Alleging harassment, Saudi family sues genie

Photo spoof courtesy of Jasmine Rain H.

Original photo from film still of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, 1952

A Saudi Arabia family has taken a genie to court, accusing the genie of theft and harassment

CNN reports:

The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voice mails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.

An investigation was under way, local court officials said.

The family, which has lived in the same house near the holy city of Medina for 15 years, said it became aware of the spirit in the past two years.

In Islamic cultures, a belief in genies, or jinns, is common. Genies not only appear in pre-Islamic fiction such as “Arabian Nights,” but are also mentioned in the Quran. Many Saudis believe invisible genies live among them and are capable of demonic possession and revenge.

Click here for the full report.

Author kicks Jinn out of house

This court case highlights the strong belief in Jinns that many Saudi’s have and reminds me of Tahir Shah’s experience, in his book, The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, with the fixed and firm belief in Jinns that saturated the lives of those he interacted with in Casablanca and which subsequently became real–in its consequences–to him. The beliefs of the culture around him pervaded all of his efforts to fix up, to refurbish, a decrepit old palace for himself and his family to live in.

You could say that Tahir Shah became haunted by the beliefs of the people around him just as much if not more than the Jinn that was supposedly haunting his house. Shah eventually engaged in the motions of belief to function successfully amidst Casablancan society. He went so far as to have an exorcism performed on the house to rid it of its ‘resident Jinn’.

He also began to share the beliefs of those around him. Whether this was because going through the actions of belief triggered the feeling of belief (in the same way that the feeling of happiness can be triggered by smiling even when you are not happy), or because he finally succumbed to the consensus around him, or because his own experiences convinced him, is not made clear in the book.

What is clearly shown is a widespread belief system in Saudi Arabia that includes an unshakable certainty of an other world. A belief–as the CNN report shows–solid enough to rest a court case on.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Caliph’s House. It serves as a flying carpet, a magical conveyance that allows you entry to a fascinating world. It holds vast vistas of experience and thought between its covers. And it is hysterically funny.

Poem with a genie in it

Batuk and his flying carpet
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in C.A.U.S.E.

There is a boy and there is a carpet.
Batuk rubs his forehead, an empty lamp
from which the glow has fled.
No genie of mischief
such as a nine year old should have
resides within.

The carpet that he rides each day
his back curled over it like a tent top,
like a pavilion, or oddly
like a lover spooning
is not magic
cannot whisk him away
to tower top princess
or simian friend.

He rides that carpet in being attached to it
not allowed to leave its side
even at night.
He must sleep beside it.
And open sesame
is not a secret password,
the answer to a puzzle,
a game or a conundrum;
games mean nothing to him.

Open is the posture of exhausted palms
and an empty mouth.
Sesame is the color of scars
left from cuts
that had match heads shaved into them,
their sulfur set on fire
so that blood from pricks and nicks
could not drop
like scarlet rain atop the carpet plain.

There is a boy and there is a carpet
blooming like a live thing and coming to life
over and over again
beneath his clever hands,
quick hands that swing like heroes
through the jungle of the plush carpet
burgeoning on the rack
the threads like vines
and Batuk’s eyes are scouts
in the milling strands
that snake the countless threaded paths
that he must cross each day.

There is a boy and there is a carpet
that steals his breath–a little more each day.
The wool particles from the carpet
nurse at his lungs
a myriad hungry kittens that lap
his oxygen until finally, the carpet flies
as if by magic off the rack
his work accomplished
only to start again
always looming for Batuk
carpet weaver child laborer
living in India.

Related links:

Tahir Shah
Jinn in Islamic theology
Child labor activism:

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