The Jinn are another type of creation, different from Angels, Humans and Animals. They are created with free will, intelligence and understanding; they are not spirits of the dead which haunt people nor are they myths. The Jinn have been created for the same purpose as Humans which is to worship God alone, and share many aspects with Humans in that they have their own communities, languages and livelihoods. The Jinn are able to choose their own path, whether that is good or evil.
What are the Jinn?
The Jinn are another type of creation, different from Angels, Humans and Animals. They are created with free will, intelligence and understanding; they are not spirits of the dead which haunt people nor are they myths. They are responsible for their actions and just like the humans, they have been ordered by Allah (God) to worship Him (alone). Jinn live on earth in a world parallel to that of man, and are invisible to human eyes however they can see humans as mentioned in the Qur’an: “…Indeed, he (Satan) sees you, he and his tribe, from where you do not see them…” [Qur’an Al-A’raaf 7:27] NOTE: Satan was a jinn himself… more info here (link here to “Do Muslims Believe in the Devil (satan)….)
The main commonality between humans and the Jinn is that they have the freewill to choose whether they want to follow the path of good or the path of evil.
The Jinn are part of the creation of Allah (God), and they are His slaves who are accountable and subject to commands and prohibitions, just like human beings. There are believers, disbelievers and evildoers among them. Those of them who do good will enter Paradise and those who do evil will be punished in the Hell-fire.
They are called ‘Jinn’ because they are obscured from human sight. The linguistic root word of Jinn in Arabic comes from “Junnah” , which means a shield and ‘Janna’ which means to hide, these meanings fit the very nature of the Jinn.
Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an that the Jinn have been created from fire:
“And the Jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire.” [The Qur’an: Al-Hijr 15:27],
“And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire.” [The Qur’an: Ar-Rahman, 55:15]
‘The Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The Angels were created from light, the Jinn were created from a smokeless flame of fire and Adam was created from what has been described to you (i.e. in the Qur’an).” [ Saheeh Muslim: 2996]
When were the Jinn created?
There is no doubt that the Jinn were created before mankind, as Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And indeed, We created man from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. And the Jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire.” [The Qur’an: Al-Hijr 15: 26-27].
These verses clearly show us that the Jinn were created before mankind and thats all we know about their time of creation, the knowledge of the exact time of their creation was not revealed to mankind.
Why were the Jinn created?
The Jinn were created for the same reason as Humans were created, and that is to worship Allah alone, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.“ [The Qur’an: Adh-Dhariyat 51:56]
Types of Jinn
The Prophet Muhammad [May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him] said, ‘’There are three types of Jinn: a type which flies in the air, a type which are snakes and dogs, and a type which resides and wanders.’’ [Tabarani 573, Al-Hakim 3702]
A famous Islamic Scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him), from the 13th Century said, “The Jinn take the forms of men and animals.” These can include dogs, cats, birds and many more.
The Dwellings of the Jinn and where they are found:
The Jinn have many places of dwelling within the world, here is a list of common places in which they usually reside:
1. Valleys, mountain passes, wildernesses and the deserts. These locations are mentioned in a lengthy narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) when he went to relay the message of Islam to some of the Jinn in the valleys and mountains.
2. Rubbish heaps, bins and places where food is generally found.
4. Caves, cleaves and burrows
5. In people’s houses
6. Camel Pens
7. Abandoned Places
Are the Jinn souls of deceased relatives?
As we can see from the verses mentioned previously in this answer, the Jinn are a separate creation and were created before Humans, this leaves no room for the view that the Jinn are spirits of deceased relatives who come back to haunt or communicate with people. That being said, the evil ones of the Jinn can assume forms of humans in order to trick and play around with people.
Interaction between Mankind and the Jinn
It has been understood through various teachings in Islam that interaction between Mankind and the Jinn is prohibited and not beneficial. This does not mean that people from both sides have not attempted to communicate, this topic will be discussed in a different answer.
In summary the Jinn do exist, they were created by Allah before mankind and their purpose is the same as humans, to worship Allah alone. They have their own communities, languages and livelihoods and live alongside Humans in the world. They have free will and are able to choose their own path whether that is good or evil.