Egyptian Urban Legends That Are Scarier Than Halloween
By Sara Abdelazim
Egyptians, with their love for drama and good stories, have a bucket-full of urban legends about genies, ghouls, ghosts and all sorts of creatures that’ll keep you up at night. These folkloric tales are deeply rooted in our culture and are passed down through generations upon generations of wide-eyed earnest listeners. Here are a few of the most iconic horrifying tales that will get you in the Halloween spirit.
This one originated from the Egyptian country-side of the Nile Delta, where people claimed that a siren-like, beautiful, mysterious woman appears in the fields at night. El-Nadaha comes out of her water cavern and waits on the shores of the river or among the bushes. She speaks a man’s name, bewitching him with a chant-like call, that he drops whatever he’s doing and whoever he’s with to follow the sound of her hypnotizing voice. The poor fellow then finds himself lured into the Nile where he inevitably drowns.
It is also said that occasionally, El-Nadaha could fall in love with the man she’s calling, and takes him to the underworld and marries him. She eventually kills him and buries his bones in her cavern though, in fear that he may escape and reveal the secrets of her world.
This mysterious wolf-jackal-fox hybrid of a creature is said to live in the mountains, desert, and the remote places of Egypt. It actually originated in the times of the Pharaohs, when it was told that this creature attacked anyone who tries to trespass on a temple or graveyard. In more modern times, our grandparents would tell you quite a different story. One that includes a man and his wife, and his wife’s sister who transformed into the Sel’awa every night.
The two women would go out in secret every night to dig up people from their graves and eat their remains. When the man followed them once and saw what they were, he confronted his wife the next day and she was furious, but kept him alive for the sake of their two children, then forever disappeared along with her sister. You think that’s ridiculous? People actually believed this creature appeared in New Cairo only a little under two decades ago, when there was nothing there but Nata on Road 90, so much that they wouldn’t dare go to that area after sunset.
The legend of the Ghoul in the Middle East in general draws a one-eyed creature with a striking red pupil, that lives on eating the flesh of human beings while they’re still alive. It can morph into various forms, like an animal or a devil or it can disappear altogether. It is said that when a Ghoul is struck with a sword, it would beg for another slash to be put out of its misery.
A noble knight ought to know better though, for when a Ghoul is struck with a sword once, it dies; but if it’s struck again, it comes back to life and eats him. In Egyptian folklore, Ommena El-Ghoula is an ugly, evil witch that used her black magic to separate Elshater Hassan from his beloved Set Elhosn Welgamal.
A sly and domineering monster that first appeared in the famous One Thousand and One Nights fables. This creature lurks in the kingdom’s palace and eventually kidnaps the princess, taking her to a faraway, desolate place and trapping her in a big iron cage.
Abu Regl Masloukha
The Egyptian parents’ favorite. This is the creature we were all scared of as kids, because most parents used it as a way to get kids to behave. If we didn’t finish our homework, or if we were naughty, we’d be threatened to be sent to Abu Regl Masloukha.
Nobody knows if this is a man or another weird monster, since it was mostly left to our vivid, colorful imaginations. What we do know is that this thing has one leg that’s completely burnt, that it and El-Ghoula are tight friends, and that it would torture us poor kids if we didn’t do as we were told.