The Interrelation between the Supernatural Jinn and Evil in Naguib Mahfouz’ Arabian Nights and Days

By Orchida Fayez.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The supernatural and reality have more in common than one is led to believe. The relationship between what is real and what is myth fluctuates both in people’s consciousness and in literature. Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, in his “Arabian Nights and Days” (1984), resorts to the ultimate resource of the Eastern supernatural, most famous in the Western world: the “Arabian Nights.” This remains the most widely acknowledged record of Eastern supernatural creatures, among which are the jinn (the purpose of this study). Naguib Mahfouz, famed for his power to depict the real world, shows equal ingenuity at capturing the surreal in the form of a strong mix of supernatural and mystic presence. However, Mahfouz eliminates entirely from the story the familiar legendary monsters dwelling in the original work except for one, the jinn. This in itself is significant, since the figure of the jinn is not only still strongly lurking in Arabic folklore, but is also evident in modern Arabic life, unlike the other monsters that are deemed obsolete, being legendary. Mahfouz also keeps the episodic structure of the original Arabian Nights, displaying the adventures of each hero in each episode as they all encounter the jinn one way or the other. In order to explore these encounters, the Arabic understanding of religion, mysticism, and the supernatural must be probed, revealing an obscure culture that controls this intricate world of interrelated concepts. Ironically, by delving into this unique analysis of the Arabic perspective, life’s most complicated questions are posed in a universal form: how far is man responsible for his actions, within the concept of destiny? How can a person reach redemption and deal with guilt? Yet surely the ultimate question remains whether the jinn exists, or if evil is innate in human nature, leading man to destruction and madness.

Keywords: Mysticism, Jinn, Djinn, Genie, Jinni, Quran, The Holy Book of Islam, Islamic Folklore, Evil, Arabian Nights, Naguib Mahfouz, Poet Laureate

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 11, pp.229-242. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 786.859KB).

Dr. Orchida Fayez

Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Department of Foreign Languages, Mansoura University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Orchida Fayes is a lecturer of English language and literature. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from Ein Shams University, Egypt. She has been involved in teaching English for over ten years. Her main research interests are in literature and ESL.

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