Islamic Angels & Jinn


Talismanic angels and jinn are entities invoked or conjured in Islamic magical traditions. In these traditions, magic is used for divination (prediction of the future), accruing positive fortune, and, most pertinently, to avoid or protect from misfortune and malicious forces. Among these forces are the evil eye and malevolent jinn. Talismans and amulets are used to call upon angels and jinn in the name of God to aid in the forementioned endeavors. While Jewish and Christian mystics and theologians of many stripes formulated hierarchies of angels and demons and their elaborate positions in the heavens and hells, most analogous formulations are relegated to the realm of these talismans and the grimoires that describe their uses.

Many of these angels are drawn from said Jewish and Christian traditions, and the most eminent of these talismanic angels, whose members appear in cultural lore and scripture, are the Sultans of Angels (although this title is rarely used). These sultans are Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Azrael. A formation common to the Jewish and Christian traditions are the planetary angels and the Seven Kings, seven angels and seven jinn assigned to each of the traditional planets (the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn), along with the respective planetary motifs such metals, weekdays, etc. A formation of jinn particularly unique and important to Islamic talismans is the Four Heads, or Four Helpers. These “heads” are called to seek revenge on an enemy, and are as follows: Māzar, the lord of the East, Kamṭam, the lord of West, Qasūrah (potentially from qaswarah, “mighty, lion,” or qaswar, a young man), the lord of South, and Ṭaykal, the lord of the North and the sea. Common corruptions of these names are Kharaz for Māzar, where Kaʿṭam, Kaṭmah and sometimes Kaḍmah are mer for Kamṭam, and Ṭabkal instead of Ṭaykal. Each is supposed to be served by one of the Seven Kings.

Countless additional talismanic angels and jinn have been described or inscribed on amulets whose names have been devised by numerous means. Many different mathmatic formulas have been used to derive angelic or jinnī names from words, numbers and letters of the alphabet. Abū al-Muʾayyid and al-Būnī each give separate lists of angel names corresponding with every letter of the Arabic alphabet, and by Muḥammad Ghawth gives a similar list of alphabetic jinn in al-Jawāhir al-Khamsah. Al-Būnī additionally assigned angels to the cardinal directions: ʾAsyāʾīl for the north, Danyāʾīl for the east, Ḥazqyāʾīl for the south, and Dardyāʾīl for the west. Words could be turned into angelic or jinnī names by the mere addition of the angelic suffixes ʾīl, āʾīl, or ʾāʾīl (similarly to how the īʾēl, “of God”, ending is used in Hebrew angel names) or the various jinnī suffixes, ūsh, īsh, ūs, hūš, hīš, hāš, hūš, ṭāš, ṭūš, with ṭīsh being the most productive.

Other Reading

Henninger, Joseph. “The Decipherment of Arabic Talismans.” Magic and Divination in Early Islam. Ashgate Variorum, 2004.