Clarissa Johal: Frightening Friday-Ghouls

Friday, March 14, 2014

Frightening Friday-Ghouls

"Amine Discovered with the Goule", 
from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the Arabian Nights
Public Domain Work of Art
I always wonder why ghoul movies aren't hugely popular. Zombies, yes, ghouls...not so much. It doesn't make sense, because in my opinion, ghouls are much scarier. While zombies act without thought and are driven by base instinct, ghouls have intelligence and can make decisions. Zombies are the living who have come back from the dead. Ghouls, on the other hand, were created by demons and were never human. Personally, (and I may insult the zombie-lovers without meaning to) I think ghouls are more formidable.

The ghoul or ghūl (Arabic word for demon) was a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis. The jinn were of three classes: ghūls (shape-shifters), Ifrit (evil spirits), and Silla (spirits of treachery). Ghouls were desert dwellers that could assume the guise of a hyena or other animal, but with cloven feet. Though typically, a ghoul devoured corpses, they wouldn't hesitate to hunt children or lure unwary people into abandoned places. There, they would slay and devour them, and then take on their form. Ghouls could also possess a human's body and drive them mad.  The sole defense that one had against a ghoul was to strike it dead in one blow; a second blow would only bring it back to life again. 

Abbasid photo shared under GNU Free Documentation License
Though the ghoul has origins as old as Mesopotamian civilizations, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. However, there are many tales in modern Arabic literature that focus on ghouls. In 1992, Emile Habibi published Sarâyâ Bint al-Ghoul, a story of a girl kidnapped by a ghoul and imprisoned in his palace. In 2007 Jamīl al-Salḥūt published Al-Ghoul, a children's story about a girl who dreams of ghouls after hearing of a horrible description of them by her grandmother. The belief of ghouls is widely spread in the Arab world up to this day.

And on that note, I leave you with an "actual" ghoul sighting. The ghoul shows itself at 0.44 sec. You have been forewarned...

6 comments:

Heather Holden said...

I find ghouls more interesting than zombies, too! Zombie stories can be hit-or-miss for me, to be honest...

Clarissa Johal said...

I want to see a zombie vs. ghoul smack-down! lol Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

Rhea Rhodan said...

Thank you. Not a zombie fan myself. My first reaction is always revulsion rather than fear. "Ew!" rather than "Run!" or "Fight!" or "Freeze!"

Clarissa Johal said...

I'd be right there with you, Rhea. Probably stepping on your toes to get past you, though, lol ;)

James Garcia Jr. said...

Spooky cool, Clarissa. *waves* Thanks for sharing that history. I can't say I really knew any of that. Sorry i haven't been around in like forever. I just emerged from writer's cave for a break and thought I would catch up with my buddies.
I hope everything is well with you and yours, my friend.

-Jimmy

Clarissa Johal said...

Thanks for stopping by, James! I know how it is, with family and all too :) Nice to "see" you.