THE WONDERS IN THE CREATION OF THE CAMEL
By Abdulhamid Gbolahan Yussuf
The camel is without doubt an important animal, especially to we Muslims. It is called Al-Jamal in Arabic. If one thinks of the stories of the early propagation of Islam, the camel plays a major role. The Sahabah of the prophet (SallaLlahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) brought the message of Islam to a large part of today’s Muslim world on the back of camels.
A desert is a land that is extremely dry, totally devoid of vegetation and water, and almost devoid of rain. To survive in-situ in a desert environment is next to impossible, yet camels for thousands of years have been doing so.
Allah has created this animal, instantly recognizable with its distinctive hump and long neck and famously referred to as “the ship of the desert”, with lots of wonders in its creation. Do you know the camel completely lives up to its “ship of the desert” appellation because…
It is at home in the desert as fish is at home in the water. How?
~The camel’s endurance is legendary. It can go for a week or more without water and it can last for several months without food.
~To conserve the water in their body, camel urine comes out as thick coloured water like a syrup. The Prophet (Sallalahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) once ordered some group of people to drink camel’s urine as treatment, possibly for hydrocephalus(Bukhaari (2855) and Muslim (1671).
~ Camels rarely sweat, even when at daytime desert temp of 49 degrees centigrade! In addition they can withstand loosing 25% of their body weight to sweating. Most other animals would die if they lost more than 13% (note that other animals includes human beings).
~But when camels eventually found water to drink, a full grown camel can drink 200 litres of water in 3 minutes!
~They can do it because they have different red blood cells. It is oval rather than circular in shape. This makes them withstand high osmotic variation (the difference in water content in the fluid surrounding the red blood cells and in the cell itself) without rupturing when drinking large amount of water.
~Camels eating greens can derive sufficient water from the green plant to stave off thirst for several days (they won’t have the need to drink again).
Their body respects the desert, the desert respects their body. How?
~The camel’s long legs helps by keeping its body farther from the ground. The desert sand can be as hot as 70°C.
~The way they walk and their wide feet help them in moving without sinking into the sand.
~They have long eyelashes, bushy eyebrows and ear hairs, together with nostrils that can close to form a barrier against sand.
~They have a third eyelid which is transparent. If sand gets into their eye, they will remove it by using their third eyelid to slide it away from their eyeball.
~During summer, the hairs on their body becomes lighter in colour so as to reflect sunlight and prevent sunburns.
~They are able to withstand changes in body temp that would kill most other animals. Their body temp can range from 34°C at dawn and steadily increases to 40°C by sunset and then cool off at night again.
Camels with two humps and camels galloping as fast as horses. What?!
There are two types of camels. The less known Bactrian camel has two humps and is found in Asia, and the Dromedary one hump (Arabian camel) camel found in North Africa and the Middle East which is more widely known. They are working animals with tasks ranging from human transport to bearing loads.
~Camel humps contain fat, not water as commonly believed. The humps serves as a reservoir of fatty tissues. The fatty tissue is derived from the food the camel eats and especially the water it drinks. The fatty tissue is a store of energy for the camel.
~The length of time a camel can survive on this stored energy depends on climate and the animal’s activity levels. The size of the hump can change depending on the amount of food the camel eats. When a camel has been starved, the first notable sign is its hump would start to droop. If you see a camel with a drooping hump, it is not a healthy camel. A camel with a drooping hump once came to the prophet (SallaLlahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) to report maltreatment from his master!
~In speed, a camel is in the same league as horses despite their deceptively awkward stature. Camels have been clocked at speed of up to 65km/hr in short sprints. They can sustain speeds of up to 40km/hr for long distance. Horses barely do better.
Camelids are not true camels but true camels are found in the United States. Where?
Camelids belong to the camel specie/family. They looked in some respect very similar to camels but are not true camels (i.e. the central Asian Bactrian and the Middle Eastern dromedary).
~All camelids are found on the American continent. They are four in species:
~Llama and Alpaca are camel-like animals (camelids) in North and some part of South America, Guanaca and Vicuna are also camelids found only in South America. They are reared for their milk and wool.
~In the 1800s the U.S armed forces decided to introduce camels for patrolling their desert territory. Many camels were imported and this led to the creation of the U.S Camel Corp. Many of the camels were later abandoned. Some say their great great grandchildren still roams the U.S Arizona, New Mexico or Nevada desert till today.
Camel Beauty Contest. What? Where?
In the United Arab Emirate. For seven years now, thousands have been attending a camel beauty contest organized in the western region of the UAE. Camel owners and fancier comes from countries all over the Middle East to the Al-Dhafra festival where the camel beauty contest is held.
A contest is dedicated for the light coloured Asayel breed and another for the dark-skinned Mahajim. They are judged based on the size of the head, length of its neck, and the shape of the hump. And their behavior too.
The very best camel can be sold for up to £2 million.
The Prophet’s (Sallalahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) Camel
Imam Ibn Al-Qoyyim (may Allah be pleased with him) said in his section on the animals owned by the prophet (Sallalahu-alayhi-wa-sallam):
Of camels he had Al-Qaswaa, and it was said that she was the camel on which he made his Hijrah; and Al-Adb aa and Al-Jadaa. Were Al-Baa and Al-Jadaa one and the same, or two different camels? There is some difference of opinion concerning this. Al-Adbaa was the camel who had never been defeated in a race, then a Bedouin came on a young camel, which beat her in a race. This upsets the Muslims, but the messenger of Allah said (Sallalahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) said: When Allah raises the status of something in this world, he inevitably brings it down again. At the battle of Badr, the prophet (Sallalahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) took as booty a dromedary which had belonged to Abu Jahl and had a silver ring in its nose. He took it to be sacrificed on the day of Al-Hudaibiyyah in order to annoy the mushrikeen.
Farewell facts about the camel
~The camel’s mouth have a thick leathery lining allowing them to chew thorny desert plant.
~Camels were domesticated 3000 years ago.
~Habitat of the camel is mainly the desert. Prairie and steppe (grassland /savanna) is also possible.
~Camel milk is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and immunoglobins. Compared to cow’s milk, it is lower in fat and lactose and higher in potassium, iron and Vitamin C.
~Camel milk can readily be made into yogurt, butter or cheese.