Jinns are everywhere, as Nilab Siddiqi explains, and she is terrified of them. Why is she being haunted? Read on to find out more about this interesting aspect of Islamic folklore.
There are jinns in my bathroom and they scare me half to death.
It is 11:30pm. I’m tucked into bed, the lights are off and the melatonin pill I downed is leeching away at my consciousness when all of a sudden it hits me. I need to pee. While not a daunting bodily sensation to most, for me, using the bathroom after everyone has fallen asleep is quite possibly my worst nightmare.
You see, my bathroom is haunted. Well…not haunted, more so possibly inhabited?
According to Islamic belief, our world is not only host to human beings but jinns as well. Jinns are creatures made of smokeless fire, invisible to the naked human eye and just as capable of good and evil as us. They are also capable of many things humans are not, such as meddling with the world around us without us humans ever (ever!) seeing them. Based on the Islamic tradition, jinns can do good or do harm, including possible harm to humans. But if you are relying on Afghan cultural norms, jinns are creatures which can, and will, push frames off their hooks, slam your doors, move your spectacles and generally cause mayhem.
Many cultures where Islam is the predominant religion use jinns in their lore. The first ever encounter I personally had with the lore surrounding Jinns was through one of the many thrilling tales told to me as a child. A hazy recollection of the tale recounts that a mischievous jinn in rural Afghanistan- where they are found aplenty- would bring a beautiful young girl golden trinkets consistently, as a token of their affection. While that may sound sweet, I would rather not have an invisible being following me around and giving me gifts. As I grew, however, I came to know more and more about the complex nature of jinns.
Now do not get me wrong, not all jinn are bad. They’re actually very similar to humans, except for the fact that they are made from smokeless fire and have amazing abilities. They have free will, like humans, and are, therefore, accountable for their actions before God. This free will means that there are ill-intentioned jinns, just like humans, although many jinn are harmless. There are actually many categories of jinn but that is beyond the scope of this story; we’re concerned with the unbelieving and ill-intentioned category. The types of jinn which tend to lurk in dirty places, including bathrooms, which brings me back to my original point. There are (probably!) jinns in my bathroom and they scare me half to death.
While regular Aussie kids were scared of the Boogie Man and Bloody Mary appearing in their mirror at night, I was, and still am, terrified of jinns meddling with me in the bathroom. If I close my eyes to wash my face, will a jinn be staring back at me in the mirror when I open them? If I turn to face a wall in my shower, will a jinn be waiting for me when I turn the other way? Realistically, I know these things won’t happen as jinns are invisible to the human eye. What I should be scared of is a jinn possession while I’m taking a wazz, but it’s hard to be rational when you’ve been raised on purposefully terrifying stories.
I will reluctantly admit that I naturally scare easier than others, but I truly believe that anyone fed as many scary tales about the dark would be just as frightened as me. One recollection summons the insane stammer of my stressed heart as a young girl in a dark cabin park in Wollongong. My older cousins had just finished excitedly telling me they had seen a wretched jinn peering out at them from the inside of a parked car. Until this day, I turn my eyes away from the inside of cars when it’s dark out, even though I know jinns don’t appear to us in frightful, ghostlike forms. If a jinn did reveal itself to us, it would only really be in the form of a creature and, well, what is really so frightening about seeing a stray goose, dog or snake in a car? Chances are my cousins simply concocted the tale to scare me, and it worked.
There are a variety of strict rules to follow when using the bathroom to avoid jinns causing trouble. And by trouble, I mean possession. No singing, talking, crying or reciting in the bathroom. All seemingly simple rules. But when you’re an abnormally stressed 21-year-old who has a bladder the size of a pistachio, all of these rules will fly right out of your mind if you’re not careful. Especially that rule about crying in the bathroom.
This fear of jinns in bathrooms isn’t only restricted to my own bathroom but to all bathrooms, even the public kind, especially the public kind. If anything, I’m more scared of public bathrooms than my own. If evil jinns fester in dirty places, then they would surely have an absolute ball in public bathrooms. How truly horrible it would be to be possessed in a dank public bathroom.
I know I am painting a rather bleak picture here but, in fact, there is a dua, a type of supplication, provided to us to recite before entering a bathroom, which will protect us from the eyes and mischief of evil bathroom Jinns. Although, in my pre-bathroom anxiety, I almost always forget to recite it and instead just speed up my bathroom proceedings to an almost impossible pace in order to avoid any supernatural meddling.
So now you see why my need to pee at night is such a scary prospect. Who knew such a natural need posed such chaotic risks?
I open my eyes and ponder my options. I can either tip-toe down the hall to the bathroom, recite my dua and anxiously relieve myself, or I could close my eyes, pretend like I’m not in deep pain and hope I eventually fall asleep…
Frankly, it’s not a hard choice to make. I turn to my side and silently apologise to my bladder. The jinns win tonight.