"One of the only monographs available devoted to a discussion of the jinn. It provides a useful resource for anyone working in the field of popular religion and Islamic Studies, but it is primarily a research monograph on medieval Arabic literature."—British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
"The jinn, in all their shape-shifting varieties, are an integral part of Islamic culture, literature, and poetry, and because the author of this small volume is herself a poet as well as a scholar of comparative literature and mysticism, she has been able to provide some unique insights into their world."—Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
"This remarkable [book] is a much-needed complement to the wide literature devoted to Islam . . . and offers fresh and original insights that challenge the conventional view of the Islamic religion and civilization."—Patrick Laude, author of Divine Play, Sacred Laughter, and Spiritual Understanding
According to the Qur’an, God created two parallel species, man and the jinn, the former from clay and the latter from fire. Beliefs regarding the jinn are deeply integrated into Muslim culture and religion, and have a constant presence in legends, myths, poetry, and literature. In Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn, Amira El-Zein explores the integral role these mythological figures play, revealing that the concept of jinn is fundamental to understanding Muslim culture and tradition.
Examining closely a wide range of sources, from the fields of law, theology, and folklore, El-Zein clearly places the status of the jinn in the metaphysical and cosmological economy of Islam. The author also illuminates the Islamic concept of the jinn by comparing it to other similar concepts in different religions and mythologies. She probes the complex relationships between the jinn and humans, as well as the jinn and animals, providing critical insights into the function of the jinn in the process of poetic and cultural creation. The author’s access to Arabic sources and her ability to contextualize them make this a compelling and thorough account, enriching our knowledge of Islamic religion and tradition.
Amira El-Zein is visiting associate professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. She is a published poet and translator in Arabic, French, and English. She is also the author of numerous articles on comparative mysticism, comparative folk literature, and comparative literature.
6 x 9, 248 pages