The permissibility of coaxing camels by singing to them in the Shafi’i Madhab

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Humans have always coaxed livestock such as camels, sheep, and goats in a variety of ways such as singing to them, speaking and through hand signals. it is this mastery of animals that in many ways distinguishes us from Allah (swt) other creations. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the following verse in the Quran:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا – 

And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with At-Taiyibat (lawful good things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference.17:70

In many cultures, the ability to communicate with animals is seen as an art form and something that cannot be achieved by someone who is untrained. This is perhaps best highlighted by the famous historian and social scientist Ibn Khaldun who states that in Egypt he came across teachers who were specialists in the art of singing to camels.[1]

Anyone who has come across a camel in any of the Somali territories will bear witness to the unruly nature of these beasts. The physical stature of these animals means that they are very hard to control and require a huge amount of skill to tame. 

Arabs are also well acquainted with camels and the Bedouin Arabs are perhaps the only group of people that could be said to surpass Somalis in their love of camels. One of the main ways of coaxing camels in the Arab tradition is through the art of singing, which is referred to as Huda’ in the Arabic language. According to Arabic classic dictionaries, Huda’ or Hida’ refers to the act of singing to camels.[2]

If we move on to the permissibility of singing to camels in the Islamic tradition, it would make sense to refer to the Shafi’i madhab which was the traditional reference point for Somalis when it came to matters of religion.

Imam Al Nawawi (rh) states in his famous book Minhaj al Talibin:

{{ويباح الحداء وسماعه}}

{{It is lawful to sing and to listen to the songs by the camel drivers as they sing to their animals}}.

The commentary by Imaam Jalaluddin al-Mahalli (rh)says:
{{لما فيه من تنشيطها للسير وإيقاظ التزام}}.
{{Because it energises the animal and reduces laziness}}.[3] 

This is also supported by a statement of Hasan of Basra who was asked about singing to camels. He replied, “The Muslims (i.e. the Companions) used to do it.” (Ibn Abi Shaybah).

The above indicates that it is permissible to sing to camels and to also listen to this type of singing. This is also another wonderful example of the holistic compatibility of the Shafi’Ii madhab with the pastoral culture of some segments of Somali society, Below is an example of Somalis singing to their camels:

[1] https://www.skynewsarabia.com/varieties/32659-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%84-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%A1-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AA

[2] الحُداء : الغِناء للإبل

[3]  كنز الراغبين شرح منهاج الطالبين

 

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