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I'm working in a novel based on Arabian folklore and a part of the history tells the war between angels and jinn (genies although closer to the original arab folklore than the pop culture Disney version). In the war obviously both sides have to be able to harm each other. For the jinn I have no problem as iron is mentioned in folklore as something that harms them. But I can't think in a way to kill angels (who are also closer to the biblical description than the common pop culture version of winged humanoids). Thanks in advance.

PD: Notice that this war happens before the existence of humans thus Garden of Eden or any other post-human related events hasn't happened yet.

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    $\begingroup$ They're both supernatural. Why would they have trouble killing each other? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    May 16 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ I’m not sure about Arabian folklore, but Biblical angels frequently are described as using flaming swords. Perhaps they use them because they can hurt or kill other angels, as the first Biblical war was between Michael and Lucifer (both angels). $\endgroup$
    – Mark Price
    May 16 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ You're right, that might work. According to folklore jinn were created out of fire and angels out of light, that might be linked with the blazing sword. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 16 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ ...Oh, and must the djinni destroy the angels, or would it be enough to bind, trap, imprison, deceive, corrupt, confuse, suborn, enslave or banish them? $\endgroup$
    – Beta
    May 17 at 4:05
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    $\begingroup$ Is dropping a pin into a black hole an option? You could take out several that way. Not quite sure how many. :) $\endgroup$ May 17 at 22:09

16 Answers 16

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AI Exploits and Name-Hackers

You can't kill an angel with pure force. Each angel is an aspect of God entrusted with a single purpose; even if you could destroy the vessel in which the angel's essence resides, it will immediately respawn until its task is done. This is in contrast with djinn, who, while non-physical, are capable of being killed. A force-based conflict between angels and djinn is a foregone conclusion.

However, angels do have a weakness: they cannot change their natures, because their natures are all that they are. This means that a particular behavior will always yield the same response. By experimenting and testing, it is possible to learn exactly how to exploit an angel's root program and trap it, corrupt it, even take control of it.

Convert that exploit into its base elements, and it can be reduced into a simple script - the angel's True Name.

The front-line djinn are mainly aiming to slow the angels down, and to report their findings back to the real force of the djinn army - the name-hackers. Their role is to analyze the angels until they have learned how to hack them permanently.

Of course, new angels can always be fielded - but every new divine task created alters the nature of reality itself. If the djinn figure out how to force God's hand into creating a universe in which the djinn are permitted to exist and operate on Earth, they have won the war.

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    $\begingroup$ If only you knew the power of the passive aggressive side. $\endgroup$ May 19 at 20:09
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According to Christian theology, angels and devils are beings of pure spirit and are immortal, impossible to kill.

There is a reason why there is an old saying that "fools rush in where angels fear to tread".

If you are familiar with the Ainur, who include the Valar and the Maiar (and maybe other groups), in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, they are based on the angels in Christian theology. So in Christian theology angels have similar powers and limitations as the Ainur.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainur_(Middle-earth)

Of course angels can make bodies for themselves to use in the physical plane of existance if they wish. And those bodies are assembled out of particles of matter in the local envirnoment.

I believe that bodies made by angels and devils are not living any more than rocks or clouds or robots are. This may mean that even the physical bodies of angels and devils aren't alive and cannot die, let alone their immortal spirits.

But possibly an angel's physical body can be destroyed by a disintegrater ray or an atomic explosion or a blast of powerful magic. And possibly it might take an angel some specific period of time to make a new physical body. So possibly if an army of the physical bodies of angels is destroyed fast enough, there might be a period of time after all the bodies are destroyed and before the angels can activate new bodies. And posssibly the seconds or eons that period might last would be long enough for enemies of the angels to accomplish some or all of their goals.

I note that most angels are believed to be loyal to and obedient to the Christian God. So presumably they wouldn't fight agaisnt Jinns unless God Almighty commanded them to. And if the angels have God Almighty on their side, they should defeat even the most powerfull Jinns easily.

I note that devils are supposed to be fallen angels who revolted against God and follow The Devil. So if the angels in your story are devils, they could get in a conflict with Jinns which has no authorization and support from God Almighty, though the fallen angels might have some support from the less powerful Devil. Thus it would be uncertain who would win such a war.

I also note that it is possible that Christian theology doesn't mention all the groups of angels which might exist if the Chrisitan religion is true.

Maybe some angels have always been morally neutral.

Maybe some angels who fought against the rebellious angels later decided that God Almighty was a bad boss and quit working for him and started working for themselves.

Maybe some of the rebellious angels who fought for the Devil later decided he was a bad boss and formed their own group to work for themselves.

And somaybe there could be a war between some or all Jinns and some or all of the members of one, two, or three of those three hypothetical groups of angels.

Thus such a hypothetical group of angels that weren't followers of God Almighty wouldn't have the support of an omnipotent being in their war with the Jinns which would make it the odds more evem.

An d of course you should see what you can find out about angelology and demonology in Jewish theology and in Muslim theology, to see what possible weaknesses angels might have.

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    $\begingroup$ What you write is quite interesting. However I'm basing myself more on Islamic folklore and some Eastern and Gnostic concept than Christian theology. There are no fallen angels in Islam as angels have no free will, the devils in Islam are actually evil Jinn. As for the God Almighty well at the end there's a twist that has some Gnostic overtones. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 13:42
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The trouble with judeo-christian mythology is, that at least on the -christian side of that equation there is so little to work with. Islamic mythology, where you pick up djinn hardly expands upon it at all.

You have the OT (Old Testament), where most of the imagery and details come from, you have the NT (New Testament) which hardly has anything (and tends towards more anthropomorphization), plus maybe a few non-canonical texts (the books that, while thought true by the early founders of the Christian Church, were also thought to not be divinely inspired). The Koran says little more to describe angels, and though I'm no scholar I'm assuming that the hadiths say little or nothing.

So where does the aspiring writer of vaguely Christian-esque fantasy tales turn for details on how to kill an angel (I mean, other than watching reruns of Supernatural with Jensen Ackles... seasons 1-5, not the crappy later seasons)?

Kabbalah. That said, this stuff isn't easy to study. Do you read the Hebrew alphabet? Do you speak the medieval form of Aramaic that the Kaballists of 14th century Andalusian Spain wrote?

This might not be the style you're hoping for either. The protections and defenses that these rabbis suggested tended towards incantations and inscriptions, amulets and physical objects. You won't get flaming swords and laser crossbows or anything like that. There will be geometric patterns and witches' brews of ingredients. Basically all the trappings of could be mistaken for Dungeons & Dragons style magic or witchcraft.

Generally speaking, Kabbalah tends to describe magic that would defend against a spirit... to ward them away, or to trap them somehow. But it wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine similar magic that destroys a seraphim utterly. For the purposes of drama, this magic might need to be tailored towards a specific individual, might take a long time to prepare, and the slightest disruption might spoil the entire process.

This would move the war between the two types of spirits away from a battlefield metaphor, and more towards a type of cold war metaphor... each side hiding away in bunkers launching "magical ICBMs" at the other.

Even if in the end you choose to go a different way with the story, I do recommend some research in this direction. It's often fascinating.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are nine types of angels Seraphim Cherubim (Plural of Cherub) Thrones Dominions or Dominations Virtues Powers Principalities Archangels Angels $\endgroup$ May 18 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ @ChuckCottrill Source? $\endgroup$ May 18 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ That is good advise. I'm familiar with Western occultism actually is indeed fascinating. But I did wanted the fight to be more physical than spiritual and the angels and jinn to be more biological, however it still may work and be the origin of the sacred gematry and other concepts later seen in the Middle Ages. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @StigHemmer Here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_angelology. Most of traditional angelology has been based on the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. $\endgroup$ May 18 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ You introduced an abbreviation (OT) only to explain it :) $\endgroup$
    – Antoine
    May 19 at 14:23
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Angels are often depicted with flaming swords in the Bible, so maybe the jinn could get hold of something similar and turn the angels' own weapon against them, which could also serve to heighten animosity between the two groups.

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    $\begingroup$ I only remember one flaming sword. Michael is often depicted as wielding non-flaming one. Anyway +1. $\endgroup$ May 16 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ Could be, which also may explain the hell as a punishment for fallen angels, with fire as the angels weakness $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 16 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ Lightsabers of course! What else would a biblical era interpretation of a lightsaber be besides a "flaming sword", especially if it was colored yellow, orange, or red? They wouldn't have any other frame of reference with which to define it. Unless if course it actually was just a sword engulfed in flames, but that's not as much fun. $\endgroup$
    – CitizenRon
    May 17 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @CitizenRon I think you cracked the Bible code! All of Christianity is actually a prophetic revelation of the Star Wars universe. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    May 18 at 13:28
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Don't kill them, convert them

If an angel loses his faith, I guess he falls and becomes a jinn. Getting the snot beaten out of them in combat and/or imprisoned may do just that. If the Lake of Fire is available, I imagine a stint chained up in it will be pretty challenging to one's faith. Of course, any that do keep their faith through their trials will be strengthened. If you're Christian, this will be a good way to keep your work orthodox. Even if not, it'd be interesting to have demons work by psychological and emotional warfare, while the angels use bravery and teamwork.

Copy Milton and give the demons technology

Milton depicted such a war in Paradise Lost. On Day 1, the angels triumph with swords, after an initial setback. On day 2, the fallen angels construct giant guns, which are devastating to the angels, who only have swords (until they rip up mountains). Milton basically has the fallen angels use invention, coupled with cruelty, to contrast with the angels, who, like God, are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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God has made angels in such a way that they retain the essence that God originally intended for them, Saint Thomas Aquinas declares in "Summa Theologica:" "The angels are incorruptible substances. This means that they cannot die, decay, break up, or be substantially changed. For the root of corruptibility in a substance is matter, and in the angels there is no matter."

So whatever angels may be made of, they’re made to last forever!

You can use this property against them, basically transfer them to a parallel universe where god doesn't exist and since they have to last forever, each angel can be sent to a universe where their material gets the most harm. Water skins can go to a lava land while light could land near a black hole constantly sucking the light out of it.

Also since angels have to preserve their material, you can use any shape of a weapon made from their material's anti material. Basically a shape/material shifting sword which takes the anti-material of the angel its fighting against it.

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    $\begingroup$ This idea is very cool however I think it will work better for a different book I have in mind more sfi fi-related and in modern times, as this in particular is more based on old fashion folklore and fairy tale storytelling. But is a very good idea if I ever take it into account I'll give you credit. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, this was an idea for a game I were developing (by myself for myself) locally. Thought would be good to share. Also since jinns are fighting angels, they must have a reason and (should?) believe in another religion. Their god could give them lamps to trap angels. Like the classic genie in the lamp but reversed, ghostbusters like scene where genies capture angels in lamps and store there for eternity $\endgroup$
    – Ulsa
    May 19 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ It's a very promising premise you should keep working on it. That idea could work, in the original folklore God sent the angels to kill the Jinn because they became decadent and sinful, something that I show but from their perspective (they were just having fun) I do going to introduce some Pagan deities and Gnostic concepts so it might work and the reverse lamp thing could be very fun. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 19 at 12:57
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The concept of such vulnerabilities is common but bad storytelling. Both are supernatural, supposedly superhuman and may have their own special traits. They do not need to be invulnerable to everything unless they are exposed to ONE specific material - a Kryptonite for each kind. Just make them vulnerable to excessive application of force, electrocution, heat and disintegration, just as (almost?) all life is, with the difference that their tolerance levels are unnaturally high, and both species have the ability to inflict such damage to each other.

Having Kryptonite-type vulnerabilities is logically fallible too. What if the material a certain species is vulnerable to does not exist or is unavailable on Earth? What exactly about that material causes the vulnerability - just magic, don't think about that? So there is a supernatural being superior in combat power than all of humanity, but if you have a prison shank, that means you'll win because it's iron? Wait, why not coat conventional weapons with that material then? Then their power level drops from extreme to meh.

Now, if you seek for a special weapon for humans to kill Angels, it should have the attribute of being barely better or less effective than the natural weapons of a jinn (why bother with using i.e. some magical sword if you can shoot lightning?), but being the most superior weapon for a human against an angel. This would explain why jinns don't bother with it, and angels just don't want it to be in the hand of humans.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, at not point in the plot I have plan for humans to kill angels, but I see you point. It might be a good idea to not use fantasy kryptonite and that they suffer the same vulnerability than all life forms just in different dosis. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 13:45
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A vulnerability might echo human foibles.

Nephilim: "hybrid sons of fallen angels."

Now, Nephilim aren't half so difficult to kill as Angels, they can just be drowned, as God did in the time of Noah.

Simultaneously a source of shame, pride, fear and disgust, Nephilim inspire strong ambivalent feelings in Angels, but even an Angel has it's limits of endurance of emotional pain:

My solution is, the searing pain which comes from being stabbed through the heart by the sharpened leg-bone of a drowned Nephilim.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that humans still doesn't exist, the war was before Adam. But it does sound cool. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 16 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Aah, good point, I missed that. $\endgroup$ May 16 at 18:14
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A Supernatural Weapon

The sword of fire is only one of many supernatural weapons. And there is no reason to limit yourself to only Judeo-Christian or Arabic traditions, if you presuppose the world traditions of supernatural beings are linked in some way.

The flaming sword was mentioned in several of the answers and comments, and could be a good weapon to consider. Another thing to consider is some form of spiritual superweapon. There are a few to consider, but we must consider the objective which is to scatter the spiritual body of the angelic being.

An angel, unlike a djinn / jinn, has an immortal soul. There is nothing in these traditions that I know of that suggests that the spirit cannot be altered. Many metaphysical thinkers have considered spirit as a form of energy. This energy can be altered. Such alteration could include dispersing.

Something like the Trishul / Trishula comes to mind as an example of an ethereal style weapon. The trick is that the weapon must contain a source of vast energy, in the trishula it is described as solar energy. The energy from the weapon is capable of killing the ethereal gods of the Hindi culture, and can be considered similar to the flaming sword. What must happen when an angel is struck is that the energetic weapon would create a burst of energy dispersing the angel's spirit.

The weapon could be a thrown weapon as well, such as the Sudarshana Chakra, or a Zeus style (one time use) lightning bolt. All could be dispersive weapons that essentially disintegrate the angels for a long time (perhaps a thousand years). If the soul is captured after the strike it could be imprisoned in a powerful vessel. This is an effective workaround to the immortal soul of the angel.

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    $\begingroup$ That of the Trishul may work for some future chapter when Devas appear actually. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 14:00
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A mythic trick

(in the same way that fairytale characters might defeat the devil, for instance)

(it's fairly late here and I'm not sure this answer makes any sense to anyone except me, but I spent too long on it so bad luck)

Angels are sometimes said to have no free will, but rather some kind of divine purpose. Engineer a situation in which it is no longer possible for one to fulfill its purpose while still being an angel, and it won't be a problem any more. What I'm thinking of here is some kind of circumstance where its angel-ness, existence or something else without which it can't contribute to the war is in direct conflict with something else in its nature. Now, normally the only way to put someone in a situation like that is to have absolute power over them, but since jinn are magic they can be permitted some level of ability to declare things arbitrarily True.

That's pretty abstract so I'll try to come up with an example even though I'm not very good at it. It's sometimes said that entities such as mountains and seas (and more often in a world with humans, nations and cities) have a specific angel attendant on them. If that's the case, then by forcing an angel to choose between defending the part of creation it's responsible for and the broader jinn war, it can have no legitimate options (where a non-angel would be able to choose to forsake one or the other responsibility). The trick is that if you make a magic hammer that can crack a mountain and go to use it on a particular angel's mountain, the angel will just fight back and probably win (since defending the mountain is its purpose). Whereas if you make a magic hammer that can crack a mountain only if the jinn carrying it is killed, and you can get close enough to be able to use it, then the angel can neither fight and lose their mountain nor leave an enemy combatant in a holy war to go on their merry way. Where that leaves it is unclear, perhaps a fallen angel or simply turning out never having existed in the first place since the divine plan anticipated this moment from the beginning, but in any case it's no longer a threat.

This is a lot of effort for each angel, so it'll take you quite a while to clear a pinhead, but fighting angels was always going to be a long-term guerilla effort pretty much whoever you are

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems very close to a trolley problem. Engineer a situation in which to save n people, one person must be sacrificed. A generic hostage negotiation will do. Either choice causes harm, and are angels allowed to cause harm? $\endgroup$
    – Clumsy cat
    May 17 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your effort and no, is not that long. It is a good idea, however I must say that my version of Jinn is different than that of the pop culture in that they're magical and can alter reality or may things appear and is closer to the original Arab folklore in which they are much more limited and closer to be like elementals. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 13:51
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What is Angel-Kryptonite?

From your short intro, it sounds like you're looking for some material to basically act upon Angels in the same way that Kryptonite acts upon Superman, that silver acts on werewolves, that garlic acts on vampires, etc. The folklore you've scoured seems to have already provided such a form of Supernatural Repellent for one faction in your story... but you're now left trying to balance the scales by finding a counterpoint for the other faction(s).

If there is no obvious direct counterpoint to be found directly from Abrahamic source materials, then you may have to take liberties and branch out into other mythos to find a suitable replacement for your particular fictional setting (or simply invent one). As such, there are a few general paths that one might choose to follow:

  • Silver Has Mystic Powers - The silver-bullet meme/trope has solidly caught on in modern vampire/werewolf fiction as a general "Supernatural Repellent" and, as such, might be readily adapted to your own setting. Unfortunately for your particular outline, this trope either tends to apply universally against "The Supernatural", or to apply selectively with an alignment of "good" (in contrast to "evil"). This, generally speaking, would make "silver harms angels" feel counterintuitive in your particular asymmetric application... except for the (in-universe) "fact" that "iron harms jinn" has a strong "like cures like" quality/feel to it that might overwrite the usual logic in your fictional universe. (The dichotomy of bright-metal versus dark-metal might also be played up in-universe as well.)
  • Noble Metals - If one considers iron as an exemplar of the "Base Metals" then one could similarly view gold as be an exemplar of "Noble Metals". Similar to silver, the usual "alignment" of gold being "good" might make this feel a bit off unless one invokes a bit of a "like cures like" mindset. As a side benefit, this could play off the (Disney?) trope of Jinn having gold jewelry - as it would be a form of protection.
  • Alchemy - Since we're talking about ancient Arabian materials proto-science it makes sense to invoke al-Kimiya. Although a lot of the ideas are whimsical dead-ends from a modern chemistry perspective, there is quite a lot of varied source material symbolism available for fleshing out a fictional magic system. One such symbolic dichotomy could be to invoke the symbols ♂ and ♀, which are most well known now as representing man and woman, but also represent in various alchemical symbolism the planets Mars and Venus or the metals Iron and Copper. There are lots of other options to play with, though; all seven known "Metals of Antiquity" have their own unique symbols. Mercury/quicksilver has a cool symbol ☿ and furthermore being a very "weird" metal (e.g. it's a freakin' liquid) might be a fitting choice for "weird" not-just-humans-with-wings angels. There are also symbols for plenty of other non-metals - from carbon to salt to gunpowder.

Really, there are a lot of directions you could go, and the only real barrier to your success is maintaining "suspension of disbelief"... and so as long as you aren't evoking something strangely-modern like Berkelium or Uranium-238 you should be fine.

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  • $\begingroup$ I can spot a fellow troper here $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 14:01
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A powerful and particularly trained jinn may be able, once in a while, to give away a huge amount of his own vital force to create a small amount of space that's exclusive to him, he's the only one that could ever get access to that space, and again, at the expenses of his own vital force. The jinn would need years to recover from such loss of power.

This could be used to trap an angel, or even more than one if they fit, inside of a nowhere for the eternity.

This way of getting rid of angels, also leaves the door open for things like: angels looking for a particular jinn, who supposedly got rid of their loved ones about a thousand years ago.
This may be worse than death, both for the trapped angels and for those who never loose the hope of getting back their loved ones.

The more angels, or the more high ranked and respected are the angels trapped by a jinn, and the more he becomes unkillable. Angels may not want to lose the possibility of getting someone back, no matter how remote this possibility may be.

I am no jinn expert and I don't know what are the rules here, so I apologize if I am being somehow blasfemic.

I just thought that this was an interesting idea that leaves a lot of space to your imagination and how you want the events to unfold.

If jinns are somewhat related to God, this power can be justified as a tiny anologous of God being able to create the space in which everyone is "trapped".

Also in the pop culture version that they are not meant to resemble, jinns live within a small amount of space that's exclusive to them. I would buy such story.

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  • $\begingroup$ This idea is very good, not so much to my current draft because is more based on traditional folklore but I do picture it as a possible story with more sci-fi overtones with warping space and pocket dimension which sounds a lot like the Three Body Problems trilogy, thank you. But you should explore it youself too. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 18 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ I must confess that the idea of writing something has always been around in my head, but I feel like I will never end up doing it. Anyway thanks for the kind words and the interesting read you mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – anotherOne
    May 18 at 17:06
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Options

  1. Flaming swords. Angels are associated with flaming swords in Genesis. Given that the greatest threat to an angel is probably another angel, it's possible these swords have been made to kill or at least hurt angels.

  2. Ice/water or darkness. Angels are almost always associated with fire and light. They are referred to as shining ones, ministers of flaming fire, stars, etcetera. It's possible then that their weakness may be the counter of themselves; ice/water and/or darkness.

  3. Fall. Contrary to popular belief, angels have free will: they can sin, they can rebel, they can fall. It's not clear if a fallen angel loses power or not, but at the very least they would not be aligned with the others any more. Maybe the greatest weapon against angels isn't a thing but an ideology.

  4. Imprisonment: angels can be imprisoned. We aren't given any details on how this is done, but it said to have been done multiple times. Perhaps the jinn have some sort of secret method/weapon that can entrap an angel.

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Their claws. This would give a big advantage to the angels because the jinns have to get close. But the jinns could outnumber the angels.

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God

God is the only thing that can kill angels, harm them, erase them from existence or make them vulnerable.

The war between angels and jinns is part of God's plan. It is a game of balance, a show-off between good and evil. God rendered angels vulnerable to the fire of jinns during the war so there could be some balance per his justice but he still knew that angels would overcome jinns. God possibly killed some angels during the war also to maintain some balance, or for a display of balance.

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  • $\begingroup$ That might work, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    May 19 at 12:57
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You could use artifacts that were blessed by god to hurt or possibly destroy an angel like the staff of Moses, the ark of the covenant, or the spear of Lance of Longinus.

Also if that doesn't work, you could take a page from dragon ball super (evil containment wave) and seal away the angels into a jar or artifact.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    May 19 at 19:04

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