The Jinn and the Shayatin

In Benjamin W. McCraw & Arp Robert (eds.), Philosophical Approaches to Demonology. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 137-155 (2017)
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If by “demon” one understands an evil occult being, then its equivalent in the Islamic narrative is the intersection of the category jinn with that of the shayātīn: a demon is a shaytān from among the jinn. The literature in the Islamic tradition on these subjects is vast. In what follows, we will select some key elements from it to provide a brief summary: first on the nature of the jinn, their nature, and their relationship to God and human beings; second, on the origin, nature, and role of Shaytān (Satan himself) and the shayātīn in the moral drama of Islam. Then, we will take a closer look at the relationship between jinn and humankind, according to Islam, and the phenomena of the demonic as it manifests itself in that relation. In the process, I will entertain, tentatively, some philosophical speculation as to the nature of that ultimately mysterious relation and phenomena, drawn from what we find in the religious sources.

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