Question:

A Shia person once showed me this Hadith in the Sunni books:

Sahih Al Bukhari – Volume 7, Book 71, Number 590:

Narrated Anas: “The climate of Medina did not suit some people, so the Prophet ordered them to follow his shepherd, i.e. his camels, and drink their milk and urine. So they followed the shepherd that is the camels and drank their milk and urine till their bodies became healthy. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels. When the news reached the Prophet he sent some people in their pursuit. When they were brought, he cut their hands and feet and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron.”

The Shia person was making a lot of fun of me saying that this was yet another one of Bukhari’s fabrications. I am worried. Did the Prophet really ask his followers to drink camel urine?

Answer:

Why should a Shia person worry himself over such Hadith when the Shia Hadith have even more disturbing narrations in them?

Ibn Babawaih al-Qummi reports the following Hadith in his book “Manlaa Yahdurhul-Faqeeh” (For Him Who Has No Access to A Scholar):

“His (the Imam’s) feces are far better smelling than the fragnance of musk.” [Reported by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa’eed al-Kufi who narrated from Ali b. al-Hasan b. Fidaal, from his father from Abul-Hasan Ali b. Musa al-Ridha] Source: “Manlaa Yahdurhul-Faqeeh” (For Him Who Has No Access to A Scholar), vol.4, page 418, narration # 5914

And we also read what Grand Ayatollah Akhond Mulla Zainul-Abideen al-Galbaigani wrote in his book “Anwaar al-Wilayah”:

فليس في بول المعصومين ودمائهم وأبوالهم وغائطهم استخباث و قذارة يوجب الاجتناب في الصلاة ونحوها كما هو معنى النجاسة ، ولا نتن في بولهم وغائطهم بـل هـــمــا كالمــسك الأذفـــــــر ، بــــــــــل مــــن شـــــرب بولهم وغائطهم ودمهم يـــــحـرم الله عليه الـــنــار واســتــوجــب دخول الجنّة

“There’s nothing (impure) in the urine of the infallibles: their blood, urine and feces (are free of) any filth or dirtiness…nor there is any stink in their urine or feces, rather both are like the Musk. Nay, (in fact) whoever drinks and eat their urine, feces and blood, Allah forbids fire on him, and cause him to enter paradise…the urine and feces of the Imams doesn’t carry impurities or stench, but they are like musk, and whoever drank their urine and feces and their blood, Allah will make Hell fire Haram on them and their admission to Heaven becomes must.” (Anwaar al-Wilayah, p.440)

In the most reliable Shia book of Hadith, Al-Kafi, we read the following:

Abu Jafar said: “For the Imam there are 10 signs: He is born pure and circumcized….and if he farts the smell is of musk.” (Al-Kafi 1/319 Book of Hujja – Chapter on Birth of Imam)

With such Hadith in their literature, we kindly ask the Shia to get off their high horse. Having said that, two wrongs do not make a right, and we are not saying that an absurdity in the Shia literature allows us to also have an absurdity in our literature. So why does the Ahlus Sunnah have such a Hadith in their books about the Prophet prescribing the Sahabah camel urine? The answer is as follows:

Urine therapy, alternatively called “Urotherapy” or “Urea Therapy”, has been utilized for many centuries. Even today, it is considered a very popular form of alternative medicine or homeopathic medicine, and is used to cure many pathological conditions, including edema, hormonal imbalances, and even cancer. Let us see what the American Cancer Society (ACS) has to say on this matter:

American Cancer Society says

“Urotherapy has been promoted for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including cancer…

The thought of drinking urine probably offends the sensibilities of most Westerners, but the fact is that human urine has been considered a healing agent in many Asian cultures for centuries. Even now, some physicians recognize urine’s antiseptic properties, and in some cultures it is poured directly on wounds to prevent infection. Others mix it with several ingredients to make a tonic that is drunk to promote health.

In the mid-1950s, a Greek doctor named Evangelos Danopolous, MD, professed that he had identified anticancer properties in urea and had used the compound to successfully treat patients with certain types of skin and liver cancers. Dr. Danopolous claimed that his therapy significantly extended patients’ lives. He published several small positive case reports, but later studies by other researchers did not achieve the same results.

Other doctors have also noted urea’s anticancer characteristics. One of them, Vincent Speckhart, MD, testified about urea’s benefits before a House of Representatives Committee. A breast cancer patient whom Dr. Speckhart treated with urea reportedly recovered from her disease and was alive 10 years after therapy.

Urotherapy is currently offered along with other forms of alternative therapy in some cancer clinics in Mexico.

source: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Urotherapy.asp?sitearea=ETO

The American Cancer Society says:

American Cancer Society says

“Are there any possible problems or complications? Drinking or injecting urine or applying it directly to the skin is reported anecdotally to be safe and not associated with harmful side effects…

source: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Urotherapy.asp?sitearea=ETO

Wikipedia Encyclopedia says:

Wikipedia Encyclopedia says

“Urine therapy is a specialized branch of alternative medicine. Any sort of oral or external application of urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes falls into this category. A practitioner of urine therapy is called an uropath.

Promoters of urine therapy believe urine to have many curative powers…

Dr. John Henry Clarke (a prominent English classical homeopath, 1853-1931) wrote, “man who, for a skin affection, drank in the morning the urine he had passed the night before. The symptoms were severe, consisting of general-dropsy (edema), scanty urine, and excessive weakness. These symptoms I have arranged under Urinum. Urinotherapy is practically as old as man himself. The Chinese (Therapist, x. 329) treat wounds by sprinkling urine on them, and the custom is widespread in the Far East. Taken internally it is believed to stimulate the circulation” [1]

Medics have long known about the presence of hormone metabolites in urine[2], including corticosteroids[3]. These hormones when ingested or absorbed through skin have powerful anti-inflammatory effects[4], which can explain many cases of improvement via such a therapy.

[1] “A DICTIONARY OF PRACTICAL MATERIA MEDICA”, 1895 ISBN 0-85032-084-4
[2] http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_246/ai_112728018
[3] http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1023535
[4] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/406316_5

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine_therapy

Of course, today we are blessed with many pharmacological agents of the most advanced nature. Therefore, we don’t have to resort to drinking urine. Nobody here is claiming that we should resort to drinking camel urine. All we are saying is that this medication was commonly administered in the time of the Prophet even before he was born. The Prophet did not invent this medication but rather it was in vogue at the time amongst the Arab physicians. Therefore, the Prophet advised his followers to utilize this medication that was commonly used at this time. If the Prophet was alive today, he would no doubt encourage modern day diuretics but these did not exist back then.

The bottom line point is that the idea that the Prophet would prescribe urotherapy is not at all strange in the least, as it was a common practise back then. And even today–although we are not advocating the usage of urine–many allopathic medications used by contemporary physicians include extracts from urine. For example, the drug named “Premarin” is extracted from horse urine. We read from “www.premarin.org” and “www.premarin.com” the following:

Premarin.com says

“Premarin (including Prempro, Premphase, Prempac, and Premelle) is a drug made up of conjugated estrogens obtained from the urine of pregnant mares — put out in many forms (pills, creams, injections, patches, vaginal rings) and is used to reduce the symptoms of menopause in women or women who have had a hysterectomy. It is also prescribed to nearly eliminate the risk of osteoporosis (the brittling of bones) and reduce the chance of heart disease in women over 50.”

source: www.premarin.org

The British magazine “Chemistry and Industry” said the following:

Premarin.com says

“It was very recently discovered that adding distilled cow urine to medicaments increases their effectiveness while decreasing their side-effects, making anti-cancer and anti-tubercular drugs twenty times more effective and anti-bacterial drugs eighty times more effective.

source: http://www.rfi.fr/fichiers/MFI/Sante/641.asp

Many drugs and foods have extracts from urine in them–although with the advent of technology we of course filter, purify, and extract what we need. And perhaps we have better medical treatments now than they did back 1400 years ago. But the bottom line point is that camel urine has been used as prerogative in Arabia (and other parts of Asia) for thousands of years, and therefore, there is nothing peculiar about the Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Arabian physicians have acknowledged the medicinal properties of camel urine for a very long time. Ibn Sana (Avicenna) writes in his book (which was termed as the “medical bible for a longer time than any other work” by William Osler) that “chronic imbalance of the liver produces jaundice, edema, and swelling of the belly and that the health of the liver can be restored through a temporary diet of camel milk and male camel urine.” Camel urine has been termed “the most beneficial type of urine, above human urine.” [In Mah.mûd al-Nusaymî, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî wal-`Ilm al-H.adîth (3:242) and Muh.ammad Nizâr al-Daqr, Rawâ’i` al-T.ibb al-Islâmî: al-Qism al-`Ilâjî (1:257)]

In fact, the treatment for edema (formerly called “dropsy” by the British) was considered to be camel urine. GF Haddad writes:

Avicennan textbooks by Ibn al-Azraq (d. 890) and al-Suwaydî (600-690) state, “The cure [for edema] is to drink the milk of the she-camel – together with its urine – fresh out of the udder,[6] and to use that every day and leave everything else, for it is extremely efficient and of proven results.”[7]

Ibn Sayyid al-Nâs specifies, “notably desert camels feeding on wormwood and southernwood.” [8] Wormwood is among the herbs that are extremely useful in correcting digestive disorders in general and for helping detoxify the liver in particular, and is used in the treatment of hepatitis.[9]

Thus, Arabian camel urine was a standard prescription in Arabic medicine and remains a staple of Bedouin natural remedies to this day both as diuretic, snuff, and delousing hair wash.[10]

[6] Jawâd `Alî in al-Mufas.s.al fî Târîkh al-`Arab Qabl al-Islâm asserts they used to boil the urine first cf. al-Nusaymî, al-T.ibb al-Nabawî wal-`Ilm al-H.adîth (3:237).
[7] Ibn al-Azraq, Tas-hîl al-Manâfi` fil-T.ibbi wal-H.ikma [”The Facilitation of Benefits in Medicine and Wisdom”] (1206 Khayriyya Cairo ed. p. 60 =1315 H.amîdiyya Cairo ed. p. 51=another old Cairo edition p. 66) cf. al-Sha`rânî’s epitome of al-Suwaydî titled Mukhtas.ar al-Suwaydî fil-T.ibb (1302 H.alabî Cairo ed. p. 51).
[8] Cited by al-Suyût.î in his Sharh. on al-Nasâ’î’s Sunan (1:161).
[9] http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/neat-stuff/hepatit.html
[10] Gibrîl Jabbûr, The Bedouins and the Desert, transl. Lawrence I. Conrad, State University of New York Press, 1995 and Hilda and Dagg Gauthier-Pilters, The Camel, Chicago and London, 1981. City Arabs apparently know it only as a hair tonic.

End quote.

Perhaps it seems to the modern day person that extracting medication from urine is disgusting or “nasty.” But these are medical lay-persons who have no idea where other medications come from. For example, certain medications come from the venom of snakes. By stating this, are we advocating for normal healthy people to go drink snake venom? Certainly not. And other examples abound, such as penicillin which comes from a dirty mold from a cantelope! Is anyone here advocating to eat moldy cantelopes? Certainly not. Therefore, all of these substances are generally avoided, but in certain situations, they may have medicinal benefit.

After having established the fact that urine has been used as a prerogative for thousands of years (and even today by homeopaths), let us go back to the Hadith in question. The Sahabah were suffering some illness due to the living conditions which they were not used to. They were having a lot of edema, or swelling of the abdomen. This has been narrated in many other Hadith about the same event in which many Sahabah fell sick due to some plague. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, Aisha is narrated as saying: “We came to Medinah when it was the most plague-infested land of Allâh. [The valley of] Buthân was covered with stagnant water.” It is likely that the water became infected with some pathogen which caused a form of hepatitis in those who drank from it or who were infected by insects that were breeding in it (i.e. mosquitos). The resulting infection caused hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and the liver is what maintains osmolarity (proper fluid balance) in the body. Consequently, the Sahabah developed edema (improper fluid balance) due to the liver manifestations.

As even a first year medical student knows, edema is caused by a disbalance of solute which causes osmosis (i.e. water flows from an area of lower solute concentration to higher concentration). In swelling, the tissues become hyper-osmolar, meaning that they have more solutes than the blood, so plasma (water in the blood) flows from the blood to the tissues. The medical treatment of this condition is to give a diuretic, which is a highly concentrated solution that will flow in the blood, raising the osmolarity of the blood so that plasma moves out of the tissues and back into the blood, eventually to be excreted by the kidneys.

This is the basis of diuretic treatment, which is used for edema. Today, there are many diuretics available on the market, including mannitol. Mannitol is administered in emergency situations because it is very hyper-osmolar and can dramatically reduce the plasma volume. Of course, back in the time of the Prophet, they had not discovered Mannitol as of yet, but the basic principle remained: find a solution which is highly concentrated (hyper-osmolar) which would cause diuresis.

Camel urine is extremely highly concentrated, and would be the Mannitol of the time. In fact, no other animal can produce such a highly concentrated urine (aside from the kangaroo rat, although the kangaroo rat obviously cannot produce sufficient ammounts of milk/urine to be practical). The ability of camels to concentrate their urine is what allows them to survive months in the desert without water. Camel milk (and even cow milk) is considered more hyper-osmolar than human milk, and this is why it is contra-indicated in babies because it causes diuresis. Conversely, a patient who would need diuresis (due to plasma overload) would definitely want to take such a substance.

In conclusion, there is nothing absurd at all about the Prophet prescribing camel urine. In the popular TV show “Lost”, the main character–who is a doctor–engineers various medications using crafty tricks that sometimes seem absurd. But when you don’t have a Rite Aid next to your house, then you have to improvize and drinking camel urine was the improvization of the Arabs (and many Asians) for thousands of years.

After the Shia propagandist (and his anti-Islam buddies) would be thoroughly refuted by the above historical and scientific data, they will no doubt resort to childish rhetoric such as “go drink camel urine then if you think you are a good Muslim.” But nobody is claiming such a thing. Today, we have modern medications and we can use those, and the Prophet would have used those himself if he were alive today. Urine was deemed to be Haram by the Prophet, and what we learn from this Hadith is that certain things become Halal in a life-threatening situation. This is what we learn from this Hadith, not that we should drink camel urine. The application of this Hadith is that we can take certain life-saving medications which contain Haram ingredients in them such as gelatin, alcohol, etc.

To completely end the debate on this issue–and to strike a severe blow to the Shia polemical stance–we see that the Shia Hadith contain many narrations about the medicinal benefits of camel urine. For example, we read the following in Bihar Al-Anwar:

وعن الجعفري قال : سمعت أبا الحسن عليه السلام يقول : أبوال الابل خير من ألبانها ، ويجعل الله الشفاء في ألبانها ( 2 )

Translation: “Al Ja’fari said: I head Abul Hassan, peace be upon him, say: ‘The camel’s urine is more benificial than its dairy products. And also Allah makes the cures (for diseases) in its dairy products.’”

The Infallible Imam of the Shia tells his followers about the benefits of camel urine and how it is superior to dairy products. And there are many other narrations to this effect. Therefore, since we see that this is from Shia Hadith, we come to the conclusion that the Shia propagandists who use such tactics are only shooting themselves in the foot. This argument against Sahih Al-Bukhari is only used by e-Shia youth who know nothing about their own faith, let alone about the Sunni faith.

It should be noted that the Shia use the same tactics as the evangelists and the “Answering-Islam” team which has dedicated itself to destroying the honor of Islam. I have seen this similar accusation on the nefarious Answering-Islam website which also twists this Hadith to “disprove” Islam. In the end, they disprove nobody save themselves and the joke is on them. As for the Shia, they should be ashamed of the company they are in, using the same old arguments as the very enemies of Islam. They will therefore be treated accordingly.

And Allah knows best