In early Arabia stories of the jnun were used to explain just about everything that humans could not at the time. The stories of the jnun were in fact used to create a social order and ensure that the society followed the same set of rules. Looking back to the first week of classes we had two definitions of religion, one by Clifford Geertz and one by Bruce Lincoln. While the content of both definitions varies slightly there is one trait that both share that adequately describes the cultural use of jnun.
Geertz said that religion, A) formulates concepts of a general order of existence, and B) clothing these concepts in an aura of factuality that makes these moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. Lincolns definition has a more specific aim for religion, “A set of practices that aim to produce a proper world and proper human subjects”. The jnun became the guidance for a proper world and proper human subjects as well as explaining the general order of existence in a manner that made sense in an earlier time.
The stories of the jnun warn children of everything from making sure their clothes are folded and covering your mouth when you yawn to not talking back to your father and praying before dinner, if the children do not do these things it will be possible for a djinn to possess them. This is essentially enforcing hygiene and manners in children as well as devoutness and responsibilities. The stories of the jnun also warn of places jnun live, such as caves, deserts, hollowed trees and the ocean. All of these areas are dangerous for children alone, particularly at night when jnun are more active. Caves and dunes can be treacherous, scorpions, spiders and snakes can live in hollowed out trees and children should not play in the ocean alone, these are all basic things that simple stories of djinn warn children of.
Jnun are also credited with causing illnesses, particularly sudden and violent ones or epidemics. Salt is supposed to repel evil spirits so the Arabs used this to protect themselves, they put it on everything because it worked. In reality all they were doing was using a preservative on their food, which meant they did not get sick because it did not spoil, meaning the jnun did not bring them sickness that year. All these stories of the jnun and the terrible things they could do were used to explain the unexplained, but also to establish a social order of life, the stories advocated preserving food, basic hygiene, manners, and keep their children and society safe. According to both definitions of religion the stories of the jnun are definitely used for control, but in a manner that establishes the essentials of a successful society and individual.