What is a hujjah?

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 4th, 2011 in General

I wrote the following the following for Al Khamsa Arabians III (2008), and I will be expanding on it to deal with other aspects of a hujjah over the following days:  

“Certificates of origin (singular hujjah, plural hujjaj) of horses written in the Arab world follow a clear and uniform pattern that seldom varies.

The first part of these certificates is always a more or less extensive religious invocation that includes passages from the Qur’an (the Holy Book of Islam) and quotations of the Hadith (the approved and authenticated collections of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam).

In general, the shorter the religious preamble the greater the chance that the by a Bedouin and the greater the probablity that the horse was Bedouin-owned at the time of the sale. Conversely, the longer a greater the likelihood that the certificate is the work of a townsman.

There are several reasons for this situation, and at least a few words may be said of these. First, Bedouins tend to be less pious, or at least to have a different kind of piety, than townsfolk. At the time these certificates were being written for Europeans and Americans, Bedouins were still poorly acquainted with the Quran and even less with the Hadith. Usually a phrase like “In the Name of God” and one or two short quotations from the Quran will suffice as an introduction to Bedouin certificates. Townsmen, on the other hand, are usually more pious and more vocal about their piety. They know how to express it in more elaborate and “refined” language.

Second, Bedouins generally tend to be more simple and straight to the point than townsmen in everything they do, from the way they talk to how they live, eat and behave. All this is reflected in the phrasing of the horse certificates they issue.”

The hujjah of the desert-bred mare *Abeyah, imported by Homer Davenport to the USA in 1906, is the quintessential Bedouin hujjah.


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