Taweez-Dhaaga, or Jinn in the System

“And the unbelievers would almost trip thee up with their eyes when they hear the Message; and they say: surely he is possessed.
But it is nothing less than a Message to all the worlds.”
~Quran, Surah al-Qalam, 51- 52


Ali Jinni can only live
in broken temples, on public roads, float
in the city’s blue smog. The word of God
draws lines on the ground sharp enough
to cut Jinni’s feet, lines at home, at school,
lines in big letters at the mosque,
lines worming between immigration desks,
lines on papers stamped in red,
lines that Jinni stands behind,
possessing only his Message.



Cell bodies – how do we visualisation the ‘invasion’ of the nation by migrants? Credit: Mustafa Khanbhai

This poem is related to a series titled ‘Jinn in the System’. This project is based on a ‘biological’ imagination of jinn possession, as an allegory for anti-immigrant propaganda. Jinn (or djinn) are supernatural spirits in Islamic folklore. They were either welcomed or warded off, because of their association with terminal/mental illness and magic.

These images are inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts and animal cell diagrams. As the jinn are shown to ‘possess’ the human at a cellular level, much as immigrants are seen to ‘invade’ the nation at the level of the citizenry.

Mustafa Khanbhai is a 25-year-old artist based in New Delhi. Find him on Instagram @musta_fakay