By: Zia Mahmood Minhas

-Holy Qur’an and Camel 

Unique Biological Features of Camels

-Survival of Camels in Extreme Climatic Conditions

-Camels in the Service of Mankind

Holy Qur’an and Camel

(أَفَلَا يَنظُرُ‌ونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ ﴿١٧
(وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُ‌فِعَتْ ﴿١٨
وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ ﴿١٩﴾ وَإِلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ
(٢٠﴾ فَذَكِّرْ‌ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُذَكِّرٌ‌ ﴿٢١)

Will they not consider how camels are created? How the sky is uplifted? How the mountains are set firm? And how the earth is smoothed? So remind them for you are but a reminder.                                                              

(Soorah Al-Ghashiya 88:17-21)

(إِنَّ فِي اخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ‌ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَّقُونَ ﴿٦

“In the alteration of night and day and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth-in these are signs for a people who are pious.”

(Soorah Yunis 10:6)

In these verses Allah has urged the human beings to ponder about some of His unique and miraculous creations .The camel has been included along with the heavens, earth and mountains. The attention of Arabs, the nation selected by Allah for revelation of His final message in the form of Qur’an was drawn to the creation of camel since it was their bread and butter, their shelter and means of transportation and they were well versed with this animal. The camel thus qualifies to be studied carefully for its special physiological qualities.

Camel belongs to genus Camelus having two surviving species:

Dromedary: One humped camel (Camelus dromedarius ) found in Middle East and Africa.
Bactrian: Two humped camel (Camelus bactrianus) found in Central Asia.

Unique Biological Features of Camels

Camels have unique biological features which impart amazing qualities to the animal such as:

o    Camels are huge beasts weighing 300-1000kg in case of Bactrian and 300-600kg in case of dromedary species. The life expectancy is 40-50years.

 o    The physique of camel is distinct with long slender legs, a curved neck with a relatively small head. The knees are covered with a structure called ‘callus’. The callus is tough, as hard as a horn and protects the animal when it sits on hot desert sand. The long legs keep the animal at higher level from hot desert surface.

o    Camel’s mouth has thick leathery lining which enables it to chew thorny desert plants. The upper lips are split into two and move independently.

o    The nostrils and eyelashes can be closed tightly. In case the sand particles enter into eyes, they are repelled by using transparent third eye lids. Their ears have hairy lining inside. These mechanisms enable the camels to face the sandstorms successfully.

o    They have especially designed feet and body weight is borne on the conjoined wide spreading pads. The pads facilitate walking on sand and safeguard the feet against sinking in soft sand. Camels have swift speed and short burst can be up to 65 kilometers per hour.

o    The male dromedary camel has in its neck an organ called “dullah”. It is a large inflatable sac which is extruded with threatening sounds to assert dominance or attract female.

o    Camels are the only ungulate to mate in sitting positions. The male usually ejaculates 3-4 times during mating.

Survival of Camels in Extreme Climatic Conditions

Allah has designed camels to withstand extreme environmental conditions and they have been provided with special physiological systems which increase water use and food intake efficiency.

o    Their humps are fat reservoirs which releases energy when metabolized. It enables it to survive in starvation. The normal intake of food is 30-50 kg but the camel can survive on 2kg grass for about one month.

o    The bodies of camels have been designed to conserve water. They can rehydrate quickly and consume up to 100 liters of water within 5-10 minutes. Their physiology enables them to withstand high osmotic variation of extreme dehydration to drinking large amounts of water upon availability.

o    When they exhale water vapors are trapped in nostrils and reabsorbed in the body.

o    Camels eating green herbage ingest sufficient water in milder conditions to maintain their body water without need of drinking. They can survive at 50°C for 7-10 days without drinking.

o    They are able to withstand changes in the body temperature that would kill most other animals. Camels have the capability to adjust their body temperature according to external heat and can vary from 34°C- 40°C. They rarely sweat and conserve the water with this mechanism.

o    Camels can withstand losing up to 30 % of body weight while most animals die on 12-14% dehydration due to cardiac circulatory disturbance.

o    Their red blood cells are oval rather than circular in shape which helps flow of red blood cells during dehydration.

o    The kidneys and intestine of camel are very efficient at re-absorption of water .Camel’s urine comes out as thick syrup and is reduced to 1/5 volume when thirsty. The dung of camel is also very dry which helps in conservation of water.

o    Camels can feed and survive on items such as thorns, dry leaves and other desert plants which other animals avoid. They can endure protein deficiency.

Camels in the Service of Mankind

The above mentioned facts clearly point out that camel has been especially designed for service to human being in harsh environment. It has been put to service of mankind by edict of Allah. The following points can be cited to highlight this fact:

o    The camel though huge and powerful animal in temperamentally docile and sensitive.

o    They can successfully survive in extreme climates.

o    They have better memory than other animals.

o    They provide food, shelter, transport and defense against enemies.

o    The milk of camel is staple food for desert nomad tribes .It is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins and      immunoglobulin. Compared to cow’s milk it is low in fat and lactose but higher in potassium, iron and vitamins. Its meat is consumed at a large scale worldwide and is a delicacy in many societies.

o    In addition to milk and meat they provide hair for textile or goods like felted pouches.

o    They are draft animals and extensively used in farming and transportation.

That is why Allah has urged to observe camels as a mean to recognize Him as creator of the universe and all that is within the universe. As a matter of fact all creations reflect His authority and knowledge as the creator.