Mythologist | Author | Speaker | Illustrator

May 29, 2023

First published May 28, 2023

 in Mid-day

Jinns and Aliens

When the Turkish soldiers from Khilji’s army, and later the Mughal army, saw the ruins of Ellora, they were convinced that these were supernatural creations. The caves were not created by humans, but created by jinns.

Jinns are supernatural creatures referred to in the Quran. They live in a parallel universe. Like humans, they have the capacity to choose either the divine or the diabolical path. They can be both good and bad. Jinns are typically associated with paranormal phenomena and with ruins in Islamic lore. Wherever the Muslim world spread and came across ruins which existed long before their time and about which very little information was available, the Muslims concluded the ruins were built by jinns. For example, the ruins at Petra and the pyramids of Egypt, were all imagined as creations of the Jinn. It is said that when the nomadic people reached Jerusalem and saw the palace of King Solomon of Israel, they were convinced that he had jinns under control who could create such magnificent structures.

There are many folktales about how Solomon gained control over jinns and made them build these magnificent cities of stone. Muslims were told that the pre-Islamic world was ignorant or Jahiliyyah. Since in an ignorant world, there could not be smart people with engineering skills who could build such magnificent structures, it was natural to attribute these magnificent ancient ruins to supernatural beings like jinn. But such ideas are not restricted to the Muslim world.

Even today, on social media platforms, one finds extremely educated people, with American and European accents, trying to impress onto Indians that ancient Indian temples were not built by humans, but by aliens. They give complex scientific data and elaborate on engineering marvels that they claim are way beyond humanity’s time. Thus, these temples had to be built by extraterrestrial beings who came from other planets.

There are television serials claiming to be “historical” where ancient and even non-existent civilisations like Altantis, are declared to be supernatural alien cultures. While these have been debunked, repeatedly, by archeologists, the belief in the supernatural, the alien and the jinn persists.

This has something to do with human psychology. If you are a mediocre human being, who finds it difficult to solve a problem in mathematics, or are unable to understand the laws of physics, it is easier to start believing that all technological innovations could not be done by other human beings. Ergo, those who are able to solve these problems and develop these technologies must be supernatural.

Belief in the supernatural also emerges out of desperation. In life, luck plays a major role in our success. We can work hard, we can have a lot of talent, but sometimes things just don’t work in our way. The only way to explain the inexplicable is through fantastic belief systems that make us feel that we are in control.

Today, in India, many people, like anti-science Christians and Muslims, reject Darwin’s theory of evolution and insist that a supernatural divine force created the World with ‘Intelligent Design.’ Such rejection of science and logic makes them feel safer, as it allows them to resist the domination of scientists, who seem to have replaced priests of yore, when it comes to giving explanations about the world and life.

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