Lately, there have been several headlines about Saudi Arabia and their Islamic cleric process for debating on whether women should participate in the equestrian events at the 2012 London Olympics. Since the religion of Islam was founded in Saudi Arabia, it is easy to understand how they work with modern laws to include influence from the Quran and the hadiths (a collection of second hand sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
However, what most non-Muslim Westerners do not know is that these hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad have many unique things to say about horses and horse racing.
1. Advice on beggars with horses
In Muwatta Book 58, Number 58.1.3, Zayd ibn Aslam reported the Prophet Muhammad said, "Give to a beggar even if he comes on a horse." Does this mean that Muslims should be bailing out the horse racing industry? Instead, the Emel.com blog explains this well by using the example of the Japan Tsunami crisis.
The part of the blog that explains this hadith says, "There has been some debate as to whether we should be sending money and aid to Japan, as they are a wealthy country themselves. However, what gives us the authority to say who should be on the receiving end of a helping hand?"
In other words, even someone wealthy enough to own a horse may still need help from their community and should not be judged harshly.
2. Horse keepers have special reward
Do you work in a stable and feel that your job is under-valued? There are over 11 mentions of the word horse in the Quran, but one hadith seems to appeal to those that "keep" horses. As it appears, the words of the Prophet Muhammad seem to imply that certain types of stable owners might have an extra gift waiting for them in heaven.
In the hadith in Volume 4, Book 52, Number 105, the Prophet said, "If somebody keeps a horse in Allah's Cause motivated by his faith in Allah and his belief in His Promise, then he will be rewarded on the Day of Resurrection for what the horse has eaten or drunk and for its dung and urine."
3. Prophet Muhammad has a constant favorite
Are you curious about which horses are most valued by Muslims? As it turns out, the Prophet Muhammad had one horse that he was likely to pick as a favorite every time. According to a hadith in Book 14, Number 2539 narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, The Prophet said, "The most favored horses are the sorrel." In those times and today, a sorrel is defined as the copper-red color of a horse.
On the other hand, the Prophet had a great deal of disdain for a white footed 'shikal' horse.
4. President Obama has a horsey name?
The Prophet Muhammad spent some of his time enjoying and organizing horse races. In addition, there is also mention of a horse-like creature named Buraq. Also spelled 'Barack', the name of this particular animal means "lightning." In the hadiths about the life of the Prophet Muhammad, there is a key event where he went to heaven one day on Buraq with the angel Gabriel.
Buraq is said to have bucked when the Prophet tried to ride him and Gabriel said, "Are you not ashamed, O Buraq? By Allah, no-one has ridden you in all creation more dear to Allah than he is." Showing his shame, the mystical Pegasus-looking Buraq sweated.
5. Where good is found
A common proverb in Arabia is; "The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears." This phrase is somewhat similar to Hadith 110. In it, Abdullah bin Umar, Allah's Apostle (SAW) said, "Good will remain (as a permanent quality) in the forelocks of horses till the Day of Resurrection."
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