Saturday, October 11, 2008

Djinns and the mosque: Scary stories about the jinns, the legends and nostalgia

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The tales of Djinns are fascinating and scary at the same time.

In childhood, I heard numerous tales about the djinns [jinns] and their powers.

The photo shows the Jizyagarhi mosque, near Lucknow.

We heard umpteen stories of the djinns living in this ancient mosque.

People would say that when they entered the mosque there would be not a single soul but when they started praying, suddenly dozens of persons in spotless white dress would appear in the front, side and back rows. 

Or that when sat for ablutions before namaz, a hand would bring the tumbler full of water. These are just some of the tales. But when I walk past the old palaces, kothis, mosques and the particular trees in my hometown, a chill still runs down my spine. 

I don't know if the djinns any longer come to study in the local madarsa, as per the old legends.  I didn't ask anybody either but I'm sure the stories won't have vanished. Legends just keep growing.

Stories heard in the childhood have a great impact on one's mind. The friendly jinns who loved to eat coal and bones and in return gave away 'asharfis' and also the ones who fell in love with beautiful girls who never got married as they got possessed.

There were also the 'shararti jinns' who never harmed anyone, except occasional mischief. They would frighten elderly women by picking up something kept far away--by extending their hand up to a distance of 15-30 feet. 

On my recent visit, I ventured towards the mosque but didn't step inside. It was not that I feared that a hand would come from nowhere to pat me and ask to leave but I walked away after taking a photograph. We grew up to the stories of not just jinns but the 'baram-rakhas' or 'agiya betal' too. More about djinns in later posts.