|15.27. And the jinn We had created before, from smokeless, scorching fire penetrating through the skin.|
وَالْجَآنَّ خَلَقْنَاهُ مِن قَبْلُ مِن نَّارِ السَّمُومِ
27. And the jinn We had created before, from smokeless, scorching fire penetrating through the skin.7
7. The Qur'ān has many references to the creation of humankind from clay or earth, both of which signify the lowly material of our origin, as well as the fact that the human body is composed of elements that are derived from the earth, air, and water. This in part implies that the true value of humankind lies in the immaterial dimension of our existence. As for the jinn, beings that resemble humankind, in that they have free will and powers of intellect, anger, and lust, their origin is mentioned in the Qur'ān as being smokeless fire that penetrates through the skin. Some interpret this fire as something that resembles energy or X-rays, or the high-temperature fire that fuses things together (55: 16). Jinn are described as the beings which caused sedition and bloodshed on the earth before the creation of humanity.
The following reflections, written by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi at the beginning of the 1930s, give us much insight into the origin and creation of angels, jinn, and humankind:
Life perfects a thing's existence, for life is the real basis and light of existence. Consciousness, in turn, is the light of life.... Since life and consciousness are so important, and a perfect harmony prevails over all creation, the universe displays a firm cohesion. As our small rotating planet is full of countless living and intelligent beings, those heavenly castles and lofty constellations must have conscious living inhabitants unique to themselves. Just as fish live in water, those spirit beings may exist in the heat of the sun. Fire does not consume light; rather, fire makes light brighter. We observe that the Eternal Power creates countless living beings from inert, solid substances, and transforms the densest matter into subtle living compounds with life. Thus, It radiates the light of life everywhere in great abundance, and furnishes most things with the light of consciousness.
From this, we can conclude that the All-Powerful, All-Wise One would not make such subtle forms of matter as light and ether, which are close to and fitting for the spirit, without life and consciousness. He creates countless animate and conscious beings from light and darkness, ether and air, and even from meanings (conceived) and words (uttered). As He creates numerous animal species, He also creates different spirit creatures from subtle forms of matter. Some of these are angels, various spirit beings, and the jinn (The Words, "The 29th Word," 528).
Half a century later, nearly 300 animal species, almost all of them previously unknown, were discovered living around the hydrothermal vents that form when sea-water leaks through the ocean floor, where the spreading ridges are heated by the underlying magma which rushes into the cold ocean. Verena Tunniclife writes:
All life requires energy, and nearly all life on the earth looks to the sun as the source. But solar energy is not the only kind of energy available on the earth. Consider the energy that drives the movement and eruption of the planet's crust. When you look at an active volcano, you are witnessing the escape of heat that has been produced by radioactive decay in the earth's interior and is finally reaching the surface. Why should there not be biological communities associated with the same nuclear energy that moves continents and makes mountains? And why could not whole communities be fuelled by chemical, rather than, solar energy?
... Most of us associate the escape of heat from the interior of the earth with violent events and unstable physical conditions, with extreme high temperatures and the release of toxic gasses –circumstances that are hardly conducive to life. The notion that biologic communities might spring up in a geologically active environment once seemed fantastic. And until recently, few organisms were known to survive without a direct or indirect way to tap the sun's energy. But such communities do exist, and they represent one of the most startling discoveries of 20th-century biology. They live in the deep ocean, under conditions that are both severe and variable (American Scientist, 1995).
This startling discovery contains clues to other realities that science should consider. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, states that angels are created from light. We read in the Qur'ān that God created man from dried clay, and then made him a khalīfah (vicegerent: one who comes after [to rule according to God's commandments]) for this planet). Many interpreters of the Qur'ān have concluded from this that jinn once ruled the earth and were succeeded by human beings.
Starting from the clues above, it should be possible to conduct formal studies to determine the worth of such conclusions as the following:
God first created light (in the meaning of nūr in the Qur'ān), and He created living beings out of it. The process of creation followed a gradual, regular accumulation of identities and/or a saltational sequence of abrupt leaps. Fire followed light in the "kneading" of the universe, and then came water and soil, when it was the turn of the earth to come into being. God spread one existence through another, compounding and interweaving, and created living beings appropriate for each phase of creation. When the earth was in a state of smokeless fire, He created appropriate life forms, which the Qur'ān calls the jinn. When the soil became suitable for life, He created (appropriate) plants, animals, and humanity. He adorned every part and phase of the universe with creatures, including living ones, appropriate for that part and phase.
Finally, just as He created innumerable beings out of light, ether, air, fire, water, and soil, and He creates innumerable beings from words spoken, and even from meanings, so, too, does He create our stations or mansions Paradise or Hell out of each of our words and deeds. In other words, just as He causes a tree to grow from a tiny seed through particles of soil, air, and water, so, too, will He build the other world out of the material of this world, including Paradise and Hell, by adapting or transforming it for the other world during the convulsions of the Day of Judgment. (See also 2: 30, notes 31-32.)
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