Top 10 Terrifying Arabian Mythical Creatures

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Top 10 Terrifying Arabian Mythical Creatures

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
You definitely don't want to go outside during an Arabian night. For this list, we're only looking at creatures specific to the mythology of ancient Arabia and are excluding similar and close-by mythologies like Persian or Greek, unless the creature has connections in a global array of legends. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Arabian Mythical Creatures.
Transcript
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

Top 10 Arabian Mythical Creatures


You definitely don’t want to go outside during an Arabian night. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Arabian mythical creatures.

For this list, we’re only looking at creatures specific to the mythology of ancient Arabia and are excluding similar and close-by mythologies like Persian or Greek, unless the creature has connections in a global array of legends.

#10: Dendan [or Dandan]

Sea monsters are famously difficult to catch, and the Dendan is one of the most elusive beasts of all. It appears in a story from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, or the Arabian Nights, called “Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman.” The merman explains that the Dendan is the “biggest fish of all” and “were it to meet a camel or an elephant, it would swallow it in one mouthful.” A magical ointment is also made from their liver, which allows humans the ability to live and breathe underwater when applied, just like the merpeople. Interestingly, if a Dendan eats a human, it will immediately die.

#9: Al-mi’raj

These are some of the strangest monsters in any mythology out there. A big, yellow rabbit with a black unicorn horn sounds like a novelty you’d see in a Victorian freak show, but at one point people believed in and were genuinely terrified by the Al-mi-raj. Despite looking like an overgrown rabbit, it was a savage monster capable of killing and eating creatures much larger than it was. Worse, the only way to get rid of one was by using a witch. It’s speculated that this story may originate from real rabbits suffering various diseases, such as fibromatosis or papillomatosis, which made them experience strange and painful growths.

#8: Shadhavar

Shadhavars are unicorn-like creatures with one horn that have multiple hollow branches that play beautiful music when the wind passes through them, capable of enchanting all the animals and humans around. Accounts of this creature were found in Muslim bestiaries from the Medieval period. According to stories, their horns were often gifted to kings and nobles after they had been killed. Played through one end of the horn, the music is happy, but played through the other the music is sad. They’re similar to another creature called the Siranis, which lives around Kabul, though the Siranis played beautiful music through its snout in order to catch and devour its prey.

#7: Werehyena

If you thought werewolves were a scary idea, wait until you hear about the ancient Werehyenas, which appear in many accounts from ancient and medieval mythology. As well as Arabia, there are legends about them from African countries like Ethiopia and Sudan. They even made it into Ancient Greek and Ancient Persian lore as well. Werehyenas are different from werewolves in that they were originally hyenas who can sometimes transform into humans. They’re also similar to European vampires as they are nocturnal, mesmerizing people at night and then attacking them and consuming their blood.


#6: Falak

Another creature appearing in the Arabian Nights, this monstrous fire-dwelling serpent is so huge it could swallow the entire world whole. In fact, the only reason it doesn’t swallow all of creation is because of its immense fear of Allah. It’s not the only giant, existence-devouring snake in mythology, either. There is the intimidating is Jörmungandr, the Norse World Serpent, who is wrapped around Midgard and is so vast he can eat his own tail. It’s believed that Falak and Jörmungandr may be related as they seem to have proto-Aryan roots in common.


#5: The Roc

The Roc is an enormous bird which, as well as being popular throughout the region’s folklore, also appeared in various natural history texts. They were supposedly so huge that a mountain floating above the China Seas was said to be one. But it’s most well-known for being a frequent foe of Sinbad, the famous Middle Eastern heroic mariner, who has various run-ins with giant Rocs and their eggs. His largest mistake comes in his Fifth Voyage as found in the Arabian Nights, when his crew crack open a giant Roc egg and eat the chick inside, meaning the parent Roc furiously attacks and kills many of them.


#4: Nasnas

The Nasnas is one of the most frightening Arabic monsters of all. It’s the offspring of a human and a type of demon called a Shiqq, so it’s not surprising that it’s so horrifying. The freakiest thing about it is it is literally half a human, as in, it only has one of everything it should have two of: half a head, half a torso, one arm and one leg, which it uses to hop and attack people with aid of its tail. And if you don’t think this hopping monster is scary yet, its Somali equivalent, the Hungruf, can kill people just by touching them and disintegrating all of their flesh.


#3: Qareen

Its name translates literally to “constant companion” in Arabic, but this creature has proven notoriously difficult for scholars to pin down. A Qareen is always a spirit-like creature that is attached to a person, but opinions differ on whether they are good, evil, or somewhere in between. They’re sometimes portrayed as being inherently evil, dedicated to forcing people to doing bad deeds, or alternatively they convince people to do good deeds. But they could also be an intrinsic part of every individual, and even the prophet Muhammad had a Qareen that eventually converted to Islam.

#2: Bahamut

In ancient Islamic cosmography, Bahamut is an enormous fish or whale that carries the Earth upon its back. In this cosmology, the Earth was thought to be flat and surrounded by enormous mountains, standing on the shoulders of an angel upon a slab of gemstone and that, in turn, on the back of the cosmic ox Kuyutha. Then, underneath the bull, is Bahamut. The name “Bahamut” is thought to derive from the Hebrew word “Behemoth,” the Behemoth being an enormous monster found in the Book of Job. Weirdly enough however, many modern adaptations of Bahamut actually portray it as a dragon-like entity, most notably Final Fantasy.

#1: Djinn

Anglicized as “genie,” the djinn are creatures you’ve definitely heard of. They appear throughout Arabic and Islamic mythology and were popularised in western culture even further by the Arabian Nights and, of course, Disney’s Aladdin. They are part physical and part spiritual, always powerful, and can be good or evil depending on which one you’re talking to. There are a wide variety of djinn-related creatures, too, such as ghouls, which kill young children and feast on corpses, as well as Ifrits, the most powerful djinns of all that are drawn to blood but can be destroyed by reciting an Islamic prayer or by the sign of the cross.

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