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American Gods: What is a jinn, and why the eyes of fire?

Mousah Kraish as The Jinn in American Gods on Starz
Mousah Kraish as The Jinn in American Gods on Starz

American Gods on Starz features Mousa Kraish as The Jinn.

But what is a jinn, also spelled djinn — and known in the west as a genie?

The jinn come from Arabian and Islamic mythology and are supernatural creatures said to have been created by God from a smokeless “scorching fire” — hence Kraish’s eyes of flames in American Gods, as in the picture above, and why they are often known as “fire spirits”.

Jinns are mentioned regularly in Islam’s central religious text the Quran, which says that despite their “scorching fire” roots they are also physical beings in nature.

They are said to have free will and can be both good and evil, or neutral. They also have their own social organization including things like kings, weddings, and courts of law.

It is commonly believed that there are five hierarchical types of jinn, the Marid, the Ifrit, the Shaitan, the Jinn and the Jann.

The Ifrit — the kind of jinn that appears in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods book — is the most powerful and dangerous of the Jinns, and are known for their strength and cunning.

Jinns are said to have been created thousands of years before humans, and lived on the earth long before we ever came on the scene.

Some muslims believe that each person has their own jinni, which lives in parallel to the human in the spiritual world.

Again these can be good and bad, and can understand a person’s deepest desires better than they do — which is a theme that forms the basis for The Jinn in American Gods.

In the book the Ifrit can switch bodies by having those who believe in jinns carry out fellatio on him. He gives the person something that they deeply desire, then takes something away from him.

In American Gods, Mousa Kraish’s Jinn hasn encounter with Omid Abtahi’s Salim, who longs for inspiration and meaning in his life.

But will his encounter with The Jinn on a business trip to New York give him what he wants?

American Gods airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.


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