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"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights

A ghoul is a monster or evil spirit in Arabic mythology, associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh.[1] The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek,[2] which describes the ghūl of Arabic folklore. In modern fiction, the term has often been used for a certain kind of undead monster. By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.

Early etymology[edit]

Ghoul is from the Arabic and غول ghūl, from غال ghala, "to seize".[3] The word is etymologically related to the word galla, the name of a class of Underworld demons from Sumerian and Akkadian mythology.[4][5]

Middle Eastern folklore[edit]

Ghouls gathering for combat in a Persian poem

In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis.[6]

A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead,[7] then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.

In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghoulah[8] and the plural is ghilan.[citation needed] In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual. Alghoul also an Arabic family that was originated in Algeria. The name was given for one of her family member for his knowledge and courage. The family was descendant from Algazaeri family and they have two migration from the Middle-East. The first one was before they had the name Algazaeri and it was to follow Al-Adarisah revolution in North Africa.

They came back to the Middle-East region spreading across Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Iraq. The second migration was when they evacuated and hunted back to North Africa for political, social and religious reasons. While they were living in North Africa one of their family member was famously called Alghoul (Sayed Ibrahim Alghoul).

When the political circumstance ease, part of this family came back to the Middle-East to gain some titles and priority in lands. This was during the Ottoman period, as they were granted religious and Islamic landmarks, like prophets’ graveyards and historical places as guardian and protector. Which these places were spreading all over countries like Damascus, Lebanon, Palestine (Jerusalem) and Iraq.

This family was mistakenly confused with some Arabic families that have relatively close name to Ghoul but there was no evidence found to support this relation. Most of the families mistaken with Alghoul family did not share the history or the family heritage to prove this connection. It was completely different history and there was no evidence to support their findings.

Their migration especially to Lebanon was accompanied with Families like Ghandour, Beiruti and Senussi, which they were related in blood, rather than just general migration. Also their history as family can be traced back to countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Their achievement in these countries can be traced also to the history and development of these countries and other Islamic countries in the region.

Contrary to what some historian and family members were mistakenly trying to prove, that the root of this family is related to other Arabs ancestries and families. Most of the stories related to Alghoul folklore, was collected and documented by members of Alghoul family, which can be found in specialized Arabic libraries.

In popular culture[edit]

It was not until Antoine Galland translated Arabian Nights into French that the western idea of ghoul was introduced. Galland depicted the ghoul as a monstrous creature that dwelled in cemeteries, feasting upon corpses. This definition of the ghoul has persisted until modern times, with ghouls appearing in literature, television and film, as well as video games.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Story of Sidi-Nouman". Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Ghoul Facts, information, pictures | articles about Ghoul". Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  3. ^ Robert Lebling (30 July 2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B.Tauris. pp. 96–. ISBN 978-0-85773-063-3. 
  4. ^ Cramer, Marc (1979). The Devil Within. W.H. Allen. ISBN 978-0-491-02366-5. 
  5. ^ "Cultural Analysis, Volume 8, 2009: The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture / Ahmed Al-Rawi". Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  6. ^ "ghoul". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  7. ^ "ghoul". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  8. ^ *Muhawi, Ibrahim, and Sharif Kanaana (1988). Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  9. ^ Al-Rawi, Ahmed K. (11 November 2009). "The Arabic Ghoul and its Western Transformation". Folklore. 120 (3): 291–306. doi:10.1080/00155870903219730. Retrieved 14 August 2014.