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 three 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.
Amani Zarin is a real genie housewife and the star of 101 Nights from Boroughs Publishing Group. She’s relocated from Jinnistan to Jersey to figure out a way to save her homeland. After a sensual wedding night, she settles into a suburban life of swinging neighbors, wandering deer, afternoon champagne cocktails, an angry genie ex, and a scientist husband who monitors her every move. Can she last for 101 Nights or will she bring down the house with a flick of a fiery finger? Reluctant Rapture is the second book in the 101 Nights romance series. The first book is To Have and To Hold. Each book is only $1.99 from Boroughs Publishing Company.
I just got word today that my book, which is published by Boroughs Publishing Group, was ranked among the top three for my category, which was Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal. The Abalone Awards recognize “outstanding ethno-cultural romance.” While Zubis is a jinni and Bethany is a human, the cultural issue in The Genie Ignites is the divide between her Western world and his Eastern view, which is steeped in the legend, traditions, history, food, and lifestyle of the Middle East. But true love sees no color, sees no difference in how the heart loves. I’m so honored that my novel was selected. The winner will be announced at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in July. It’s time to make a wish.
Go download your copy of The Genie Ignites. It is the first book in The Zubis Chronicles series. I think you’ll like it.
The second book, The Genie Smolders, is due out in May.
A Reader’s Review blog hosts me and my genie obsession today. Go check out it and follow the blog for great book recommendations!
Originally posted on areadersreviewblog:
Today we welcome author Kellyann Zuzulo to share with us the truth about genies….. Over to you Kellyann!
The allure of the desert, whether it’s Vegas or the Sahara, taps some primitive heat in all of us. I know it does for me. The jinn, or genies, have been around for thousands of years. The Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights) brought these entities out of oral myth and into literature. Eventually, Western society got wind of these freeflying phantoms. Unfortunately, we turned them into bluish cartoons when all the research (yes, there is research on genies) says they are very similar to humans.
What a perfect antagonist for a romance! A guy who’s smart, powerful, alluring, and magical. That’s the basis for a heartthrob if ever there was one. In my novel The Genie Ignites, Zubis is that hero. Did you know that…
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…just don’t let Amani Zarin hear you calling her a housewife. She’s tough and she has a temper, so she’ll probably do fine in her new suburban home with her new suburban husband, Jason Masters. She’s a beautiful genie. He’s a handsome scientist. And they have 101 Nights to figure out a way to save her homeland, secure his research, make toast without setting the house on fire, and generate some magic. Jason never dreamed of this genie but she will keep him awake at night.
So that’s it in a nutshell: my new book. I really hope you’ll download it. To Have and To Hold is the first installment in the 101 Nights series. It’s $1.99. And if you like it, tune in for next month’s release called Reluctant Rapture.
If you have a Kindle, head on over to Amazon now and download it!
What Would You Wish For?
A new movie that was hailed as a groundbreaking film for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) film industry disappeared from the line-up at commercial theaters in December. That movie is called Djinn and tells the story of “An Emirati couple return home from a trip and discover that their new apartment has been built on a site that is home to some malevolent beings.”
Of course, I’m eager to see this film. It’s more research for me, accompanied by popcorn. I’d love to see a popular cinematic interpretation of the jinn. But it’s not to be. My mind runs right to supernatural sabotage. But that’s just my fiction imagination in overdrive….or is it? According to this article in The Guardian, the more likely reason is that UAE royal family found the film objectionable because of certain politically subversive messages. Here’s the reasoning in The Guardian article:
Then Djinn vanished. It didn’t appear at the Dubai film festival, where it had been offered a red-carpet premiere. Promised spring and summer 2012 release dates came and went. It was puzzling: shooting on the story – a Rosemary’s Baby-esque spooker set in a fishing village redevelopment in Ras al-Khaimah – was nearly a year back; post-production almost six months gone.
After Djinn’s Cannes launch in 2010 hailing the country’s entry into the commercial fast-lane and the early rash of publicity in government-sponsored publications, the silence was deafening. With Hooper’s imprimatur and an intriguing collision of modern genre thrills and traditional Arabic culture, Djinn had the potential finally to bring global attention to the fledgling UAE film scene ; “a much-awaited film for all our distributors around the world”, Fortissimo, Image Nation’s international sales agent, was saying. But come the end of the year, more tumbleweed.
Shortly after the London screening, an Italian website, Moviesushi, printed a possible reason for Djinn’s disappearance. According to a source on the production: “Someone close to Abu Dhabi’s royal family has seen the movie and does not appreciate its portrayal of the UAE, and considers the movie to be politically subversive.” The old suspicion surrounding the Emirati industry had risen again: that it was too tightly supervised from above (usually through the National Media Council censorship body) to blossom freely.
This excuse is immediately countered. Other views contend that the Arab Spring heightened Arab pride to the point where there would be little interest in a Western-packaged take on cultural legends. Who really knows? An actual genie might.
The latest news says that Djinn will be released in 2013. We’ll see. I’m rubbing my lamp and waiting for the popcorn to pop.
Meanwhile, another film called Djinn was released in 2008 that tells the story of a beautiful woman who is snatched by a genie and must be rescued by her true love who must cross the “three valleys of the Black Desert” to save her. I saw it. It’s okay. For a better story, I think you should pick up The Genie Ignites. ; )
What Would You Wish For?
Her name is Amani Zarin, not Jeannie, but she is a genie. The difference is that she’s independent, a reluctant roommate to Masters (that’s Jason Masters), sometimes surly, and absolutely refuses to wear her hair in a high ponytail. 101 Nights is my new romance novel being delivered in a series of Romantisodes from Boroughs Publishing Group. Episode One, To Have and To Hold, will be released on March 16th. Please pick it up. Read it over. I think you’ll enjoy it.
For love or for science? When genie ambassador Amani Zarin reluctantly agrees to work with human scientist Jason Masters to save her homeland, she never factored in the force of magnetic attraction…or the heart. The heat they generate could start a fire that will either bind them forever or incinerate their neighborhood and possibly their respective worlds.
Against a backdrop of conniving board members, hostile genies, and nosey suburban neighbors, Amani and Jason must navigate their loyalties and their own stubborn hearts to achieve wedded bliss…at least for 101 Nights.
In the meantime, pick up THE GENIE IGNITES for a heart bursting tale of cross-cultural love.
I’m currently writing a novella called Angels & Genies that offers a view on the world of Jinnistan. It’s a contemporary romance set on a New Jersey beachfront, but our jinni hero is determined to protect his homeland. Where is it? How does he get to it? Certainly not via the Garden State Parkway. No. Jinnistan exists parallel to our world and there are portals that occasionally allow access…sort of like potholes in the atmosphere. Every once in a while, the portal appears, like a comet in a clear night sky.
So, if you know my blog, you know I do my genie research. History, legend, myth, and anecdotes offer postcard images of this fabled land. With those resources and a little imagination, I’ve woven together a vision of what Jinnistan looks like. The more difficult question is: Where is it?
I like this theory of Jinnistan based on news reports of U.F.O. (Unidentified Flying Objects, for those of you living under rocks) sightings in Nigeria. Apparently, what appeared to be a city in the sky hovered over the remote village of Dulali last year.
Here’ what they saw:
Suddenly, he became aware of a pervading bright light enveloping the atmosphere, followed by a sudden realisation that the heavens were falling on the village. As he looked up at the encroaching sky, he saw the most amazing view of his forty years existence. According to him, “There appeared a wide, large mass of something that looked like a cloud from nowhere and it was flying slowly over the village just at the height of an average tree.
“The cloud was transparent and I saw beautiful tall buildings inside it, with tarred roads and cars. It was like a flying city. And from it I could hear the sound of machines making noise just as you would hear at Ashaka cement factory.
Here’s what they think it was:
Mallam Shehu Liman is the Chief Imam of the village. He confirmed the general consensus of the villagers and specifically affirmed that, “We believe that maybe Allah used those sightings to open our eyes to see how Jinns (spirits) live in their own world. Allah is great, and there is nothing He cannot do on earth.”
I’ll buy that for $3.99. What do you think?
For $3.99, you can buy The Genie Ignites.
And stay tuned for the cover unveiling of Angels & Genies next Monday, February 25, 2013.
I love the cultural expression of the unexplained.
- A fairy spilled the milk!
- A dybbuk must have caused my rash!
- I threw that plate at your head because I was possessed!
- The devil made me do it!
Each culture has a supernatural patsy. But really, the elements for an invisible perpetrator don’t vary that much. Since I write about genies, I’m always on the lookout for an account of a jinni encounter. I came across the story below in the Emirates news outlet 24/7. Because of my cultural background, everything about it moaned, “Ghooooost.” But all the witnesses shriek, “Geeeenie.”
In the Middle East, some people perceive the jinn as having ghost-like qualities. Still not the same though. In the Western world, ghosts are the vaporous manifestation of humans who have died. In Eastern culture, genies are very separate from humans. My point: Genies and ghosts are two very different things. (I say that from my superiority throne of the Genie Research Kingdom. It means nothing. Just a little ego massage.) Who knows what’s going on when people report things like what’s reported in this story. Genies? Ghosts? What do you think?
Jumeirah jinns giving residents a spookfest
Tenants, gardeners and maids report mysterious apparitions, doors slamming and things moving on their own
It’s 3am and footsteps can be heard echoing across the upstairs landing. A chill seeps into the room as a long dark shadow uncurls across the staircase, reaching out into the inky black darkness.
If this was a scene from a Hollywood movie, Ghostbusters would only be a short call away.
But for the many residents of Jumeirah 2 and 3, this everyday reality spins a spooky yarn of its own.
Over the last one year, cases of ghostly sightings and eerie and unexplained happenings have surfaced across residents of villas across the district.
The Jumeirah 2 neighbourhood, behind Choithrams supermarket in particular, has given several families sleepless nights.
Kate Naomi, a former Jumeirah resident wrote on the Expatwoman.com forum: “I consider myself a non-believer. But we moved into a house in Jumeirah, quite an old house actually, and all kinds of strange things started to happen. We tried to think up rational explanations but couldn’t seem to find any.
“There were a number of incidents – a plate sliding across the table on its own (heavy china one), there was nothing near it and the table was not wet. The gas cooker kept turning on; my sons toys kept activating themselves (remote control car driving round when no one is near the controller).”
If that wasn’t enough to give people the willies, she added: “My husband who is a complete non-believer told me he saw someone sitting on the stairs, a woman, and both of us have seen a small boy several times… It has happened in front of others too with my best friend sprinting for the door and wouldn’t come round after she witnessed some strange goings on. [sic].”
Kate went on to state that she later learned that no tenant has stayed in the house longer than six months.
Since her posts began, the family has moved homes and are relieved that incidents have not followed them into their new residence.
Kate’s experiences are not isolated. Another Jumeirah resident, Kitty, has also narrated similar experiences, saying: “We are living in Jumeirah three near Choithrams and also have odd things happening. The kitchen tap starts running around 10pm. I can hear footsteps upstairs when I know the kids are asleep. I also get the feeling that I am being watched and then the dog starts barking always in the same place where I feel the watching is coming from. Thankfully it does not seem to be a threatening presence.”
Another Expatforum poster, Wrinkly has a similar story to tell. “We live behind Safa Park and for the past six years have been having this ‘uneasy’ feeling in the house.
“My friend and her daughter came to visit and the daughter told us she saw a shadow in the house and a woman’s figure. Our neighbours never stay longer than a year and the people previously in our house also just stayed for a year and the people before them… I don’t know if it’s just my imagination going wild or there might be something more
A former burial site?
Stories have long since circulated over the Dubai grapevine that the Jumeirah district was once a burial ground for tribes over a century ago.
Kate is a firm believer in that, saying: “I know for a fact that there are a few old burial grounds in Jumeirah; I am pretty sure my house was located on one.”
Sophie, who is also a Jumeirah resident took to the online forum to talk about her maid complaining of seeing spirits, which soon propelled into a state of spooky incidences.
She wrote: “My daughter started with these stories of “friends” telling her “secrets” so I just chalked it up to imaginary friends, although she said one of them was “scaryman” and that has been a whole discussion with her. I am overly cautious with her TV to the point that there is no cable connection in the playroom…”
But when Sophie’s maid started to complain that spirits were haunting the house, all rationality went on pause mode.
“My villa is over 20 years old and the house next door is empty a lot and in the past five years has had a few different families,” she said. “But I also know that parts of Jumeirah are on top of old archaeological sites.”
Head to UAE interact and the government website confirms that Jumeirah was once a caravan stop for a trade route connecting Iraq and Rumoured grave sites having been covered over the decades have also made the rounds, but no one has ever confirmed the urban legend.
When ‘Emirates 24|7′ investigated, several similar stories cropped up with one Pakistani gardener, Shoaib Khan, saying: “I have worked in the area for seven years and there is a house here that all of us avoid walking past.
You feel a cold chill the minute you enter its compound and the dogs also bark incessantly when they approach it.
“No one has stayed in the villa for years and sometimes if you are out at night, you hear noises coming from it. I am telling you, there is an evil jinn in the house.”
Khan refused to escort this reporter to what he referred to as “bhoot villa” or “ghost villa”, nor would he divulge in its whereabouts.
Surprisingly, three others verified Khan’s story and all paled at the idea of divulging the address.
In Arabic folklore and Islamic teachings, jinns are supernatural beings that reside in a parallel world to humans. Jinns are known to be good, neutral or evil.
“The ones here are not good. They are evil,” said Liaqat Hassan, an Afghani driver who resides in Jumeirah three with his employers. “We have seen her, a woman who walks with her feet twisted. Anyone who looks her directly in the face goes mad.”
While Hassan’s dramatic story cannot be proved, his fear seemed genuine as he immediately started to recite verses from the Holy Quran and walked away.
Resident Sophie did ultimately end up employing the exorcism route to cleanse her home of any spirits, mischievous or of the evil kind.
She said: “The maid has not said anything about any spirits of late. It could also be that she was making it up and thought better to stop or my husband got a bit angry with her and scared her more than the spirits.”
Pick up THE GENIE IGNITES to see how real genies act.