Al Adiyat 100: 1 – Arabian Horses

Bismillahhi Rahmannir Rohim

  1. By the (steeds) that run, with panting. 
  2. Striking sparks of fire (by their hooves), 
  3. And scouring to the raid at dawn. 
  4. And raise the dust in clouds the while, 
  5. Penetrating forthwith as one into the midst (of the foe); 
  6. Verily, man (disbeliever) is ungrateful to his Lord; 
  7. And to that he bears witness (by his deeds); 
  8. And verily, he is violent in the love of wealth 
  9. Knows he not that when the contents of the graves are poured forth (all mankind is resurrected)? 
  10. And that which is in the breasts (of men) is made known? 
  11. Verily, that Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) their Lord will be Well-Acquainted with them (as to their deeds and will reward them for their deeds).
Let us take a look at the first five verses.
  1. By the (steeds) that run, with panting.
  2. Striking sparks of fire (by their hooves),
  3. And scouring to the raid at dawn.
  4. And raise the dust in clouds the while,
  5. Penetrating forthwith as one into the midst (of the foe);

Allah begins this surah with a qasm yaani Allah is taking an oath. And these five ayats are Allah’s oath.

Name other surahs that you know where Allah swears?

Allah makes an oath to get your attention because He is going to say something important. Thus Allah makes an oath on subjects that are important to the listener (at that time the pagan Quraysh).

Among the things that are important to the arabs are horses especially battle horses. And Allah presented this arrangement of ayat as a scene of battle which would call the attention of the pagans who like horses and who enjoys poetry and have high interest in battles.

This surah starts with describing battle horse and the scene of battle. You must run up your imagination high and brace yourself in these five first ayat. Indeed the Quran is eloquent. And Quran is send down not for entertainment but as a reminder to all.

Before we continue with the tafseer of the ayat, let us look into the matter of horses of the arabs particularly the Arabian horses. Perhaps it can shed us some understanding of the importance of them and Insya Allah a higher understanding of the verses.

 Arabian Horses

 Origin and Features

The Arabian or Arab horse (Arabic: الحصان العربي ‎) is a breed of horse that originated from the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. A bulging head also known as jibbah is to be sought for and considered as a blessing to the horse. The great arching neck with a high crest, the “Mitbah” was a sign of courage, while a gaily carried tail showed pride. These traits were held in high esteem and selectively bred for.

Other features are

–        Heads that have more distance from the eye to the top of the skull than from eye to eye across the face.

–        The top of the skull is in line with the eye and nostril, not bending backwards above the eyes.

–        The bones of the lower jaw taper from jawl to incisor.

–        Eyes that fill their sockets.

–        Unobstructed breathing represented by a well defined trachea/esophagus leading to widely spaced jowls.

–        A definite break in the outline between the neck and withers.

–        Withers slightly higher than croup.

–        Relatively short, strong backs.

–        The base of the dock of the tail is set from the point of the buttocks.

–        The deepest point of the body is between the forelegs.

–        A noticeable girth groove.

–        The ratio of trunk and foundation strength to height at the withers is a lower number in Desert Breds than in other Arabians.

–        Exceptionally well shaped hooves and sound legs.

–        Thin skin and a noticeable bloom to the coat.

–        An overall appearance of a finely tuned athlete.

It is one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

Arabian Horses’ Qualities

For centuries, The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people. Only horses with a naturally good disposition were allowed to reproduce, with the result that Arabians today have a good temperament that, among other examples, makes them one of the few breeds where the United State Equestrian Federation rules allow children to exhibit stallions in nearly all show ring classes, including those limited to riders under 18.

This selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.

The desert environment required a domesticated horse to cooperate with humans to survive. Humans were the only providers of food and water in certain areas. Arabian horses needed far more water than camels in order to survive (most horses can only live about 72 hours without water). Where there was no pasture or water, the Bedouin fed their horses dates and camel’s milk. The desert horse needed the ability to thrive on very little food, and to have anatomical traits to compensate for life in a dry climate with wide temperature extremes from day to night. Weak individuals were weeded out of the breeding pool, and the animals that remained were also honed by centuries of human warfare.

Arabian Mares Superiority

The Bedouin way of life depended on camels and horses. The Arabian horse was primarily an instrument of war, as were horses in general in most societies of the time. They were bred to be war horses with speed, endurance, soundness, and intelligence. A well mounted Bedouin could attack an enemy tribe and capture their herds of sheep, camels and goats, adding to the wealth of their own tribe. Because many raids required stealth, mares were preferred over stallions as they were quieter, and therefore would not give away the position of the fighters. A good disposition was also critical. The best war mares exhibited great courage in battle, taking the charges and the spear thrusts without giving ground.

The highly prized war mares were often brought inside family tents to prevent theft and for protection from weather and predators. Thus they become close to the children and everyday family life.

Though appearance was not necessarily a survival factor, the Bedouin bred for refinement and beauty in their horses as well as for more practical features.

The value placed upon the mare led inevitably to the tracing of any family of the Arabian horse through her dame. The only requirement of the sire (male parent of a horse) was that he be “Asil”. Asil means pure blood and cross-breeding with a non-asil was strictly forbidden.  Mares were the most valued, both for riding and breeding, and pedigree families were traced through the female line. The Bedouin did not believe in gelding male horses, and considered stallions too intractable to be good war horses, thus they kept very few colts, selling most, and culling those of poor quality. If his dam (Female parent of a horse) was a “celebrated” mare of a great mare family, so much the better. For centuries, the Bedouin tracked the ancestry of each horse through an oral tradition. Mare families, or strains, were named, often according to the tribe or sheikh who bred them.

The Bedouins have generally been credited with the beginning of selective pure breeding of Arabian horses. These tribes, although their breeding records were kept by memory and passed down through the ages verbally, are also credited as the first to keep breeding records and maintaining the purity of the Arabian breed. To this date, many Arabian pedigrees can be traced to desert breeding meaning there is no written record but because of the importance of purity to the Bedouins, “desert bred” is accepted as an authentic verification of pure blood for those early imports.

Over time, the Bedouin developed several sub-types or strains of Arabian horse, each with unique characteristics, and traced through the maternal line only. According to the Arabian Horse Association, the five primary strains were known as the Keheilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani and Hadban. Carl Raswan, a promoter and writer about Arabian horses from the middle of the 20th century, held the belief that there were only three strains, Kehilan, Seglawi and Muniqi. Raswan felt that these strains represented body “types” of the breed, with the Kehilan being “masculine”, the Seglawi being “feminine” and the Muniqi being “speedy”. There were also lesser strains, sub-strains, and regional variations in strain names. Therefore, many Arabian horses were not only Asil, of pure blood, but also bred to be pure in strain, with crossbreeding between strains discouraged, though not forbidden, by some tribes. Purity of bloodline was very important to the Bedouin, and they also believed in telegony, believing if a mare was ever bred to a stallion of “impure” blood, the mare herself and all future offspring would be “contaminated” by the stallion and hence no longer Asil. Any mixture of foreign blood from the mountains or the cities surrounding the desert was strictly forbidden. While other, desert type breeds developed in North Africa and the periphery of the Great Desert, they were definitely not of the same blood as Arabians and were disdained by the proud Bedouin.

A great story of courage, endurance, or speed always accompanied the recitation of the genealogy of the sub-strain, such as the great Kehilet al Krush, the Kehilet Jellabiyat and the Seglawi of Ibn Jedran. Each of these mares carried with them stories of great battles and intrigue. Their daughters were sought after by the most powerful Kings but often remained unattainable. Daughters and granddaughters of these fabled mares changed hands through theft, bribery and deceit. If any of their descendants were sold, the prices were legendary.

The horse of the desert had established himself as a necessity for survival of the Bedouin people. The head men of the tribes could relate the verbal histories of each family of horse in his tribe as well as he could each family of Bedouin.

Arabian Horses in the Modern Times

The Arabian is a versatile breed. Arabians dominate the discipline of endurance riding, and compete today in many other fields of equestrian activity. They are one of the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world. They are now found worldwide, including the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, continental Europe, South America (especially Brazil), and its land of origin, the Middle East.

Conclusion

1. Allah has created the Arabian horses with many distinctive features.

2. The distinctive features gives an overall beautiful physiques of the horse, but most importantly Allah has created it to have speed, endurance and athletic.

3. To top it Allah created the Arabian horses to be intelligent, quick in learning, very alert and good natured.

4. The nature of the desert made the horses very dependent on its master for food and water and also shelter. Thus when treated right, they are very trusting, loyal and obedient to its master.

5. It being good natured and mildness makes it a very suitable family horse especially among children.

6. It being created as intelligent, quick in learning and alertness and top with it speed and endurance made it the most suitable horse for war especially in the desert world.

7. The most prized Arabian horse is the Arabian mares.

8. The distinct feature of an Arabian mare is it is quieter compared to the stallion which is an advantage for the attacker to move in stealth when attacking an enemy.

9. The Arabian mares also exhibit great courage in battles.

10. The strain family line (genealogy) of an Arabian horse is identified through its maternal lines.

11. In the arab culture, crossbreeding an Arabian horse with another is strictly forbidden. Also forbidden is crossbreeding between strains.

12. Arabian horses are the most versatile breed. It now dominates the discipline of endurance riding and many equestrian activities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabian_horse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horses_in_warfare

http://www.arabianhorses.org/education/education_history_bedouin.asp

http://agarabianhorse.com/articles/73-arabian-horse-strains.html

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