They Don’t Like the Light

“Feed your faith and your fear will starve to death”
– Unknown

A Brief Introduction

A Jinn ( also known as a Djinn or Genie) is a supernatural creature or spirit found in Islamic mythology that is capable of appearing in the form of both a human and an animal.

When I was a child, the elder folk in the village always used to warn me about the Jinn.  

When I asked my grandmother what a Jinn was, she told me the story of how God created the three entities of the world; the angels came first, beings crafted of pure light and devoid of free will and thought.  

Next came the Jinn, they were spirits born of a smokeless fire and unlike the angels they were granted the liberty of choice and amongst them was Satan himself.  

Then God created man from clay and granted them the same independence he gifted the Jinn.  

She told me that they were creatures much like us, only that they were part of a world we could not see, at least not most of the time. But on occasion we could catch a glimpse of it, in the form of the unexplainable.  

Growing up, I got the chance to see the Jinn for myself from time to time. They didn’t like light and as such would only populate dimly lit areas or make themselves known at night.  

I can recall my very first encounter with them in vivid detail. I was only six or seven at the time and the fall season had just come upon us.  

After a busy day of helping my mother with the chores we had finally settled in for the night. 

 My mother had started a fire in the hearth and had moved to climb into bed beside me when she froze.  

She was staring at the fireplace and when I moved to look at what had captured her attention, she stopped me.  

My mother pulled me down to the bed and blocked the view of the fireplace from my line of sight with her body.  

When I asked what was wrong, she told me not to worry, that we simply had guests over and that we shouldn’t bother them by staring or disrupting them. 

I was confused but didn’t ask her anymore questions.  

Eventually, after she had fallen asleep, I sat up slightly to glance at the hearth and stopped dead in my movements. 

 There, sitting around the fireplace were five…figures is really the best way to describe them.  

They looked human but they were composed of an opaque, black material, sort of resembling a solid shadow.  

There was no light from the fire dancing on their bodies they were just five concrete masses sitting peacefully around the hearth, watching the flames dance among the coals. 

 Remembering what my mother had said about them being guests and not to bother them I quickly laid down in bed and willed myself to sleep. 

The next morning, I told my grandmother about what I had seen the night before.  

She informed me that it had been the Jinn that I had seen and that they meant me no harm so long as I didn’t bother them.  

I asked why they had been there last night and she said that while they did not like the light, they enjoyed the warmth and comfort of a fire and were only resting.  

But alas, I was a curious child and still am to this day, a quality which many have ventured may get me in trouble someday, but that time still has yet to come. 

As we worked in the fields, I questioned my grandmother as to exactly why we shouldn’t pester the Jinn and she went quiet for a moment.  

Eventually she told me the story of the foreigner driven to insanity for a careless mistake.  

At the edge of our village stand two solitary Willow trees. They’ve been there for an incredibly long time and everyone in the village avoids them unless they can’t help it. The children are told to keep away from them, because those Willow trees are home to the Jinn that live among us and it is impolite to invade on their privacy without necessity.  

Some time ago, many a year before my birth, a man had come to the village looking to settle down. He was a foreigner and was thus unfamiliar with the customs and happenings of our community, such as the forbidden Willow trees.  

Sometime after he had purchased property in the area and had become relatively well aquatinted with the villagers, he had made a grave mistake.  

One evening after tending to his land and livestock, he had trekked out into the wilds to see if he could perhaps collect seeds to add to the variety of crops he had been growing. The hour was late upon his return and most of the people had retired for the day.  

The man was just on the outskirts of the village, near the Willow trees when the need to relieve himself had become too great.  

He hurried over to the ancient oaks and made quick work of his troubles. But unbeknownst to him, he had interrupted a dinner by pissing into the food. 

 Under that same spot the Jinn had been enjoying a late evening meal when they had noticed the man approaching. 

 They were too late to stop him from ruining their food, and the poor idiot hadn’t taken notice of their presence nor listened to the warnings of the locals to keep away from the Willow trees.  

Disgraced and furious with the actions of the ignorant man, the Jinn set their wrath upon the unsuspecting fool.  

In the weeks that followed the incident at the Willows, the man was plagued by many misfortunes.  

First his crops had perished and his goats had stopped producing milk. Later his house was robbed, leaving him penniless.  

Next, he awoke one morning to discover that every dish in his house had been broken and every door and window had been thrown wide open.  

A few days after this he had started to hear whispers in the night until eventually, they were a constant presence.  

These misfortunes went on for months until one night, he awoke to the angry Jinn standing around his bed, simply staring at him. 

 The foreigner had finally had enough and ran out into the cold, stark naked and had jumped into the freezing lake.  

He had drowned slowly and the villagers had found his body the next day.  

They buried him in a small graveyard a little ways from the village and that night they had all left a little food on their doorsteps for the Jinn to take as a gift, opting for a way to apologize for the man’s behaviour so that they may forgive him in death.  

The moral of the story, my grandmother had told me was that the Jinn are just like us. They are a people and amongst them are good and bad, and in the same way as we humans desire privacy and respect, they do as well. And so, it is only polite that we adhere to their wishes just as they have adhered to ours. 

And that my friends is the story of how I first met the Jinn and came to give them the respect they deserve just as every creature on this planet does. 

© 2016-2019 Leena Khan All Rights Reserved

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