“The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast out onto the earth, and angels were cast out of heaven and fell with him (Rev. 12:9).” Demons and devils are called by many names such as the Jinn by Muslims, or Rakshasas by Hindus and Buddhists. In this article, we will look at demons in different religions, history and truths.
In the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature (McClintock & Strong; 1887) concerning Dæmon (Latin) from the ancient Greek daimōn, write “δαίμων …is rendered devil in English. …Plato in his Cratylus (650 BC) derives the word from (the Greek word for) ‘knowing’… and Eusebius from… ‘to be terrified; and Proclus (in Hesiod) from ‘to distribute,’ because dæmons were supposed to assign the lots or destinies of mankind… The subject is greatly encumbered with superstition.”
McClintock and Strong, in their Cyclopedia add, “by heathen writers… in Homer …gods are supernatural men… in Hesiod… intermediate beings, the messengers of the gods to men… in Plato …they were numbered with the spirits of good men after death… Demons, in the theology of the Gentiles, are middle being between gods and mortals. This is the judgment of Plato, ‘Every demon is a middle being between God and mortal.’ …in the New Testament (Christian Bible) demons are cast out from the Lord… fallen from the original position of angels… unclean spirits.”
They also noted that Dæmoniac is “rendered ‘possessed with a devil’ …shown visibly by bodily disease or mental derangement (Luke 8:27; Mark 9:22).” They note that this is not saying every common disease and mental disorder means the individual is possessed by a demon. Yet, they do conclude, “We are led to the ordinary and literal interpretation of these (Biblical) passages, that there are evil spirits, demons, subjects of the Evil one.” See the Lord’s Prayer, ‘deliver us from the evil one (Matt. 6:13 – devil, Satan).’
It is beyond the scope of this work to deal with ‘gods’ and ‘demons’ in the Mythology (study of myth legends and stories) of the Mesopotamians, Egyptian, Persians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans and Norse or that from any other country or culture. However, note that the most ancient legends speak of the existence of demons and evil spirits.
The Jinn and the Quran (Islam/Muslims)
Jinn – (jann) is from the Arabic meaning ‘to hide’ or ‘concealed.’ The Jinn or Djinni translate into English ‘Genie.’ And from the Arabs, the English and others received stories such as Arabian Nights, Aladdin, The Thief of Bagdad, and The Satanic Verses; which contained Jinn and or genies. In addition to Jinn (common demons), we find Shaitan and marids, where mārid is Arabic for ‘rebellious – as in, there was a rebellion by Satan and his angels and they were cast out of heaven.
According to the Koran or Quran, the Jinn were created with free will, and live on earth in a type of concealed parallel to mankind. They are invisible from man, except when they possess a physical form. This was also taught centuries before the Quran in the Holy Scriptures or Bible (Heb. 1:14).
The Quran 15:26 (verse underlined): “Indeed we [as in the Hebrew Elohim in Genesis ‘let us make man (Gen. 1:26); used to denote Father God and Jesus, the Son of God ‘by whom all things where made (John 1:3; Col. 1:16);’ with and through the Holy Spirit which ‘proceeds from the Father (John 15:26)’ – ‘God is Spirit (John 4:24)],’ created man from dried clay of black smooth mud (from the Hebrew/Christian Bible – Genesis 2:7, “the Lord God formed a man (Adam) from the dust (clay) of the ground;’ see Job 10:9; Isa. 64:8]. And we created the Jinn before that from the smokeless flame of fire (‘created’ ‘before’ mankind as in: Job 38:6).”
The Saheeh Muslim text states that ‘angels were created from light and the Jinn from smokeless fire.’ Note that Lucifer, who is called Satan, the Devil, means ‘light bearer or morning star.’ And the prophet Isaiah calls him, ‘oh shining one (Isa. 14:12).’ Job calls them ‘stars (Job 38:6).’ Jews, Christians and Muslims teach that Satan is the ‘prince of demons.’ Note also that the Muslim teach (Abu Saeed Khudri) that there was a giant ‘serpent’ Jinn; as in Satan in the Garden of Eden – Jewish/Christian teaching.
The Quran, Al Zariyat; 51:56 (verse underlined): “I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Note 600 years before the Quran John wrote in Revelation, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things and they exist for Your pleasure (Rev. 4:11).”
Jinn are called devils and Satan. But to many Muslims, Jinns can become Muslims and non-Muslims. Quran 72:1-2: “Say O’ Muhammed, It has been revealed to me that a group of Jinn said, ‘Indeed we have heard a marvelous Quran. It guides unto righteousness so we have believed in it, and we will never make partners with our Lord.” Also, Muslims, as Jews and Christians, believe that the Jinn can eat, drink and even have children. See Genesis 6:1-8.
The Quran teaches as from the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, that the Jinn or fallen angels will be judged on the Day of Judgment; but the Muslims teach that the Jinn can go to Paradise or Hell, and the Bible teaches that angels are in heaven/Paradise (not to be confused with Abraham’s bosom – temporary paradise) and the Devil and demons to Hell (Rev. 20:10). Thus, Muslims teach that the Jinn can be rewarded for their righteousness; but Jews and Christians teach that ‘fallen angels –demons’ are evil and not righteous (Eph. 6:12; ITim. 4:1; Jude 6).
Buddhists and some Muslims believe that the Jinn (demons) cannot harm humans if handled properly. Christians know that demons can harm human if the Lord and His spirit allows and does not prevent it due to the free will choices of individuals.
The Arabic الجان al-jānn is translated into English as ‘familiar spirit;’ as in the Hebrew אוב seen in Leviticus 19:31 or 1 Samuel 28:3. Also the Jewish Talmud and Islamic sources speak of other demons such as Shedim.
Buddhism and Hinduism
The Buddhists also teach that there are demons; ancient spirits. They more often ascribe them to nature. And some teach that Buddhist ‘miracle’ workers (Padmasambhava) have tamed demons and converted them into dharma protectors or guardians of Buddhism. To most Buddhist priest ‘demons’ are powers at work, energies to be dealt with through mediation. (section continued after following notes)
|In Christianity and Judaism (which came before Buddhism), everyone can pray (mediate of sorts) to the Lord for protective from evil. But more so, we believe that God gives everyone a conscience to seek wisdom and understanding and to choose good or evil; even who to serve. The following verses display such:
To the children of the first generation the Lord said, “If you do what is right, it will be well with you and you will be accepted; but if you do not do what is righteous, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it (Gen. 4:7; see James 1:14-; and John 10:10).”
Job 28:28: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” And, “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and you’re his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed or work into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Eccl. 12:13-14).”
“If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord God (Joshua 24:15).”
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey or serve; whether of sin which leads to (eternal) death (suffering), or of obedience which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16; as eternal joy and salvation – Dan. 12:2; Matt. 7:13-14).”
The Buddhists also speak of an ultimate powerful demon Māra, like Satan. They believe Māra was overcome by the man Siddhartha Gautama of India (Buddha; ‘the awakened one’), who lived somewhere between about 620 BC and 370 BC, the founder of the Sramanas (ascetic priests; Sangha), who followed a method similar to Kapila (an Indian sage about 180 years earlier). Siddhartha, who lived about 80 years, taught and used a form of Yoga (Hindu/Buddhist mental and physical self-control technique through breath control and postures) – Transcendental Meditation.
He, like the wealthy Mahandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, chose to be poor for the sake of his countrymen who suffered in poverty and protest against caste systems. He preached or taught first in Sarnath; four ‘noble truths’ of suffering and self-denial over a life of luxury. Buddha, was said to gain victory over Māra (the chief demon against enlightenment) and all demons through his Bhumisparsha Mudra (or ‘earth touching’ or ‘earth witness’ pose/position) where with his left hand is in his lap during mediation and his right hand with subtlety rest on his thigh with finger tips touching the ground; calling the earth as witness, he is said to have gained ultimate enlightenment.
However, Christians and followers of the one true God of Abraham and all mankind, know that it is only God, the Son of God Jesus Christ, and His spirit which can bring true enlightenment, salvation and victory over death and demons.
Māra (derived from the word for ‘death’) is also known as the Demon of Illusion and the Evil One (Papiyan; wicked one) – the tempter and bringing of sin and death; both as Satan the Devil – Lucifer is and has been taught centuries before Buddhist. Māra has been taught from ancient stories by the Indians, Chinese, Burmese, Thai and others from Southern Asia.
Like, Judaism and Christianity, the Hindu and Buddhists believe that demons can tempt man and come in ghost forms. They also being they can appear as animals and possess beings and creatures. They believe the demons can sway emotions and bring hate and greed to mankind.
In conclusion, most of the religious on earth; whether Christian, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist believe in demons and evil spirits; the differences are in what is required for true enlightenment and salvation, and the path to which demons are truly defeated.
For more on how evil spirits and demons influence mankind see: