Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dogs in Islam

I started reading an excellent book when I was in Alexandria last week. The Sad Muslim's Guide, by Hussein Amin (brother of Galal Amin the Economist), is a book by a real progressive Muslim with rich and deep knowledge of Islam and history. I've strongly connected with almost all of what I've read of it so far, and for some reason I found myself tearing at some of the genuine progressive thoughts of this guy.

I've been abit lazy in finishing the book since I came back from Alex, but after meeting with someone who has a dog earlier this week, I decided to jump right into the chapter about dogs --which is equally as interesting as all the other chapters. She told me that after asking a Sheikh, he told her that she can only keep a guard or a shepherd dog, otherwise her clothes would be impure as a result of touching the dog's nose and she can't pray with those cloths unless washed 7 times.

I've always believed that dogs are impure (their nose and saliva), and all you need to do is wash up before a prayer if you touch a dog. But that doesn't demean their status as fine and beloved animals. I've even argued before that dogs are highly regarded and beloved animals in Islam, referencing the story of Ahl AlKahf in suret AlKahf in the Quran, and how God praised them and their dog. I've also claimed in that discussion that creating that barrier between humans (Muslims) and dogs was part of the self-control approach in Islam, and because dogs are such fine animals. So it was a mean to prevent humans from getting too attached to dogs possibly replacing human companionship in the process.

Hussein Amin starts his chapter on dogs by dedicating it to his daughter who loves dogs and who was annoyed that her religion teacher said that the prophet ordered the killing of all dogs and said that no Angels enter a house that has a dog in it (I hope he didn't make up that chapter just to please her!).

Amin says that the order of killing the dogs was a temporary order that served a certain timely need. Dogs at the time were encouraged to eat from the garbage to rid the people of it, and thus they developed a disease (alKalab), that resulted in an epidemic. The disease appeared again after the time of the prophet, and Amin thinks that some of the scholars at the time decided that the only way to get rid of the epidemic as well as dogs was by making up Hadiths, claiming that the prophet said that dogs are impure. Amin says that this in fact contradicts with the proper Hadith in AlBokhary which tells us that dogs used to walk freely in the prophet's mosque.

Amin then draws stories of how Muslims thought highly of dogs, praising their qualitites --stories from AlGahez and Dameiry. He also mentions how Imam Malek, Hassan AlBasry, Orwa IbnalZobair find dogs pure (except for washing dishes from their saliva).

Hussein Amin concludes the chapter by telling his daughter that this is what he can say about the topic, which she can use to refute the religion teacher's claim. And if the teacher insists that angels won't enter your house, then ask her if angels enter her house.

Another topic that I'm sure is interesting to many, which Amin discusses in his book, is the veil. And as I expected, I connected with him on this topic too. My logic that I described in a previous post of mine is actually not far off from what he says in explaining all (not just one like I did) versus about hijab in the Quran, adding a historical and cultural perspective to the matter.


Me, Myself and I said...

Hey thanks for this tidbit re the story behind dogs thought of as driving away angels. This same line was told to my son by his arabic teacher and he was horrified-his dear devout grandpa has a dog..I feel quite challenged explaining to him certain ideas/logics in islam especially that i am not that well read..and his father is quite a militant "secularist".had to hurry up my prayer as it irritated him......On hussein amin, i have never heard of him before .i just posted something earlier on the subject of Hijab and made reference to Gamal El not know his take re dogs..but he has a valid argument re he hijab--mafrood wa laysa fareeda..i suppose it will be along the same line as Amin. Well maybe these guys need to start thinking of spreading their views via tapes et the context of El thakaffa El Samaaeya that govern us to a great extent...this might be the only manner to disseminate different views on issues on a wider scale....

Alaa said...

Hussein Amin is one of my favorite writers, he used to write a great column @ Al destour ver 1.0, writes an occasional article at al hilal (these are usually controvertial in nature, like the one about the proper chronological order of the quran).

دليل المسلم الحزين لمقتدى السلوك فى القرن العشرين
is that the book you're talking about? loved this one specially the last story about the stickers.

its a pity these articles where written when fundementalism was on the rise, I look around now and see the islam of people like
Hussein Amin completly destroyed, today amr khaled is considered progressive

Alaa said...

I thought no one knew about gamal al bana, but this is like the 5th reference to him on an Egyptian blog in a short period of time.

you know what the guy is very friendly and he welcomes anyone who drops by him to ask for books or have a chat, maybe some blogger(s) should go and interview him, maybe we can talk to him about creative commoning his works to help spread it.

what do you think?

Mohamed said...

I think its a good idea Alaa.

Yes, this is the book. The Edition I have has two books in one, published by Madboly in 1987. The Sad Muslim Guide was written in 1983 (took the Book Fair Best Book Award), and it was praised by everyone, and the second book is Hawla Tatbeeq AlSahree'a AlIslameyya, and this is the one that has the Hijab, Dogs, cutting the hand topics, which he was not praised for --to say the least, eh.

ألِف said...

I remembred an ex-co-worker who told a story about the dogs which he kept on his home's roof in Fayyum, and about the preparations he took before he started his playing sessions with them: He'd put on a training suit, wear gloves, tuck his socks in the trousers, put on a the hood and tighten the lace and only then he can spend his weekly time with them. That's because dogs are dirty and they shouldn't come in direct contact with his body.

Poor dogs.

haal said...

Alif, why then bother have them if he made all these preparations... just release them,or he follows the concept of 'Clean pleasure.'

Speaking of that, a friend of mine living in the states just sent me an email asking me to pray for him and his dog who he will put to sleep. She was indeed a sweet dog, and I understand the attachment one gets to his pet, especially dogs. From who else can we get all this love whenever we want....

haal said...

should I pray for his dog? Kinda interesting. Pray for her to be or do what? I mean..... Oh well.

Epi said...

Recently an imam here in Turkey told members of an animal welfare group I work with about angles not being able to enter a house if a dog is present. Thank you for discussing Ahl AlKahf & Hussein Amin, because it might help us counter that arguement

Aziz said...

Hey this sounds like an interesting book, but i cant find it any where,i live in Ireland. can any one help me get it ? email me at pleases i would like to read it,

Zainab said...

Salaam,In the Quran Dogs are mentioned 5 times in never in an ill way. I urge everyone to got to ( the quotes from the Quran use them as proof to people who try to give you a hard time about being muslim and having a dog. I'm a Muslim and I plan on getting a dog within the next year(and he or she will be in the house with me and my other pets).

"Fabricated hadiths contradict the Quran. Many of them narrated by Abu Hurayra. Abu Hurayra, whose name is translated as , father of the little cat, hated dogs and women and from his mouth came many hadiths that insulted women and cursed the dogs and make them undesirable animals that need to be avoided and in other hadiths killed." Malika Ayub

As you can see The Quran is my book because it is straight from Allah. There are very little hadiths I read because they can be easily distorted like a lot of them have.
All Muslims need to remember the saying "Muhammad is my messenger and the Quran Is my book" (it dos not say anything about all these different Hadiths all lot of them are he said she know hearsay which Allah says in there Quran to discredit .

Ethan said...

I would also very much like to read this book, The Sad Muslim's Arabic or English...could you possibly post that information on the blog, would be most appreciated!!
EC from Abu Dhabi

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic and my husband is a Muslim. We recently had a son, and I would love nothing more than to get my son a dog. We live in the U.S. and I always had at least 2 dogs growing up and have always loved animals. He refuses to let me get a dog based on the belief that angels will not come to a house where a dog lives. I have tried to convince him otherwise many times, but with no luck. Any suggestions on how I can change his views on this? I have done quite a bit of research and found nothing saying that the Quran forbids having a dog, only that Muhammad had said them to be impure.

Anonymous said...

I read the comment from 'me myself and i' which is as follows or rather from Hussein Amins book (the sad muslims guide):-

"...The disease appeared again after the time of the prophet, and Amin thinks that some of the scholars at the time decided that the only way to get rid of the epidemic as well as dogs was by making up Hadiths, claiming that the prophet said that dogs are impure. Amin says that this in fact contradicts with the proper Hadith in AlBokhary which tells us that dogs used to walk freely in the prophet's mosque...."

I would like to know where abouts this Hadith can be found in al Bukhaari?

I would also like to know which scholars at the time decided to make up Hadiths to get rid of dogs (if it is known)? Also do you know how long after the Prophets death these scholars where supposed to have made these Hadiths up?

I would like to say without offending anyone that the issue regarding dogs has been answered by many scholars of the Deen already.

The Jurists of this Deen are those who provide ruling based on evidence from the Quran and Sunnah.

One has to be careful when one is taking a ruling from people as this is the most important aspect of our Deen.

According to Islamic Shariah, it is not permitted to keep a dog except within narrowly defined limits, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained:

" whoever keeps a dog, his good deeds will decrease everyday by one qeeraat (a unit of measurement), unless it is a dog for farming or hearding."

According to another report "...unless it is for hearding sheep, farming, or hunting. "
(Reported by Al Bukhari, al Fath, 2322)

Dogs are extremely Naajis (impure, unclean). The Prophet (PBUH) said:

If a dog drinks from the vessel of any of you, let him wash it seven times" (reported by Muslim, no 279).

Accoridng to another report: "...and clean it the eighth time with earth." (Saheeh Muslim no 280).

Whoever keeps a dog in his house is denied the blessing of the angels presence in his house, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog." (Reported by Al Bukhaari)

Although it is forbidden to keep a dog or interact closely with it does not mean that we should not be kind or feel compassion towards dogs if we see them in a pitiful state. THESE ARE TWO ENTIRELY SEPARATE MATTERS!!!

The Prophet (PBUH) told us that:

"a man saw a dog biting the dsut because of thirst, so he took his shoe and started to scoop water up with it until the dogs thirst was quenched. Allah (SWT) appreciated his good deed and granted him entry to Paradise for it." (Reported by al Bukhaari, no 174)

Anonymous said...

I live in the US and have a guide dog because I am legally blind. If dogs are ok for guarding, hearding and protecting isn't it ok for them to work as a guide as well? I suspect that it isn't accepted as I encounter more and more muslims every day that run away when they see the dog. I don't think it helps that my dog is completely black also. It's very difficult to be discriminated against for using this highly trained animal that enhances my life greatly. Many muslims that I encounter act as if I have the dog just to torture them. Not to mention the issues guide dog users are facing with taxi drivers. I wish they could put aside their predujice and walk a mile in my shoes. Goind blind is incredibly frightening and having a dedicated partner that helps me move about makes all the difference in the world.

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Amir said...

Ibn Maajah (3640) narrated from ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or an image.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.

Al-Bukhaari (2145) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever keeps a dog, a qiraat from his good deeds will be deducted every day, except a dog for farming or herding livestock.”

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MOM 2G said...


I am a moeslim in Indonesia most common believes here about dog is strictly prohibited. Interesting to find this article, true i found it conflicting between the what i believe that Mohammad is a loving prophet.

I also find an interesting blog (quoted some interesting things he wrote:
However, by studying the Quran we find no such truth. Nowhere in the Quran are dogs prohibited, nor is there any mention of any contaminating effect of these lovely animals who are man's best friend. Consequently, we must dismiss all these hadith that fabricate lies against the prophet.

1- God tells us in the Quran about the story of the dwellers of the Cave (Surah 18). In verse 13 God tells us that they were good believers and that God guided them.

In verse 18 God tells us that they had their dog with them.

Now if dogs are prohibited and dirty, would God speak of those dwellers of the Cave (who had a dog) as good believers?

2- In 5:4 God tells us that it is OK to eat what the trained dogs catch (dogs are used in hunting). But if dogs are dirty would God say that it is OK to eat what they catch with their mouths?

3- There is not one verse in the Quran where God says that dogs are dirty or that they are prohibited to keep.

4- Is it logical that God would create an animal to be man's best friend and serve him in many ways, and then prohibit such an animal?


I always loves dog and used to have 3dogs as i grow up, even though my heart and mind always conflicting about the fact many hadith and believes around me againts it. Now i have 2 little boys thinking to have a puppy which i think would be good for my children to express their compassion, love and care to other god creatures.

Even though haven't made my decision yet but your article pushing me to look furthur for answer to this question and will soon look up those surah where God mention dog in the Quran.


Unknown said...


interesting to note how there is no indication on the prohibition of dogs in Al-Quran as oppose to what can be found in hadiths.

However, I am against the idea that companions of the Prophet 'made up' anything in relation to what the Prophet said or do. Anyone who did that can only be his (and the ummah's) enemies.

Also, the cited hadith compiler Bukhari and Muslim do not just pick and list any hadith in their collection.

Therefore, there has to be a better reason for the tradition of the impurity of dogs. In my opinion, the epidemic and diseases like rabies are more applicable reasons in this case.

Ada7 said...

I don't usually comment on articles but I just had to on this one. I'm often confused how some people put more faith I hadiths, which are mostly he said-she said(just my opinion) than in Quran. If we agree that Quran is perfect, complete, and pure word off Allah, than how can hadith outweight Quran? There is no mention of dogs being unpure, dirty or forbbiden in the holy book. If it is stated in Quran that:
"He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than God. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful.
—[Quran 2:173]
So why not forbbid dogs? Why not state it directly? Not to mention Sleepers again there is other sura "They consult you concerning what is lawful for them; say, Lawful for you are all good things, including what trained dogs and falcons catch for you. You train them according God's teachings. You may eat what they catch for you, and mention God's name thereupon. You shall observe God. God is most efficient in reckoning." 5:4
So what? We will eat bird that dog brings us after washing it 7 times, last time in dust (water +dust= mud)? Who do we believe Quran or hadith?
Hadiths are contradictory relatnig to dogs. Take the example off prostitute who gave water to thirsty dog, and Muhammad a.s. told her all her sins were forgiven with that simple act, or that he put guards around pregnant dog while his army was marching to Mecca so nobody would disturb her and than compare them to other hadiths which malign the dogs. Contradictory, right? Also that hadith about black dogs being demons, that hadith is stemming from pagan beliefs before acceptance off Islam, and as such is invalid. Further more most off the hadiths about dogs are by Abu Hurayrah who also narrated us the "delights" off Musa a.s. whipping the stone because it stole his clothes and illegal sex off monkeys-and stoning off those same monkeys. Really- that is the man we trust more than holy Quran? That is the man whose ""narration" and their consequence made muslim man deny mercy on blind person and their dog? Or muslims puting down their dogs during Ramadan like somekind off dog holocaust? In the end he is just a man,falible just like any other and in my humble opinion that puts his narrations below holy Quran. I apologise for this long post but I had to vent a little. Because I am Sunna and muslim who tries to be a good believer and a good human being and also... a proud dog owner. Also for the end I leave this beautiful sura :
"The heavens and the earth are full of proofs for the believers. Also in your creation, and the creation of all the animals, there are proofs for people who are certain." (45:3-4)