Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer , at sacred-texts.com
THE people of Palestine, Christian as well as Moslem, believe in the existence of a race of beings of pre-adamite origin, called by the general name of "Jân." 1 Whilst the angels dwell in the heavens and have
various offices and forms differing according to their respective abodes (those in the lowest heaven, for instance, being shaped like cows; those in the second, like falcons; in the third, like eagles; in the fourth, like horses, and so on), the Jân are said by the learned to be created out of the fire of the "simûm" which they describe as a fire lacking both heat and smoke. 1 They are said to dwell chiefly in or amongst the Jebel Kâf, the range of mountains which surrounds the earth. Some of the Jân are good Moslems, and do not injure their human co-religionists, but the greater number of them are unclean infidels who take up their abode in rivers, fountains, cisterns, ruined buildings, baths, cellars, ovens, caves, sewers, and latrines. Some of them choose as dwellings cracks in the walls or under the door-steps or thresholds of inhabited houses, so that it is very dangerous for people, especially females, to sit on a door-step in the evening when these night-prowling evil spirits may do them grievous bodily injury. The Jân are believed to be able to assume any shape they please and to change it at pleasure. Among the peasantry, there is current another story as to their origin. It is that our mother Eve, on whom be peace, used to bring forth forty children at a birth, but being unable to nurse more than half that number, she picked out the twenty best ones and threw the others away. She told Adam on each occasion that she had borne only twenty; but he did not believe her. He therefore asked Allah to let any
children she had thrown away live underground and go abroad at night when all men sleep. Thus the Jân came into being.
The Jân are envious of us men and women, always on the watch for a chance to injure us; and unless we say "bismillah" whenever we begin any work, or take anything out of our stores, they succeed in robbing us. There is, at the present day, a man living at Aïn Kârim who has experienced this to his cost. He has a silly, froward daughter, who, in spite of frequent warnings from her parents and neighbours, will not invoke the Name. He was a man of substance, and brought home provisions in plenty, yet the blessing of Allah did not rest upon his property. At length, perplexed and discouraged, he had recourse to a great sheykh, who asked, "Whom have you in the house?" "My wife and daughter." "Does your wife invoke the Name of Allah?" "I would not have married her if she had not done so." "Does your daughter also 'name'?" "I regret to say she does not." "Then," said the sheykh, "don't let her touch anything about the house, and get rid of her at once!"
The father acted on the sheykh's advice; and no sooner had he disposed of his daughter in marriage than the Jân ceased to trouble him; but the bridegroom, till then a thriving man, has not now enough money to buy oil to keep a lamp burning through the night. 1
Not only are the Jân men and women like ourselves,
but they can, and sometimes do, intermarry with the other sons and daughters of Adam, often against the will of the latter, when these have neglected to ask the protection of Allah. In proof of this I will relate an incident that occurred some years ago.
There was a man of the village of El Isawìyeh, in the valley north of the Mount of Olives, who, going down to reap his harvest in the neighbourhood of Ushwah, near Artûf, was not heard of for nine years. It was said he had been devoured by a hyæna. But in the end he reappeared and told his story. He was sleeping one night on the threshing-floor to protect his store of dhurra when he was awakened about midnight by a sound of voices drawing near. Supposing it to be the tax-gatherer and his assistant "khayâleh," 1 he lay quite still for fear of being beaten. But it was a party of the Jân, and, as, at lying down, he had neglected through weariness to invoke the protection of Allah, so now, sudden fear kept him from using that simple precaution, and left him at the mercy of the demons. He did not realise who they were till it was too late and he had become their victim. All he knew at first was that a woman came and smote his forehead, and the blow bereft him of all strength of will. She bade him follow her, and he obeyed blindly.
When they had gone some distance from the threshing-floor she told him she was his wife, and that, unless he submitted to her desire, her brothers,
who had seen him follow her, would kill him horribly. Soon afterwards her brothers came up, when he saw that they were jinnis. They told him he had become one of themselves, and would thenceforth be invisible to the eyes of men.
Nine years he belonged to the Jân, and took part in all their depredations, till one day, when they were lying hid among some ruins, he noticed how his companions kept away from one of the walls on which was a luxuriant growth of feyjan or rue, and himself, out of curiosity went towards it. At a shriek from his jinnìyeh of "Don't go near those plants!" he ran and plucked whole handfuls from the wall. Then, looking round, he saw that the Jân had vanished, and he was free to return to his human family. When the fellahìn, his neighbours, disbelieved this story, he asked after a woman named "Ayesha," and was told that her husband had repudiated her because she robbed him and gave his goods to her brothers; there was no other supposition that could account for the way things vanished from his house. Thus, one day, he had filled a large "khâbieh" or mud-built bin with barley, but when he opened it on the morrow it was empty, and, in spite of his wife's protestations, he believed her to be the thief. The man who had been with the Jân explained that he had asked for the woman on purpose to prove her innocence and his own truthfulness. He had been present when the barley was carried off by the Jân, who knew that the Divine Name was not habitually called upon in that house. Other things that had been
missed from the village while he was away had been carried off in like manner. Since that time everyone has been careful to gather handfuls of the plant rue, and to keep it in his house; and no good man will begin a piece of work without invoking Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate; and no respectable woman will take even a handful of flour from its receptacle without likewise calling on the Most High.
A certain young married couple, though hardworking and economical, could not achieve prosperity, because one thing after another kept disappearing from the house. Did the wife put a bag of wheat beside the hand-mill overnight, in the morning it had vanished; and if she put aside cooked meats or preserves, they were sure to be spirited off. Her husband had a mare which he greatly prized. Every night, before going to bed, he fed the mare himself, carefully locked the stable-door, and kept the key under his pillow till the morning. One morning, when he unlocked the door, the mare was gone; and, believing her to have been stolen by some human enemy, he trudged to the nearest towns in which cattle-markets were held, in the hope to recover her; but in vain. At last he concluded that Bedû from the Belka had somehow gained possession of a false key, and used it to rob his stable, so he set out for the country east of Jordan, hoping to find his missing steed in some Arab camp.
At nightfall of the first day he found himself in a narrow gorge, in the sides of which were many caves. Seeing light in one of them, he supposed some shepherds or camel-drivers were putting up there for the night, and hastened to join them. But on entering the cave, he saw it was full of the Jân. Afraid to give offence by a retreat he saluted them with as cheerful a voice as he could command. They replied politely in the common formula: "Our house is thy house, our dwelling and all that it contains belongs to thee."
The demons, on the point of sitting down to supper, invited the guest to share the meal with them; and he nervously accepted the invitation. Among other dishes there was one of rice and lentils mixed, of which, at the entreaty of the Jân, he partook though sparingly. Supper ended, he thanked the Jân; and they replied, "We have already told you that everything here is yours." Then, looking around him, the man fancied a resemblance between the furniture of the cave and things which had mysteriously disappeared from his own house. There followed a conversation in the course of which he told his hosts about the loss of his mare, and whither he was going in the hope to find it. They told him he need go no further, for the mare was there with them, and he could have her for the asking. He managed to frame the demand, and the mare was brought to him at once. Dark as it was, he would have mounted then and there and started homeward, but his hosts invited him to stay the night, and, as he feared to offend them,
he tied up the horse and remained. When he arose next morning he found the cave empty, but his mare still tethered in the same place where he had put her before lying down to sleep.
Without mishap he rode back to his home, where his wife welcomed him with the news that all the things which had been missing had reappeared in the night as miraculously as they had vanished. Her joy was increased by the sight of the mare. Her husband, who had had no breakfast, asked for food; when she at once produced a dish of lentils mixed with rice, explaining, as she did so, that she had cooked it the day before, but not being hungry herself, had put it by for his return. Thereupon she uncovered the dish, to start back in surprise. "What is this?" she exclaimed. "When I put this dish away yesterday, it was full and carefully covered, and yet as you see somebody has had a taste of it. It cannot have been the cat, for, though she might have moved the cover, she could not possibly have replaced it." The young man was himself surprised when his wife said this, till, examining the dish, he knew it for the same from which he had eaten at the request of the Jân. This fact threw a new light on his strange experience. "My dear wife," he cried, "I now know the secret of our late misfortunes. It is that we have neglected a pious custom of our fathers, to name the name of Allah at all seasons. Our things were stolen by the Jân, through that neglect. Let us mend our ways henceforth." Needless to say, from that day forward the couple were careful to ask the Divine
blessing on all they undertook, and thus, to the end of their days, enjoyed the protection of the Most High.
Not only is it held foolhardy to sit on the doorstep or the threshold of a house, especially about sunset, but it is dangerous to call any animal, even the smallest insect, without at the same time pointing at the object; because many of the Jân and other demons are named after animals and other things in nature, and should the name be used without the gesture, some jinni will think that he is called, and will take advantage of the mistake to harm the person calling him. A perfect multitude of the Jân may thus be summoned inadvertently, for among them, as among men, some names are common. For instance:--
A certain woman who had no children, but who longed for offspring, sat one evening on her doorstep, ignorant of danger, when she noticed a black beetle crawling along the road. "I want a child," said the woman, "even though she be only a girl and as black as a beetle. O Khûnûfseh! 1 won't you come and be my daughter?" With that she rose and went into the house. Some time later, to her vast surprise, she actually gave birth to a whole swarm of black beetles. "O Lord!" said she, "I only asked for one. Whatever shall I do with all these hundreds? I will sweep them up into the basket where I put dry dung, 2 and carry them to the tabûn and burn them all." She did so, but, on the point of returning to the house, she
noticed that one of the creatures had escaped destruction by clinging with its feet to the wickerwork. "Well," she considered, "I did ask for one. I will make a pet of this beetle, which, after all, is my child." So she took the insect home and made a pet of it. It grew bigger and bigger, and in time, to the mother's joy, developed into a dark maiden whom she named Khûneyfseh. 1 The creature, however, was a ghûleh, one of the most dreadful enemies of the human race; and she was rapidly growing big and strong. At length, upon a day, her mother bade her take four loaves of bread and a plate of leben to her supposed father who was ploughing. The monster ate up the bread and the leben on her way, and when she came up to the ploughman she swallowed him and his yoke of oxen. Then she returned, and said to her mother, "I have devoured the four loaves and the leben, as well as the ploughman and his oxen, shall I also swallow you and the dough which you are kneading?" "Do so," replied her mother, who thought her precious child was only jesting. The ghûleh at once gobbled up her mother, the dough, and the kneading trough. She went next to her grandmother who was spinning, and said, "Grandmother, I have eaten the four loaves and the leben, the ploughman with his yoke of oxen, the troughful of the dough with its kneader. Shall I eat you?" "Do so, my child, if you like," said the old woman, and was instantly devoured together with her spinning wheel. Then Khûneyfseh went out of
the village. Seated upon the dunghill, after the manner of village-elders, she found an old, wise man, who, though she knew it not, happened to be armed with a two-edged dagger. Accosting him, " O sheykh," she said, "I have devoured the four loaves and the leben, the ploughman with his yoke of oxen, the kneader with the troughful of dough, and the old woman with her spinning-wheel. Shall I devour you?" Now that old man was wise and the owner of experience. From the manner of the dark girl's speech he guessed with what he had to deal, and so he answered, "Very well, my daughter, devour me if it please you." But when she came near, he struck with his dagger and killed her. Then he cut her open, when to! there came forth from her belly, whole and unhurt, the four loaves and the leben, the ploughman and his oxen, the kneader with her troughful of dough, and the old woman with her spinning-wheel. Since then people have learnt not to sit on door-steps 1 in the evening, and not to speak to any living creature, except it be human, without pointing to it.
Another story illustrative of the danger people run by calling animals by their names without at the same time pointing to them is often heard.
A young peasant woman had one day so much to do that it was not till evening that she found time to knead the bread. By the time it was ready
night had come, and it had grown so dark that she was afraid to go, unaccompanied, to the village oven. 1 She begged her husband to escort her; but he ridiculed her fears, and just when she was setting out called to a he-goat tethered in the yard, "Here, O he-goat! take her! take her!" He meant it as a joke, and was surprised when she did not return. He went to the oven, she was not there. No one in the hamlet had seen her. He inquired at every house, searched the whole district, but in vain. Unable to believe that she had gone off with another man, since he knew her heart was his, he could not account for her disappearance to himself or to his neighbours, who began to suspect that he had killed her for infidelity. 2
One day, when the bereaved husband was ploughing, an aged derwìsh came up and entered into conversation with him. The peasant bemoaned the loss of his wife. "How much will you give me if I tell you how to recover her?" asked the derwìsh. "You shall have this yoke of oxen," replied the peasant eagerly. "They would be useless to me," said the recluse, laughing, "but give me something to eat and I shall be satisfied."
The peasant took the derwìsh to his house and set before him of the best he had. When the guest had done eating, he said, "I am certain that your wife is abducted by some jinni to whom your foolish
jest gave power to harm her. I therefore advise you to go this evening to such and such a cave in such and such a wady, the usual trysting-place of the Jân in this district. As soon as you see the cave lighted up after sunset, enter boldly and demand your wife from those within."
The peasant did as he was told. That same evening he took up his station near the cave described to him, and, as soon as he saw light stream from it, called Allah to aid and boldly entered. Within, the king of all the Jân was holding court. The peasant, undismayed, demanded his wife. The demon-king seemed neither surprised nor offended by his tone of authority, but quietly inquired of his subjects present whether any one knew where the woman was. "I saw her in our own country, the Jebel Kâf, a short time since, in such a place," said one. "How long will it take you to fetch her, O Camel?" asked the monarch. "Jebel Kâf is a long way off, and I should need three years to go there and return," was the reply. Then the ruler of the Jân asked another demon named "Horse" how much time he would need in order to fetch the woman, and he said, "Three months." A third jinni named "Wind," being asked the same question, replied, "Three weeks." All the rest of the Jân answered in turn each naming the time he required to do the errand. At last the king asked the man to detail the circumstances under which he had lost his wife, especially the words which he had used at parting from her. The peasant then confessed that he had thoughtlessly handed his wife over
to "He-goat." On hearing this the king ordered the jinni thus named at once to restore the woman to her rightful husband; which he did.
A shepherd once, after folding his flock for the night, went to sleep in a cave. He awoke about midnight to find himself in the presence of a large party of the Jân. Afraid to give offence, and being curious, he lay still with half-closed eyes, pretending to sleep.
The leader of the party sent out some of his followers to forage for provisions. These soon returned with plenty of all kinds of food, and the Jân fell to with a relish.
Among the delicacies was a large tray of "baklâweh" round which the whole party gathered. Just then a young female suggested that they should wake the sleeper and make him join them at the meal. The others, however, objected on the ground that he might ask a blessing on the food, and thus compel them to disperse and leave behind them all that they had brought together out of the houses of people who were not used to name the Name. "We will put a large helping on a tray beside him, for him to eat when he wakes up. By that time we shall have gone, and his blessing, if he ask one, will not hurt us."
Hearing this, the shepherd sat up suddenly and exclaimed, "Bismillah er Rahman er Rahìm" (In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate), as one awaking, startled, in strange company. At the Name, the Jân all vanished, screaming. The shepherd then slept undisturbed till morning,
when he found the cavern stocked with provisions sufficient to last his family for a whole year. He accepted them as a gift from Allah, and had them conveyed to his own house."
It is of the utmost consequence to remember that the Jân should always be treated with respect. On entering an empty room, a cellar, cave, or even when sweeping a room which has for some time stood empty, one should never forget to say "Dustûrkum ya mubârakìn" (by your permission, blessed ones), 1 or, for short, "Dustûr" (permission). The same formula should be used whenever one is carrying fire or water, so that the spirits may get out of the way, and not run the risk of a wetting or of getting burnt by accident. The safest way, however, is habitually to invoke the Name and protection of Allah.
English people are often shocked at the frequency with which Easterns use the Name of Allah, regarding it as a breach of the third Commandment; but not realising that they are merely following a practice, which from their infancy they have been accustomed to look upon as belonging to the very essentials of religion, and the object of which is protection from the powers of evil. 2 The importance
attached to the practice has been already explained, but is further illustrated by the following tales.
There was once a good woman whose husband was so poor that when their only knife got broken, he could not buy her another. Want of a knife caused her great inconvenience as her neighbours were not always willing to lend their things. Thus, one day when her husband brought home a sheep's lights and liver for her to cook, and she went to a neighbour whose husband was very rich, and begged for the loan of a knife, she was refused it, and returned home greatly hurt and very angry. For want of a knife she was compelled to tear the raw flesh asunder with her teeth and nails, just as if she had become a ghûleh, for the ghûls do not know the use of iron. In her vexation she forgot to "name," and the Jân at once took advantage of the omission. A sudden whirlwind swept her off her feet and down through a crack in the floor. When at last the motion ceased, and she had recovered her senses sufficiently to look about her, she was in a large, well-furnished room, which seemed empty save for a handsome Persian cat. 1 Noticing that the creature was soon to have kittens she stroked her, saying, "The mention of Allah be upon you! Allah grant you full recovery!" The animal appeared to understand, and showed great pleasure by purring
and rubbing up against her. Suddenly sounds were heard as of a crowd approaching, when the cat observed in Arabic, "Get under that chair and fear nothing." The visitor had just time to obey before a number of the Jân trooped in, sniffing the air and saying, "We smell the smell of a human being. If it is an old man, he is our father; if an old woman, she is our mother; if it is a young man or a young woman, he or she shall be our brother or sister; if a boy or girl, they also shall receive fraternal treatment. Show yourself and fear not, for we honour guests, and they are perfectly safe in our company."
On this the woman left her hiding-place, and greeted the new-comers, who used her kindly and set good food before her. After the lapse of a decent interval, she humbly begged to be sent home. The whirlwind which had brought her there, itself a jinni, was called and asked if she had come of her own free-will. The wind acknowledged that it had brought her against her will, because, in a moment of worry, she had not "named." "In that case, she may go home again," said the leader of the Jân. But before she went he made her loosen the string of her libâs, and filled that sacklike garment with onion peels. Then the whirlwind caught her, and she was at home again.
It suddenly struck her that the contents of her pantaloons were very heavy for mere onion peels. She could not move for the weight of them, so made haste to take them out, when, to her amazement and delight, she found they were all gold pieces.
[paragraph continues] Being a prudent woman, she said no word of her good fortune to the neighbours, but hid the money away till her husband came home, when she told him what had happened to her, and showed him the treasure. The couple kept their own counsel, and purchased cattle and land so gradually that their neighbours believed their prosperity to be the result of industry.
One person could not credit this, and that was the woman who had refused to lend a knife. Envy made her suspicious, and she gave her friend no peace till she had found out the secret. Having learnt it, she went straight home and made her husband bring the lights and liver of a sheep, which she tore to pieces with heir teeth and nails, at the same time omitting to "name." The immediate result of her deliberate and studied action was the same as of her neighbour's inadvertence. A whirlwind whisked her down into the bowels of the earth, and she found herself in the room where sat the Persian cat. But her behaviour was the very opposite of that of the good woman. She abused the cat, and even dared to say she hoped it would not live to see its kittens. When from her hiding-place under the chair she heard the Jân assuring her of her safety, she rudely neglected to salute them when she came forth. Having devoured the food set before her with great greediness, she demanded to be sent home.
The Jân, who took no notice of her rudeness, then inquired of the whirlwind whether she had come of her own free-will. "Yes," was the answer.
[paragraph continues] Then the chief of the Jân bade her loose her trousers, filled them with gold coins, and had her carried home. But when she got there, and had closed the doors and windows, she found her trousers full of spiders, scorpions, and centipedes, which soon put an end to her wicked life.
Noticing that a native milkman, a fellâh from Siloam, was always in the habit of invoking the Name of Allah before measuring the milk which he handed over to our servant every morning, I one day asked him why he did so. "Oh," said he, "it is always good to 'name,' and we fellahìn always do so when we put our hands into a vessel or commence work of any kind." I said: "I quite agree with you that we ought always to ask God to bless us in anything we undertake, but, supposing you were to omit this precaution, what do you think would happen?" "We should most certainly fall into the power of the Jân," replied the man very earnestly, adding, "Ism illah hawwaleynah" (the Name of Allah be around us!). "How?" I inquired; when, setting down his pitcher of milk, he told the following story:--
The son of a great Arab sheykh, a most accomplished youth, was sent forth by his father to travel and see the world. One day, arriving at a certain city, he chose a site for his tent, and bade his servants pitch it while he went and strolled through the markets. He had never before been within the walls of a city, and was so much interested in what he saw, that he spent more time than he had intended; and when he at last thought of returning
to his camp it was night, and he could not find the way. Coming by chance upon a large open space, he resolved to sleep there till morning; so, wrapping himself in his ’abâyeh he lay down upon the bare ground, saying: "In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate, I place my confidence in Allah, and commend myself to the protection of the owner of this field."
Now the Jân were celebrating a wedding-feast that night, and invited the jinni of that particular field to the feast. He refused saying that he had a guest and could not leave him. "Bring him too," said the merrymakers. "That is impossible," was the reply, "because he 'named' as well. I am therefore responsible for his safety." "Well, this is what you can do," said the Jân. "The sultan has a lovely daughter shut up in the castle. Take him to her in his sleep, and leave him with her while you come to the wedding. Before daybreak, you can put him back again. So he will be quite happy, and no harm will befall him." The host was pleased with this suggestion and at once acted upon it. The youth awoke towards midnight to find himself lying in a luxurious bed by the side of a beautiful maiden, on whose sleeping form the tapers in tall golden candlesticks shed a subdued light. He was lost in wonder and delight, when her eyes opened on him; and he saw the like rapture dawn in them. They held loving converse, exchanged their seal-rings, and then sank back to sleep. When the youth awoke the second time, to find himself on a piece of waste land near the wall of the city,
he was at first inclined to regard his night's adventure as a blissful dream; but when he saw on his finger the signet-ring which his lady had placed there he had no doubt of the reality of that strange experience, and made up his mind not to leave the city until he had solved the mystery.
The princess was equally astonished, when she awoke, to find only a ring to confirm her recollections of the night. In time she became with child; but the sultan, her father, being passionately fond of her, could not make up his mind to kill her, as was his duty, since she had no brothers. Her strange story, and the sight of the signet-ring which her unknown love had given her, made him resolve to spare her life; for he knew the power and malice of the Jân, and saw their hand in the matter. So when his daughter had been safely delivered of a son, he sent her and the child into exile without other attendants than one aged nurse.
Now the town to which she was sent happened to be the same in which her lover still dwelt in the hope of obtaining news of her. She abode there in obscurity devoting herself to the child, who would let no one but his mother carry him, and cried whenever any one else tried to take him up. One day, when the exiled princess was tired of fondling him, she told her female attendant to take him out of doors. While the nurse was carrying him in the streets, she chanced to pass a place where the young Bedawi was sitting listlessly. Something in the child's crying touched his heart, and he asked the woman to let him take the little man. The
moment the transfer was made the child stopped crying as if by magic and began to laugh, which so pleased the unconscious father, that, before handing him back to the nurse, he bought him loads of sweet-meats from a passing vendor.
The woman, going back to her mistress, extolled the beauty and goodness of the youth who had quieted the baby for her. A hope at once flashed upon the mother's mind. She commanded the nurse to take her to that young man.
The couple, meeting, knew one another, and the signet-rings confirmed their intuitions. They were married forthwith, and with the Sultan's favour; and it is said that they lived happy ever after.
When the milkman had finished his story, I said, "would it not have been better for the young man to have invoked the name of Allah without putting himself under the protection of the jinni? Had he trusted in Allah alone, all this would not have happened." "No," was the answer, "Allah only does good. Had he omitted to claim protection from the owner of the field, the jinni would have hurt him, if not carried him off while he slept. By claiming hospitality he prevented anything of that sort, and so nothing but good resulted to him."
A fellâheh of El Welejeh 1 lost an eye a few years
ago, under the following strange circumstances, related by another fellâheh.
She was returning from Jerusalem, and as she was passing the fountain named "Ain El Hamyeh," she heard a frog croak. Looking round she noticed close to the stream a female frog much advanced in pregnancy, and she thoughtlessly but ill-naturedly said to the creature, "Allah grant that you may not be delivered of your child till I be called to act as your midwife." Having uttered this unkind speech, the woman went her way. In the evening she retired to rest with her children, whose father had died in the war, around her; but what was her terror when, awaking during the night, she found herself in a cave surrounded by strange and angry looking people, one of whom sternly told her that if she ventured "to name" she was a dead woman. "If we, who live below," said he, "come to you who live above-ground, then it is a protection for you "to name"; but if, as in your case, one of you intrudes needlessly and officiously on us, "naming" will not help you. What harm had my wife done you that you should curse her as you did this afternoon?" "I do not know, nor have I ever seen your wife," replied the woman in terror. "She was the pregnant frog you spoke to at 'Ain El Hamyeh,'" was the answer; "when we who live underground, want to go abroad by day-time, we generally assume the form of some animal. My wife took that of the frog you saw. You cursed her and mentioned 'the Name.' She was in the pangs of labour but, in consequence of your cruel malediction, cannot be relieved
till you assist her. I warn you therefore that unless she give birth to a boy, it will go hard with you." He then led her to where his wife lay, with females round her. The woman from El Welej eh, though almost frightened out of her wits, did her best for the uncanny patient, who soon gave birth to a fine boy. When the father was informed of the happy event he handed the human midwife a "mukhaleh" or kohl-vessel and told her to apply some of its contents to the infant's eyes in order that they might become dark and bright. When doing so she noticed that the baby's eyes, like those of the other Jân around her, differed from those of ordinary men and women, in that the pupil was longitudinal and vertical. When she had applied the kohl to the little one's eyes, she took the bodkin which she had used and put some kohl to one of her own eyes, but before she had time to put kohl to the other the female Jân, who noticed what she was doing, angrily snatched the "mukhaleh" from her. They then bade her loosen one of her long flowing sleeves, in which, like other Syrian peasant-women she was wont to carry things, and filled it with something, though she did not know what. They next blind-folded her and led her out of the cave. When they told her she might uncover her eyes, she, on looking around her, found herself standing alone at "Ain El Hamyeh." Being curious to know what was in her sleeve she opened it and found a quantity of onion-peels which she promptly threw away. A few minutes later she reached her home, where she found her children still
asleep. As she was preparing to lie down, something fell out of her sleeve. She picked it up and found it was a piece of gold. Realizing the true nature of the supposed onion-peels she had thrown away, she at once hurried back to the fountain, and sure enough found the onion-peels lying untouched, but all of them turned into gold coins. Gathering them up eagerly she returned home, and as there were still some hours till daylight, lay down and went to sleep. On awaking next morning, she thought that she must have dreamt all that has been narrated. When, however, one of her children told her that one of her eyes had kohl in it and the other not; and, above all, when she saw her store of gold coin, she was convinced that she had not been dreaming but was now a wealthy woman.
Some time afterwards she went to El Kûds to "howij," i.e. to do some shopping. As she was standing close to the draper's shop--you know the Jewish draper whose shop is just in front of the wheat-bazaar--she saw the being whom she had assisted in her confinement, mingling with the crowd and pilfering as she went from shop to shop. The woman from El Welejeh went up to her, and, touching her shoulder, asked her why she did so. Being frightened by the Jinnìyeh's angry look, she stooped and kissed the baby. The people who stood by thought her mad when, as they supposed, they saw her kissing the air, for, as they had not had Jân's kohl applied to their eyes they were unable to see what was going on. The Jinnìyeh, however, said angrily, "What! are you going to
disgrace us?" and straightway poking a finger into the poor woman's eye--the eye which had the kohl in it--she blinded it on the spot. What misfortune might have happened had she applied Jân's kohl to both eyes, Allah only knows, but this seems certain, namely, that by reason of their having such curiously-formed eyes, the Jân can see and know many things which ordinary mortals cannot; and their kohl helps them to a sort of second-sight which we do not possess. You very rarely meet common people who have such eyes. There is perhaps scarcely one in ten thousand, but that one sees and can do things which other people cannot, and therefore the Mûghâribeh (Arabs of North Africa) who by the powers of magic know where hidden treasure may be found, are always on the look-out for such persons, in hopes of obtaining their assistance.
A mason, nearly related to one of my neighbours rose very early one morning to go to his work. As the full moon was shining he did not realise how early it was. Going along, he was overtaken by a wedding-procession, all bearing torches, the women uttering their zagharìt. As they were going the same way, he kept up with them out of curiosity, noticing only that the men looked grim and fierce. One of the women gave him a lighted taper, which he accepted. He now realized the true character of these people whom he had taken for Circassians; but, having the presence of mind instantly to invoke the aid of Allah and all the saints (he is a member of
the Orthodox Greek Church), his dread companions vanished; and he found himself alone in the street with a donkey's leg-bone in his hand. Terribly frightened, he went straight home and was very ill for a long while afterwards.
188:1 Genis. Under the name of Shedim the orthodox Jews also believe in their existence and general character as here described.
189:1 Mejr-ud-dìn, "Uns el Jelìl" (Cairo Edition), vol. i. p. 15.
190:1 None but the very poorest will sleep without a night-light.
191:1 Irregular cavalry.
196:2 Fuel for the tabûn or hovel-oven.
197:1 Little blackbeetle.
198:1 It is not uncommon among the natives of Palestine for a man or a woman to bury a charm under the threshold over which some enemy is bound to pass. A woman known to me, who was servant in an English family, thus buried the shoulder-blades of a sheep covered over with curses at a gate through which another servant had to go.
199:1 Ar. tabûn.
199:2 As every husband has a right to do, unless he prefer to hand her over to her brothers, or nearest male relations, that they may themselves put her to death for her sin.
202:1 "Thou blessed one!" are the words with which you should address a serpent, if you have the misfortune to meet one unexpectedly.
202:2 The devil once had a bet with someone that he would obtain a meal in a certain city renowned for piety. He entered house after house at dinner-time, but was always frustrated by the name of Allah till, by good luck, he happened on the dwelling of a Frankish consul who, when Iblìs entered, was at table wrestling with a tough p. 203 beefsteak. "Devil take this meat," said the consul, and the devil took it.--ED.
203:1 For Moslem ideas about cats, see the chapter on animal folk-lore.
209:1 A village about nine miles S.W. of Jerusalem, and on the Jerusalem-Jaffa railway line.