Ghoul, Arab zombies

This article is also available in: Italiano

A step into the macabre with some of the most iconic creatures of the Arab-Persian world: the Ghouls, a sort of “zombie Middle East”

Ghouls, dwellers of cemeteries

The word Ghoul derives from the Arabic غَالَ ghāla, or “to grab”, immediately highlighting one of its main characteristics. These beings in fact tend to grab the unfortunate passer-by, killing him and often feeding on him. Another peculiarity of these creatures is in fact cannibalism, their only form of sustenance that pushes them to continue their path to infamy.


Similar more to hyenas in nature and behavior, they live above all in cemeteries, ideal places for their diet. The ghouls, in fact, do not feed only on living beings, but often and willingly on already rotting corpses, from which they steal everything they possess. With the advent of Islam, the myths concerning these creatures have continued, but their nature has slightly changed. If before the latter were real “bestial humanoids”, more similar to Gog and Magog, later they became a form of evil djinnor Shayatin/ demons.

One thousand and one nights and H.P. Lovecraft

From almost exclusive elements of the Arab-Persian world, the ghouls soon became extremely well known in Europe thanks to the first translations of “The Thousand and One Nights“, a collection of stories in which they are described in depth. Their fame spread rapidly among all lovers of the macabre, even reaching the coasts of the USA, where it crossed the fantasies of H.P. Lovecraft.


The famous American writer was literally fascinated by them, proposing them in several works and also trying to “humanize” them. In one of his stories, in fact, they appear as even reasonable beings but “simply” cannibals.

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