Genies (traditionally called Djinn) are mythical beings which are deeply rooted in Indian and Islamic religion. They sometimes looking similar to humans, though it is said that they most often appear as wisps of smoke. In many works of fiction, genies are found by mortals to be inhabiting inanimate objects such as bottles or oil lamps. If a human disturbs said object, they will release the genie within. The natures of genies can differ greatly, ranging between benevolent and subservient to vicious and deceiving.
A generalization of genies in many stories is that they become servants to humans that release them from their vessels, using their great magical powers to grant the wishes of whoever they recognize as their masters. However, according to Muslim beliefs, genies have free will, so it seems that it would be up to the genie to decide whether or not to serve a mortal. Many works of fiction do not take the full details of mythology into account, describing genies as only being partially capable of acting on their own, or not at all unless a master releases the genie from his service.
In many cases, genies are depicted as half-humans for bodies and having a wispy haze for legs. And some look like a regular, normal human. However, because genies have been around for generations, its hard to know what exactly a genie would be wearing. One guess is that they will probably be wearing something from several centuries ago.
Djinn date back to the dawn of creation according to Islam. They were among the three major races Allah (God) created. The other two were angels, who were made of light, and humans, who were created from the earth. The djinn were made from a fire from which no smoke arose. While angels had no free will, the djinn, like mankind had free will and were able to do both good and evil.
As mentioned above, djinn have free will, meaning they can be good or evil. Some evil activities include causing sand storms and kidnapping women and children. Even the Islamic philosopher Ibn Taymiyyah said djinn were "ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous,", his assumption based on the Salafi movement. In the "wish-granting" interpretation of genies, they can manipulate the wish to severely harm or even kill their "master".
Powers and Limitations
Genies can wield phenomenal power, such as shapeshifting, manipulation of weather, and in some cases bending reality on certain levels. but even that power may have its limits. Some tales of genies make mention of certain rules that genies must follow and are incapable of breaking. For example, genies are unable to travel far from their lamps (or whatever vessels that contain them). They also cannot kill under their own power and cannot grant the wish to kill, though they can bestow weapons or powers upon their masters that can allow them to kill. Also, while unable to kill, genies are certainly still capable of attacking others and inflicting pain.
Genies are also unable to tamper with free will. For example, a genie will not be able to force someone to fall in love with anyone else.
Finally, genies are incapable of necromancy and have no power over the dead. They cannot return someone to life in any way, shape or form.