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Sumerian and Akkadian mythology included a class of Underworld demons called "galla." Eventually the creatures made their way into Arabian folklore, in which the ghūl (from "ghala," to seize) was a fiendish type of jinni (genie) sired by Iblis, the archdevil created from fire who was allowed to mingle with Malaʾikah (angels) in the heavens until he rejected the command of Allah to bow before 'Adam, the first human. (Allah told the Malaʾikah, "I will create a vicegerent on earth," and they responded, "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?" But Iblis did not disobey due to any moral concern: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.") [Qur'an 2:34, 7:12]. The ghūl dwelled in burial grounds and other uninhabited places, or was a desert-dwelling shapeshifter that assumed the guise of a hyena or other animal to lure the unwary into abandoned places to devour them; it also preyed on young children, drank blood, stole coins, and ate the dead, then took the form of the person most recently eaten. The European idea of a "ghoul" as a monstrous creature that dwells in cemeteries and eats corpses was introduced between 1704 and 1717, when Antoine Galland translated the Arabian Nights into 12 volumes of French ("Les mille et une nuits"). It made its way into English literature in 1786 when Reverend Samuel Henley published "An Arabian Tale, From an Unpublished Manuscript," which he claimed was translated directly from Arabic, but which he actually stole from William Beckford's French novel "Vathek."
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