A Meeting Place for the Jinn
by Kellyann Zuzulo
IMAGE OF Majlis al Jinn
Genies like to hang out. Scholars, literature, and legend agree that the jinn are similar to humans in that they are a communal species.
They eat, sleep, have families, and enjoy travel. Granted, their travel involves some sort of molecular transformation by which they whisk like, well, like a genie out of a bottle from one place to the other.
In Oman, there is a cave that is known as The Meeting Place of the Jinn. Majlis al Jinn, also known as the Selma Plateau, bears the recent distinction of providing a BASE jumping site for Felix Baumgartner, that intrepid pioneer of free falls from space.
Sounds like he has a lot in common with the jinn. The cave earned its name because Omanis in the region determined that the massive space, airy and craggy and hard for humans to breach, was the perfect gathering spot for genies.
Felix Baumgartner: kind of looks like a genie
And, in fact, considered one of the largest underground caves in the world, Majlis al Jinn provides a beautiful illustration of what the land of Jinnistan might look like. Soaring rock faces, stratified rock in gradients of gold, brown, red, and pearl, a massive space of air that hovers around 17–18 *C or 65*F. Jinn are forged from flame and their own land is possibly a very warm place, but when they linger along the earth’s crust, they’re bound to lose some heat. And 65 is actually not that cool for a cave. Hmmm.
A single chamber with a domed ceiling about 410 feet high (that’s about 41 stories), Majlis al Jinn has only three entrances from the top. If there were any entrances to passages within the chamber, they have been blocked by sediment or debris. Or have they? Seems odd that the only way in is through the top. Usually, geologic formations pucker and pop, shift and settle over so much time. You’d think there would be catacombs, honeycombs, or perforations of some sort. Perhaps not. The jinn keep their houses nice and tight.
Currently, you need permission from the government to explore this cave. But there’s talk of Oman opening the cave to tourism. There’s a very informative article about Majlis al Jinn at the Desert Cave Project website, which includes an explanation for the jinn legend:
Wrath of the One-Eyed Genie
The geologist then explained that a woman named Selma supposedly lived here a long, long time ago and somehow or other got on the wrong side of a gigantic, one-eyed Jinn (Genie). Well, Selma decided to run for her life and as she zigzagged across this plateau, the Genie threw several thunderbolts at her. Luckily for Selma, the Genie’s depth perception was pretty awful, having only one eye and all, and three of those lightning bolts went astray, each one of them leaving a humongous scar in the earth.
Of course, only in modern times was it verified that the three holes are, in fact, skylights at the top of a single enormous chamber. On June 23, 1983, American geologist Don Davison Jr. rappelled to the floor of this cave and discovered to his amazement that he was standing in a single room 340 meters long by 228 wide with a 120 meter ceiling. As Davis later wrote (in AramcoWorld Magazine), “The Superdome in New Orleans—with a seating capacity of 97,365—could easily be contained within the cavern’s volume, with room for a 1600-car parking lot besides.”
The entrance to the cave. Created by the jinn?
From the Sultanate of Oman’s tourist website:
Reaching the Cave opening requires strenuous physical effort, since you must traverse a distance of 1,300 metres to reach the cave opening through rugged mountain terrain. This trip takes about five hours. The only way to descend into the cave is by ropes. Geologists put the age of this cave (Majlis Al Jinn, or Salma Plateau as some like to call it owing to the area where it’s located) at fifty million years.
The cave is considered a repository of natural life treasures. Fifty million years is a long time. But the jinn live a long time, much longer than the life span of a human. Their creation is estimated to have occurred millions of years ago. It’s interesting to speculate that the jinn may have whipped by this cave at some point. I like to think so. In the third installment of The Zubis Chronicles, I’ll be including the spectacular cities, crags, and spires of Jinnistan as a setting. The world is already so full of awe-inspiring formations and locations, that it’s not hard to imagine a mystical world that may look like this.
Visit Jinnistan in THE GENIE IGNITES
ON KINDLE. ON NOOK.