The Muslims had an interest in horse-race, camel-race, shooting and the like. Because in Islam it is a tradition for all soldiers to learn the necessary actions benefiting their skill.
In addition to that, the Holy Prophet (S), who was the leader of the Islamic society took part practically in such races, and this measurement of his, constituted the best encouragement for the Muslims, particularly the youth, to become familiar with the military techniques.
As long as this Islamic tradition was customary, and the leaders of Islam encouraged practically the Muslims in this domain, the spirit of bravery and moral heroism would be preserved in the Islamic society. The Holy Prophet (S) used to ride the horse and sometimes the camel, participating personally in the race. He (S) had a camel famed for its aptitude, outdistancing all the camels in the race.
Gradually, this thought came to the mind of some simple-minded that since the camel belongs to the Holy Prophet (S), that is why it overtakes all the others, and consequently, it is impossible to find a camel in the whole world to be equal to it. Till a day a nomadic bedouin arrived in Madinah with his camel, pretending that he was ready to compete with the Holy Prophet’s (S) camel in the race.
The Holy Prophet’s (S) companions with peace of mind rushed out of the city for watching this interesting race, especially as the Holy Prophet (S) had personally undertaken to ride his camel. The Holy Prophet (S) and the Bedouin set in motion their camels towards the spectators from a place determined earlier.
A strange excitement seized on the spectator, contrary to the general expectation, the bedouin's camel overtopped the Prophet's camel. The Muslims who held the especial conviction about the Holy Prophet's camel became very annoyed. This incident was contrary to their expectations, they knitted their brows.
The Holy Prophet (S) said to them: "There is nothing to worry about; my camel outpaced all other camels, it boasted and became haughty, saying to itself that there was no camel better then it. But the Divine way of treatment commands that there will always be one stronger than another, and after every ascent there will succeed a descent, pride will go to a fall and all kinds of haughtiness will be broken off."
In this manner, the Holy Prophet (S) expressing a wise saying informed them of their errors.1
- 1. Al-Wasa'il, v. 2, p. 472.