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Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar

Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar [Kindle Edition]

Robert Lebling
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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'The boundaries of Lebling's work surpassed my wildest dreams. Lebling has left no stone unturned in his enquiry, roaming through traditional Eastern literature as well as the modern media. The result is a truly extraordinary masterwork, a treasury within itself that can be consulted at random, dipped into as a bedside book, or read from cover to cover in a fabulous feast for the imagination and the enquiring mind.' --- Tahir Shah

Product Description

‘An energy, a pulse form of quantum physics perhaps, alive at the margins of sleep or madness, and more often in the whispering of a single unwelcome thought.’_x000D_
The Economist_x000D_
According to Islamic tradition, Allah created three types of beings: angels, made of light; humans, made of earth; and jinn, made of smokeless fire. Supernatural, shape-shifting, intelligent and blessed with free will and remarkable powers, jinn have over the ages been given many names - demon, spirit, ghoul, genie, ifrit and shaitan. Neither human nor immortal, they roam the earth inhabiting dark and empty places, luring humans to their deaths or demonically possessing them if harmed or offended. Despite the fact they cannot be seen, jinn are said to be strangely human-like - marrying, bearing children, forming communities and tribes, eating, sleeping, playing and facing judgement like any other human. They are ever-present partners in the human experience, causing endless mischief, providing amazing services and sometimes inducing sheer terror._x000D_
Believed in by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world and from all faiths, jinn have played a particularly central role in the literature, culture and belief systems of the Middle East and the Islamic world. Legends of the Fire Spirits explores through time and across nations the enduring phenomenon of the jinn. From North Africa to Central Asia, from the Mediterranean to sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, this riveting, often chilling, yet reasoned book draws on long-forgotten ancient testimonies, medieval histories, colonial records, anthropologist’s reports and traveller’s tales to explore the different types of jinn, their behaviour, society, culture and long history of contact with humankind. It documents their links with famous figures in history such as King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and illustrates the varied and vivid portrayals of jinn in world literature. In essence Legends of the Fire Spirits demonstrates the colourful diversity of human culture and the durability of faith and is a magnificent and indispensable portrayal of the rich folklore of the Islamic world._x000D_

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3200 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1582436320
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; 1 edition (30 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007TUY1HW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,223 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opening cultural curtains 17 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great book about fire spirits or jinn. It's about their possible origins, their families and religions, their interaction with humanity, their malevolence and kindness, likes and dislikes.

It appears that jinn don't like citrons (the fruit, not the Citroen car) although they probably don't like Citroens either because they dislike iron; they also dislike salt. Hence, perhaps the use of horse shoes above doors and various superstitions about throwing salt; in Japan, they throw salt to purify a sumo ring. The next time you meet a jinn please ask him or her why they don't like salt when they like the sea; they also like living at crossroads, in ruins, in sewers, down wells, in or beside rivers, in caves and in houses which have been empty for a while; which makes the excellent introduction by Tahir Shah relevant as he experienced jinn while renovating a house in Morocco.

Having read this book, there seem to be few qualities possessed by jinn that do not play on human hopes and fears. They live for a long time, yet most of us have puny life spans and fear death; they often have fabulous wealth or are able to produce it in an instant as in the tale of Maruf the Cobbler; they have incredible skills and can make jewelry which cannot be surpassed in beauty by human beings; they can travel at impressive speed. Yet, as Robert Lebling points out, they are very human; they have families, religions, although they live longer than us they are not immortal, they belong to large social groups and are tribal; but, whether or not they can enter paradise is disputed. Whether their leader, Iblis, is a fallen angel or was born a fire spirit is also disputed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jinn and Us 6 May 2011
By Ita
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How do you write for sceptical westerners about things, beings or forces so subtle they are undetectable by ordinary human senses and, until now, by scientific instruments? Robert Lebling has done just that, undeterred by the risk of incurring ridicule from those of us unwilling to concede that there is much we still do not understand; but who saw Osama bin Laden as the embodiment of evil clashing with good in the form of Barack Obama; and the marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William as the union of a mortal with a supernatural being.
`Jinn' is a word derived from an Arabic root which means to `conceal' or `cover with darkness'; but the darkness is not total. The spirits created by God from smokeless fire can take on the features of any living being they desire apart from those of a prophet or imam, but when they interact with humans, who are more dense and made from clay, there is an energy change. Robert Lebling has searched for these energy bursts in pre-Islamic writing, the Koran, the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammed), folktales, history, European literature, the Internet and the writing of maverick scientists. With time and space compressed a picture emerges, fashioned from metaphor and legend.
Although Jinn are physically fundamentally different from familiar living creatures, we see a race similar to us in many ways, sharing our emotions of envy, love, hatred, fear resentment, anger. Some Jinn are helpful to mankind. Others are powerful and malicious. From them humans have found it necessary to devise forms of protection, and not just in Muslim countries. Here in the West people wear blessed medals, bless themselves with holy water and put sprigs of conifer, blessed on Palm Sunday, behind pictures as protection against evil spirits.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shape-changing 8 Nov 2011
Most of us know little more of the Jinn than Aladdin's lamp can supply; but, just as in Africa animals are held to organise themselves in communities analogous to ours - just as in Ireland the people of fairy live a partly invisible life parallel to ours - so do the Jinn throng the Arab world, from Arabia to Iraq, through Syria, across North Africa to Zanzibar and beyond. Robert Lebling has done us the invaluable service of documenting the origins and nature of the Jinn who,no less than the elves of Old Europe, exert a profound influence on our everyday lives. Partly spiritual, partly physical, sometimes benign, often terrifying - always contradictory - these elusive, shape-shifting daimons not only haunt the wildernesses and empty quarters - they are also near us, nearer than we'd sometimes like; nearer, perhaps, than we are to ourselves. Lebling combines scholarship and journalistic skill to present a vivid and intriguing picture of these complex, ambiguous, fire-born forms. He is to be both congratulated and thanked; and I warmly recommend this book to... well, everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, Interesting and Well Written 19 Aug 2011
Lebling has created a rare non-fiction novel that explores the fascinating culture of the Jinn. He touches on everything from the psychological, the religious, the mythological, the different varieties of Jinn and Jinn behaviour. It's so well-written, the prose smooth and interesting; for those who find non-fiction a chore this is definitely a book to pick up as it never bores. I had been looking for something detailed about the Jinn to help me with a fiction novel I was writing and this was just absolutely perfect and more than helpful! Thank you Mr Lebling!
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