Camel Urine and Islam

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This article is about the use of camel urine as medicine in the Hadiths and how such usage is viewed in the Muslim world.

Camel Urine in the Hadiths

Narrated Anas:Some people from the tribe of 'Ukl came to the Prophet and embraced Islam. The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch) camels of charity and to drink, their milk and urine (as a medicine).
Anas b. Malik reported that some people belonging (to the tribe) of 'Uraina came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) at Medina, but they found its climate uncongenial. So Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to them: If you so like, you may go to the camels of Sadaqa and drink their milk and urine. They did so and were all right.
"A tradtionalist told me from one who had told him from Muhammad b. Talha from Uthman v. Abdul-Rahman that in the raid of Muharib and B. Thalaba the apostle had captured a slave called Yasar, and he put him in charge of his milch-camels to shepherd them in the neighborhood of al-Jamma. Some men of Qays of Kubba of Bajila came to the apostle suffering from an epidemic and enlarged spleens, and the apostle told them that if they went to the milch camels and drank their milk and their urine they would recover, so off they went.

It appears Muhammed believed camel urine had medicinal value and prescribed it to cure the men’s illness.

There is also the possibility the use of camel urine was a cultural norm among the Bedouin Arabs as camels had many valuable uses among the people of ancient Arabia. How use of the camel was viewed in ancient Arabia.

For centuries the Nabataean moved goods in the desert by camel caravan. The camel was the backbone of their merchant enterprise, and it is only through understanding the camel, that we can better understand the Nabataean. While the Nabataeans are mostly remembered in the west for the ancient city of Petra, the Nabataeans themselves etched graffiti on many of the rocks and wadi walls of the Middle East. Many of these inscriptions bear reference to or pictures of camels and are the items that the common people left behind in their own memory.

The Bedouin use the camel for many purposes, including transport, meat, milk, and sometimes they make use of their skins. Camels were also used in war.

The Bedouin use the camel to scout out new grazing land before they move. The camel then changes to a pack animal, carrying tents, equipment and women and children.

The Bedouin also live off of the milk of camels. For many Bedouin, milk replaces water in their diet, sometimes living off of several camels at a time. Often a young camel is killed and eaten, and the mother camel is milked each day. If the calf is not killed, then they share the mother's milk, using one side of the udder for the calf and the other for themselves.

The camel also supplies the Bedouin with a ready supply of meat. Often camels are slaughtered for an occasion, and the whole tribe partakes in the meal. Often a young camel is slaughtered, that has not been used as beasts of burden or for ploughing, as the meat of these animals is considerably tougher.

From the hide of the camel, the Bedouin make containers to keep water in, and buckets to raise water from wells or pools, or even troughs to put water in for the camels to drink. From this hide, Bedouin also make sandals for themselves, as well as other leather items for the tent.

The fur of the camel is used to weave bags for gain of flour and to make tent panels for flaps, or to make an aba for the owner of the house, or a cover for the saddle of his horse. Usually the fur is only taken as the camel sheds its fur during the beginning of the summer. Often the women collect it before it falls out, and some try to hide it from the men and sell it secretly so they can buy bits of cheap jewelry.

Camel dung is used as fuel for fires in the winter, and sometimes for cooking food. Camel urine is often used as a hair wash to protect it from knits, and to give it a reddish hue. Some even drink the urine as medicine for certain diseases.

In the past, the mahr, or dowry given to a bride was paid by a fixed number of camels, depending on the social standing of the bride and her family, or the bride groom’s ability to pay.
Arab poets have often called the camel the 'ship of the desert." Long ago, Saydah Dhu alRumma said that his she-camel was a safiinat al-barr or land ship. His poem stated "a land-ship whose reins beneath my cheek are passed."

According to Plinio Prioreschi, author of A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic Medicine, the use of camel urine as medicine might have been a common remedy in Muhammed's time. According to Prioreschi there is some evidence the Arabs might have used the usual mixture of musical folk formulas and crude medicine including Drekapotheke (excrement ).

Evidently the camel played an important role to the Bedouin Arabs and this much suggests Muhammed got the idea of camel urine having medicinal properties from those around him.

The use of camel urine in the Muslim world

In an interview in the Saudi Gazette, Dr. Faten Abdel-Rahman Khorshid states Nano-particles in camel urine may help treat cancer.

After spending more than five years in lab research, this Saudi scientist and faculty member from King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) and President of the Tissues Culture Unit at King Fahd Center for Medical Research, has discovered that nano-particles in the urine of camels can attack cancer cells with success. Her work began with experiments involving camel urine, cancer cells found in patients’ lungs and culminated in injecting mice with leukemic cancel cells and camel urine to test the results.

Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, Dr. Khorshid claimed that she was inspired by Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) medical advice and that camel urine consists of natural substances that work to eradicate malignant cells and maintain the number of healthy cells in a cancer patient. “This treatment is not an invention, but rather, taken from our Prophet’s legacy,” she remarked. A Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari (2855) and Muslim (1671) claims that some people came to Madina and fell ill with bloated abdomens. The Prophet (pbuh) told them to combine the milk and urine of a camel and drink that, after which they recovered. A swollen abdomen may indicate edema, liver disease or cancer. Dr. Khorshid added that she is not a medical doctor but a scientist and her job involves the preparation and testing of a drug in the lab and supervising the manufacture, testing and application of the drug. “We have researched and studied (camel urine) for seven years, during which we have tested the effectiveness of camel urine in fighting cancer to prerequisites set by the International Cancer Institute,” she explained. According to her published study on the subject, the clinical trial her team conducted on patients indicated that the medicine (capsules and syrup) did not entail any harmful side effects. In the case of a volunteer patient with lung cancer, the medicine helped in halving the size of the tumor after only one month. The patient, and others like him, are still undergoing treatment. Heeding the advice found in the Hadith, Dr. Khorshid is combining specific amounts of camel milk and urine to develop her medicine and focuses on particular types of cancer, including lung cancer, blood cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, brain tumors and breast cancer.

She added that she advises all of her volunteer patients to use fresh camel milk and urine with the two components given individually for a period of time and then combined together later. Other illnesses, including vitiligo (depigmentation in certain areas of the skin), eczema and psoriasis (an autoimmune disease which affects the skin and joints). However, Dr. Khorshid adds that she will only dispense this medicine to patients on a non-voluntary basis when pharmaceutical companies obtain a license to do so. Currently, the medication is still undergoing tests.

From Islam Q and A

The hadeeth referred to by the questioner is a saheeh hadeeth, in which it says that some people came to Madeenah and fell sick. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told them to drink the milk and urine of camels, and they recovered and grew fat. In the story it also says that they apostatized and killed the camel-herder, then the Muslims caught them and executed them. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2855) and Muslim (1671). With regard to the health benefits of drinking the milk and urine of camels, they are many, and they are well known to the earlier generations of medical science and they have been proven by modern scientific research.
Ibn al-Qayyim said:

The author of al-Qanoon (the Canon) – i.e. the doctor Ibn Seena (Avicenna) – said:

The most beneficial of urine is the urine of Bedouin camels which are called najeeb.

Islam Q and A states that the benefits of camel urine have been well known to earlier generations of medical science and have been proven by modern scientific research. It is interesting and perhaps problematic that all the scientists who are promoting camel urine as a medical cure are Muslim. The drinking of camel urine is part of an alternative medicine movement called urine therapy and the American Cancer Society’s position is that scientific evidence does not support individual claims that urine or urea given in any form is helpful for cancer patients and that the safety of urine therapy has not been confirmed by scientific studies.

Also camel urine was found to cause a significant cytotoxic effect in the bone marrow cells of mice:

Camel urine treatment was found to cause a significant cytotoxic effect in the bone marrow cells of mice. This cytotoxicity at higher doses was comparable with that of standard drug cyclophosphamide (CP). However, unlike CP, the camel urine treatment failed to induce any clastogenicity. The cytotoxicity induced by camel urine treatment was substantiated by the reduction of liver nucleic acids and glutathione levels and increased malondialdehyde (MDA) contents in the same animals. CP treatment was found to be highly clastogenic, cytotoxic and it reduced the levels of nucleic acids, proteins, glutathione and increased malondialdehyde concentration due to its prooxidant nature. The non-clastogenic nature of camel urine was attributed to the antioxidant and antimutagenic compounds present in camel urine. Pretreatment with camel urine increased the cytotoxicity of CP and intensified the CP induced reduction of liver nucleic acids, glutathione and increased the MDA concentration. The increase of CP induced cytotoxicity appears to be partly due to the additive effect of the two treatments on cellular lipid peroxidation. Cytotoxic means the quality of being toxic to cells.

Camel Urine contains Hippuric Acid. Hippuric Acid is a carboxylic acid found in the urine of horses and other herbivores. High concentrations of this acid can indicate a toluene intoxification:

Serious adverse behavioral effects are often associated with toluene abuse related to the deliberate inhalation of solvents. Long term toluene exposure is often associated with effects such as: psycho-organic syndrome; visual evoked potential (VEP) abnormality toxic poly neuropathy, cerebellar, cognitive, and pyramidal dysfunction; optic atrophy; and brain lesions.

In an effort to prove the miracle of camel urine Muslims cite this article from the BBC:

Scientists from the United Arab Emirates have proposed using one of the world's hardiest mammals - the camel - in the campaign to fight and eradicate human diseases.

Dead cattle in Cumbria Camels are free from viruses such as foot and mouth A team led by Dr Sabah Jassim, from the Zayed Complex for Herbal Research and Traditional Medicine, says camels are highly resistant to many deadly viral diseases and believes their antibodies could be used for new drugs.

Natural immunity

But as well as these advantages, they have immune systems that are so robust. They remain free from many of the viral diseases that affect other mammals, such as foot-and-mouth and rinderpest.

The antibodies that camels carry inside them are structurally much simpler than those of humans, and Dr Sabah Jassim suggests they could be much simpler to replicate artificially than human antibodies.

Writing in the British Institute of Biology's magazine, The Biologist, Dr Jassim says the small size of camel antibodies would also allow them to penetrate deep into human tissue and cells that would not be otherwise accessible.

He said the camel antibodies, by being transported from the desert sands into the laboratory test tube, had the potential to be a vital weapon against human diseases.

In regard to the natural immunity of camels, anyone who has basic knowledge of microbiology understands that antibodies are specialized cells that attack and destroy invading microorganisms and other foreign objects. At present, we are not aware that some antibodies come in smaller packages than others or these smaller antibodies can penetrate deep into human tissue and cells. Moreover, camel urine does not contain any antibodies unless the animal is fighting an infection. In that case, the camel urine could not only sicken a person but allow a pathogen to cross the species barrier and cause a major epidemic. In fact, the drinking of camel urine by Muslims is the likely origin of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS) and WHO has advised against drinking it.[1][2]

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