Monday, April 07, 2014

‘Jinn’ – Supernatural Thriller versus Real Life Horror

kjSpoiler alert – The film ‘Jinn’ from Exxodus Pictures, written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad and starring Ray Park, Dominic Rains, Serinda Swan, Faran Tahir and William Atherton opened on 4-4-14. Promoted as a supernatural thriller, movie goers in the U.S. can now add Jinn to Vampires, Zombies, Poltergeists and other manifestations of evil spirits /creatures depicted in horror films. The film was supposed to “introduce the accurate mythological concept of the jinn to western audiences”.  Instead it presents a multicultural version of what a large segment of the world’s population regard as real, tangible beings that significantly affect their lives. For millions of Muslims around the world jinn exist and are experienced as real among both the illiterate and the educated.  Jinn are an integral part of Islamic theology. Jinn are mentioned in the Quran and the prophetic tradition and are described as actual, intelligent life forms. The Quranic message itself is addressed to both humans and jinn.  Michigan born Director Ahmad portrays jinn as if they are also found in Judaic and Christian theology. In fact the entire film never once mentions Muslims, Islam or the Quran.

The main character Shawn (Dominic Rains), an orphaned automotive designer, and his new wife Jasmine (Serinda Swan) live in present day Ann Arbor, Michigan. They are haunted by jinn as the result of a curse that has plagued his family for generations.  Aided by Gabriel (Ray Park), a good jinn, Father Westhoff (William Atherton), a priest and Ali (Faran Tahir), a shackled mental patient, Shawn uses his customized muscle car, the Firebreather, to elude the jinn, protect his family and save the world from evil. The car designed by Director Ahmad was created for the sole purpose of this film and is the first vehicle in motion picture history available to the public for purchase. Several of the 50 limited editions, produced as exact replicas of the vehicle in the movie, sold before the film debuted. The Firebreather, a modified Camaro SS with a V8, Edlebrock E-Force Supercharger System 599 horsepower engine that resembles a classic Pontiac Firebird is arguably the best part of the film.

Director Ahmad accurately portrays the phenomena associated with the concept of jinn. In the film jinn shape shift to black smoke and feral creatures, are made of fire, can fly, have super strength, possess people, haunt homes and inhabit caves, sewers and graveyards. Symbolically, evil Jinn dwell in ritually unclean places because they are intrinsically impure, signifying contagious evil, intensifying the inherent primal fears associated with defilement of Islamic purity. The film also accurately depicts an Islamic mystical practice known as chilla, a 40 day ascetic ritual that is used to summon and control jinn. The main character Shawn wears a taweez, an Islamic protective amulet, although it is not identified as such in the film.
In general, evil jinn are characteristically similar to the Western concept of demons and ghosts, while good jinn have attributes similar to the Western concept of guardian angels. Evil jinn are often believed to haunt people and places while good jinn can protect, empower and assist humans in many ways. Director Ahmad inaccurately equated the Islamic concept of Jinn with the Christian conception of angels and demons. This serious error resulted in portraying a cathedral as sacred space, interpreting a passage in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel as a description of jinn and depicting a priest instead of a Muslim cleric as the guardian of sacred knowledge and keeper of the holy sword to battle the jinn.
In real life Muslim exorcists who practice Quranic medicine are the only individuals qualified to expel jinn. Muslims around the world believe that jinn cause illness, depression, health, wealth, natural disasters, war, and all mundane and inexplicable phenomena.  The most common belief is that evil jinn are spiritual entities that can haunt, enter and possess people exercising supernatural influence over them. For this reason physical or mental illness is often attributed to being cursed, haunted or possessed by jinn and can only be cured through Islamic healing. The popular practice of spiritual healing through Quranic medicine, specifically exorcism, is known as Ruqyah.  Since millions of people believe in Jinn, there are hundreds of professional exorcists who perform Quranic healing around the world. Islamic spiritual healers must be pious individuals who consider themselves to be an instrument of Allah, invoke Allah’s help and utilize the Quran or a phrase of Allah in Arabic to invoke His protection. Most of the treatments typically involve recitations from the Quran to remove black magic curses and to evict jinn. Many healers are fraudulent but nonviolent. Unfortunately, many other Quranic exorcisms involve sexual abuse, torture and violent atrocities that are much more of a horror film than the jinn creatures in this fictional thriller.
In the film ‘Jinn’, the character Ali has been shackled to the floor of a mental institution for 20 years because he failed his chilla ritual and the jinn took control of him. In Afghanistan and Pakistan it is a common practice of chaining the mentally ill, who are believed to be possessed by Jinn, to shrines. This is a version of the chilla ritual in which they are chained by their foot to a wall in a shrine cell for 40 days to ritually exorcise the Jinn. In Saudi Arabia a 29-year-old man was chained in a basement apartment in Mecca for more than six years because his father believed he was possessed by jinn.
In the film Shawn fights the jinn by reciting verses, using a sacred dagger to repeatedly stab them and submerging the jinn in a fountain of holy water. The same methods are commonly used in Islamic exorcism rituals. Many men, women and children accused of Jinn possession are subjected to exorcisms that involve violent assaults. Quranic exorcisms are performed by Muslim clerics, healers and family members throughout the world, including  Western countries, and involve atrocities that are far worse than any of the violence  depicted in the film. Many Jinn exorcisms entail ritualistic torture including beatings with sticks, the use of hot knives, submersion in water, burnings, disembowelments and other mutilations often resulting in death. The torture is justified by the belief that the Jinn need to be beaten out of the person. The use of water and fire are purification rituals to expel evil Jinn. If the person cries out in pain it is believed that it is the jinn reacting to the pain and not the person. Some exorcists believe that a person’s organs can be possessed and must be removed.
The reality of belief in jinn is stranger and more violent than fiction. On December 16, 2010, in East London, Shayma Ali, 36, stabbed her four year old daughter 40 times and cut out her liver while Quranic verses played in the background. She was convinced that the child was possessed by an evil Jinn. On July 8, 2009 in Birmingham, England,  21 year old Naila Mumtaz was murdered by her in-laws and husband when they attempted to drive out an evil Jinn spirit. Naila was six months pregnant when she was assaulted, smothered and suffocated during the exorcism. On October 10, 2009 in Antwerp, Belgium, 18 year old Layla Hachichi died of severe burns after a Moroccan exorcist poured boiling hot water on her for three days during an exorcism ritual. Her parents hired the Quranic healer because they attributed Layla’s lesbianism to being possessed by devils. In Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2012 an Emirati father and his girlfriend tortured his 8 year old daughter Wudeema to death and injured her 7 year old sister Meera to exorcise jinn from their bodies.  For six months they beat, burned and tortured the girls with cigarettes, an iron, electric prods and poured hot water on their bodies. These are just a few examples of the dozens of ritual killings that occur during jinn exorcisms.
Director Ahmad was born and raised in West Bloomfield, Michigan to parents who migrated from Pakistan in the early 1980’s. Some of the worst atrocities committed during jinn exorcisms occur in Pakistan. In July 2011 an exorcist was arrested in Ghakhar Mandi , Pakistan for torturing a 16 year old boy during an exorcism. The boy’s muscles were damaged when hot blades and knives were used to force Jinn demons to leave his body. In December, 2012 in Mansoorabad, Pakistan, an exorcist was arrested for torturing a 19 year old mentally challenged man to death and beating his twin brother to exorcise jinn from their bodies. All of these incidents and many more occurred while ‘Jinn’ the movie was in production.
Islamic exorcisms resulting in the victim’s death are ritual killings. Exorcisms are another manifestation of Islamic ritual murder. The film was publicized as ‘the secret that half the world has been keeping’.  The real secret is that exorcisms, similar to honor killings, Jihadist murder and beheadings are justified by Islamic theology. If writer Director Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad really wanted to give horror fans something they had never seen before he should have just made a documentary of the ritual atrocities performed in jinn exorcisms. Instead he equated jinn to Christian conceptions of angels and demons and scrubbed any reference to Islam from the film. As a savvy business man he understood that exposing any of the real life horrors of Islam would provoke protests, censorship and prevent any sequels. Check out the car, skip the film.

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