As I do my research into what is known about the realm of the jinn, I’m always on the lookout for archaeolgical links to places that may have a mysterious history; locations whose lore or legends lend themselves to jinn occupation. Mazraat Beit Jinn in the foothills of Mount Hermon is such a place. Translated from Arabic, Mazraat Beit Jinn means Farm in the Jinn House. There is a nearby town simply called Beit Jinn, which means House of the Jinn. Why? Why would residents of long ago give such a name to this windswept, sparsely populated desert outpost? Were the jinn here? There’s no answer now. Beit Jinn is a small village among a cluster of small villages southwest of Damascus having a total population of just over 2,000 souls. At one time, however, it sat along the route of the Silk Road. Once it was vibrant. Once, it might have hosted the jinn.
Not far from Beit Jinn, northeast of Damascus, lies Palmyra. And here, there are more remnants that lore credits to the handiwork of the jinn. Although located in the arid center of a desert, Palmyra employed a system of elaborate dams and cisterns 2,000 years ago to bring water to more than 100,00 inhabitants. A pretty big feat. Unless you have some jinn working for you. And here’s some literary evidence to support that theory:
“Rise up and go into the world to release it from error and send word to the Jinn and I will give them leave to build Tadmur with hewn stones and columns.” ~God said to Solomon according to the pre-Islamic Arab poet Nabigha al Dhubyain.
Tadmur is the Arabic name for Palmyra.
Here’s my theory. The jinn were active in the desert thousands of years ago. They claimed it as their own. They helped humans to build magnificent cities to provide respite from the heat. They didn’t care that conditions could be harsh and inhospitable. They were the jinn: great engineers. They tapped into the wadi, reservoirs of water beneath the sand; they erected cool marble halls; they brought elegance and civility to the desert. They worked with humans, but humans became more numerous. When Solomon was given control of the jinn nearly a thousand years ago, the game changed. They built his temple (there are allusions to this in the Christian Bible) and some other cities (Petra and Meda’in Salah among them). Here, we get back to Beit Jinn. While the jinn moved about from such locations as Palmyra in the north to Petra in the south, they would have resided at towns along the way. Towns that would forever bear the memory with such names as Beit Jinn and Mazraat Beit Jinn. But the jinn were seen increasingly as a threat. They were no longer needed. They withdrew. Where are they now?
You can certainly find them in my novels. Check out The Genie Ignites and 101 Nights for some fictional insight on what the realm of the jinn might be like. Sadly, to travel to Syria now is to risk getting caught in the civil strife there. News accounts report that the ancient citadel of Palmyra and those in Aleppo have been damaged by mortar fire. Hopefully, a resolution will soon be found so that this wonderful history isn’t lost forever.