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And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire. (Qur'an 55:15)

So, if they are made of fire, we must be able to see them. Why can't we see them?

Is there something special about "smokeless fire"??

Logical answer along with quotations expected...

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6 Answers 6

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There could be some responses concerning your interesting inquiry. For instance:

  • The initial and the most significant reason would be related to the want of Allah which is considered as the good attention of Allah (Maslehat) to create them like that. E.g. it mentioned at the holy Quran that: Jinn devils see you but you do not see them… (A’raf : 27)

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا ۗ إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿٢٧

O children of Adam, let not Satan tempt you as he removed your parents from Paradise, stripping them of their clothing to show them their private parts. Indeed, he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you do not see them. Indeed, We have made the devils allies to those who do not believe. (27)

  • Jinn is a creature which is related to the fire and weather (has created from the fire), that’s why they have thin and transparent bodies and it is not feasible for the human to see them easily.
  • Jinn is a sort of the creature, and that’s why it is said that Jinn is counted as impalpable creatures. محمد تقي مصباح، معارف قرآن، ص 215. (Mohammad Taqi Mesbah, Ma’aaref-al-Quran, Pg.215.1)
  • … And it was something from the things which Iblis asked Allah that I and my children see the humans (adams), but they do not see. تفسیر قمی ؛ المیزان ، ج8 ، ص84 (Tafsir Qomi Al-Mizan, Vol.8, pg.84)
  • Of course it ought to be paid attention that Allah has give this ability to some groups of Jinns and devils to be able to appear themselves for some people and vise versa (that some humans could see them as well (which is limited…)
  • Indicating another issue from scientific aspect could be beneficial to know that Jinn has the ability to be tensile (Enbesat) and contraction (shrinkage or Enghebaaz). In the common case, they are at the tensile mood who are not seeable, but they would be seeable on the opposite mood. (Mohammad Taqi Mesbah, Ma’aaref Quran, Page316)

References:

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It is just a personal idea, but smokeless fire may mean something other than usual fire. It may be some kind of energy which is not visible because of the spectrum of light, just like we don't see ultraviolet light. Also think about human body. It is made of earth, but does it look like earth? When you take some earth or mud into your hands, and if you don't know anything about the biology of human body, can you imagine that a piece of mud can be transformed into a brain?

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A fire with smoke is the fire as we know it (candle, stove, furnace, engine, campfire, stars, etc.). When anything is set to fire, it starts burning and spreads smoke by consuming its fuel.

What is smoke? It is the gaseous burnt fuel (CO2, SO2 etc.) which leaves the object that is burning. As the object continues to burn, smoke continues to spread till the object is fully burnt and the object expires.

The phrase "smokeless fire" in Quran is a sign that jinn are not created by the fire that we know. Because otherwise, they would expire (actually, this is also a possibility if we think their expiration is their death). It is a different type of fire that we may never know. From what I understand from the verse (7:27) in Quran is that Shaytan and his tribe (I believe some of the jinns are in this category) can see us (humans) from a point of view that we can't (and we won't be able to) see them. Kind of like the interrogation rooms in police stations, where the suspects can't see what's behind the glass but the officers can see the suspects.

Consider electricity (current caused by the flow of electrons). You can see it when there is a spark or something like a lightning but when it is in its regular flow within the cables, you can't see the electricity. Possibly, just an example to a different type of fire in a sense.

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In Christian tradition, there is the Pentacost where "the holy spirit descended in tongues of flame" on the gathered disciples of Jesus.
In Jewish tradition, one writer says the Torah was "written in black fire on white fire," in discussing the eternal origins and spiritual energy of these words. So the idea of smokeless fire being non-ordinary fire, fire of the spirit or unseen world, seems to fit with the beliefs of our religious ancestors.

However, as a person who works with fire, it bothers me to call CO2 or H20 "smoke." (I can see the spiritual sense of it, but even in ancient times smoke is not invisible - it's something you can see. I don't know if the Arabic word implies the same thing as the English word, or not.)
In English, smoke is the smudge in the air - the grey, sooty, tarry, particulate matter carried aloft from a dirty-burning fire. Most cooking fires, camp fires, torches, and cheap oil lamps produce some amount of smoke. Fire which is burned cleanly, such as a gas lantern, or a "fox stove," or a well-made and well-tended oil lamp or candle, these trim and tidy fires do not produce smoke and soot.

For a person to produce a smokeless fire, they must come to understand the world in a different way. In order to make a fire burn smokeless, you have to pay attention and give it exactly what it needs - just the right mix of fuel and air - not just "good enough" amounts of fuel and air to get what you need from it. Most cooks don't bother to make a smokeless fire; they are focused on the food, not the fire. But someone who tends a fire for its own sake, or as part of a sacred duty that allows time to study the fire, might learn this art. (Such as religious leaders tending a memorial fire or eternal flame, or night watchmen shepherding people or livestock through dangerous lands.)

Some faith traditions look at the natural world as "the big book," and consider that exploring and studying it is a way to come closer to understanding the mind of God, they call Scripture the "little book" and study both. Perhaps in ancient times, a person who could make a smokeless fire would be understood to have a special knowledge or interaction with the unseen world.

If this is what is meant, I don't know why jinn would come only from smokeless fire, and not from wakeless boats, or perfect music, or flawless medical doctoring, or other actions showing near-perfect understanding. Maybe other acts call forth other kinds of spirits... or maybe this type of "smokeless fire," as a physical master craft, is not what is meant in the origins of jinn.

Fox stoves (partially underground, smokeless stoves dug as a tunnel out of dirt) were used on at least 5 continents going back thousands of years, including parts of the middle East and central Asia. They remain perennially popular as a stealthy way to cross enemy/rival territory without the smoke from a cooking fire giving away your location. (The "Dakota Fire Pit" is a variation that's popular on YouTube).

This might be the most common way a traveller would encounter literally smokeless fire. If this reference is literal, a traveller such as the Prophet mentioning "smokeless fire" might remind listeners of subtle scouts and desert nomads, moving unseen through vast landscapes, and making mischief or helping others at will.

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Smokeless fire is said to be “the fire of the sun”. So, it’s something produced by the sun. During fusion, the sun produces high energy gamma rays and neutrinos. Neutrinos disperse at high speed and are very nearly non-interacting. So they can’t be “fire” because they aren’t able to burn things. The gamma rays bounce around the sun for a few thousand years until they reach the surface, at which point they’ve cooled to much lower energy light. Gamma rays will burn the shit out of you.

So the sun has fire with smoke (helium, neutrinos). But the energy part is gamma rays. So, smokeless fire is gamma rays or maybe hard X-rays.

Now, how gamma rays can be alive (since our best theories say photons do not experience time due to their speed) or mate with humans (one presumes banging a sentient pile of gamma rays would sterilize or kill you). But if we have the pure fire of the sun, gamma rays are pretty much it.

Or maybe it is some heretofore undiscovered particles produced in stellar core fusion that decay into gamma rays and neutrinos predictably enough that the math works out, even if we don’t account for them.

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This viewpoint on Jinn is presented by the 4th successor of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is an interesting viewpoint and IMO worth checking out, but since Ahmadis are generally viewed as non-Muslims by many Muslims feel free take this with a pinch of salt.

The following is quoted from Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth by Mirza Tahir Ahmad in his Chapter The Jinn in Part 5: https://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_3.html

Taken directly from his book: PREPARE NOW to undertake a journey upon the wings of scientific vision into the ancient past to explore the nature and identity of the jinn. The Quranic concept of jinn has been briefly discussed before in Life in the Perspective of Quranic Revelations. Arabic lexicon mentions the following as the possible meanings of the word jinn. It literally means anything which has the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion and remoteness. It also has the connotation of thick shades and dark shadows. That is why the word 'jannah' (from the same root word) is employed by the Quran to denote paradise, which would be full of thick, heavily shaded gardens. The word jinn is also applicable to snakes which habitually remain hidden from common view and live a life secluded from other animals in rock crevices and earthen holes. It is also applied to women who observe segregation and to such chieftains as keep their distance from the common people. The inhabitants of remote, inaccessible mountains are likewise referred to as jinn. Hence, anything which lies beyond the reach of common sight or is invisible to the unaided naked eye, could well be described by this word.

This proposition is fully endorsed by a tradition of the Holy Prophetsa in which he strongly admonishes people not to use dried up lumps of dung or bones of dead animals for cleaning themselves after attending to the call of nature because they are food for the jinn. As we use toilet paper now, at that time people used lumps of earth, stones or any dry article close at hand to clean themselves. We can safely infer therefore, that what he referred to as jinn was nothing other than some invisible organisms, which feed on rotting bones, dung etc. Remember that the concept of bacteria and viruses was not till then born. No man had even the vaguest idea about the existence of such invisible tiny creatures. Amazingly it is to these that the Holy Prophetsa referred. The Arabic language could offer him no better, more appropriate expression than the word jinn.

Another important observation made by the Quran is in relation to the creation of the jinn. They are described as having been born out of blasts of fire (from the cosmos).

And the Jinn We created before that (the creation of man) from blasts of fire (naris-samum). 1

Here the adjective used to describe the nature of the particular fire from which the jinn were created is Samum, which means a blazing fire or a blast that has no smoke. 2 We find a similar statement in another Quranic verse:

And the Jinn He created from the flame of fire. 3

Having established that the word jinn applies here to some type of bacterial organisms, let us again turn our attention to the verses quoted above that speak of the jinn as having been created out of fire. The prime candidates for the application of these verses seem to be such minute organisms as drew the energy for their existence directly from hot blazes of lightning—Samum—and cosmic radiation.

Dickerson inadvertently agrees with the Quranic view when he observes that the most ancient organisms:—

'... would have lived on the energy of lightning and ultraviolet radiation ...' 4

This scenario of cosmic radiation is not specifically mentioned in the work of other scientists in their search for the pre-biotic organisms. But they too have corroborated the idea that whatever organisms existed before biotic evolution must have drawn their energy directly from heat. Of all the categories of bacteria classified as the most ancient only 'prokaryotes' and 'eukaryotes' were mentioned by previous generations of scientists. However, that conclusion proved to be a hastily drawn one, according to Karl R. Woese and his colleagues. They observed:

'Simply because there are two types of cells at the microscopic level it does not follow that there must be only two types at the molecular level.' 5

For the benefit of the lay reader the difference between the two bacteria, known as the prokaryotes and eukaryotes, is explained in terms as simple as possible. It relates to the presence or absence of a nucleus in them. The prokaryote type of bacteria, despite having a well-defined cell membrane, have no distinct nucleus. The eukaryotes on the other hand, possess well-defined and well-developed nuclei occupying the centre of each cell.

It was considered that these were the only two ancient forms of bacteria which gave birth to others and evolved into organisms which could be referred to as the ancestors of life. However, Woese published the findings of his pioneer research in Scientific American, June 1981, claiming that archaebacteria, could be rightly considered as the earliest form of organisms. He and his colleagues informed the scientific community that they were a third distinct line which preceded all others. Thus it is they who should be entitled as the most ancient ancestors of life. Woese and his collaborators continued to pour strong evidence into this discovery and as the ice began to thaw, according to Woese:

'Although a few biologists still dispute our interpretation, the idea that archaebacteria represent a separate grouping at the highest level is becoming generally accepted.' 6

Again he writes:

'This implies that the methanogens are as old as or older than any other bacterial group.' 6

According to The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science:

'... the archaebacteria are related to the earliest life forms, which appeared about 4 billion years ago, when there was little oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.' 7

But the author of Genetics a Molecular Approach states:

'Since 1977 more and more differences between archaebacteria and other prokaryotes have been found, so much so that microbiologists now favour the term archaea, to emphasize that these organisms are distinct from bacteria.' 8

THE ORGANISMS REFERRED TO AS JINN in the Quran seem to fit the above description. But, though scientists unanimously describe these bacteria as possessing the potential of drawing their energy from heat, they are not mentioned as having been originally created directly by the cosmic rays and blasts of lightning by any scientist other than Dickerson. The rest however, continue to throw more light on their various modes of dependence on heat for their survival:

'... in undersea vents, hot springs, the Dead Sea, and salt pans, and have even adapted to refuse tips.' 9

On the issue of antiquity though, Woese and his colleagues have no doubt that the archaebacteria are the prime claimants. According to some scientists they may have evolved from some unknown parenthood simultaneously.

But these are issues which fall outside the domain of this exercise. Whether the other bacteria evolved out of them or not is irrelevant to the discussion. The relevant point is that all forms of most ancient bacteria draw their energy directly from heat. This is a tribute of no small magnitude to the Quranic declaration made over fourteen hundred years ago:

And the Jinn We created before that from blasts of fire (naris-samum). 10

According to the accepted scientific studies, direct heat from fire had to play a vital role in the creation and maintenance of pre-biotic organisms. This, in fact was the only mode of transfer of energy for the consumption of organized forms of existence during this era. As they multiplied during their uninterrupted proliferation lasting over billions of years, their death must have polluted the oceans while they decayed and fermented turning the oceans into the primordial soup. This will be discussed at greater length in the following chapter."

REFERENCES

  1. Translation of 15:28 by the author.
  2. LANE, E.W. (1984) Arabic-English Lexicon. Islamic Text Society, William & Norgate. Cambridge.
  3. Translation of 55:16 by Maulawi Sher Ali.
  4. DICKERSON, R.E. (September 1978) Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life. Scientific American, p.80
  5. WOESE, C.R. (June, 1981) Archaebacteria. Scientific American, p.104
  6. WOESE, C.R. (June, 1981) Archaebacteria. Scientific American, p.114
  7. The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science (1993) Helicon Publishing Ltd. Oxford. p.37
  8. BROWN, T.A. (1992) Genetics A Molecular Approach. Chapman & Hall. London, p.245
  9. The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science (1993) Helicon Publishing Ltd. Oxford. p.37
  10. Translation of 15:28 by the author.

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