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Commentary on Surat Al-Jinn


Chapter 72: Surat Al-Jinn
The Jinn
(Selected Verses)

By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

In the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful

  1. Say, it has been revealed to me that some of the Jinn (unseen beings) gave ear to this divine message and thereupon said to their fellow beings, 'We have heard a wondrous discourse.'

  2. And so we have come to believe in it and we shall never ascribe divinity to anyone beside our Lord (our Sustainer).

  3. For we know that exalted is our Sustainer's majesty. No consort has He ever taken unto himself, nor a son.

The surah is about the jinn. The word jinn refers to the beings who dwell in the unseen. Janna means to hide, cover, conceal, veil. The jinn are those entities, energies, or beings which are the counterpart of ins, human beings, who appear in a physical form on this earth. So the surah refers to those entities who are in existence, but whose existence is not like that of the human being, conditioned by the physical limitations of body and other such aspects of physical existence. Jinnin means fetus, because it is hidden, covered. So the jinn are covered in a sense, they are not visible or discernible (that is to ins, to the human being).

The surah is about the cognizance of the jinn of the message to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him; so it begins, 'Say, that I have been inspired, or that it has been revealed to me that some of the jinn, some of these entities which are in this creation, hidden, unseen, have said that we have heard Qur`an.' We have heard the Book, we have heard the revealed Book being recited.

Some jinn had heard the recitation of the Qur`an and they called it ajaban, wondrous. They said it is wondrous because it reveals knowledges which they recognize as knowledge, but of which they did not have cognizance before. They said that this recitation of Qur`an leads us towards rushd. Rashid is a person who is conscious of what is right, he is sensible and well-guided. Rushd is the beginning of wisdom, so they say the Qur`an leads to rushd, to the consciousness of, to the awakening of, what is right; and therefore we trust it, therefore we believe in it; and we will not associate (ashraka, to make a sharer or associate) with our Sustainer anyone else. Rabb is Lord, but Lord only in the sense of having that ability to bring out the maximum potential in those who are lorded upon. The lord of the house is a lord only if his duty and responsibility bring up to full potential those elements which are under his control. So the best description here is Sustainer, and the jinn say, 'We will not ascribe, we will not associate with our Lord anyone else,' In other words, they confirm the unity of existence, waftahu wajud, 'Say there is only one Sustainer, and that we confirm that this Sustainer is most exalted and has no sahiba, no wife, no mistress or son.' It is Oneness, Tawhid. Everything has come or burst forth from that Oneness. He is the Cause of all. Everything else is only effect.

  1. And we thought that the foolish among us were saying outrageous things about Allah.

  2. But we thought that neither man nor jinn would ever tell a lie about Allah.

  3. Yet, it has always happened that certain kinds of humans seek refuge with certain kinds of jinn, but these are only increased in their confusion.

  4. So that they come to think that Allah would never again send forth anyone.

These jinn who have heard the Qur`an say that there are some human beings who are taking counsel or seeking refuge with some of the jinn, who are using their invisible forces. And because all human beings are basically seekers, some are trying in this way, groping in the dark as to what is the purpose of creation. This is still practiced everywhere in the world, as it has been from the beginning of time. Up to this time, the use of jinn was very commonly practiced for various achievements in this life; and right now you will find this practice still in use in many places. Whether this use of such supernatural powers, this harnessing of these energies which are available, is for good or bad makes no difference. The one who does so is at a loss. If one develops the powers of using these invisible forces, which as mainly jinn, then they are taking refuge in that. As Muslims, we want to reach the Creator of it all. We do not want to take refuge from a visible creational reality into an invisible creational reality. So the implication is that all of those who do so are at a loss. All that happens is that they are increased in their tiredness and disillusionment. What do they gain? Maybe some fantastic supernatural powers, but then what? Where is the salvation? Where is the finality? Where is the inner refurbishing in that? Fazadum rahaqan 'Say: If the ins take refuge in jinn, they will only increase in their rahak (suffering, oppression and confusion).' They will only be more confused, because they are moving into a dark alley. They are not moving towards the light of the innermost, towards the light of the Creator, which is everywhere, and from whom came both ins and jinn. There is only one way toward full and direct awakening and that Path starts with acceptance or belief in Unity. Disregard for any other preoccupation, occult powers and all the rest, is a necessary condition for beings, either ins or jinn, devoted to discovering Reality.

  1. And so we touched the heavens, and we found it filled with mighty meteors and flames.

  2. Notwithstanding that we were established in positions, listening, and anyone who now tries to listen will find the flames lying in wait for him.

Now what is this business of flames and restrictions, and of heavens? What it means is that every system in this creation has a boundary, whether it is the human system which is conditioned by an unseen which we call spirit and a seen which is the physical body, or the jinn system which includes the hidden or unseen bodies in this realm of creation. They too have their limitations. Every system of creation has its limiting factors. We too have certain degrees of height that we can go up to, beyond which we get burnt out. As they describe it, there are meteors, there are lights. They are restricted to a terrestrial situation. They cannot roam about into the beyond, into this cosmic creation. In the same way, man is limited and he will find the limits of the extent to which he can physically journey through the use of power, through the use of spaceships. So the jinn are saying, 'Look, there is a limitation.' The same way that there is a limitation in this realm of existence of the jinn, there is also in the realm of atoms. If you manage by some trick to take the atom to a certain point, another system occurs and there we have the meaning of the splitting of the atom. Every system has its own limitations. If you transgress these, then that system is no longer the same. It becomes another system. In the same way, if you like, in describing our system of physics you use a certain model up to a certain point, but beyond that point you have to use another model. For example, you may have to use thermo-dynamics up to a certain point, then you may have to use relativity. Whether you are describing speed, movement, light, or any other variable, you find that one system cannot show us the whole thing, because the whole transcends all systems. Perhaps you find something that has the characteristics of a photon as well as a wave line. Sometimes it looks more like that, sometimes like this, depending upon which side of the system you are looking at. It is like the elephant and the blind men. One feels the trunk and thinks it is a snake, another feels a leg and thinks it is a tree. They are limited because they cannot see the whole.

  1. We do not know whether evil is meant for the people on earth or whether it is that He wanted for them consciousness of what is right.

The implication is that the jinn are bewildered by the behavior of some of the men on this earth. Their system is separate from ours, so there is no interaction. There is a boundary which we must not transgress. We must not dabble in that system, as they must not dabble in ours. If we are correct, if we are strong, if we are on a Path, there can be no interference. It is most unlikely for people like us to be affected by the occultish madness of some others, because we are conscious, we are alert, we are aware and we are in worship, so it will not touch us.

The jinn are saying, as a result of the behavior of some of the men whom they have observed, who are making allies of some of their own people, 'We do not know whether their Sustainer wanted them to have a bad time, a miserable time, or whether He wanted them to have consciousness of what is right.' They are saying, 'From our point of view, we are not certain what is going on (with these humans).'

  1. Just as we do not know how it happened that some of us are good and some of us are below that. We have always followed different paths.

  2. And we have come to know that we can never elude Allah on earth, and that we can never elude Him by escaping any other way.

  3. Hence, as soon as we heard this guidance (or this call, or this Qur`an) that has been recited, we came to believe in it, and he who believes in his Sustainer (or in his Lord) need never have fear of loss or justice.

These jinn were basically believers in the Sustainer, that is, that there is Lordship in this creation; that it is not in chaos; that they cannot just fool around doing what they want in the way they want; that they are under an overall constraint. And yet some of them are at a loss and some of them are not, and they are following different venues and ways. The voice here is the voice of the purer jinn, because they say, 'When we heard the Qur`an, the Huda, when we heard what is guiding us to the right path, we believed it.' Because the essence of belief was already there, so when it hit them it was like a resounding echo and they recognized it. They said, 'This is right.'


The Opening - A Commentary on Chapter 1: Surat Al-Fatiha ] The Cow - A Commentary on Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah ] The Family of 'Imrān - A Commentary on Chapter 3: Surat Al-'Imrān ] The Spider - A Commentary on Chapter 29: Surat Al-'Ankabt ] The Heart of the Qur`an - A Commentary on Chapter 36: Surat Ya Sin ] The Beneficent - A Commentary on Chapter 55: Surat Al-Rahmn ] The Event - A Commentary on Chapter 56: Surat Al-Wqi'ah ] The Kingdom - A Commentary on Chapter 67: Surat Al-Mulk ] The Jinn - A Commentary on Chapter 72: Surat Al-Jinn ] The Unwrapped - A Commentary on Chapter 73: Surat Al-Muzzammil ] A Commentary on the Last Section of the Qur`an ]