From the World of the Unseen: Five Lessons from the Jinn in the Qur’an

3362649075_af3939c418_bWhen we hear the word “Jinn” nowadays, spooky stories of possessions and ‘haunted’ masajid immediately come to our minds. Jinn have become a source of entertainment for many of us and we do not see this creation as anything beyond a scary story.

However, when we look in the Qur’an, we see a beautiful example in the Jinn who accepted Islam. We can derive many lessons and points of benefit from their story.

Before discussing these lessons, a few background points need to be mentioned regarding the revelation of these verses. The story of the Muslim Jinn is mentioned twice in the Qur’an; once is in Surah Jinn with nearly half the Surah dedicated to their experience, and secondly in verses 29-32 in Surah Ahqaf. The verses from Surah Ahqaf are said to have taken place after the ordeal in Ta’if when the Prophet ﷺ was praying outside of Makkah, while Surah Jinn is said to have been revealed after the Jinn heard the Prophet ﷺ reading Qur’an during Fajr prayer in Makkah. In both of these instances, the Prophet ﷺ was not aware that the Jinn were listening to him, but Allah the All-Knowing revealed their story to him afterwards.

Lesson 1 – The Jinn’s Eagerness and Manner of Listening to the Qur’an

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) begins Surah Jinn, “Say: It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an’.” (72:1) He (The Most High) describes their listening as “istama’a” which is more than just listening. Istima’a is to listen with eagerness and full concentration, so that you do not miss anything.

In Surah Ahqaf, Allah (swt) says, “And [mention, O Muhammad], when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur’an. And when they attended it, they said, ‘Listen quietly’.” (46:29) These Jinn said among themselves, “ansitoo”, which is not only to be silent, but also to be silent for the sole purpose of listening attentively.

Allah (swt) combines both of these powerful words, istima’a and ansitoo, when He commands to listen and pay attention to the Qur’an He says, “So, when the Qur’an is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy.” (7:204) The Jinn were so attentive and cautious when listening to the Qur’an, so how are we when we hear the Words of Allah?

Allah (The Most High) mentions their listening as a threat and warning to the Quraysh tribe. They are turning away from iman (faith/belief) and from the Prophet ﷺ while this creation, the Jinn, are better than them because they believed immediately when emaan was presented to them. The Quraysh were given the Qur’an in their own language and a Prophet ﷺ from their own people, yet they refused and turned away mocking Islam even though they knew the Prophet ﷺ was not a liar and that the Qur’an was a miracle.

Allah (swt) also describes their eagerness to listen to the Prophet ﷺ, “And that when the Servant of Allah stood up supplicating Him, they almost became about him a compacted mass.” He (the Most High) says they were “libadaa,” as if they were pilling on top of the Prophet ﷺ. “Libadaa” literally means the hair that is stacked together. The use of this word shows that these Jinn were all over the place and nearly climbing on top of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. This shows two things; firstly, that many Jinn were present. It was as if there was a traffic jam of Jinn wanting to listen to the Qur’an. Secondly, it shows their eagerness to hear, see, and listen to the Prophet ﷺ.

Lesson 2 – Their Description of the Qur’an

The Jinn describe the Qur’an with the most beautiful of words and they recognized its unique qualities immediately after listening to it.

  • Amazing: The first description the Jinn say about the Qur’an is that it is “’ajaban” – amazing. “Say, It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an’.” (72:1) This word is a masdar (verbal noun) but in this verse it has been used as a description (sifah) of the Qur’an. This is done in the Arabic language to intensify the meaning, so ‘ajaban in this ayah not only means amazing but it also means marvelous and mind-blowing. The Jinn were amazed and impressed when they heard the clarity, the message and sheer beauty and richness of the Qur’an.
  • Guides to Good: In the next verse, they describe the Qur’an as a guide, “It guides to the right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with our Lord anyone.” (72:2) The word used is “rushd” which refers to iman here. Imam Sa’di says that “rushd” refers to all kinds of good that guide man to righteousness in his deen and in his dunya.
  • Guidance: They also describe the Qur’an as a “huda”: guidance. They say, “And when we heard the guidance, we believed in it…” (72:13) Hidayah literally means to guide someone until they reach their destination.
  • Confirming: The Jinn said, “…indeed we have heard a [recited] Book revealed after Moses confirming what was before it…” (46:30). “Musaddiqan’lima bayna yadayh” means it confirms and is true to what came before it – the Torah and previous Books.
  • Guiding to the Truth: They said the Qur’an “guides to the truth” (46:30), meaning it guides to all that is correct and it is not deficient in any way.
  • Guiding to the Straight Path: They said, “[and it guides] to a straight path” (46:30), meaning the path that connects you to Allah and leads you to Him, to knowledge and to Paradise. They describe the path as “mustaqeem” which means a path that is not crooked, but it leads straight to the destination and is easy to remain on it.

Lesson 3 – Their Adab with Allah (The Most High)

The Jinn continue on to say, “And we do not know [therefore] whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intends for them a right course” (72:10). In this verse, they are referring to the fact that they cannot listen to the gathering of the Angels in the heavens as they used to, so they say here that they do not know what their Lord has intended through this. The beauty of this is how they used the passive form when mentioning evil, and the active form when mentioning the guidance of Allah (swt). In other words, they do not ascribe evil to Allah (swt), but they ascribe good to Him, even though everything is from Him. This shows their good thoughts of Allah (swt) and their adab (manners) with Allah. Ibn Kathir says in his tafsir that the Jinn wanted to know the reason why they could not sit in the heavens and listen to Angels anymore, so they went out in search of an answer and found the Prophet ﷺ. They realized that he was the reason, so they listened to him and submitted.

These Jinn also had good thoughts of the people, and they could not imagine that anyone would lie against Allah (swt). They said, “And we had thought that mankind and the jinn would never speak about Allah a lie” (72:5). The Jinn give this as their reason for why they were following Shaytan. They could not fathom anyone lying against Allah (swt), so they followed Shaytan believing what he was saying was true. When they heard the Qur’an, they immediately knew that Shaytan was a liar. We see here that even though these Jinnat were pagans, they could not imagine anyone lying against Allah (swt).

The Jinn were also humble and knew their status as slaves of Allah (swt). They said, “And we have become certain that we will never cause failure to Allah upon earth, nor can we escape Him by flight” (72:12). They knew that Allah (swt) prevails over them and that they cannot harm Him in any way. Compare this humility to the arrogance of Pharoah! These Jinn immediately understood the Power and Might of Allah after hearing the Qur’an.

Lesson 4 – Their Understanding of Iman and Tawheed

Right after they describe the Qur’an as amazing and that it guides to the right path, they said, “so we have believed in it” (72:2). The “fa aa manna bih” here means “as a result”, showing their belief was immediate. They continue to say, “And we will never associate with our Lord anyone.” (72:2) This is proof that they were Mushrikeen before and that if you have iman, you cannot associate partners with Allah (swt).

The Jinn understood the message of the Qur’an, while we humans focus on secondary issues. The core of the Qur’an is tawheed (God’s Oneness) and the Jinn connected to this right away.

They also understood: “exalted is the nobleness of our Lord; He has not taken a wife or a son” (72:3). Allah is Exalted, The Most High, Majestic and Noble therefore it is not suitable for Him to have a son or wife. It is not suitable for Allah (swt) because He is Perfect, and having a wife or child would make Him deficient.

The Jinn also say, “And that our foolish one has been saying about Allah an excessive transgression” (72:4). They called those who do not understand iman as “safeeh”, which means someone who is not intelligent and does not have any intellect. Mujahid says that the ‘safeeh’ is Shaytan because he calls them to commit shirk.

Lesson 5 – Their Da`wah to their People

Surah Jinn mostly discusses the reaction of the Jinn to the Qur’an, but Surah Ahqaf discusses how the Jinn gave da`wah to their people.

Allah (swt) says, “And [mention, O Muhammad], when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur’an. And when they attended it, they said, ‘Listen quietly.’ And when it was concluded, they went back to their people as warners” (46:29). They immediately gave da`wah after hearing the Guidance! How often do we give da`wah and many of us have had Islam for our whole lives?

We can take many lessons from their da`wah tactics:

  • The way they call their people. “They said, “O our people, indeed we have heard a [recited] Book revealed after Moses confirming what was before it which guides to the truth and to a straight path” (46:30). They say “our people” – they did not call them disbelievers or misguided, or disassociate from them. Many Muslims nowadays make the grave mistake of denouncing their family and friends, while these Jinn reminded their people that they are from them as well and that they are connected.
  • They established credibility. “They said, “O our people, indeed we have heard a [recited] Book revealed after Moses” (46:30). They said ‘we heard’ showing their people that this is not a rumor or a tale, but that they were present and listening to the Qur’an.
  • They described and praised the Qur’an. “…Which guides to the truth and to a straight path” (46:30). Before they called their people to believe, they first beautifully described what they heard, in a beautiful manner.
  • They called their people to iman and told them the benefits of believing. “O our people, respond to the Messenger of Allah and believe in him, Allah will forgive for you your sins and protect you from a painful punishment” (46:31).
  • They told them the consequences of not accepting the truth. “But he who does not respond to the caller of Allah will not cause failure [to Him] upon earth, and he will not have besides Him any protectors. Those are in manifest error” (46:32). After they called their people to iman and told them the good that will come from it, they warned them of the consequences of not listening as well. This is the best way of giving da`wah as the Prophet ﷺ was sent as a basheer (one who gives glad tidings) and a nadheer (one who warns). Our da’wah nowadays is not effective because sometimes we sugarcoat our deen and so our da`wah becomes very mechanical and apologetic. The Jinn also mention here that the person who does not accept is not hurting Allah (swt) in any way; believing is only for his benefit and disbelieving will only harm him.
  • Their description of the Prophet ﷺ. They call the Prophet ﷺ, “the Caller of Allah” (46:32) to show that following him will lead you to Allah (swt) and also that he is not calling others to benefit himself but for the sole purpose of showing them the straight path.

We learn from these five lessons that the Jinn are not a ghost-like creation that possess and terrorize people, but that just like humans, there are believers among them and disbelievers. Allah (The Most High) highlights the amazing qualities of these Jinn, and shows us that even though we are the more honored creation, we can learn many lessons from them.

About the author


Amatullah is a student of the Qur’an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta’leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur’an, Tajweed (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work and will be completing a Masters program in 2014. Her experiences include working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement, and accessibility for people with disabilities.

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