Sunday, 8 May 2011

Iranian President accused of 'summoning djinns'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been accused by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of dealing in occult magic and summoning magical spirits called djinns to cause harm to his enemies.

Several of Ahmadinejad's allies have been recently arrested following these allegations, including Abbas Ghaffari who is supposedly involved in communing with spirits and performing exorcisms.

It's no surprise that the Ayatollah is giving the President a hard time, considering their tense relationship, but this is a really bizarre story. The Ayatolla has given him the ultimatum to accept a Cabinet Minister or resign. Maybe the President can conjure a new minister from a lamp?

Djinns are prominent characters in Arab folklore and appear in Islamic texts as Jinn. They appeared in English as genies in 1665 in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which is the more familiar term for westerners. In pre-Islamic folklore, djinns were shape-shifting spirits who wandered in the desert, sometimes turning invisible, and had the ability to drive people mad. The Koran contains a different version of these spirits who were made of fire who could also change their form. Interestingly, in Islam djinns had their own societal structures like humans, with royalty, traditions and law.

Djinn lore has made its way into other world cultures, including the indigenous Guanches of the Canary Islands and even Judeo-Christian mythology. Now we see them in popular culture, such as Aladdin and in various fantasy roleplaying games, video games and films.