So, I chose this image of a fluffy little dog for this post because it relates to a very specific issue of animal rights that I would like to touch on: I have noticed that for some reason unbeknownst to my fluffy animal-loving brain, Muslims start acting crazy-bananas if a dog comes within ten metres of them.
I remember attending a picnic at the park with my university Muslim Students’ Association and as soon as a dog just looked in our direction all the girls began to scream and scattered like a black bear had just walked up to us and asked us for a halal burger, medium rare.
And they were shouting all manner of things about “haram,” having to shower if the dog came near them to be able to pray again, throwing away all their clothes, and other ridiculous things.
Yes, in Islam there are some restrictions on keeping dogs around the house, which I am not going to go into here. And there are also rules on which parts of a dog are clean and which ones aren’t.
But none of that means that dogs are somehow inherently disgusting, evil creatures. God created dogs just like he created cats, birds, me, you, and Bob from down the street.
Not to mention there are many companions and early scholars of Islam were to known to keep dogs around their houses for things like protection or work.
On a side note, I see people do the exact same thing with pigs—if they even see one they run, seeking God’s protection and forgiveness all the while. Y’all, it’s forbidden for you to eat them not to look at them. Unless it’s attacking you there is probably no need to run away from it.
Anyhow. Where dogs are concerned, they really do not deserve all the scorn and fear that they get from many Muslims. And I also don’t want to hear it when my non-Muslim family keeps a dog in the house and I happen to pet her and love her just like I did before I converted.
I have heard far too many stories from converts about being chastised or shunned when other Muslims find out they have a dog at home, being told they need to get rid of it as soon as possible because it is “haram.”
Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said “While a man was walking along a road, he became very thirsty. Finding a well, he descended into it, drank, and came back up. There he found a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud in order to quench its thirst. The man said (to himself) ‘the same thirst which afflicted me has also afflicted this dog.’ So he descended into the well once more and filled his leather sock with water. Then, clenching it in his teeth, he ascended and gave the dog a drink. God appreciated this act of his and forgave his sins.” The Companions asked, ‘is there then a reward for us in being kind to animals, O Messenger of Allah (pbuh)?’ He (pbuh) replied, ‘In kindness to every living thing there is a reward.” Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim
We can see that from this hadith not only is kindess towards dogs sanctioned, but kindness to animals in general is enjoined by the Prophet (pbuh). In another hadith he (pbuh) relates how a woman who prayed at night, fasted during the day, and gave much of her money away as charity was sent to hell because she kept a cat locked up in the house without giving it food or water, essentially starving it until it died.
So we can see the emphasis this religion places on kindness towards all living things.
This is why there are halal ways to slaughter animals so that it is quick and simple, this is why the sacrifices for the Eid holiday are done in a humane way that causes the least distress and pain to the animal.
This is why it is forbidden to go hunting just for fun or trophies, or participate in horribly cruel games such as dog fighting or cock fighting.
This is why, when you take an animal into your home as a pet, whether fish, cat, dog, whatever, you are responsible for its well-being, and anything that happens to that animal may either be the means of your forgiveness or damnation.
And this is also why, when you see someone walking their dog down the street, you don’t need to give them dirty looks and shy away from their dog in disgust.
Maybe you don’t need to let it lick your face and eat off of your ice cream cone, but give it a pat on the head and spare a smile for its owner.
Show kindness to all living things.