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Dogs as Pets

By: admin

Question

I can understand why pig/pork is haraam in Islam, but could you please enlighten me on why are dogs being classified as haraam. Could muslims keep dogs as pets or touch them like we do with cats? Please elaborate to me the reasons as I am quite confused regarding this matter.

Thank you.

Answer

There is no clear directive in the Islamic Shari`ah that prohibits keeping dogs as pets.

Muslim scholars, who are of the opinion that Islam does not allow keeping dogs, have generally derived their opinion from various narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh).  However, it is strange that even these narratives do not clearly prohibit keeping dogs as pets.  In fact, the subject matter of these narratives is also quite diversified. At one place, an incident is narrated, according to which the Prophet (pbuh) ordered the killing of dogs. At another place, it is narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) told the Muslims to thoroughly wash their utensils (six times with water and once with mud) to disinfect them, if a dog has licked it. At yet another place, we are informed that the archangel – Gabriel – did not come near the Prophet (pbuh) because a puppy was lying beneath the Prophet’s bed.  At the Prophet’s inquiry, the archangel told him that angels do not go near places, where there are dogs.

Quite predictably, these narratives have generally prompted dislike toward dogs and a tendency of restraint against keeping dogs as pets.

However, on the contrary, a number of other narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), expressly mention that there is no harm in keeping a dog for the purpose of guarding a territory, guarding agricultural crop or for hunting.  Moreover, the Qur’an has also mentioned that there is no harm in eating an animal even if it dies, while grabbed by a dog, which has been properly trained for hunting.  Furthermore, the Qur’an has also referred to the fact that the Asshaab-e-Kahaf (companions of the cave) also had their dog with them, which clearly evidences the fact that dogs have historically been used for guarding the person and the property of its owners.

In view of the apparently contradicting information, it seems more appropriate that any narratives, which mention the prohibition of keeping dogs, should be analyzed in the light of these references of the Qur’an, rather than deriving any absolute directives of the Shari`ah from them. We must not forget, that whatever has been reported in such narratives is only an ascription to the Prophet (pbuh), which could so easily have been – intentionally or unintentionally – altered during transmission from one narrator to another.  These narratives do not necessarily contain the exact words of the Prophet (pbuh).

The mere fact that the Qur’an has allowed eating an animal even if it dies, while grabbed by a trained hunting dog for its owner, clearly evidences the fact that it is not prohibited to keep and subsequently train dogs. After all, how can a dog be trained in hunting, without being kept? All such narratives in which a dislike of the Prophet (pbuh) or the angels has been mentioned, as well as those which mention the thorough washing of utensils and those which mention the Prophet’s directive regarding the killing of dogs, should be explained in the light of the fact that the Qur’an has neither disallowed nor expressed any dislike for people who keep dogs (refer to the narrative of the Qur’an regarding the Asshaab-e-Kahaf).

In view of the above explanation, it is our opinion that Islam does not prohibit keeping, training, feeding or patting a dog.

Hope this helps

UIUK

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