Hi! I'm Ahmed. I'm the host of See Something, Say Something, a new BuzzFeed podcast where we drink chai, tell stories, and talk about what it feels like to be a Muslim in America.
A few weeks back, I put out a call for jinn stories (for our Halloween episode!) on Twitter, Facebook, and the BuzzFeed Community.
For the uninitiated, jinn are creatures made of "smokeless fire" that are mentioned in the Qur'an and throughout Islamic mythology. The two most famous jinns are probably the Muslim Devil (Shaytan) and the jinn in Aladdin's lamp from One Thousand and One Nights.
Those two are powerful exceptions. Most of the time, Jinns are portrayed as invisible tricksters who whisper, confuse, and change shape.
People responding to my call for stories were either really pumped...
...or didn't want to invoke the demons.
We got a bunch of submissions, both in text and audio, the best of which we've featured below. And if you want to hear a more in-depth conversation about jinn, take a listen to Episode 2 of See Something Say Something here.
1. The fight:
One time, my mother-in-law was sitting in her bed. She looked over and saw a woman sitting in the chair next to her bed, with long pointy fingers and a face with very sharp angles. She was so frustrated and annoyed with the jinns (they see A LOT in their house and are no longer afraid, just really annoyed by them) that she reached out and grabbed the jinn by its wrist. She yelled, "Get out! I'm tired of you! Get out!" It started to try to pull its wrist away and eventually tried to bite her hand because she wouldn't let go. She pulled her hand away before it bit her and then the jinn vanished.
—Sakinah Blue, Facebook
2. The jinn and the locket:
At my boarding school, we had a few cases of bullying. In one instance, a bully broke a chain on a student's neck. As soon as that happened, the girl started to speak in a male voice while her body contorted in strange positions. It said it was a jinn and had travelled from a faraway place. Meanwhile, the bully's tongue swelled and almost prevented her from breathing. Long story short, teachers were called into the room — apparently, her parents knew and had gotten the chain for their daughter from a shaman to hold the jinn in.
—Temitope Barakat Lawal (Facebook)
3. Communing with children
This happened when my grandfather was Egypt’s ambassador to Spain, and was living in Spain. I was two years old at that time, my mother said she would see me standing by the staircase constantly talking to someone and when she would put me to bed, I would stare out the door and say ‘Tek tak. Tek tak.’ Later on, my grandmother mentioned to my mom that she thinks I might be seeing sprits in the house and when qw were talking about it, my grandfather said that the TV in his room turn on and off sporadically and sometimes...could see shadows running across the balcony through the slits of the blinds.
My grandmother said that its known little children and animals can see sprits, so when they saw me talking to something, they assumed there was spirits in the house and I was the only one who could communicate with them.
This is an old Persian story: One day a lady goes to the public bathhouse. She pays the attendant and goes inside. Once inside, she notices someone in the room with her. She looks down at their feet, but instead of feet the person has HOOVES. The lady freaks out and runs outside as fast as she can. She rushes to the attendant and tells her that she saw someone with hooves instead of feet. The attendant looks at her, lifts up her skirt, and asks, “Like THESE?”
5. The busybody:
I grew up in an Arab household with many Arab family friends, so I’ve heard many scary jinn stories. A family friend of mine claimed that she went to bed one night, and her whole house was a mess. By the time she woke up, her whole house was clean. For some reason, that freaked me out when I was little! Every night I made sure that my room was clean so that jinns wouldn’t clean it for me. Nowadays, being a wife and a full time college student, I could only pray that a jinn would clean my house for me… And what the heck, cook dinner as well!
6. The night whispers:
A few years ago, when I was on my third trimester of pregnancy, I would only be able to fall asleep when dawn came. Just as I was about to fall asleep one night, I felt pressure on the end of the bed, near my feet, as if someone—very heavy—sat on the bed, which was weird, because I didn’t even hear anyone come into the room. No creaking door. No footsteps.
Just then, an eerie voice spoke straight into my mind. The language was unintelligible and distorted. I knew it wasn't human. But, to my surprise, I understood what ‘it’ was trying to say. My brain processed it easily, as if I had learned the language somewhere in the past. It asked me to pray my morning prayer.
I was too sleepy and too scared to actually open my eyes. What if its face was suddenly right in front of my nose? So I responded in my head, communicating without actually opening my mouth to say a word.
“Later please, I’m so tired. I didn’t get to sleep.”
After I said so, the weight on the end of my bed lifted. The air which was previously heavy with presence became light and clear. I opened my eyes a little and saw the earliest morning light gleam through my window. My door stood still, no one came in, or out. I fell back to sleep.
7. The landlord:
So apparently, in Saudi, my aunt lived in a house that was always being visited by a particular jinn who used to annoy her family. Once, she was laying in bed at night with her husband. She felt that something was off and when she left the room, she found her husband watching TV on the couch. When they went back to the bedroom to confront the jinn, it just laughed and went away.
8. The protector:
"Generations back, one of (my) forefathers taught Quran, the holy book (to a) child from a jinns’ family. (The jinn child became) a hafiz (memorized the Qur'an by heart). (The jinn's) parents appeared in front of my...grandfather and in return, as a thanks, they offered him...many different things. There were huge trays full of gold and silver were brought or what not...But (he) would not accept it. He said “I did this because I believe i will be rewarded by Allah..." They wouldn’t go.<(The jinn) said you have done such a big favor to our generations that we want to give you something. After so many arguments...they wouldn’t go so... (my) grandfather said “OK, then what i would ask you is that you have to take an oath and promise me that for my next seven generations you would not hurt anyone or make anyone’s life miserable."
9. The territorial jinn:
My great uncle went to visit his cousins in India. His cousins told him that since it was summer time and they would all sleep in the courtyard together. However, they told him he wasn't allowed to place his bedding in a particular corner. Apparently, a jinn slept there and strange things happened if any one disturbs that corner. My great uncle said it was nonsense and decided to sleep there anyway.
One night, he woke up on the other side of the court. He laughed at first and thought it was his cousins who were pranking him and decided to sleep there again. The following night, the same thing happened, so he left a note next to his pillow saying, ”Stop pranking me. I know there is no jinn.” That night, he said he was pushed off his bed, and his bedding was thrown on the other side. A note was thrown into his lap which said, 'I sleep here.” The scary part is, it wasn't that dark and there was no one there.
10. Mr. Fantastic:
My uncle once told me a story about a couple. The husband used to work in the force so he would be sent on long trips outside the village. His wife was usually lonely, but she befriended a man. He would sit on her courtyard wall with his back facing her, so she could only see his face when he turned around to answer back. It was a sweet friendship. One evening, she asked him to come over for tea and to bring his wife along with her. But instead of getting down and using the door, he took his leg and stretched it ten feet down her wall to HER side of the yard.
He said, "Why didn't you offer me tea before? I’d love to come and have chai with you."
11. The husband:
My friend was staying in the north of Morocco for the summer. One morning, she woke up with a big triangle of henna on her hand. She showed it to every person of her family and they said the only valid reason was that she was married to a jinn now.
She was never lucky in love ever since.
12. Marital strife:
"...The assistant to the sheikh switched the lights off and the sheikh began reciting Qur'an in a very strange way. He read it backwards and then read parts of verses, (in) really really strange ways that i’ve never heard before. Suddenly he said, “The jinn has arrived... Make your presence known by touching everyone of us sitting in this small circle." That’s when it got really scary and I felt an almost electric current running through my leg. As it went around the circle, everyone screamed, almost at the same time. After that, the sheikh asked the jinn to bring back the evil curse which had been cast. The jinn disappeared and we did feel something rushing out the window. It came back and suddenly, it dropped something quite heavy onto the chandelier. It was a huge package, wrapped in nylon and covered in mud. The sheikh... then unwrapped it and he began reading these scroll of paper, written in Arabic but also really strange writing."
13. Never leaving home:
Recently, my mother-in-law was helping her daughter fix up her home and as my mother-in-law stood in the hall, she heard someone whisper in her ear, "You think you can move and get rid of us? Guess what? We are coming too. You will never get rid of us." No one else heard it.
—Sakinah Blue, Facebook
14. The laugher:
My mother was visiting her parents. While she was praying in her room, she heard her mom laughing at her in the doorway. After she finished praying, she went to her mom's room and asked, "Why were you laughing at me earlier?" My grandmother replied, "I've been in bed for a few hours now. I wasn't laughing at you." My mom concluded it was a jinn trying to distract her from her prayers. In the same house, you could hear footsteps walking throughout the house and might feel someone sit on the bed while you're sleeping.
I also used to have one in my bedroom. Every night around three a.m., I'd hear this old lady crying. We lived in the corner apartment on the top floor and I couldn't find out from where it was coming from. I thought it was coming from under my bed. It got so bad I had to stop sleeping in there.
—Gabriela Adibpour (Facebook)
15. The voices:
In our old apartment my oldest niece would wake up around 3 a.m. She would hear what sounded like a party going on and hear all of our voices. But when she would go into the living room, the lights would be off and no one would be in the room.
—Sakinah Blue, Facebook
16. The prank caller:
"...So then her brother said “What’s going on?” and tapped her on her shoulder. Suddenly, she looks his way and uses her hand and throws him up against the wall with extraordinary power.
"They call this hafiz (Qur'an expert). He (tells the girl), “It's not right of you to take control of a person’s body. You can’t do this.” And so he starts to read Quran and says “You need to leave the body.” But the jinn didn’t want to leave. He’s like, “I like this body. I’m not leaving.”"
If you want to hear more conversations about jinn, take a listen to Episode 2 of See Something Say Something.
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Submissions have been edited for clarity and content.
Ahmed Ali Akbar is a podcast host for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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