Legends of the Fire Spirits by Robert Lebling, Tahir Shah

By Robert Lebling, Tahir Shah

When Westerners examine a genie, the 1st photo that involves brain might be Barbara Eden in her purple harem pants or the illuminated blue buffoon from the lively Disney movie Aladdin. yet to the folk of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the image is dramatically diverse. Legends of the fireplace Spirits seems to be past Westernized caricatures to immerse the reader within the bright lore of the jinn—the wondrous, usually difficult, and occasionally terrifying spirit beings of historical Arab and Islamic tradition.

Robert Lebling delves into long-lost bills, medieval histories, colonial files, anthropologist’s reviews, and traveler’s stories to discover the starting place and evolution of legends that proceed to thrive within the heart East and past. He cuts via centuries of Orientalists’ cultural presumption to craft a examine that stands except the overpowering physique of literature concerned about faith within the heart East.

A appealing synthesis of historical past and folklore, this can be the main different selection of jinn lore ever assembled in a single quantity. From historical scriptures to The Arabian Nights and past, and with a foreword through acclaimed filmmaker Tahir Shah, Lebling has developed a entire account that not just transcends geographical borders but in addition spans a few 4 millennia.

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Because of its location on the principal east-west caravan route, Palmyra’s culture and society were influenced by Phoenicians, Hebrews, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks. Its cultural tapestry was rich and diverse. When the Romans seized the city, Palmyra’s main temple, said to have been built by King Solomon of the Israelites, had already stood for two thousand years. Impressive ruins, including temples to Semitic deities such as Ba'al of the Canaanites, Nabu of Babylon and the goddess Allat of Arabia, survive to this day.

Belief in jinn continued unabated in the Arab East through Roman and Byzantine times to the coming of Islam in the seventh century, when these spirit beings were integrated into the new faith through Qur'anic revelation and the personal experiences of the Prophet. Two streams of knowledge were at work here: One was the folk interpretation of jinn, which, as we have seen, is largely Mesopotamian in origin, developed in cities, towns and villages with an eye towards the desert, and incorporating age-old regional beliefs about nature spirits, demons and divinities.

She was believed to live in craggy mountains or in dismal swamps and was particularly addicted to destroying children. Babylonian mothers would shield their children from the horrors of this demon by placing protective talismans on cords or chains around their youngsters’ necks. Another Babylonian demon called the sedu was possibly a guardian spirit, like the qarin/qarinah which we shall visit later. But it was also seen as having evil propensities. The sedu and a similar demon called the lamassu were often appealed to at the end of written invocations that have survived to this day on clay tablets.

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