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Know any Ahadith, Qur'an and classic Arabic poetry about camels? (In English)
April 1, 2009 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Know any Ahadith, Qur'an and classic Arabic poetry about camels? (In English) I am currently writing about paper about their survival in the desert. Thanks in advance!
posted by pixxie to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
 
The Qur'an doesn't mention camels once, so it won't be in there.
posted by scodger at 10:07 PM on April 1, 2009


Scodger, what are you talking about?

"Will they not regard the camels, how they are created? And the heaven, how it is raised? And the hills, how they are set up? And the earth, how it is spread? Remind them, for thou art but a remembrancer, Thou art not at all a warder over them." Al-Ghashiya, 17-21
posted by HopperFan at 10:13 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then again in Al-Anaam, 144, and Al-Hajj, 36.

Here's an article about the mention of camels in the Quran.

This article has some interesting info, including a bit of The Ode of Tarafah.
posted by HopperFan at 10:22 PM on April 1, 2009


I apologise, my Borges is better than my arabic: see here
posted by scodger at 12:16 AM on April 2, 2009


The Prophet is referred to as "the best of men to ever ride a camel" in a verse of poetry found in the Mawlid Diba'i. I'll try to dig out the exact phrasing when I get home, if you'd like.

The camel the Prophet rode into Medina played an important historical role. When the Prophet arrived in Medina after fleeing assassination in Mecca, vying groups of Medinans tried to get him to stay with them. To avoid taking sides, the Prophet decreed he would get off only where his camel stopped and kneeled. That spot became his home and the first Mosque of Medina was eventually built adjacent to it. When the Prophet passed away he was buried there, and that's where his grave is to this day, right where the camel kneeled basically. Can't remember the camel's name though.
posted by BinGregory at 1:37 AM on April 2, 2009


The Camel of Jabir

On the return journey to Medina, the majority of the Prophet's companions rode on ahead whilst he and some of his close companions rode a distance behind to care for and ensure the safety of those who were unable to keep up. Jabir, whose father had been martyred at Uhud, had a camel that was old and so frail that it could not keep up with the others.

It wasn't long until the Prophet (sa) caught Jabir up whereupon he inquired why he was not with the rest of his companions so Jabir mentioned the camel's condition. The Prophet (sa) asked Jabir to make his camel kneel and then dismount and he did the same.

Then he asked Jabir to hand him his riding stick whereupon the Prophet (sa) gently prodded the old camel with it and told Jabir to remount. By the blessing of Allah, a miracle occurred and the camel's strength was revived to such a degree that it ran even faster than the Prophet's camel and they continued to ride together.


On the same journey into Medina, a few days prior, the Prophet's camel kneeled at Quba, where a masjid was also built. So this is a camel that founded two mosques.
posted by BinGregory at 2:06 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


King Abdulazziz had an interesting comment about camels, he called them "atta Allah", or a gift from God. Horses are useless in the desert for waging war; they consume too much water. Not so with camels.
posted by tesseract420 at 6:03 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a celebrated hadith that compares the joy of God upon the repentance of an individual to a man who's traveling in the desert and loses his camel. I don't have the exact words or a citation, but it goes generally like this:

The man is riding the camel alone through the desert. Somewhere on the journey, he finds some shade, so he sits down to rest, leaving all of his food and water on the camel. When he looks up, the camel and all of his provisions are suddenly gone. He searches, but the camel has vanished. Finally, he despairs, lies down, and waits for death. At that moment, the camel suddenly returns and is standing there before him. Sheer joy overtakes him, and he shouts out "O God, You are my slave and I am your Lord," mistakenly reversing the order of the words out of the overpowering joy he feels.
posted by zerzura at 6:29 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok so I'm home and the kids are in bed so I managed to check my bookshelf:

The Prophet's camel was named Qaswa.

The poem I was thinking of comes from Mawlid Daiba'i, a volume of poetry about the Prophet's life that is typically read on his birthday and other special occasions. It's about 500 years old, the author having passed in 1537AD. In it are some poems that are sung, including the one I'm thinking of. It is describing the approach to Medina on camelback by a pilgrim while evoking the original migration by the Prophet.
Chorus:
The blessings of Allah as countless as the stars in the sky/
Upon Ahmad, the best of men to ride a camel

Verses:
Swaying to hear sung the name of the beloved/
Touching the emotions of those on the caravan

Did you not see how it [the camel] took wider steps/
And tears flowed down from its eyes in happiness?

It looked around for shade to hide its happiness/
and for the place of history and pleasure

Do not hold on the ropes nor lead it/
for its longing for him [the Prophet] will lead it to the intended village [Medina]

But you must also be engulfed in happiness like that of the camel/
If not, you are not sincere in your love

There, the sight of the village of Al-Aqiq can be seen/
That is the sight of the top of the house and tents of the village

And that is the green dome/
In it rests a prophet whose light illumined the darkness

The blessed event has been achieved, the meeting draws nearer/
and happiness has arrived from all sides

Say to yourselves not to waste time/
Before lies the beloved; today there is no veil

Be at ease when you are present with the beloved/
Happiness is achieved and not the opposite

This is the Prophet, Messenger of Allah, best of all creation/
He of the highest station and most honorable position
There's a few more verses but the camel ride is over. Note that the "camel" in the chorus is technically "steed" or "mount" but camel is understood.

The translation above is very lightly modified from the work of Abdulkader Ali Alhadad in "Maulid Eulogy" by Warid Press, Singapore ISBN 981-05-3134-6, a full translation and commentary on the Arabic original by Al-Hafiz Shaikh Abdul Rahman bin Ali ad-Daiba'i. Available from Wardah Books.
posted by BinGregory at 6:49 AM on April 2, 2009


There's this story [that I'm probably butchering] from the life of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, the first Caliph and father-in-law of the Prophet, where a man comes to him and complains that whenever he prays, he can't stop thinking about worldly affairs. Abu Bakr says he's just not trying hard enough [or something like that, God help me], so the guy says, if you can pray two raka'ats right now without a stray thought entering your mind, you can take the best camel you like out of my herd. So Abu Bakr proceeds to pray the two raka'at. He finishes, gives salams, and then tells the guy he won. "I kept thinking about which camel I would choose when I finished."

Like zerzura, I'm sorry I can't cite it for you. It's just one of those stories you hear...
posted by BinGregory at 7:01 AM on April 2, 2009


Definitely check out the "Ode of Tarafah," a fantastic classical Arabic poem, about one man's "swift, lean-flanked camel." He goes into intense, weirdly erotic detail about the animal:

Perfectly firm is the flesh of her two thighs--

they are the gates of a lofty, smooth-walled castle...

Her cheek is smooth as Syrian parchment, her split lip

a tanned hide of Yemen...

her eyes are a pair of mirrors, sheltering

in the caves of her brow-bones, the rock of a pool's hollow...

I am at her with the whip, and my she-camel quickens pace...

elegantly she steps, as a slave-girl at a party...


There's also an ode written by Labid, which is quoted in part here (can't find a full text of the ode online), in which an old man praises his elderly camel, who, although "her ankle-thongs are worn to ribbons of long fatigue/ yet rejoices in her bridle, and runs still as if she were/ a roseate cloud, rain-emptied, that flies with the south wind." Goddamn, tears me up every time.

These are both pre-Islamic, but not by much, and are very much evocative of the nomadic desert culture out of which Islam grew.
posted by bookish at 1:50 PM on April 2, 2009


Not poetry, but there's the proverb, Trust in God But Tie Your Camel.
posted by yeti at 1:56 PM on April 2, 2009


Thank you all for sharing the wonderful, insightful, and educated proverbs/odes about camels. I got more than I bargained for. Just out of curiosity, do you all speak Islamic or of Islamic background? Because I seriously googled everywhere online and couldn't find any relevant materials pertaining the hardship in the deserts and their importance to the Arabic culture. I was aware of King Abdulazziz's comment about camels, and how he would call them "atta Allah". I did in fact read every single poetry and article that each and everyone of you suggested. I am so touched! I will definitely incorporate some excerpts into my paper. It is due tomorrow! :D
posted by pixxie at 3:12 PM on April 2, 2009


Good luck on your paper! One quick note : I'm betting a lot of us speak Arabic (fus'ha), or some dialect of it.

I like this proverb about camels: " The dogs bark, but the camel keeps eating." (Those who are confident in their purpose ignore the yammering of those who mistakenly think they have some say over it.)
posted by HopperFan at 3:33 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Trust in God but tie your camel" comes from a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, btw.
posted by BinGregory at 9:22 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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