|“||Salim begins to speak. "My grandmother swore that she had seen an ifrit, or perhaps a marid, late one evening, on the edge of the desert. We told her that it was just a sandstorm, a little wind, but she said no, she saw its face, and its eyes, like yours, were burning flames."||”|
–Salim to the Jinn, Chapter Seven
The Jinn is an ifrit from the Middle East. Ifrits are a tribe of jinns. They are mostly the powerful ones. King Solomon is said to have control over ifrits.
The Jinn once visited the City of Ubar (The Lost City of Towers). Each night, three or four thousand travelers would stop at the city, drinking wine and celebrating, but the city perished a few thousand years ago.
Significance in narrative
Salim is a young Muslim man from Oman who moved to New York City a week ago. He visits offices with a briefcase of trinkets, trying to secure a sale, but seldom sees any success. His brother-in-law, Fuad, secured him his job and a place to stay at the Paramount Hotel. Unfortunately, the sales aren't going well, his money is running out, and Fuad is very unhappy with Salim.
On this day, Salim goes to the office of Panglobal Imports. He arrives a half an hour early and spends all day at the office across from a sick secretary, but Mr. Blanding never has time to see him. At the end of the day, he decides to take a taxi back to the hotel. The taxi driver is a poor, exhausted middle eastern man. When he learns that Salim is from Oman, he says he's been there before, at the city of Ubar (The Lost City of Towers). Each night, three or four thousand travelers would stop at the city, drinking wine and celebrating, but the city perished two or three thousand years ago.
The taxi driver falls asleep at the wheel, and Salim reaches over to wake him and accidentally knocks off his sunglasses. That's when he sees his eyes: they burn like fire. The man is an ifrit, or a jinn: someone who was born of fire, as opposed to of mud, like men. He says that people don't know who he is here, that they think he can grant wishes, but if he could grant wishes, he wouldn't be a taxi driver. Before getting out, Salim tells the ifrit his room number.
That night, the ifrit comes to his room, and they have sex and sleep cuddling all night. In the morning, Salim finds that all his belongings are gone, and only the ifrit's taxi keys and ID remain. He thus begins his new life as a taxi driver.
The Jinn is first described as unshaven with dark lips and wearing a "thick, dust-colored sweater, and black plastic sunglasses." When his sunglasses are removed, his eyes are burning flames.
Significance in mythology
The Jinn is an ifrit, a supernatural creature in Middle Eastern mythology.
The Lost City of Ubar, also known as The Lost City of Towers.
Notes and trivia
- An ifrit is a person of the fire.
- According to Arab mythology, there are angels, there are humans (whom Allah made from mud), and then there are jinn (whom Allah made from smokeless fire), the people of fire.