Once, beasts roamed where you’re sitting. Not simply dinosaurs, or great and terrible bird-things, but things that could only be called monsters. They’re nearer to you than you want to think. They were hunted, and yet they’re still alive, and still entrenched into your societies. Not even a cultural nuke would knock them out. Do you know why?
Because they represent your fear of the unknown. Not just of things you don’t understand, but the fear of not knowing if your enemy is defeated. It’s the counterbalance to human certainty and the importance all people tend to place upon themselves. This universe is a disorderly place when you get right down to it, and that will always make people fearful.
Or, in simpler terms, because there have been more wars and more Wars then you’ll ever really know.
There are six major tribes of djinn, Jinn are the most common, and often interact with mortals.
Jann often make their homes in oases in the desert.
Marid are few in number, but very powerful. They tend to live near the coast.
Ifrit are more common, and tend to be violently opposed to mortals. Their allies the Shaitan live in the mountains and underground.
The Ghul are the most base and depraved of the Djinn, and prey on both the living and the dead.
The Qu'ran only speaks of three: Djinn, marid and ‘ifrit.
The ghul (ghoul) are shape-shifting cannibalistic and blood-drinking creatures that feed on the flesh of human beings, especially travelers, children or corpses stolen out of graves. The oldest references to ghul in Arabian lore are found in The Book of 1001 Nights. There are several types of ghul. The most feared is a female type (ghula) which has the ability to appear as a normal, mortal woman. According to lore, such a creature marries an unsuspecting man, who becomes her prey.
The ghul are nocturnal creatures who inhabit graveyards, ruins and other lonely places. Sometimes they are described as dead humans who sleep for long periods in secret graves, then awake, rise and feast on both the living and the dead. Ghul also personify the unknown terrors held by the desert.
In Persian lore the ghul has the legs of a donkey and the horns of a goat.
Wiki describes ghul: In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (Arabic: literally demon) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis.
The hinn are weak djinn, close to animals, and they especially like to appear as dogs.
The ‘ifrit (variation: afrit) is cited only once in the Qur’an, in reference to a djinni who fetched the throne of the Queen of Sheba at the command of King Solomon. In lore, it is evil and powerful, and difficult to control.
Wiki describes Ifrit: Ifrit—also spelled, efreet, efrite, ifreet, afreet, afrite, and afrit (Arabic: ʻIfrīt: عفريت, pl ʻAfārīt: عفاريت)—are supernatural creatures in Arabic and Islamic folklore. They are in a class of infernal Jinn noted for their strength and cunning. An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of fire, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Ifrits live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them. As with the jinn, an ifrit may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but he is most often depicted as a wicked and ruthless being.
Jann are shape-shifters who lives in the desert, and take the forms of whirlwinds and white camels. They are open-minded about humans, and were among the first djinn encountered by people. They have the power to hide or reveal oases in the desert, depending on whether they like or dislike a party of travelers. They are the enemies of the ghul.
The marid is unruly and rebellious, and the most powerful of djinn. The marida (plural) possess great knowledge of magic and have assisted kings and priests. They are also known as “blue” djinn and are the ones most often associated with wish-granting genies.
Wiki describes marid: Marids are often described as the most powerful type of jinn, having especially great powers. They are the most arrogant and proud as well. Like every jinn, they have free will yet could be compelled to perform chores. According to folklore, they also have the ability to grant wishes to mortals, but that usually requires battle, imprisonment, rituals, or just a great deal of flattery.
The nasnas is another weak form of djinn, hybrids of human-like and animal-like forms, and may account for some of our encounters with mysterious creatures. It is described in The Book of 1001 Nights as a half- human being, that is, it has half a head, half a body, one arm, one leg. It hops about on its single leg. The nasnas was said to be the offspring of a shiqq (see below) and a human being.
The palis is a vampiric foot-licker that lives in the desert. It has low intelligence and can be easily outwitted, according to lore. It attacks sleeping people and drains their blood by licking the soles of their feet. It can be fooled by two people sleeping end to end with their soles of their feet together or under each others head.
The shaitan (shaytan) is a rebellious, malevolent djinni associated with demonic forces.
In popular Islamic culture, “Shaytan” (Arabic: شيطان), is often simply translated as “the Devil,” but the term can refer to any of the jinn who disobeyed God and followed Iblīs. Some scholars are of the view that Iblīs is the father of all of the jinn, as Adam is the father of all of humanity as mentioned in the Quran (sura 18, Al-Kahf), “Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me? And they are enemies to you!”
The shiqq is a lower form of djinn, a half creature,or literally only half-formed and thus monstrous in appearance.
The si’lat are expert shape-shifters and the smartest of the djinn. They can mimic human appearance with ease.
We can almost conclude that shaitan as well as some of the other sub categories may be names of groups that some djinn may identify with still while still belonging to a major tribe.