Are there any mythical creatures in Islam?
Islam is arguably one of the most important religions in the world. However, I have not found any other mythical creatures in Islam, save the jinn, which is a type of fire spirit. Are there any other mythical creatures in Islam?
The answer to this question depends on how you define “mythical” creatures. There are those who would argue that the god of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) is a mythical creature, like Zeus and Thor and Vishnu and company. There are also those who would argue that Abraham and Moses (both mentioned frequently in the Qur’an) are mythical beings, and some would say the same about Jesus and Muhammad (about both of whom we have no contemporary historical records and whose life-stories are a mixed bag of miracle stories). The Qur’an mentions jinn, which many would con
Also, define "mythical creature". A lot of mythical creatures that we think of as part of Christian tradition, such as unicorns, have little or nothing to do with the the Bible. They were already-exisiting ideas that were added to the Christian mythos. (The unicorn became a symbol of Christ, for example.) So a better way to ask the question would be to ask about mythical creatures that are part of the same culture as Islam.
To fully answer this question you need to divide the problem in two models:
- The pure Coran creatures
- The creature relative to the folklore as the one you find in the popular Arabian nights/1001 nights
Creatures issued from the folklore
The mythical Roc which is a giant bird. Its origin can be tracked to such animals as the Garuda in India or perhaps the Anzu(d) bird of Mesopotamia.
In the 5th voyage of Sinbad (1001 nights), this is a passage where the Roc [rukh <== that is how Arabian call the bird] is described:
So I looked and seeing the merchants beating it with stones, called out to them, "Stop, stop! do not meddle with that egg, or the bird Rukh will come out and break our ship and destroy us." But they paid no heed to me and gave not over smiting upon the egg, when behold, the day grew dark and dun and the sun was hidden from us, as if some great cloud had passed over the firmament. So we raised our eyes and saw that what we took for a cloud was the Rukh poised between us and the sun, and it was his wings that darkened the day.
Marco Polo himself gave this description of the animal:
It was for all the world like an eagle, but one indeed of enormous size; so big in fact that its quills were twelve paces long and thick in proportion. And it is so strong that it will seize an elephant in its talons and carry him high into the air and drop him so that he is smashed to pieces; having so killed him, the bird swoops down on him and eats him at leisure.
You will find the Ifrit, a subclass of the Jinn, in the tale of the Fisherman.
This is what we find in the Arabian nights:
Curious, he (the fisherman) opened the bottle and found it empty. "Just my luck," he muttered and prepared to toss it away when smoke poured out, and a monstrous-looking jinni appeared out of the smoke. "Mighty Solomon, thank you for releasing me!" the jinni roared.
You find a reference to this Djinn/Ifrit, and why he is calling for Solomon precisely in the Coran (27- 38:40):
38 -[Solomon] said, "O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" 39 - A powerful one from among the jinn said, "I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this [task] strong and trustworthy."
Ghouls, ("ghūl") are malvolent demons, generally females. Wikipedia noticed their origin is in the Arabian Nights... Which is pretty false.
You can find a probable track of them in the Sumerian/akkadian Gallu which was creatures/demons, related sometimes to Dumuzi(d) (The Tammuz of the Bible), extraordinary powerful. They are denizens of Hell. They help Inanna (Ishtar) flee the underworld, and one of them
Asagis slain by the god warrior/farmer Ninurta (The Nimrod of the Bible).
You can find preislamic references is such story as the one of the Khalifa Omar meeting such a ghoul and cutting off her head.
In the Arabian nights you have the tale of the King's son and the She-ghoul (or ogress):
He let her down and she went into the ruins. Then he went after her, ignorant of what she was and discovered she was a she-ghoul, who was saying to her children: "I brought you a good, fat boy." They replied: "Mother, bring him to us, so that we may feed on his innards."
Note that you find a very popular sentence (falsely attributed to Muhammad, it is from Bin Jabbir):
“No haamah and no Safar.” Muslim and others add the words, “No naw’ and no ghoul.”
Note: The Jinn, also commonly "Genies", as they appear in the Arabian Nights are not specifically fire related.
I think the question was about Islam (the religion), not about Arabo/Persian folklore as found in the "Arabian Nights".