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THE Prophet is the centre round which every thing connected with Arabia revolves. The period preceding his birth is regarded and designated as the times of ignorance, and our knowledge of the ancient Arabian mythology comprises little more than he has been pleased to transmit to us. The Arabs, however, appear at no period of their history to have been a people addicted to fanciful invention. Their minds are acute and logical, and their poetry is that of the heart rather than of the fancy. They dwell with fondness on the joys and pains of love, and with enthusiasm describe the courage and daring deeds of warriors, or in moving strains pour forth the plaintive elegy; but for the description of gorgeous palaces and fragrant gardens, or for the wonders of magic, they are indebted chiefly to their Persian neighbours. [a]
What classes of beings the popular creed may have recognised before the establishment of Islam we have no means of ascertaining. [b] The Suspended Poems, and Antar, give us little or no information; we only know that the tales of Persia were current among them, and were listened to with such avidity as to rouse the indignation of the Prophet. We must, therefore, quit the tents of the Bedoween, and the valleys of 'Araby the Blest,' and accompany the khaleefehs to their magnificent capital on the Tigris, whence emanated all that has thrown such a halo of splendour around the genius and language of Arabia. It is in this seat of empire that we must look to meet with the origin of the marvels of Arabian literature.
Transplanted to a rich and fertile soil, the sons of the desert speedily abandoned their former simple mode of life; and the court of Bagdad equalled or surpassed in magnificence any thing that the East has ever witnessed. Genius, whatever its direction, was encouraged and rewarded, and the musician and the story-teller shared with the astronomer and historian the favour of the munificent khaleefehs. The tales which had amused the leisure of the Shahpoors and Yezdejirds were not disdained by the Haroons and Almansoors. The expert narrators altered them so as to accord with the new faith. And it was thus, probably, that the delightful Thousand and One Nights [c] were gradually produced and modified.
As the Genii or Jinn [d] are prominent actors in these tales, where they take the place of the Persian Peries and Deevs, we will here give some account of them.
According to Arabian writers, there is a species of beings named Jinn or Jan (Jinnee m., Jinniyeh f. sing.), which were created and occupied the earth several thousand years before Adam. A tradition from the Prophet says that they were formed of "smokeless fire," i.e. the fire of the wind Simoom. They were governed by a succession of forty, or, as others say, seventy-two monarchs, named Suleyman, the last of whom, called Jan-ibn-Jan, built the Pyramids of Egypt. Prophets were sent from time to time to instruct and admonish them; but on their continued disobedience, an army of angels appeared, who drove them from the earth to the regions of the islands, making many prisoners, and slaughtering many more. Among the prisoners, was a young Jinnee, named 'Azazeel, or El-Harith (afterwards called Iblees, from his despair), who grew up among the angels, and became at last their chief. When Adam was created, God commanded the angels to worship him; and they all obeyed except Iblees, who, for his disobedience, was tuned into a Sheytan or Devil, and he became the father of the Sheytans.[e]
The Jinn are not immortal; they are to survive mankind, but to die before the general resurrection. Even at present many of them are slain by other Jinn, or by men; but chiefly by shooting-stars hurled at them from Heaven. The fire of which they were created, circulates in their veins instead of blood, and when they receive a mortal wound, it bursts forth and consumes them to ashes. They eat and drink, and propagate their species. Sometimes they unite with human beings, and the offspring partakes of the nature of both parents. Some of the Jinn are obedient to the will of God, and believers in the Prophet, answering to the Peries of the Persians; others are like the Deevs, disobedient and malignant. Both kinds are divided into communities, and ruled over by princes. They have the power to make themselves visible and invisible at pleasure. They can assume the form of various animals, especially those of serpents, cats, and dogs. When they appear in the human form, that of the good Jinnee is usually of great beauty; that of the evil one, of hideous deformity, and sometimes of gigantic size.
When the Zôba'ah, a whirlwind that raises the sand in the form of a pillar of tremendous height, is seen sweeping over the desert, the Arabs, who believe it to be caused by the flight of an evil Jinnee, cry, Iron! Iron! (Hadeed! Hadeed!) or Iron! thou unlucky one! (Hadeed! ya meshoom!) of which metal the Jinn are believed to have a great dread. Or else they cry, God is most great! (Allahu akbar!) They do the same when they see a water-spout at sea; for they assign the same cause to its origin. [f]
The chief abode of the Jinn of both kinds is the Mountains of Kaf, already described. But they also are dispersed through the earth, and they occasionally take up their residence in baths, wells, latrinae, ovens, and. ruined houses. [g]
They also frequent the sea and rivers, cross-roads, and market-places. They ascend at times to the confines of the lowest heaven, and by listening there to the conversation of the angels, they obtain some knowledge of futurity, which they impart to those men who, by means of talismans or magic arts, have been able to reduce them to obedience. [h]
The following are anecdotes of the Jinn, given by historians of eminence. [i]
It is related, says El-Kasweenee, by a certain narrator of traditions, that he descended into a valley with his sheep, and a wolf carried off a ewe from among them; and he arose and raised his voice, and cried, "O inhabitant of the valley!" whereupon he heard a voice saying, "O wolf, restore him his sheep!" and the wolf came with the ewe and left her, and departed.
Ben Shohnah relates, that in the year 456 of the Hejra, in the reign of Kaiem, the twenty-sixth khaleefeh of the house of Abbas, a report was raised in Bagdad, which immediately spread throughout the whole province of Irak, that some Turks being out hunting saw in the desert a black tent, beneath which there was a number of people of both sexes, who were beating their cheeks, and uttering loud cries, as is the custom in the East when any one is dead. Amidst their cries they heard these words--The great king of the Jinn is dead, woe to this country! and then there came out a great troop of women, followed by a number of other rabble, who proceeded to a neighbouring cemetery, still beating themselves in token of grief and mourning.
The celebrated historian Ebn Athir relates, that when he was at Mosul on the Tigris, in the year 600 of the Hejra, there was in that country an epidemic disease of the throat; and it was said that a woman, of the race of the Jinn, having lost her son, all those who did not condole with her on account of his death were attacked with that disease; so that to be cured of it men and women assembled, and with all their strength cried out, O mother of Ankood, excuse us! Ankood is dead, and we did not mind it!

[a] compare Antar and the Suspended Poems (translated by Sir W. Jones) with the later Arabic works. Antar, though written by Asmai the court-poet of Haroon-er-Rasheed, gives the manners and ideas of the Arabs of the Desert.

[b] the Jinn are mentioned in the Kurân and also in Antar.

[c] see Tales and Popular Fictions, p. 37, seq. Lane, Thousand and One Nights, passim.

[d] Genius and Jinn, like Fairy and Peri, is a curious coincidence. The Arabian Jinnee bears no resemblance whatever to the Roman Genius.

[e] "When we said unto the Angels, Worship ye Adam, and they worshiped except Iblees (who) was of the Jinn."--Kuran. chap. xviii. v. 48. Worship is here prostration. The reply of Iblees was, "Thou hast created me of fire, and hast created him of earth."--Ib. vii. 11; xxxviii. 77.

[f] it was the belief of the irish peasantry, that whirlwinds of dust on the roads were raised by the Fairies, who were then on a journey. On such occasions, unlike the Arabs, they used to raise their hats and say, "God speed you, gentlemen!" For the power of iron, see Scandinavia.

[g] the Arabs when they pour water on the ground, let down a bucket into a well, enter a bath, etc., say, "Permission!" (Destoor!) or, Permission, ye blessed! (Destoor, ya mubdrakeen!)[h] for the preceding account of the Jinn, we are wholly indebted to Lane's valuable translation of the Thousand and One Nights, i. 30, seq.

[i] the first is given by Lane, the other two by D'Herbelot.

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