Ifrit

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An Ifrit named Arghan Div brings the chest of armor to Hamza

Ifrit, also spelled as efreet, efrite, ifreet, afreet, afrite and afrit (Arabic: ʻIfrīt: عفريت, pl ʻAfārīt: عفاريت) is a powerful type of demon in Islamic mythology. The Afarit are usually associated with the spirit of the dead and might be comparable to an evil genius loci.[1] Although the term itself appears in Quran and hadith, both sources do not describe their characteristis, but are known by Muslims among several Islamic cultures.

Etymology[edit]

Makhan embraced by an Ifrit. Illustration to Nizami's poem Hamsa. Bukhara, 1648.

The word Ifrit derives from the Quran, but only as an epithet and not to designate an actual class of demon.[2] Traditionally, Arab philologists trace the derivation of the word to عفر (ʻafara, "to rub with dust").[3] It further describes sly, malicious, wicked and cunning characteristics.[4] Some Western philologists, such as Johann Jakob Hess and Karl Vollers, attribute it to Middle Persian afritan which corresponds to Modern Persian آفريدن (to create).

In Islamic culture[edit]

The Chief-Ifrit sitting on the right listening to the complaints of jinn; Al-Malik al-Aswad, from the late 14th century Book of Wonders[5]

Except for the few references to an ifrit among the jinn, the Afarit themselves are absent within Islamic scriptures, but frequently attested among Muslims scattered through Islamic culture. Ottoman Turkish sources describe the Ifrit with a fiery appearance and flames leaping from his mouth. It may be a danger to people, but can be destroyed if someone recites a Du'a (Islamic prayer) near it.[6] They are a powerful type of demon or related to spirits of the dead, formed from the blood of a murder victim. Driving an unused nail into the blood is supposed to stop their formation. The creatures were reported as being able to take the form of devils, the murder victim or a sandstorm.[7] They are described as appearing in great size and terrifying shape, usually dwelling in the layers of the underworld,[8][9] but also in desolate places on the surface.

In Quran, Hadith and Tales of Prophets[edit]

The Qur'an mentiones an ifrit of the jinn in Sura An-Naml (27:38-40):

An Ifrit from the jinn said: "I will bring it to you before you rise from your place. And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work."

Similar an ifrit among the jinn appears in Bukhari, who tries to interrupt the prayers of the prophet Muhammed.[10] However, the term ifrit seems to be a figure of speech to denote a powerful jinn but not an actual Ifrit as known in Islamic folklore.[11]

In the Qisas Al-Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets) of Al-Tha`labi, Afarit execute the orders of Iblis to plague Job. Each of these Afarit is endowed with specific abilities such as turning into a fiery storm or killing by shouting out.[12]

Egypt[edit]

In Islamic Egypt, the Afarit are closely related to the spirits of the dead. Probably influenced by the Ancient Egypt idea of Ka, the Ifrit departs from the soul of a deceased person after death. Whereafter, the Ifrit roams the earth close to the place of death. If the person died by an act of murder, the Ifrit will be drawn to the blood of the victim and might scare or even kill the living.[13]

India[edit]

The ghost of the wicked dead, are identified with the Afarit among Muslims in India and one of five bhuta, spiritual creatures related to Islamic belief. The others are the jinn, Peris (Fairy), Shayatin or fallen angels and Marid.[14]

Java[edit]

Among the Islamic Indonesian traditions of Cirebon, the Afarit are known as Mrekayangan. Like in most other Islamic traditions, they are believed to be the ghost of those who died improperly. They make up one of three classes of demonic entities, besides Iblis and Shayatin, but some regard them as merely a sub-category of Shayatin.[15]

Morocco[edit]

In Moroccan belief, the Afarit form a more powerful type of demon, compared to the jinn and other supernatural creatures. They have more substantial existence, are greater in scale and capacity,[16] than other demons, are said to have seven heads.[17]

If somebody gets possessed by an Ifrit, he become stronger and brave, but also insane.[18][19] With aid of a magical ring, the Afarit might be forced to perform certain orders, such as carrying heavy stones.[20]

Shabakism[edit]

A story about an Ifrit, who incensed Ali by his evil nature, long before the creation of Adam, circulates among the Shabak community in Northern Iraq. Consequently for the Ifrit's wickedness, Ali chained the Ifrit and left him alone. When the prophets arrived, he appeared to all of them and begged them for his release, but no prophet was able to break the chains of the Ifrit. When Muhammad found the Ifrit, he brought him to Ali. Ali had mercy with the Ifrit. He decides to relearse him under the condition, he surrenders to the will of God.[21]

Folk-literature[edit]

In One Thousand and One Nights, in a tale called "The Porter and the Young Girls", there is a narrative about a prince who is attacked by pirates and takes refuge with a woodcutter. The prince finds an underground chamber in the forest leading to a beautiful woman who has been kidnapped by an Ifrit. The prince sleeps with the woman and both are attacked by the jealous Ifrit, who changes the prince into an ape. Later a princess restores the prince and fights a pitched battle with the Ifrit, who changes shape into various animals, fruit, and fire until being reduced to cinders. In the book, the word is used interchangeably with genie and the spirit is malevolent but easily tricked by the protagonist.[22]

The blind poet Al-Maʿarri mentioned in his narrations, a paradise for Afarit with "narrow straits" and "dark valleys".[23]

In modern popular culture[edit]

An Ifrit plays a major role as a story element in the Bollywood film Pari where the lead character played by Anushka Sharma is the progeny of an Ifrit and human, due to a cult practice. The film was based on a book series called An Ember in the Ashes.

The trading card game Magic: The Gathering has featured several "efreet" since the earliest expansion sets.[24]

Summoning an Ifrit is one of Kratos' magic in the God of War: Chains of Olympus. The Ifrit was initially the magic of the Persian King before Kratos captured it and made it his own.

Ifrit is a prominent Summon to fight within the Final Fantasy video game series. Like their mythological counterparts, Ifrits are spirits of fire and destruction, almost always appearing as a devilish monster that uses either fire, earth, or both to do damage to either the monster the player is fighting or as a boss against the player himself.

Ifrit is also a new fiction thriller written by Javaid Laghari and published by Austin Macaulay that is a fast-paced plot of terrorists and the jinn Ifrit teaming up to steal Pakistan's nuclear weapons, and leading to a possible nuclear war between Pakistan and India.

Ifrit is a spirit within the anime That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime when he was given to a summoned girl, Izawa Shizue from the Demon Lord Leon Cromwell. The girl was forced to give home to Ifrit in her inner body. In the seventh episode of the series, Ifrit gained control from Shizu (the name Shizue used in the different world) and rampaged throughout the goblin village. Rimuru defeated Ifrit, swallowing him to its inner body, when he met the Storm Dragon, Veldora Tempest, telling Ifrit that "no one would defeat my brother".

An ifrit was featured in season 5 of True Blood as a fiery, vengeful spirit hunting down Terry Bellefleur and his former platoon squadmates for murdering numerous innocent locals during their tour in Iraq. It most frequently featured as a gigantic burning cloud of smoke and could set anything on fire.

MMORPG Wizard101 features "efreet" as a fire spell and pet in the game.[25]

In Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Sequence series, afrits are the second most powerful type of demons summoned by magicians.

The series and novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman includes Ifrit among its main characters.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edward Westermarck Ritual and Belief in Morocco: Vol. I (Routledge Revivals) Routledge, 23 Apr 2014 ISBN 9781317912682 p. 387
  2. ^ Edward Westermarck Ritual and Belief in Morocco: Vol. I (Routledge Revivals) Routledge, 23 Apr 2014 ISBN 9781317912682 p. 387
  3. ^ J., Chelhod (2012-04-24). "ʿIfrīt". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "الباحث العربي: قاموس عربي عربي". www.baheth.info.
  5. ^ de Lafayette, Maximillien (2017). Early & contemporary spirit artists, psychic artists, and medium painters from 5000 BC to the present day economy. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-365-97802-9.
  6. ^ Hajjah Amina Adil (2012). "Ezra". Muhammad the Messenger of Islam: His life & prophecy. BookBaby. ISBN 978-1-61842-913-1.
  7. ^ "Aeromancy". The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. 2006. p. 10.
  8. ^ Rees, Valery (2013). From Gabriel to Lucifer: A cultural history of angels. I.B. Tauris. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-84885-372-0.
  9. ^ Sebastian Günther, Dorothee Pielow Die Geheimnisse der oberen und der unteren Welt: Magie im Islam zwischen Glaube und Wissenschaft BRILL, 18 October 2018 ISBN 9789004387577 p. 597
  10. ^ Robert Lebling Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar I.B.Tauris 2010 ISBN 978-0-857-73063-3 p. 141
  11. ^ Vincent Crapanzano The Ḥamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry University of California Press 1973 ISBN 9780520022416 p. 136
  12. ^ Abu Ashaq Ahmad At-Talabi, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Thaʻlabī Islamische Erzählungen von Propheten und Gottesmännern: Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʼ Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2006 ISBN 978-3-447-05266-5 S. 201
  13. ^ Lebling, Robert (2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B. Tauris. p. 151-153. ISBN 978-0-85773-063-3.
  14. ^ Frederick M. Smith The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization Columbia University Press 2012 ISBN 978-0-231-51065-3 page 570
  15. ^ Muhaimin, A.G. (2006). The Islamic Traditions of Cirebon: Ibadat and Adat among Javanese Muslims. ANU E Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-920942-31-1.
  16. ^ Vincent Crapanzano The Ḥamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry University of California Press 1973 ISBN 9780520022416 p. 137
  17. ^ Edward Westermarck Ritual and Belief in Morocco: Vol. I (Routledge Revivals) Routledge, 23 Apr 2014 ISBN 9781317912682 p. 263
  18. ^ Vincent Crapanzano The Ḥamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry University of California Press 1973 ISBN 9780520022416 p. 137
  19. ^ Edward Westermarck Ritual and Belief in Morocco: Vol. I (Routledge Revivals) Routledge, 23 Apr 2014 ISBN 9781317912682 p. 264
  20. ^ Edward Westermarck Ritual and Belief in Morocco: Vol. I (Routledge Revivals) Routledge, 23 Apr 2014 ISBN 9781317912682 p. 264
  21. ^ Matti Moosa Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects Matti Moosa 1987 ISBN 978-0-815-62411-0 page 69
  22. ^ Leon Hale (January 13, 2002). "Arabic mythology is worth revisiting". Houston Chronicle.
  23. ^ Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Amira El-Zein 2009 ISBN 978-0-815-65070-6 page 20
  24. ^ "ARABIAN NIGHTS – CARD SET ARCHIVE – PRODUCTS – GAME INFO". MAGIC: THE GATHERING.
  25. ^ "Spell:Efreet – Wizard101 Wiki". www.wizard101central.com.