After making Malaeka (Angels) recently, and being immersed in lore about the “in-between” world, the word Jinn suggested itself quite naturally. The word I used here is actually jinni جنّي, singular form of jinn.
There is no better scholarly source for jinn studies than Ibn Arabi (whom I discovered years ago while researching jinn, precisely, for the purposes of my graphic novel – a whole other line of thought). Without getting lost into pages and pages of discussion, I want to point out that the primary meaning of the word jinn is “hidden, invisible to the eye”, which is why he describes 3 ways of understanding it as mentioned in the Qur’an:
- God created 3 races of rational beings: Angels, Jinn and Men. Jinn are intermediate beings between the spiritual nature of the former and the earthly nature of the latter. They belong to the imaginal, the world of archetypes, and this may be why they are said to inspire artists and poets (Arabic even has a verb, waswis, to refer specifically to jinn whispering in one’s ear)
- Jinn is a general term referring to “all that which is concealed: angels and other beings”.
- The jinn refers to the invisible part of the human being, their inner world, as opposed to what is visible of them (body, actions).
These may not be be mutually exclusive, but can be seen to point to a complex, interpenetrating reality.
The notion of concealment, of elusiveness, drove my design: the word must be there, but where is it? An interesting detail: the design is twelve-fold, but it is only after finishing the piece that I came across this piece of information: “It is said that jinns were originally concentrated in twelve tribes….”