Edward Lane,
ARABIAN SOCIETY IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Chapter 2: DEMONOLOGY
     
 
 
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CHAPTER II.
DEMONOLOGY


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island in the sea of Es·-S·een (China) is called " the Island of the Sea·láh," by Arab geographers, from its being said to be inhabited by the demons so named: they are described as creatures of hideous forms, sup­posed to be Sheyt·ans, the offspring of human beings and Jinn, who eat men.1

The Ghaddár, or Gharrár,2 is another creature of a similar nature, described as being found in the borders of El-Yemen, and sometimes in Tihámeh, and in the upper parts of Egypt. It is said that it entices a man to it, and either tortures him in a manner not to be described, or merely terrifies him, and leaves him.3

The Delhán is also a demoniacal being, inhabiting the islands of the seas, having the form of a man, and riding on an ostrich. It eats the flesh of men whom the sea casts on the shore from wrecks. Some say that a Delhán once attacked a ship in the sea, and desired to take the crew ; but they contended with it ; where­upon it uttered a cry which caused them to fall upon their faces, and it took them.4

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1 Ibn-El-Wardee [fifteenth century].
2 Its name is written differently in two different MSS. in my possession.
3 El-K·azweenee, and Mir-át ez-Zemán.
4 El-K·azweenee. In my MS. of Ibn-El-Wardee, I find the name written " Dahlán." He mentions an island called by this name, in the Sea of 'Omán ; and describes its inhabitants as cannibal Sheyt·áns, like men in form, and riding on birds resembling ostriches. There is also an inferior class of the Jinn, termed El-Ghowwás·ah, that is, the Divers or Plungers in the seas.
 
DEMONOLOGY
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The Shik·k· is another demoniacal creature, having the form of half a human being (like a man divided longitudinally ) ; and it is believed that the Nesnás is the offspring of a Shik·k· and of a human being. The former appears to travellers ; and it was a demon of this kind who killed, and was killed by, 'Alk·amah, the son of S·afwán, the son of Umeiyeh ; of whom it is well known that he was killed by a Jinnee. So says El-K·azweenee.

The Nesnás (above mentioned) is described as resembling half a human being ; having half a head, half a body, one arm, and one leg, with which it hops with much agility ; as being found in the woods of El-Yemen, and being endowed with speech : " but God," it is added, " is all-knowing."1 It is said that it is found in H·ad·ramót as well as El-Yemen ; and that one was brought alive to El-Mutawekkil : it resembled a man in form, excepting that it had but half a face, which was in its breast, and a tail like that of a sheep. The people of H·ad·ramót, it is added, eat it; and its flesh is sweet. It is only generated in their country. A man who went there asserted that he saw a captured Nesnás, which cried out for mercy, conjuring him by God and by himself.2 A race of people whose head is in the breast, is described as inhabiting an island called Jábeh (supposed to be Java), in the Sea of El-Hind

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1 El-K·azweenee; in the khátimeh [or epilogue] of his work. 2 Mir-át ez-Zemán.
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(India).1 A kind of Nesnás is also described as in­habiting the Island of Ráïj, in the Sea of Es·-S·een (China), and having wings like those of the bat.2

The Hátif is a being that is heard, but not seen ; and is often mentioned by Arab writers. It is generally the communicator of some intelligence in the way of advice, or direction, or warning.

Here terminating this chapter, I must beg the reader to remark that the superstitious fancies which it describes are prevalent among all classes of the Arabs, and the Muslims in general, learned as well as vulgar.


1 Ibn-El-Wardee. 2 Idem.

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