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Islam and Christianity have a lot in common, in values, religious traditions and theology. Obviously, as Islam is part of the same Abrahamic tradition; the core message of both religions originates from The only One God or Allah, in Arabic.
Both religions believe in concepts such as Satan, angels, demons. But theologically, do they mean the same thing? Are angels in Christianity the same angels in Islam? Who are the fallen angels and demons? And who are the jinns?
In this article, I am going to compare the Christian concept of demons to the Islamic concept of jinns. We will take a look at their linguistic meaning, origin, their nature and characteristics, and their relation to humans.
Demon and Jinn: Definitions
The English term “demon” Christians commonly use today for “evil spirits” is derived from the Greek word “daimōn”. It means a “supernatural being” or “spirit” which influence people’s character.
Although people associate the term with maleficence, its original meaning doesn’t imply evil. (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Looking at Christian scriptures, in the Old Testament, the word demon occurs rarely. In fact, terms that are translated into English as “demon” actually refer to rejected idols and false gods, not evil spirits. (Bratcher, 2016)
Demons appear more frequently as evil creatures in the New Testament which is the main Christian source for understanding the concept of demons.
In the New Testament, “demons are described as evil spirits, unclean spirits, lying spirits, and angels of Satan.” (Gotquestions.org, n.d.a.) There’s no mention of jinns in Christian texts.
In Islam, jinns can be put in parallel to Christianity’s demonic creatures.
The term “jinn” refers to creatures that are simply hidden from the eyes of humans (Al-Ashqar, 1998. pp. 5.) as the word originates from the verb “to hide, to veil.” Jinns, however, can be good or evil. (Quran, 72:11)
So, linguistically, both demon and jinn are neutral words for spiritual creatures that are unseen to humans. However, some religious scriptures indicate that they are evil creatures.
Who are Satan, the Fallen Angels, and the Jinns?
There are many theories about the origin of demons based on Biblical verses.
Some Christian hold the view that they are spirits of evil dead people. Others view them as children from the union of angels and women or pre-Adamic spirits. However, the strongest opinion is that demons are created beings also called “fallen angels”. (Towns, n.d.)
In Christianity, angels were created before humans as initially good creatures but with a free will like humans. Thus, they are capable to choose between obeying or disobeying God. (ReligionFacts.com, 2017)
According to the Bible, the first angel who chose to rebel against God was Satan. (Isaiah 14:13) Satan desired to become God. He was arrogant and wanted to overthrow God and sit in His throne. Thus, in Christianity, he is considered to be the father of all evil. (Wellman, 2015)
Due to Satan’s rebellion, God expelled him from heaven and, thus, he became the ultimate enemy of God and the believers of God/Jesus. However, he didn’t leave the heavens alone.
One-third of the angels who witnessed his rebellion chose to follow him. (Rev. 12:4) Thus, Satan himself and those angels who followed him are called the fallen angels, or demons in other words. (Hampton, 2004)
Demons and Jinn
In Islam, we distinguish between humans, angels, and jinns. These creatures are different in nature but were created to worship Allah alone. (Qur’an, 51:56) Angels are creatures of light and have no free will; they only obey Allah’s commands. Humans and jinns, however, have free will, thus, the choice to submit to Allah or disobey him. (Qur’an, 72: 11)
So, Islam doesn’t have the Christian concept of “fallen angels” as angels cannot fall into disobedience. Jinns and humans can.
Fire and Mud
We also know that jinns were created from fire while humans from mud. (Al-Ashqar, 1998. pp. 6.) This is essential information because Islam also teaches about Satan’s arrogance and rebellion against God. However, clearly states that he was a jinn and he rebelled because he couldn’t stand that Allah ordered him to bow down to Adam. (Qur’an, 7:12)
Although according to the Quranic verse, Satan was with angels at the time Allah ordered the angels and Satan to bow down to Adam, Surat al-Kahf (18), verse 20 clarifies that he was actually from among the jinns.
There is no evidence either that Satan would have taken followers at the time he was expelled as Christianity teaches. However, Satan does have his own “demons” – evil humans as well as jinns – who help him misguide the believers. (Qur’an, 26: 91-95)
So, demons in Christianity are angels who willingly disobeyed God and followed the rebellious angel, Satan.
In Islam, jinns are completely different creatures from angels. Some are good, but many of them are bad and work with the Satan.
To be Continued.
Al-Ashqar, U. S., (1998). The world of jinn and devils. Denver, CO: Al-Basheer Publications & Translations
Al-Munajjid, M. S. (2002). Every person has a constant companion from among the jinn. Retrieved from https://islamqa.info/en/26226
Bratcher, D. (2016). Demons in the Old Testament. Retrieved from http://www.crivoice.org/demonsot.html
Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.) Angel and demon. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/angel-religion
Gotquestions.org, (n.d.a.). What does the Bible say about demons? Retrieved from https://www.gotquestions.org/citation.html
Gotquestions.org, (n.d.b.). Can a Christian today perform an exorcism? Retrieved from https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-exorcism.html
Hampton, J. K. (2004). Angelology: The doctrine of angels. Retrieved from https://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels
ReligionFacts.com, (2017). Demons in Christianity. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/demons
Towns, E. (n.d.). Demons in the bible – different types and how they attack. Retrieved from https://www.biblesprout.com/articles/hell/demons/
Wellman, J. (2015). Was Lucifer a fallen angel? a bible study. Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/07/22/was-lucifer-a-fallen-angel-a-bible-study/