Oman: Town of Jinns, Bahla Where Men Turn into Donkeys
There’s a small town in Oman, a few kilometers from Nizma. Bahla is where mystery and superstition consume mankind’s very being with crumbling walls, and howling fire-mouthed, camel-eating hyenas.
Jinns. This is what the locals say. Like ghosts, Jinns are supernatural creatures that are known to spread mischief, magic and myself. They live in abandoned buildings and structures. And Bahla is also home to the historic Bahla Fort that goes back to the pre-Islamic period.
Moreover, this Omani town is listed in National Geographic’s top 10 most haunted cities in the world.
Jinns Are Not Strange
Hamad Al Rabaani, a tour guide at Bahla Fort, says jinns are not strange, in fact these beings are among the creations of God. He said Bahla has numerous magical, intriguing stories – including a myth that surrounds supernatural forces built the 13-km wall around the town in a single night to protect it from invaders.
“The legend is of two sisters, both jinn, one of whom built the wall for protection and the other who created an ancient irrigation system for agriculture. Few places, however, are as strongly linked with jinn as Bahla, where you hear stories of men who suddenly transform into donkeys and other animals. One old woman often used to hear someone milking her cow after midnight. But whenever she went to check, she found no one there.”
Rabaani explained that one hears but never sees it because the mind couldn’t take it.
Supernatural Beliefs Oman Culture
There are countless stores and tales in Oman, especially in Bahla. One such story is about a man who was stoned to death thousands of years ago for practicing witchcraft. People believe his spirit haunts the town to date – the spirit wanders around narrow alleys of the town, the desolated walls and old crumbling ruins. And there’s another enchanting tale about three sufi saints living in a hillock near the fort. They could communicate with jinns who flew in a mosque from a neighboring town!
Ali Olomi, a professor of Islamic history at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, says Oman and Yemen are renowned for ancient places with great historic significances, as well as lands of jinns. “In Bahla, there are stories of phantom blazes and fires, animated desert storms, and even edifices built by supernatural forces.” He believes Bahla is rife with such stories because of its remote outpost in ancient times, surrounded by desert and dramatic Hajar mountains.