Djinns of Lucknow

The Djinns you loved to watch in popular TV serial, ‘I dream of Jeannie’ was comic, comely, visible female-and susceptible to human emotions like love and jealousy for her undeniable handsome master. The Djinns who float in and out of the masjids of Lucknow are however not quite so easy to describe. For one, nobody claims to have ever seen them: they make their presence felt to believers. Fortunately, they are as obliging and benevolent as Jeannie is.

A couple of Mosques in Lucknow have been named after them. You have ‘Jinnon wali Masjid’ in Aminabad and ‘Jinnat Ki Masjid’ is behind the King George Medical College hostel. People who have never visited these places will tell you special prayers to appease to these djinns.

The caretakers of these ‘Masjids’, however, deny any such canard. This kind of practice would infact go against the basic ideology of djinndom. The genie that came out of Aladdin’s lamp was after all at his beck and call, a slave to his whims. Similarly, the djimms who hover over the domes of Lucknow mosques consider gravely, your appeals for mercy, prosperity, progeny, deliverance, and cure of mysterious diseases or fixing of your enemies. If you are pure and sincere, they solve your problems. No quid pro quo, no kickbacks. If you want to express your gratitude, you contribute some materials for renovation of the Masjid. You can also light an agarbatti or contribute something placed in the masjid collection box.

Since non-muslims are not allowed in the main building of ‘Jinnat Ki Masjid’, a little later has been set up on the rear wall of the building where any body can tie a garland of flowers and make a wish.

As you stand in the little courtyard with traffic whizzing by on both sides, you find it difficult to

Evoke the awe that such a place should command. The mosque must have been in the midst of a jungle when the Nawabs ruled, but now it is virtually perched on a traffic island, a relic of another age where medicos come for their ‘cuppa chai’ rather than a tryst with the supernatural.

Not every believer- and they come from all faiths- has the high level of spirituality needed to communicate with the invisible. So, one may heed and Aamil, the muslim equivalent of a tantrik. One of the aamils in the mosque is ‘Asif Ali Baba’; his pock marked face, red hair and a beard, eyes, which are bordered lined on the hypnotic, and eight rings, which are studded with various stones on his fingers. Both visit the ‘Jinnat ki masjid’ regularly to sweep the floors and do other odd jobs. They are Shias, but claim that those who come to them are generally from other sects and religions, as their co-religionists tend not to believe in any intermediary between themselves and God. Qayyum, about 38 years old, points out that to know all about djinns, one should read the chapter in the Quran called Surra-e-Djinn. In essence, while humans a predominantly made of mud – the other elements being fire, air and wind – the djinns have a predominance of fire. Like human beings they are created for His glory. Nothing more specific than that can be said, for whom can fathom the ways of the divine one?

Qayyum’s life was dedicated to God at birth. His mother was desperate as all of five or six children she bore before him had died. She then appealed to the Maulvi, who said that a son would be born to her, and if she wanted the boy to live he should be given to his care at he age of five. The maulvi, it is said lived to be 135. He taught children about djinns: these were all tangible children, who appeared out of nowhere. On day while Qayyum was watching, the maulvi asked a child to give him a cup of tea lying at a distance. The child’s arm stretched all the way up to the cup. Qayyum learned a lesson that day that he would never forget that djinns have great powers. They are like the only. Among the services they render, the two Aamils perform different rituals to solve the problems of those who come to them, on the principle that when things go wrong you need dua, or prayer, or dava, or medicine.

‘Asif Ali Baba’ looks for line in he scriptures relevant to the problem utters it into his fist, and blows it towards the patient. The problems soon disappear. He learned this technique when his wife was admitted to the hospital with labour pains. A fakir who happened to be their asked him to chant “ya ali, ad rakhni” into his palm and blow it towards his wife. He did so, and within half an hour, his wife safely delivered the baby. One day after that, when he was sweeping the masjid floor, one Mr. Srivastava approached him seeking his help in the matters of job transfer. That night, Asif Ali Baba had a dream: that he should write the number 786/110 along with the wish he wanted fulfilled, on a piece of paper, seal it with wax and ask the official to wear it as a pendant. This was one, and the Supreme Transferring Authority obliged. Srivastava got his transfer.

Another time a couple sought his help to cure their daughter, who had been suffering from fits for seven years. He used the same technology to cure her. Correct diagnosis of the problem, of course, is the key. Very often women brought to Asif Baba show signs of madness. The common symptoms are tearing of clothes, fits of anger and hysteria. The baba diagnoses them by touching them with tip of a lit agarbatti. If the woman is truly possessed, she will not flinch. He then gives her the relevant pendant to wear, and she is freed of the evil influence.

Asif baba gets four six patients everyday. “God cures them and I get the credit,” he says, forgetting to acknowledge the role of the djinns who act as forwarding agents. Qayyum’s method of diagnosis is different. He measures the person fro head to foot with a thread seen ties and blows on it. The thread apparently shrinks or stretches and by measuring it on the person again, Qayyum is able to gauge the cause of the suffering. He then gives them a charm to wear. There are lots of dos and don‘ts to be observed during this period. The patient has to abstain from alcohol, chewing a special form of roasted gram whenever the urge to drink strikes. So, the tortured and the damned of Lucknow and far-flung areas like Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangalore come to the Aamils with their problems. They appeal to the djinns to bail them out.

The problems follow a pattern: loss in business, the grip of a vice, inability to conceive, a court case gone wrong, problems over a daughter’s marriage or an enemy making one’s life a hell. If the aamils find it difficult to relate to the abstract, they seek the help of one of the eight or ten aamils who use charms and prayers to set things right.

Djinns may not come out of the mythical bottle in the mosque of Lucknow. Men may come and men may go, but djinns go on forever.


Article by: Manjula Lal

Some vernacular terms and phrases have been used in this article, should you have any problem in understanding or would like to have a translation of it, please feel free to mail us…

The writer Manjula Lal is a well-known journalist and a leisure writer who usually writes in a research style on diverse topic such as the above. The above article has been written after an extensive research and field visits. We do not expect the readers to subscribe to the views and ideas expressed above, as the views and ideas are of the writer and those contacted for the survey during the compilation of this article. This article is purely meant for leisure purpose and in no manner aims to guide or misguide you.