will, be it guarding critical passageways or communicating specific messages to Abraham, Mary, or even Muhammad. The Bible also appears to indicate an angel hierarchy. In Jude 9, the angel Michael is called an “archangel” – a title that means authority over other angels. Muslims also believe in angels. In addition to the numberless multitudes of angelic beings, Muslims believe in four archangels: Gabriel, the angel who dictated the Qur’an word by word to Muhammad; Michael, the guardian of the Jews; Israfil, the summoner to resurrection and Izra’il, the angel of death.
Jinn (Jinni singular) are spiritual beings that Muslims place somewhere below angels but above men. Christians, while not recognizing the category, are probably familiar with the name. Jinn are sometimes known as genies, a title which comes from Western folklore. The Western perception of the genie is based on the tale of Aladdin in the book “Arabian Nights” or formally known as “One Thousand and One Nights,” which foretold of a magical genie whose abode was an oil lamp. The genie granted wishes to whoever freed him from the container by polishing it. TV shows such as “The Twilight Zone,” “The X Files,” and “I Dream of Jeanie” all have used variations of this concept.
Islamic tradition suggests the jinn, unlike angels, are beings created with free will. Just like humans, they, too, are required to worship God. On the Day of Judgment, jinn will also face their creator and be taken to Hell or Paradise based on their deeds. Their purpose in life is precisely the same as ours, as indicated in the Qur’an: “I created jinn and mankind to worship me.”
Jinn reside on earth in a world parallel to humankind. They are sturdy, intelligent creatures that are physically invisible from man. The main differences that the jinn have from men are seemingly occult abilities. Jinn are associated with deceiving humans by using their supernatural abilities to be ghosts, magicians, and inanimate objects. Jinn use their powers to possess and take over the minds and bodies of other creatures. Films such as “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” depict examples of personal possession. However, having free will, some Jinn do good deeds, but most references reflect evil intentions.
Another example you may have experienced are contemporary cartoons, and they show a devil and an angel on each shoulder. This picture stems from Islamic traditions, where the Prophet informs the faithful that everyone has two entities — a jinn and an angel, one on each shoulder, which is there to direct us towards good or bad deeds.
The jinn are spiritual beings, and there are several inferences about them in the Bible. For example, in Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6, and 1 Samuel 28:3 and 28:9, there is condemnation to people who use mediums and “spiritists.” In Chronicles 10:13, God castigates Saul for using a medium for guidance instead of the Lord, and in the New Testament, Jesus heals a demon-possessed man (Matthew 12:22). While the Bible does not recognize the word jinn or any equivalent, it does acknowledge that there is trouble with rogue spirits. Muslim theology takes this a step further and identifies these spirits' source as coming from the jinn.
The Qur’an says (16:50) that angels cannot disobey God, yet Satan did. The rational explanation is that Satan is not an angel, but one of the jinn and the Qur’an (18:50) says that as well. According to Christian tradition, Satan is a fallen angel, but Muslims do not accept that theory because they think angels do not have free will.