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Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Camel Milk And Urine Hadiths

al-salamu `alaykum

The following piece is taken from a series on the topic of scientific facts mentioned in hadith.

It has been slightly edited for typographical purposes.

wa al-salamu `alaykum


By GF Haddad - Qasyoun/at/ziplip.com - Safar 1424

{In the Name of Allah All-Beneficent Most Merciful.}

This article is divided in thirteen sections:

I. The Arabian Camel

{Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made?} (Qur'ân 88:17).

The ability of Arabian camels to withstand water deprivation as well as help humans in harsh arid climates is truly remarkable and stems from several factors. They do not overheat, can withstand water loss, and store fats in the hump for use in times of food and water deprivation. In times of dehydration, the water seems to be lost from tissues, but not blood. For this reason there is no circulatory distress and the animals can sustain a loss of up to 25% of their body weight - up to 200 kilos! - without dehydration. (Humans lose water from blood and tissue and will die of sluggish circulation at a loss of 12% of their body water.) Camels can also re-hydrate very quickly.1

Camel meat is healthier than beef. A single camel, when slaughtered, feeds ninety to an hundred people. A Bedouin out of water can survive for weeks by slitting the lower lip of his camel and sharing its cud then, later, slaughtering it and drinking the water stored in its four-tiered stomach. In addition to their famed benefits in desert survival, they are highly resistant to many deadly viral diseases and their antibodies could be used for new drugs. Their immune systems are so robust that they remain free from many of the viral diseases that affect other mammals such as foot-and-mouth and rinderpest.2

II. Hadîth of Milk

A lactating camel can produce 4 to twelve kilos of milk a day for 9 to eighteen months. Camel milk is so rich in potassium - which helps retain water in the tissues - that the desert Bedouin who drinks it needs only 2 to 4 liters a day, as opposed to twelve liters of water a day to survive. Camel milk also contains lactose - a diuretic, - protein, iron, and more fat, water, phosphorus, calcium, and Vitamin C than cow's milk in addition to the diuretic and liver-strengthening properties of the wild herbs preferred by camels such as rosemary (iklîl), thyme (sa`tar), wormwood (shayh.), and southernwood (qays.ûm). It also stays fresh much longer than cow's milk. In times of drought the camel continues to lactate long after goats, sheep, and cows have stopped.3

The Prophet Muhammad - upon him and his House blessings and peace - alluded to the above facts when he stressed the merit of milk over any other food and said, as narrated from Ibn `Abbâs - Allâh be well-pleased with both of them - by al-Tirmidhî, Abû Dâwûd, Ibn Mâjah, and Ah.mad:


III. Camel Urine in Arab Medicine

The medicinal properties of the Arabian camel were known to Arab physicians. In his magisterial Canon - "a medical bible for a longer time than any other work"4 Ibn Sînâ (Avicenna) mentions that chronic imbalance of the liver produces jaundice, dropsy (istisqâ'), and swelling of the belly and that the health of the liver can be restored through a temporary diet of camel milk and male Arabian Najîb camel urine, "the most beneficient type of urine, then human urine."5 Avicennan textbooks by Ibn al-Azraq (d. 890) and al-Suwaydî (600-690) state, "The cure [for dropsy] is to drink the milk of the she-camel - together with its urine - fresh out of the udder,6 and to use that every day and leave everything else, for it is extremely efficient and of proven results."7

Ibn Sayyid al-Nâs specifies, "notably desert camels feeding on wormwood and southernwood."8 Wormwood is among the herbs that are extremely useful in correcting digestive disorders in general and for helping detoxify the liver in particular, and is used in the treatment of hepatitis.9

Thus, Arabian camel urine was a standard prescription in Arabic medicine and remains a staple of Bedouin natural remedies to this day both as diuretic, snuff, and delousing hair wash.10

One of the great Arab physicians was the Antiochene Dâwûd ibn `Umar al-Ant.âkî (d. 1008) who knew Greek as well as Arabic, worked in Cairo and Damascus, and died in Makka. He produced a number of Arabic treatises, the most famous being his two-volume Tadhkirat Ulîl-Albâb wal-Jâmi` lil-`Ajab al-`Ujâb or "Memorandum Book for those Endowed with Hearts and the Encyclopedia of Wonders" - still available in print - in which he says:


A camel needs eight times more salt than ovines and bovines - 1 kg. weekly - and the low salinity of its urine is due to the fact that it produces ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) and aldosterone, a hormone that facilitates reabsorption of urine water from the urinary tracts into blood, reducing the quantity of urine. The liver has few excess amino-acids to degrade into urea and uric acid - highly toxic substances - because of the camel's vegetarian regimen. At the same time, aldosterone helps retain sodium at the level of the kidneys, which keeps water in the body. All this produces such a concentrated urine that the volume excreted can be reduced from 20 to 5 liters.12

IV. Use of Animal Urine in Modern Medicine

Use of animal urine is endorsed in mainstream modern medicine. Pregnant mare urine is the source of conjugated equine estrogens and has been marketed for over fifty years as the pharmaceutical brand Premarin, "an estrogen treatment for menopausal and premenopausal women" especially postpartum - one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States.13 It was very recently discovered that adding distilled cow urine to medicaments increases their effectiveness while decreasing their side-effects, making anti-cancer and anti-tubercular drugs twenty times more effective and anti-bacterial drugs eighty times more effective.14 Human "urine therapy" is a staple of ayurveda but remains an underground semi-science in the West.

V. Hadîth of Stomach Putrescence

The Prophet Muhammad - upon him and his House blessings and peace - indicated the medicinal properties of camel urine for gastro-intestinal disorders 1,400 years ago when he said, as narrated from Ibn `Abbâs - Allâh be well-pleased with both of them - by Ah.mad, al-T.ah.âwî in Sharh. Ma`ânî al-Athâr, and al-T.abarânî in al-Mu`jam al-Kabîr - a firmly established narration according to al-Shawkânî in Nayl al-Awt.âr:


The Damascene and Cairene physician `Izz al-Dîn Abû Ish.âq Ibrâhîm ibn Muh.ammad al-Suwaydî16 defined putrescence of the stomach as "a disease of the stomach that prevents it from disgesting aliments. They rot in it and it cannot retain them."17

VI. Hadîth of the `Uraniyyîn Nomads

This Prophetic prescription is reiterated in the famous h.adîth of the `Urayna Bedouins as narrated from Anas - Allâh be well-pleased with him - in its main variant wordings by al-Bukhârî, Muslim, al-Nasâ'î, al-Tirmidhî, Ibn Mâjah, and Ah.mad:

[B = Bukhârî; M = Muslim; T = Tirmidhî; N = Nasâ'î, IM = Ibn Mâjah, A = Ahmad, all in the `Alamiyya numbering]

<> B 1405 Shu`ba from Qatada from Anas; T 67 and 1965 H.ammâd ibn Salama from H.umayd, Qatâda, and Thâbit, from Anas; N 3961 `Abd Allâh al-`Umarî and others from H.umayd from Anas.

<> B 3871 and 5286; N 303 Sa`îd ibn Abî `Urûba from Qatada from Anas; N 3965 Shu`ba from Qatada from Anas.

<> B 6306 Ayyûb from Abû Qilâba from Anas.

<> B 6390; N 3958 Abû Rajâ' from Abû Qilâba from Anas.

<> N 304 and 3967 T.alh.a ibn Mus.arrif from Yah.yâ ibn Sa`îd from Anas.

<> A 12207 Ma`mar from Qatâda from Anas.

<> A 13572 Hammâm from Qatâda from Anas.

All the above wordings are narrated solely from Anas ibn Mâlik by at least eight trustworthy Tâbi`în with close agreement in both content and wording, give or take certain peripheral additional details, in the 70 chains of the six cited compilations alone.

VII. The Pre-Hijra Pestilence in Madîna

Yathrib was insalubrious and known for its endemic fever, the h.ummâ of Yathrib. Al-Bukhârî narrated that `A'isha said: "We came to al-Madîna when it was the most plague-infested land of Allâh. [The valley of] But.h.ân was covered with stagnant water." Dr. Ghiyâth H.asan al-Ah.mad avers that the disease referred to in the h.ummâ h.adîths is malaria-type marsh fever and chills (h.ummâ al-bardâ').19 The h.ummâ was grave enough to warrant visits and exhortations about death as narrated by al-Tirmidhî, Ibn Mâjah, and Ah.mad from Abû Hurayra. Al-Bukhârî, Muslim, and Mâlik narrate from `A'isha that after their emigration Abû Bakr and Bilâl - Allâh be well-pleased with all of them - suffered painful bouts of high fever (wa`k) during which Bilâl would exclaim:

<<"Will I ever sleep again in the valley fragrant with idhkhir and jalîl? Will I ever drink again from the spring of Majanna? Will I ever see again Shâma and T.afîl? O Allâh, curse [those] who EXPELLED US FROM OUR LANDS TO THE LAND OF PLAGUE!" Then the Prophet ( pronounced his famous supplication: "O Allâh, make al-Madîna as beloved to us as Makka, and even more beloved! O Allâh, bless us in our s.â` and our mudd, make it wholesome for us, and TAKE AWAY ITS FEVER to al-Juh.fa!" `A'isha said: "We came to al-Madîna when it was THE MOST PLAGUE-INFESTED LAND OF ALLAH. BUT.H.ÂN WAS COVERED WITH STAGNANT WATER.">>

Al Bukhârî, Muslim, and al-Nasâ'î narrate that another time, a desert Arab caught the fever of Madîna then came to the Prophet (upon him peace) saying, "Rescind my pledge!" But the Prophet (upon him peace) refused on two successive occasions. Then the man left Madîna and the Prophet (upon him peace) said: "Al-Madîna is like a forge. It expels its impurities while its good becomes burnished." He also said: "I was ordered to a town that devours the other towns. They call it Corrupt - Yathrib - but it is The City - al-Madîna. It expels [the wrong] people the way a forge expels impurities from iron." Narrated from Abû Hurayra by al-Bukhârî and Muslim.

This fever is the immediate reason the Madînans on pilgrimage were ordered to practice ramal or vigorous circumambulation, despite their fatigue, as a deterrent showoff to any enemy Meccans that would prey on them due to their ailment, as narrated from Ibn `Abbâs by al-Bukhârî and Muslim.

VIII. Malaria, Typhus, Dropsy, or Hepatitis?

Dr. Mahmûd Nâzim al-Nusaymî saw the diseases caused by the fever of Madîna as one of two types: either fever caused by gastrointestinal infections such as typhoid and other types of salmonella; or malaria-type marsh fever and chills (h.ummâ al-barda'). The former causes a swelling of the stomach and intestines while the latter causes a swelling in the pancreas and liver. These diseases are carried by insects such as mosquitoes, which fester in stagnant-water and vegetation-rich environments.20

Two Syrian contemporaries, the savant Shams al-Dîn Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751) in al-T.ibb al-Nabawî ("Medicine of the Prophet") and the eye specialist and antimonist of Safad al-Kah.h.âl `Alî ibn `Abd al-Karîm ibn T.arkhân (d. 759) in al-Ah.kâm al-Nabawiyya fîl-S.inâ`at al-T.ibbiyya ("The Prophetic Prescriptions in Medical Science") both believed that the disease diagnosed in the h.adîth of the `Uraniyyîn was a form of dropsy.21 Ascites dropsy is caused mostly by liver imbalance and can lead to cirrhosis.22 We mentioned the standard Avicennan prescription in such cases. This was tested recently. A researcher from a teaching hospital in the Sudan presented a study of 30 patients with ascites dropsy, an accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen that causes distended stomachs.23 The study found that patients responded slightly better to 150 ml of camel urine a day than to the standard chemical-based medicine, the strong diuretic furosemide.24 However, ascites is not acquired in a short time and is a lifelong ailment. Nor is it infectious, so it is unlikely that eight people would contract it in a brief time and all at once.

According to our teacher Dr. Sâmir al-Nas.s., the likeliest diagnosis of the symptoms and background described in the h.adîth of the `Uraniyyîn is that the patients suffered from viral hepatitis (= literally "swelling"), a highly infectious inflammation of the liver that causes jaundice, bloating of the abdomen due to accumulation of fluid, and fever. Among its treatments are diuretics and low-fat diets.

IX. Synopsis of the `Uraniyyîn Hadîth

The picture that emerges from the collated variants of the `Urayna h.adîth is as follows. A group of eight poor desert nomads came to Madîna, announced their Islâm, and stayed at the S.uffa or Shelter along with the destitute among the Companions. During their stay they contracted hepatitis, possibly complicated by typhoid or malaria resulting in jaundice, weight loss, and distended stomachs. They craved milk and mentioned the fact that they were "people of udders," not farmers. The Prophet (upon him peace) sent them out of Madîna on a regimen of radical low-sodium diuretics25 - pregnant camel milk and urine - with his herd - the proceeds of zakât for which they, as travellers, were eligible - at al-H.arra for a few days or weeks, where they got better. The camels were herded by a Najdî freedman of the Prophet's (upon him peace), Yasâr, who had been captured in a raid on the Banû Tha`laba.

X. But Is Not Urine Filthy (najis)?

Imâm al-Tirmidhî said, after narrating the `Urayna h.adîth, that the majority of the authorities do not consider the urine of edible animals filthy. Ibn Qudâma reiterates this ruling in the Mughnî and cites, among those that consider it pure, al-Zuhrî, Yah.yâ al-Ans.ârî, `At.â', al-Nakha`î, al-Thawrî, Mâlik, and Ah.mad. This is also the position of Muhammad ibn al-H.asan al-Shaybânî as stated by al-T.ah.âwî in Sharh. Ma`ânî al-Athâr and al-Sarakhsî in al-Mabsût.. `Abd al-Razzâq in his Mus.annaf and al-T.ah.âwî narrate the same from Muh.ammad ibn al-H.anafiyya, Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`î, and `At.â', some adding that camel urine is also sniffed for medicine as well as cow urine and sheep urine. Al-Bukhârî narrated:


Imâm al-Shâfi`î considered the Prophetic prescription of camel urine a life-and-death exception that has the same status as the dispensation for eating carrion meat in case of extreme necessity (and any filthy substance for medication other than intoxicants).26 Similarly, the H.anafî School considers the ruling of filth annulled if there is certainty of medicinal benefit, otherwise, camel urine remains najis according to Abû H.anîfa and al-T.ah.âwî. In addition, the `Uraniyyîn h.adîth itself is abrogated in the H.anafî view. Several major Shâfi`îs such as Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn H.ibbân, al-Is.t.akhrî, and al-Rûyânî defected to the position of Mâlik and Ah.mad.27 In the Mâlikî Madhhab prayer is valid even on road-paths soiled with the urine and droppings of edible animals.28 Ibn Rushd - Averroes - in his masterpiece of comparative fiqh titled Bidâyat al-Mujtahid says the rationale of the permissive ruling is that the refuse of edible animals is not repugnant, unlike that of humans and inedible animals.

XI. The Colostrum Hypothesis

Shaykh Muh.ammad al-`Akîlî, the Syrian-American translator of Ibn al-Qayyim's al-T.ibb al-Nabawî under the title Medicine of the Prophet (upon him peace), told this writer that he considered the mention of the term "their urine" (abwâlihâ) in all the above h.adîths a copyist's mistaken rewording of the word "their colostrum" (albâ'ihâ) in view of two factors: the word albâ'ihâ is so rare as to remain incomprehensible and therefore implausible to most copyists; second, albâ'ihâ looks so much like albânihâ, "their milk," as to suggest diplology. The well-intentioned copyist then supplied the closest possible term in his or her mind - abwâlihâ. (Colostrum even beats milk as a vitamin and antibody- packed diuretic and is produced by the parturient camel for four to five days.) Yet the hypothesis does not stand to scrutiny in light of the profusion of the transmission chains and written manuscripts unanimous on the abwâlihâ wording and the fact that camel urine had a history of medicinal use among desert Arabs with which all the early Scholars seemed familiar. And Allâh knows best.

XII. Conclusion of the `Uraniyyîn H.adîth

As for the conclusion of the h.adîth of the `Uraniyyîn in which the nomads commited apostasy, killed the camelherd after blinding and maiming him, stole the camels, were caught, blinded, maimed, and left to die of thirst, their execution was a literal retaliation according to Mosaic Law "before the penal laws were revealed" as narrated from Ibn Sîrîn by al-Bukhârî, Abû Dâwûd, al-Tirmidhî, and Ah.mad. And Allâh knows best.

XIII. Would-be Objectors to the `Uraniyyîn H.adîth

As for those that would object to the h.adîths of camel urine, they usually share one or more of the following attributes:

- Ignorance of the Arabic language. They are unable to read the Qur'ân and h.adîth in the original Arabic, much less discuss them.

- Ignorance of Arabic history, ethnography, and literature. They do not know the culture of the people among whom circulated the texts that they purport to discuss.

- Ignorance of Arabic medicine. The have no idea that the medical works of the Islamic world "are the foundation upon which our modern Western medicine is built" (Elizabeth Fee, chief librarian, History of Medicine Division, United States National Library of Medicine).29 They are unable to assess the currency of certain medical practices in pre-Islamic and Islamic civilization and in the Arabo-Perso-Turkic literatures on anatomy, embryology, ophthalmology, botany, nutrition, etc. and could not fathom, for example, that non-intrusive diagnosis and treatment for the majority of non-terminal diseases be far superior in a place such as pre-1990s Kabul than in the U.S.A. and Europe.

- Inability to approach the issues scientifically and reliance on emotion and prejudice. They consider it rational to ask: Have you filled a prescription for animal urine lately? (An appropriate answer to such a question could be: Your mother most probably did after giving birth and did or will again around menopause, in the form of "Premarin" equine urine estrogens.)

- Ignorance of Islamic Law. They have no idea of the legal rulings on either filth or medication in Islâm, nor the methods by which those rulings were extracted.

- Non-Arabic and/or non-Muslim background. Their knowledge of Islam and Arabic culture is mostly bookish, through the prism of orientalism whose mistakes they slavishly reduplicate, mostly in the language of modernism and agnosticism even if they identify themselves as Muslim.


1See the comprehensive sites http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0690f/t0690f09.htm (in French) and http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/camels.htm.

2http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1702000/1702393.stm and http://www.canbooks.com/camel.html.

3http://www.genista.net/gi/nm/drom-281.htm (in French) and Ghiyâth H.asan al-Ah.mad, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî fî D.aw' al-`Ilm al-H.adîth (2:215).

4William Osler as cited by Monzur Ahmed in his article "Ibn Sînâ, Doctor of Doctors," Muslim Technologist, November 1990.

5In Mah.mûd al-Nusaymî, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî wal-`Ilm al-H.adîth (3:242) and Muh.ammad Nizâr al-Daqr, Rawâ'i` al-T.ibb al-Islâmî: al-Qism al-`Ilâjî (1:257).

6Jawâd `Alî in al-Mufas.s.al fî Târîkh al-`Arab Qabl al-Islâm asserts they used to boil the urine first cf. al-Nusaymî, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî wal-`Ilm al-H.adîth (3:237).

7Ibn al-Azraq, Tas-hîl al-Manâfi` fil-T.ibbi wal-H.ikma ["The Facilitation of Benefits in Medicine and Wisdom"] (1206 Khayriyya Cairo ed. p. 60 =1315 H.amîdiyya Cairo ed. p. 51=another old Cairo edition p. 66) cf. al-Sha`rânî's epitome of al-Suwaydî titled Mukhtas.ar al-Suwaydî fil-T.ibb (1302 H.alabî Cairo ed. p. 51).

8Cited by al-Suyût.î in his Sharh. on al-Nasâ'î's Sunan (1:161).


10Cf. Gibrîl Jabbûr, The Bedouins and the Desert, transl. Lawrence I. Conrad, State University of New York Press, 1995 and Hilda and Dagg Gauthier-Pilters, The Camel, Chicago and London, 1981. City Arabs apparently know it only as a hair tonic.

11Al-Ant.âkî, Tadhkira (Cairo: Maymûniyya 1308/1891 ed. 1:77).

12http://www.esj-lille.fr/atelier/js/js00/c3e.htm, http://www.genista.net/gi/nm/drom-281.htm, and http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0690f/t0690f09.htm (all in French).

13http://www.premarin.com; http://my.athenet.net/~nrsprntg/stpindex.html; and http://www.igha.org/pmu_link.html.

14http://www.rfi.fr/fichiers/MFI/Sante/641.asp (in French), quoting the British magazine Chemistry and Industry.

15As for the narrations "The stomach is the central basin of the body and the veins are connected to it..." and "The stomach is the house of disease" they are both forgeries cf. al-`Uqaylî, D.u`afâ' (1:51), al-Suyût.î, Tadrîb (1:287), al-Qârî, Mas.nû`, etc.

16Author of a treatise on synonyms for plant names, a treatise on the medical uses of stones, and a Tadhkira of recipes and procedures for medicaments extracted from a large number of Islamic, Greek, and other sources, arranged from head to foot. Al-Sha`rânî epitomized his Tadhkira cf. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/bioA.html.

17Cited in al-Nusaymî, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî wal-`Ilm al-H.adîth (3:237)

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