Camel has many Names Then Why We Use Cattle Terminology?

The camel terminology is mainly derived from a cow/cattle production system in English, which is a wrong approach. I’m giving you a food for thought to reconsider and re-establish camel’s terminology. As the camel was domesticated, evolved and managed for centuries in Arabian Peninsula, the best terminology will be the one used in that region.

Joseph Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall, a great eighteenth-century Orientalist, collected 5,774 words for camel and camel-related features and paraphernalia. Many of the terms he collected were poetical metaphors.17 But, for example, there really are at least thirty different words for camel milk.

Arabic has over 100 words for ‘camel’ which at one point had as many as 1,000 words. ‘Al-Jafool,’ for example is a camel that is frightened by anything and ‘al-harib’ is a female camel that walks ahead of the other camels.

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Love in Hills, A Nomad’s Family Story by my Friend Michael Asher

There had been drought and famine that year and many nomads had left the hills to seek refuge in the city. We had been travelling through a sandstorm for two days and as it began to blow itself out, we saw spectral figures emerging from the dust. They were a nomad family on the move with laden camels.

We halted to greet them and exchange news, and it turned out that they were coming from a city where they had spent some time. I asked one young nomad, named ‘Omar, how they had got on there.

‘I got some plastic shoes,’ he grinned, ‘but they are not so good as the leather ones we make. We also got some food, but many of the city people behaved in a cruel way, not only to us, but to each other. It seemed that they had forgotten their human-ness and become like confined animals.’

When I pressed him, ‘Omar told me that as a boy his cousin had kept a young gazelle in a stone pen. ‘Even though he fed her well, the gazelle began to grow sick. Then my uncle told him to let her go, because, he said, she was born to run free among the grasses and the thorn trees with the leopards and the crows, the ants and the beetles, the hares, the barbary sheep and the fennec foxes. He said God did not make her to live in a stone pen, but to feel the earth under her hooves, the wind and rain on her skin, and to live among the voices of other creatures.’

‘We are like that gazelle,’ he went on. ‘We are born free to run in the hills, to live without walls or barriers. We are born to love each other in a world where wind, waters, clouds and rain, and a host of other creatures, are our family. When we are cut off from that world, we forget who we are – even our love for our own kin becomes brittle.’

Afterwards, I gave him water from our skins, and asked him where they would go now. ‘Back to the hills,’ he said. ‘We still have some goats and camels. It is better to face dangers with a brave heart than to lose one’s soul hiding behind walls. God is generous. I would rather starve than go back to the city.’

As the family disappeared into the sand-mist later, I realized that they were carrying everything they owned on their camels. I envied them their freedom.

A Brief about my Friend Michael Asher

Michael Asher FRGS FRSL is an author, historian, deep ecologist and desert explorer who has covered more than 30,000 miles on foot and camel. He spent three years living with a traditional nomadic tribe in Sudan.

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A heart touching Nomads’ family story, returning from the city back to the hills.

What I Learned from the Desert and the Nomads?

Spirit of the Desert

A nomad I once travelled with told me that love is a way of knowledge.. ‘You can only love what you know,’ he said, ‘and what you don’t love you can never know completely.’ That made sense to me because from the moment I first stood in the desert, breathed desert air, sensed the desert wind on my face, I felt that I already knew it deep inside.

The beautiful nature in the UAE

We cannot Conquere the Nature

Exploration is seen as a form of conquest, a test of ‘mind over matter’, but it was not that way for me. Civilized humans have tamed, exploited and destroyed Nature, but they cannot conquer it – we cannot conquer that of which we are just an unfolding, and to try is to end up by destroying ourselves.

The desert nomads knew this, which is why their culture had survived for millennia by adapting to the desert rather than attempting to dominate it. From the beginning I realized I must learn what they had to teach, and to do things their way: to achieve this meant seeing the desert through their eyes.

This is not to say that Nature is necessarily sweet and peaceful – the desert can be harsh, terrible and wild: there are times when you need all your strength and determination to prevail. Wind, storms, heat and cold are part of Gaia’s purpose, and there is also beauty in them: as the pandemic has shown us, we cannot evade death by building walls around our lives.

Minimize Distance between us and Nature

While we continue to separate ourselves from Nature, though, we will never know it completely, and therefore we will not love it. Since Nature is also us, that means remaining strangers to ourselves. The spirit of the Earth can’t be known from a ‘safe distance’ or from a stance of superiority. As the nomads taught me, it is only by humility, by loving the Earth, ourselves, and each other, that we can survive.

Only the Nomads Know the others not; the Animals are not a Personal Property but Gift of God

Michael Asher FRSL (born 1953) is an author, historian, deep ecologist and desert explorer who has covered more than 30,000 miles on foot and camel. He spent three years living with a traditional nomadic tribe in Sudan

Michael is my friend on Facebook and I’m keenly following his journies and the diaries he shares on his page. Here is the story of his connection with the nomads and the point of view of the nomads about their animals. It is very interesting and touching story. I share here in the ensuing lines.

The Secret

There had been a severe drought that year, and many nomads had lost animals. On the way back from the north, Rafig and I came across a tent pitched in a wadi, belonging to the family of a nomad called Saleem. He was a wiry, friendly-looking man who welcomed us to the camp, brought us kisri, dried dates and sweet tea, and only casually dropped into the conversation that all his camels and sheep had died of starvation. ‘We have nothing left’, he said. ‘Not even a camel to move our things to the camp of my brother-in-law, Musallim.’

Camels with light luggage walking towards the destination in the desert

Rafig hesitated a moment, then said, ‘use our camels, Saleem. We aren’t carrying much, and we like walking.’He caught my eye: all I could do was nod.

Saleem’s family, including the small children, was up before dawn, rolling up the tent, packing household goods, loading them on our camels until they were well and truly burdened. As the sun rose in a scintillating star-shape, we were already on our way, climbing up the banks of the wadi into open desert.

Animals are not Belong us but in our Safe Keeping

At mid-morning I walked along with Saleem. For a man who had just lost everything, he seemed very cheerful. ‘It’s in the hands of God,’ he told me. ‘Camels are the Gift of God and what God gives he can take away. The animals do not belong to us, they are only in our safe-keeping.’

Later when Rafig and I were walking together I asked him about this. ‘Saleem has lost all his animals,’ he explained, ‘but he has not lost his name, because his name does not depend on owning animals. A man’s name – or a woman’s – depends on human-ness, that is, being brave and resilient, treating others with kindness and generosity, and keeping faith with the family. If a person has these qualities, they can endure misfortune.’

Saleem told me that his wife’s brother would give him a camel when they reached his camp, and would make sure they always had milk and food. ‘I will herd his camels along with his sons,’ he added, ‘and he will give me a she-camel every season – more than one if the grazing is abundant. Those she-camels will give birth, and, if God wills, the foals will be many. Soon we will have enough animals to support the family.’

The Nomads’ tent in the desert

His brother-in-law would do this, I understood, not because he expected Saleem to pay him back personally, but because, if he himself were ever in need, he would be treated in the same way by the community. I realized that Rafig had offered our camels in this spirit, not for reward, but because the time might come when we were in Saleem’s position.

It took two days to reach Musallim’s camp – a camel’s hair tent and some brushwood shelters in a grove of sallam trees. His family welcomed everyone as honoured guests, and brought us fresh camel’s milk and kisri.

The Lesson

This experience taught me a profound lesson. The nomads understood that humans do not control nature, and that wealth is ephemeral – something our society has forgotten. For them, true wealth and security lay in personal relations, defined not by competition, but by ‘muhanni’ – mutual-aid, good will, kindness and generosity. The ‘secret’ of their survival – and well being – in the desert, for generations, was not conquest of the landbase, but their trust in and love for nature, including other human beings.

KAZAKHSTAN: Ancient nomads spread earliest domestic grains along Silk Road, study finds

See on Scoop.itSustainable Livestock Agenda SLA

Charred grains of barley, millet, and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, Ph.D., an associate professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.

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