Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blaming Terror On 'Magical, Shape-Shifting Jews:' Why It's So Easy For Muslims To Believe

Some French Muslims are saying "magical, shape-shifting Jews" are the ones truly responsible for the terror attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket that left seventeen people dead. Do you think that's crazy? Guess what. It makes sense to more Muslims than you know. 

Daily Beast reporter Dana Kennedy states in her article "In Paris's Muslim Suburbs, Some Blame Jews For Charlie" that a man she interviewed named Mohamed attributed the attacks to "magical Jews" and gave a long explanation for his theory.

"They were not ordinary Jews, he said, but a 'hybrid race of shape shifters,'" she writes, "who have extraordinary abilities. 'They know how to get in everywhere,' he said. 'They are master manipulators.'"

Millions of French citizens turned up to rally in Paris against Islamic terrorism and the assault on free speech. In France's large Muslim community, conspiracy theories have cropped up that blame "magical, shape-shifting Jews" for the recent terror attacks.

Although Mohamed's comments may be shocking to westerners, I have no doubt that his views are being treated at worst as those of a mad men and at best as those of an fringe Islamic extremist. The reality, however, is very different. His comments are more reflective of mainstream Islamic thinking than most people realize.

The characteristics of these Jews that Mohamed described, that they are magical, shape-shifting, manipulative, and have other extraordinary abilities are the exact same qualities credited to a different race of supernatural beings that are heavily documented in the Quran and Islamic philosophy: the jinn.

The jinn are mentioned often in the Quran, over twenty-nine times in fact. The seventy-second chapter, or surah, is devoted entirely to them and is aptly named, "Surah Al-Jinn." The copy of the Quran a group of Palestinian friends gave me during my time as an exchange student at the American University of Sharjah in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates even includes a forward describing the Quran as a holy book given by Allah to both mankind and jinn.

Although there are contrasting theories about the jinn among Islamic theologians, the most consistent information I have come across from Muslim friends is that they are creatures made of scorching, smokeless fire who live in a parallel universe with our world. Created long before mankind came to exist, the jinn are believed to possess powers man lacks, such as the ability to travel as fast as the speed of light, to intervene in mankind's universe, and, of course, to change shape. However, like man, they have a range of personality types, can choose to be good or evil, and even Muslim or non-Muslim (or Jew).

While one is likely tempted to assume that belief in the jinn is limited to the poor, illiterate Muslim masses, I have encountered numerous well-educated, wealthy Muslims who actively believe that benevolent and malevolent jinn play active roles in their everyday lives.

The same group of friends that gave me the Quran as a present during my student days in Sharjah became very upset when I told them that I did not personally believe in the jinn. 

"You must be crazy!" one of them, a Palestinian student named Mohammed, screamed at me. "You are crazy or very, very stupid. You must believe in the jinn for your own safety. Not all jinn are good. Most of them are very bad! They jinn will attack you if you say you don't believe in them. They will abduct your body and you'll lose all control of everything. My brother Ahmed saw it happen once. His friend said he didn't believe in the jinn and two minutes later he fell to the ground. He couldn't stop shaking. My brother and his friends had to call an ambulance!"

When I suggested that perhaps his brother's friend suffered from a seizure, Mohammed became more insistent that the jinn were to blame. 

"Jinn attacks are real!" he insisted as three of our friends who I considered to be fairly reasonable people nodded along in agreement. "The jinn even rape girls. There are girls who have gotten pregnant by the jinn while they were sleeping. This is no joke!"

Mohammed proceeded to tell me that there are jinn who prefer living in our world more than their own. He said there are many old, abandoned buildings that are full of them. 

"Sometimes the jinn will attack people just to get them to move out of their homes. There are dorms at the universities next to AUS (American University of Sharjah) that have no students in them. Do you know why?"

I stared at Mohammed skeptically before taking a guess.

"Jinn attacks?" I proposed.

"Exactly!" Mohammed yelled out to everyone else's pleasure. "Now you understand! There are also jinn who live in unclean places like garbage dumps or bathrooms. There could even be a jinn in your toilet."

This was the first of one of many conversations I had with students during my semester in Sharjah about the jinn and I realized that belief in them transcended one particular nationality, ethnic group, or Islamic denomination.

Once it was discovered by some of my Emirati friends that I had completed reading the Quran, but was not convinced it was the written word of God, they became very upset and I was asked what they could do to prove to me that the Quran was real.

One night after enough prodding, I jokingly proclaimed to a cohort of my white-robed peers that I would become a Muslim if they could show me a jinn. No jinn no deal.

A pale-skinned Emirati named Faisal appeared at my door several minutes and told me he had come to conjure a jinn from the depths of my toilet and present it to me. Faisal's grandfather was believed to be a famous exorcist in his local tribe. I suppose Faisal wanted to believe that his grandfather's talents had passed down to him.

Armed with a large pot, a bottle of cooking oil, a box of salt, oven mitts, and a dozen of his closest friends, Faisal took over my kitchenette. He filled up the pot with water, and placed the pot on the burner. When the water began to boil, Faisal dumped about half the box of salt in the pot and turned off the stove. 

He ordered me to take his concoction to the bathroom and pour it into the toilet.

"Say 'jinni kharooj' (which literally means 'out jinni' in Arabic) three times," Faisal instructed me. "Doing this will wake him up."

"You're sure there's a jinn in my toilet?" I asked.

"If you use your toilet often and it is a dirty place then there must be."

"I use my toilet like it's my job!" I answered.

"Then know that when you are there you are not alone."

Pouring in the hot, salty water from the pot, I yelled "jinni kharooj" three times. After a few suspenseful seconds the experiment look like a dud.

"This is only the beginning," Faisal assured me as the other ten or eleven Emiratis looked on. "The jinn is awake. Now we must heat the oil! Only when you pour hot oil into the toilet will the jinn come out."

Sure enough, after heating up the cooking oil, adding salt, pouring it all into the toilet, and crying out "jinni kharooj" three times, the only thing that emerged was yellow, bubbling water. 

At that point, I was ready to call it a night, but my friends would not hear of it. If this was the only way I was going to convert to Islam, then they were going to see this experiment through until the end. 

"Go back to the toilet and yell three times, 'jinni tha'ayif' (which literally means 'weak jinn' in Arabic)," Faisal ordered. "This is a big insult to a jinn. He will come out of the toilet to hurt you and will see how many of us he must fight. We will defeat him because we have the power of Islam! We will not fail you, Michael!"

Long a prominent feature of Islamic thinking, the Jinn have recently gone mainstream with the release of the 2014 film "Jinn."
All the Emiratis in my room clapped their hands and promised to save me in the event that I was attacked by a supernatural creature capable of traveling at the speed of light, and of abducting my body, that, for some strange reason, preferred to live in my toilet. If that wasn't unconditional friendship, then I don't know what is and I truly am grateful to my Emirati friends for their loyalty. Nevertheless, the cynical side of me yearned to put their promise to the test and the practical joker in me craved to have some fun with this. 

As the Emiratis beckoned each other to remain silent, I returned to the toilet, bent over, and placed my hands firmly on the seat. Closing my eyes, I breathed in deeply and tried one last time to tempt the jinn to leave my toilet.

After I said "jinni tha'ayif" three more times, I let a few seconds pass before emitting a soft growl. Heaving for breath, I staggered to my feet and let out the noisiest, most animalistic growl that I could. I turned around slowly with my head a bit crooked and my hands shaking at my sides. I stared upwards so that all who fixed their eyes on me could only see the whites of my eyes. 

I then screamed out in Arabic that I was a jinn, grabbed Faisal, and howled whatever improvised, unintelligible gibberish I could muster up at him. Instantly, he spun and the other Emiratis ran out of my room in a state of panic, convinced my body had been abducted by a demon. So much for their promise to save me, I thought. 

Once out in the hallway, I called out to my friends and told them I had just been joking. They laughed hysterically and were gasping for breath. They then gave me hugs and handshakes and professed their deepest relief that I had not, in fact, had my body taken over by a jinn that lived in the depths of my toilet. 

The point of these anecdotes is that belief in supernatural beings such as the jinn is common and blaming such beings for everyday problems and situations is even more common, even amongst the well-off and educated. Going further and blaming terrorist attacks on a conspiracy by Jewish jinn may not be such a stretch.

The French Muslim community and the wider Muslim world find themselves in a difficult place. The western world is looking to them for answers as to why their co-religionists are committing atrocities against innocent people in the name of their religion. 

For many, it is simply easier and more logical to blame "shape-shifting Jews," which alludes to elements of their actual religious tradition, than to conduct meaningful soul-searching as to how something so heinous and evil can come from their communities. 


  1. It is scary if this really is a common belief among Muslims.

  2. oh puhleeze...these "attacks" in france were not even real...the "gunmen" were hired crisis actors shooting duds at another actor posing as a "policeman"...

    there isn't a single bit of evidence that any "Muslims" killed anyone at Charlie Hebdo...

    the entire thing is one giant hoax....Charlie Hebdo was clearly a staged dead corpses at the "crime scene"...