There was once a homeless thief who made a bargain with an old man that changed his life forever. For the old man was, in fact, a sorcerer. The sorcerer coveted a magic lamp that was buried deep inside an ancient cave filled with traps and worse. The sorcerer sent the thief inside to retrieve it and betrayed him, trapping him inside the cave. The thief thought his life was over until he discovered the secret of the lamp. Contained within its tarnished exterior was a being of extraordinary power. This being was bound to the lamp and, through the lamp, could be commanded by mortals. The thief unleashed the power of the ancient being and escaped the cave, but that was only the beginning. He would go on to generate untold riches for himself, become a prince, and ultimately claim revenge on the sorcerer who had betrayed him. He had accidentally managed to do what many powerful sorcerers only dream of – he had trapped a jinnee.
The Jinn are a race created by an all-powerful god out of fire and the winds of the Saharan desert. Angels were created first (out of light), then the jinn, and finally man (out of dust). Jinn are aerial creatures and usually invisible. They can take on many physical forms but will first appear as a pillar of wind and fog before deciding on a physical appearance. They might choose to appear hideous or beautiful - a reflection of the fact that their intentions can be evil or pure. They often appear in various animal shapes, such as owls, cats, scorpions, or onagers. The most common animal form they choose is a snake or a black dog – their are many tales in the Middle East concerning snakes or dogs who turned out to be a jinnee. The most common places you might find a jinnee are ruins, empty houses, wells, rivers, and deserts.
Despite the story of the jinnee who brought great fortune to the thief, and the popular (but groundless) belief that a jinnee will grant you three wishes, the truth is that the jinn will often bring great harm to humans. They are arrogant beings that see humans as far beneath them. Jinn are capable of entering the body of a human and causing discomfort, disease, or even mental breakdown. There are many old stories of jinn throwing stones on people from the roofs of houses and even carrying people's wives away into the desert. There is a more recent story that tells of a monster hunter who searches for a jinnee in a river. When he fishes it out, the jinnee enters the throat of his nearby friend, silencing and nearly killing him. Stories like these led to people developing rituals in order to guard their houses against the jinn. The rituals would often beseech the god who was their creator.
And yet, the power of the jinn is highly coveted. It is possible for a highly trained sorcerer to bend a jinnee to his will. A more ambitious one could potentially bind a jinnee to some specific object, and it is from these ancient rituals that the story of the lamp emerges. Edward William Lane relates the power of jinn in his analysis of the Kur-án:
“They often ascend to the lowest confines of heaven, and there, listening to the conversation of the Angles respecting things decreed by God, obtain knowledge of futurity, which they sometimes impart to men, who, by means of talismans, or certain invocations, make them to serve the purposes of magical performances.”
Although power, riches, and certain knowledge of the future has its attraction, I advise you stay away from this kind of magic and the jinn altogether. There is a theory that the first Jinn, the leader and sire of the race, was in fact an angel who fell from grace into hell after refusing to bow to the human race. A race born from such a proud and tortured being seems unlikely to live in harmony with our kind.