Si’lats: Middle Eastern Shapeshifters

Ahsan-ol-Kobar, Ali and the Jinn (cropped), 1568

Ahsan-ol-Kobar, Ali and the Jinn (cropped), 1568

Si’lat, si’lah, or sila (plural sa’alin) literally means “she-jinn” or “she-ghul.” They are one of many types of jinn to inhabit the Middle Eastern world. In fact, they are often considered the smartest of jinn. They are talented shapeshifters who can easily pass as ordinary humans.

Sources vary on the morality of si’lats. Some assert they are the wickedest type of ghul; others that they are merely capricious tricksters who might either help or cause trouble for mortals.

Si’lats often dwell in woodlands, where they might capture travelers and force them to dance for their amusement.

Pre-Islamic traditions describe this jinn as sudden in appearance and disappearance, with a cat-like face, canine teeth, and a forked tongue.

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