FAQs & Fatwas

Man’s Best Friend? The Islamic View on Dogs

dogIn my days before Islam, I was never much of a fan of dogs. Some of the guys I ran with had Pits and Rottweilers, maybe trying to look all macho, and my family had a couple dogs, but I never had a dog. Other reverts may have had a special relationship with their dogs growing up, or still do at the time of reversion. Sadly, the attitude of many Muslims towards dogs often alienates people from Islam. I can remember a very unfortunate event where my indoctrination to Muslims’ cultural exaggeration about dogs pushed some of my family away from Islam.

Twelve years ago, I was invited for Thanksgiving weekend to my brother’s house, whom I had not visited since I had embraced Islam a couple years before then. As many people do, he and his wife had a dog that they felt was part of their family. I was not aware of this until we arrived. So the dog came to the door with him, which really bothered me, and I made a big deal out of it. I basically commanded my brother to put his dog outside. I had not been this way before Islam, so he was thrown off by it. When he asked why the fuss, I told him, “Because it is filthy.” Here’s the funny part: he said, “Oh no, man, you don’t understand. We gave him a bath last night!” I then reframed my argument to be more in line with the hadith that we all know, “No, it’s actually its saliva.” He said, “We brushed his teeth too. And I think I read somewhere that dogs’ mouths are actually cleaner than those of humans!” He actually has somewhat of a point.

For that whole weekend, I did not hear the end of his wife’s constant jabbing. “What kind of religion…,” and “Maybe if Muzlims learned to appreciate dogs they wouldn’t be so violent.” The crazy thing is that, generally speaking, they were in the right, and the attitude I had adopted from hanging around Muslims for a couple years was – according to strong classical interpretation – misrepresenting Islam!

So what does Islam say about dogs? Let’s start with the Qur’an. Dogs are only mentioned three times in the Qur’an, none of them negative in any way. Two of those mentions actually praise dogs as companions of people!

In Surat al-Ma’idah, God says that of the good things that are permissible to you are the animals which you hunt that your dog fetches for you. (Qur’an, 5:4).

In Surat al-A`raf, God is blaming the one who has been guided to the truth yet chooses to follow their desires. He likens that type of person to a dog that pants whether you shoo it away or leave it alone (Qur’an, 7:176). The verse simply refers to how dogs often just pant all of the time regardless if they are active, scared or just sitting there, whereas a human should think, ponder and react to things accordingly; especially when it comes to divine guidance.

Lastly, we have the famous story of the pious youth who were guarded by their dog, in the beginning of Surat al-Kahf (Qur’an, 18).

So clearly, this anti-dog attitude is not inspired by the Holy Qur’an.

The problem with cultural Islam is that much of it is an exaggeration of scripture. People go overboard in their interpretation or application of our scripture. The case with Muslims’ aversion to dogs is indeed rooted in authentic ahadith (pl. saying or tradition of the Prophet ﷺ – peace be upon him). Some of these ahadith, when read by themselves, do indeed give that idea. Most people do not know the scholarly discourse on such ahadith, especially when it comes to combining the texts or understanding their application in juristic derivation.

The first hadith I will mention has a couple variants, all carrying the same meaning and ruling. I will never forget when I heard this hadith; it was at a lesson on jurisprudence with a prominent scholar. The shaykh (scholar) was just reading the text to us nonchalantly and giving the commentary for our notes: “And the black dog should be killed, according to the authentic hadith[!]” I remember thinking to myself, “What? Did I just hear him right?” So I begged to differ, “Why is that?” He then made some sense out of it, “Only the jet black one, since according to the ahadith, it is a vicious beast or a devil.” I then said, “That is not true. I have seen many black dogs that are not vicious beasts.” So the shaykh said, “You only kill it if it threatens you,” to which I responded, “Then why are we singling out all jet black dogs? That could lead to a misunderstanding.” The shaykh responded, “Because the Prophet ﷺ specifically pointed it out that way.” I then responded, “Maybe he was talking about a specific dog, and not all black dogs?” The shaykh came back, “But we have many authentic texts, with varying authentic narrations, which means they should be taken in their general meaning!” I was like, Jazak Allahu Khayran, shaykh, (May God reward you) while thinking to myself that I need to review the claim, regardless of the shaykh‘s scholarship, because my understanding of scripture and innate spiritual disposition did not accept this interpretation.

The Command to Kill Dogs?

The Prophet ﷺ commanded us to kill dogs and later he said there is no reason for people to kill dogs. Then he allowed people to use dogs for hunting and herding. (Bukhari)

“If dogs weren’t a nation among God’s creation, I would have commanded you to kill all of them. So just kill the jet black one.” (Tirmidhi, 1486)

Someone asked Abu Tharr, “What feature is there in a black dog which distinguish it from the red dog and the yellow dog?” He said: “O, son of my brother, I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as you are asking me, and he said: The black dog is a devil.” (Muslim, 4:299)

“There are five harmful animals that can be killed at any time; a snake, a vicious dog, a crow, a rat and a scorpion.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet ﷺ also prohibited the killing of any living creature without reason. (Muslim)

The Maliki’s stated that the final two ahadith abrogated all of the others, and thus it is prohibited to kill all dogs, except the harmful one that threatens you (see Mawahib al-Jaleel and Rawda al-Talibeen). The majority are of the opinion that there was some danger or harm posed by dogs, which was later removed, and the need for killing the dogs was abrogated except the black dog, the wisdom behind that ruling only God knows. In the next section, I will show how the ahadiths about dogs’ purity are directly related to this issue. But before that I refer you to this recent piece of news.

The Purity of Dogs

No scholar from any school of thought ever claimed that one should make abultion (wudu) as a result of touching any part of a dog. That is because the issue of removing najasat (legal impurities) has nothing to do with ablution. Removing impurities is done by pouring water over the spot.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “If a dog licked/drank from a cup then first scrub it with dirt, then wash it or pour water over it seven times.” (similar variants in authentic narrations)

The Shafi`ees and Hanbalis use the above-mentioned as proof for the impurity of the dog’s saliva and mouth, and by analogy, its body. The Hanafis and a handful of Hanbalis, including Ibn Taymiyya, hold that the hadith proves the impurity of the dog’s saliva and not its body, since the hadith is specific to the mouth/saliva.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “A Muslim man was walking in the desert dying of thirst when he found a well. He went down in to drink and upon coming out he notices a dog lapping hard dying of thirst. So he climbed back in and filled his shoe with water. He gave the dog to drink and God forgave his sins. The companions then asked the Prophet, ‘Are we rewarded for helping beasts?’ The Prophet then said, ‘Helping any living thing has a reward!’” (Bukhari)

“During the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle, the dogs used to urinate, and pass through the mosques (come and go), nevertheless they never used to sprinkle water on it (urine of the dog.)” (Bukhari, 174)

The Malikis and Thahiris do not understand from the first hadith that any part of the dog is impure; not its body or even its mouth (see al-Sahrh al-Sagheer). They understand the first hadith to be an act of worship, and that dogs are not impure, rather the spit is defiled in some way, and so we must scrub our drinking vessels seven times. They use the second and third hadiths to prove the dog’s purity, since there was no warning of otherwise.

The Malikis hold that the practice of Madinah during the time of the tabi`een (the 1st generation of Muslims after the death of the Prophet ﷺ) was that dogs are not impure. They believe this understanding was influenced by these ahadith, in conjunction with the verse from Surat al-Ma’idah about using hunting dogs, which bring our prey back to us with their mouth. The ruling was made in Madinah, and Imam Malik was the Imam of Madinah, trained by the students of the prominent companions, so I tend to lean toward their opinion on this one for relevance.

Finally, I would like to read you a specific opinion that brings sense to this whole misunderstanding in these texts. “Al-Qadi said in al-Muqaddimaat, ‘This hadith [dog licking the vessel] is justified by a meaning understood which is not legal impurity. Rather, it is to protect one who drinks from the vessel from the possibility of the dog being rabid and thus infecting the person by ingesting its saliva. So for this reason, the command was to scrub it seven times with dirt, as we see that number often used in healing sicknesses.’ Ibn Rushd then comments that he prefers this explanation as the “Maliki way” rather than to just say that the dog’s saliva is pure, and that we just clean it in obedient worship without knowing the wisdom.” (Bidayatul-Mujtahid). See this link.

I agree with the scholars that have rightly logically understood this whole matter as being a past outbreak of rabies, where the Islamic value of preserving life and health had to outweigh the sanctity of the life of dogs, and obliged us to wash all potentially ingestible dog saliva. Therefore I hold that dogs are not in any way impure, and that there is nothing impure with petting and even getting licked by a dog. It makes perfect sense to me that the reason for killing the black dog was that there was a particular type of black dog which was rabid or violent in some way, and that is why the Prophet ﷺ called it a devil.

Even if you are to stick with the literal interpretation of some texts about the dog’s impurity, it is a strong opinion among scholars that the dog’s coat is not impure. Even if it does lick you, then according to the majority all you have to do is wash that spot with water to remove the impurity. So guys, there is no need to make a scene around dogs.

Keeping a Dog

“Whoever would keep a dog for other than hunting, herding or farming will lose a great reward every day.” (Bukhari)

The majority of scholars agree that an analogy can be made for all dogs of benefit, such as guarding the house or helping the blind. The ruling according to the majority is that it is haram (forbidden) to keep a dog simply as a pet/companion. (Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah)

The Maliki opinion is that the hadith does not indicate prohibition, rather it is makrooh (disliked). There is also a rare opinion from a handful of Malikis that all of the prohibitions on owning a dog were abrogated, and thus keeping a dog as a pet is permissible. (Kifaya al-Talib al-Rabbani)

Perhaps the second hadith on this subject is somehow related to the first.

“The angels (of blessings) don’t enter homes with statues, drawn pictures of live beings or dogs.” (Bukhari/Abu Dawood)

This hadith indicates that for some reason, angels of blessings (not protection or writing deeds) do not like to go into homes with dogs. The hadith seems to support the Maliki ruling of dislike, but still, it is not something a Muslim should do, since it is frowned upon by authentic scripture. For this reason, and God knows best, it is best for a Muslim only to keep a dog for some necessity mentioned in the first hadith. After all, if you must have a pet, you can always get a cat or a fish. That being said, those who insist upon keeping dogs as pets in their house have some – albeit small – support in the classical interpretations; it is not something that is established as a sin based on a clear, explicit text that would make someone a heretic or deviant for breaking the rule while deeming it permissible.

About the author

John (Yahya) Ederer

John (Yahya) Ederer

Imam John Yahya Ederer left a life of spiritual decadence and embraced Islam in 1998. In 2002, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Islamic American University in Michigan and spent 6 years travelling the Muslim world studying with prominent scholars. He attained an associates with IAU, a certification of mastery of the Arabic sciences from the ministry of education in Egypt, a diploma in Islamic Studies from the Cordoba Institute in Kuwait and a license with one of the highest chains of transmission in Qur’an memorization and recitation. He served as the Religious Director of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida for two years and now lives with his wife and two children in Charlotte, North Carolina where he serves as Imam of the Muslim American Society. He currently sits on the clergy board of one of the largest interfaith coalitions in Mecklenburg Ministries and is a board member of the Shamrock Drive Development Association.

87 Comments

  • There are so many orphans to support, I am talking about human beings and this cannot be a logical progression by any stretch. Allah knows best.

    • Peace Farooq :-),

      The prophet (PBUH) said, “I love and am moved by positive optimism…”

      Please don’t complain too much and find fault often.

      I agree that it is a main priority to work with people, but I disagree that it is not a priority to cultivate a more correct balanced understanding of Islam that doesn’t push people away.

      • that is correct Brother John. As an ummah we haven’t served Allah’s creation the way we should have. There is much that we have neglected. And there is no competition between humans and animals. Caring for animals helps soften the heart and someone who cares for and respects animals surely respects and cares for humans. May Allah have mercy on us and protect us from idle talk and debates that have no purpose. Ameen

  • My first time reading something from you and it was beyond amazing! May Allah reward you for the super detailed information with supporting bases on this particular topic, which tends to be exaggerated to so much extent. I’ve always wanted to touch a dog and rub its fur (especially those fluffy ones) but the furthest I could go was to just stand directly beside them and look in admiration cause I get too paranoid in my thinking “What if it turns its head and then lick my hand?!”. Haha.

  • “Even if it does lick you, then according to the majority all you have to do is wash that spot with water to remove the impurity.”

    “The Prophet ﷺ said, “If a dog licked/drank from a cup then first scrub it with dirt, then wash it or pour water over it seven times.” (similar variants in authentic narrations)”

    Ustaz. What do you mean by ‘wash that spot with water’ only, when the Prophet had clearly said ‘first scrub it with dirt…’.

    • He said ‘lick you’, while Rasulullah said ‘licked/drank from YOUR CUP’. The two are clearly different with different implications. Biologically, any organic material on your hand/skin will be broken down by the enzymes/oils/bacteria on your skin. so just washing with water would be enough, as if there was anything microscopic left, it would be broken down and would not do you any harm. the same thing cannot be said for a container though. If a dog licked a container, and you just washed it with water, any organic matter left will still be there, hence the command to wash with soil which contains billions of bacteria which will help breakdown any organic material that is left.

      Allah knows best.

  • Am I the only one that finds it not hard to believe that if the Prophet (saws) was alive today, he’d recommend washing the bowl or whatever with soap and water? Or rather than scrubbing it with dirt, actually use an abrasive cleaner with antibacterial properties?

    It kills me how some people fail to realize that times have changed in 1400 years, and that our Prophet(saws) was never against improvement.

    What? You have pneumonia or ebola, well, here’s some nice black seed….good luck with that.

    • As Salamu Alaikum,

      Please don’t under-estimate the power of traditional medicines.

      Do you know effective malaria medicines is derived from plants?

      Do you know that one of the most effective pro-biotics on the market today is soil based?

      Do you know that honey, also recommend in Islam, is a potent antibiotic that scientists are looking at to fight antibiotic resistance?

      Of course, the Prophet (s) was not against improvement, and Islam allows the use of all halal beneficial means to improve our lives.

      But we must also remember that Prophet (s), who received knowledge directly from God, would not have recommended something that had no benefit.

      And Allah knows best!

      • I think the brother/sister was only saying that, at that time, the dirt was the best way to achieve the objective of purifying biological taints and so it is not surprising that the Prophet, being guided, advised this method. However, if some of the improved products common to us today were common then, it is possible he might have preferred them, again because he is guided. Just because he had advised a means that works best at the time, it does not mean that the means is what would work best for all time.

        An example is the toothbrush. He advised the people to clean their teeth with the miswak, which was the best option they had there at that time. Yet today all of us are now using purpose-designed toothbrushes, without feeling any qualms about its acceptability to Muslims.

        Another is the preparation of steeds for war. Now we prepare rockets and tanks.

        Of course it is quite safe to maintain the method that was actually described and many will likely prefer to, but it is best not to be too dogmatic over it that we quarrel with each other, since the objective of purification is to purify, and the matter is not an issue of belief or worship.

    • I agree with you. When he was talking about dirt it could also mean, I am not giving a ruling here, that you need water which is polar and dirt which is non-polar to completely rid of potential harmful bacteria. In the case of non-polar properties I think soap will do the trick in our age versus getting dirt.

    • Your last comment was offensive. -.- Are you questioning the shifa of the black seeds? Do not forget it’s Allah who puts shifa in his creations and the black seed can be more powerful than any Medicine in today’s scientific world.

  • Phew! I used to feel guilty for allowing my kids to pet dogs that came up to them and wanted to be friendly. I allowed them to because I viewed it as a form of dawah to show that Muslims are kind to animals and are friendly people instead of scoffing the dog. People need to use their intellect before making decisions and weigh the positive/negative ramifications of their actions.

  • I have a phobia for dogs, and other animals and insects, because in my community people didn’t have the habit of having them as pets. I do not dislike dogs, I wish them the best and believe they should be given the best treatment and care.

    Because of this phobia, some non-Muslims may presume that I have some sort of hatred for dogs. not at all… In fact, whenever I see or hear of any mistreatment of dogs, my heart aches. I love them just as I love all Allah’s creation. Some dogs, especially white or small ones are simply adorable, but this phobia is not in my hands. I cannot control it. I’m sorry that I have it. I know dogs will not hurt me, they are probably just curious when they try to get near me.

    Peace and love <3

  • This article reminded me of a recent news story from Spain surrounding a Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola while doing missionary work in Liberia.

    The nurse is gravely ill and Spanish authorities euthanized her pet dog out of precaution that the virus could have passed on to the dog. Upon hearing of the dog’s fate; hundreds of animal rights activists rallied together outside government and hospital offices in protest. One Spanish official later tweeted stating how it took the death of one dog to rally supporters towards Ebola-linked events awareness; but that the deaths of thousands of humans in Africa as a result of the virus fell on deaf ears.

  • So, Maliki thought that keeping dog as pet is makrooh, not haram based on hadith about keeping a dog? so keeping a dog looks like cigarette, it’s makrooh, not haram? but if dog pet is makrooh, it still decreasing its owner’s reward everyday?

  • assalam alaykum, can you clarify the position regarding contact with a dog’s nose, as their noses are often wet and are likely to come into contact with your clothing.

    Jazak Allahu khairun

  • Assalamu Alaykum,
    I appreciate this article, and it is true Muslims need more hikmah when dealing with this issue, because its important to our fellow Americans. I wanted to maybe give a possible reasoning for the black dog issue from my understanding. I personally listen to Americans tell their tales of the paranormal not because I believe in their views on the paranormal but just to see what experiences a person might have with the unseen, and I tell you Islam educates us so much regarding the unseen and clarifies these things that so many Americans have experienced. I’ve listened to quite a few Americans say they have witnessed ‘Hellhounds’ which are demonic dogs that disappear but display traits that are beyond what is normal, if you read people’s personal stories you can find more of their descriptions. I have seen in almost all of their descriptions that these hellhounds are black dogs with red eyes. Now I think that the Prophet (pbuh) was referring to the jinn who take the form of a dog and it seems they tend to take this form, and that’s why he might’ve advised against this specific color, not because of the color itself but because the jinn may take this form more than often. Wallahu ‘Alam

  • Assalamu alaykum brothers and sisters. I found this article very interesting I’m a Mexican converted muslim and I do have a profound love for the dogs since I was a kid since they really are a good company and they do protect you from danger and thats my personal experience. I was talking one day to a brother about how much i was missing having a dog and that I wanted to adopt one soon but did not know about the position of dogs in Islam at that time then this brother told me to do not have a dog since it they are impure and the angels don’t enter you house if a muslim keep them as pet but thats all he said and no further info were given and it really saddens me it was really hard for me to believe that the prophet did not liked them and ordered to killed the black ones because they are evil. But now i feel better after reading you article I’m not planning to have a dog but my parents and family does have them but at least now i Know how to treat them better with wisdom and respect. Thank you brother.

  • As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    Of course the coat of a dog is not what is impure, but you have dismissed/explained away all the ayah and ahadith, subhana’Allah.

  • I would be careful when reading this!! (I don’t hate dogs, nor do I think they are not beneficial to humans) First off, DOGS MOUTHS ARE ABSOLUTELY FILTHY! Look it up from scientific articles. It is a massive myth that their mouths are cleaner than humans. So he is wrong from that standpoint.

    Also, keeping a dog in the house would mean that the dogs nose/saliva would inevitably come in contact with most spots in the house, including place of prayer. Since the dogs saliva invalidates wudu, one would have to, literally, follow the dog and clean each location the dog comes in contact with; sounds infeasible.

  • Bismillahirahmanirahim..

    Assalammuailaikum…
    i personally love animals and sometimes it saddened me that i do not get to pet dogs for it is haraam in islam but i do believe islam is a religion of peace and islam is simple.
    Thank you for this articles..it helps a lot.
    may Allah grant you peace 🙂

  • In face with so many ikhtilaf ‘ulama, it is important that ahl ‘ilm know how to synthesise and look all the nas. It is acceptable that there is khilaf about the dogs being a syar’i filth or a mere ta’abbudi, based on the understanding / inference made to the Holy Prophet’s command to pour away the water licked by a dog and wash the basin seven times with soil in mixed with one of them.

    On the other hand, it is important to note that losing your merits on daily basis as much as one to two qirath (in a riwayah a qirath is as large as Mt Uhud!) is something abominable for a Muslim. Why? We need to cross-refer to al-Quran Surah Muhammad ayah 47 “Oh Believers, obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not negate your good actions”. This is an evidence that we should not get rid of our good deeds in any sense, be it in a form of riddah, or in the Hadith above by keeping dogs without valid reason.

    Therefore, in handling ikhtilaf, those with the capacity to perform tarjih, should do so to make a wise decision.

    • Yes Muhammad as mentioned at the end of the article it is, according to the texts and the majority of the scholars, either forbidden or disliked to keep a dog merely as a pet. That being said the texts support be merciful to dogs in general and owning one for a purpose like guarding the property or hunting. In my humble opinion there is a weak argument for the general impurity of a dog and God knows best.

    • b-ismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm. I can only speak from the experiences and knowledge I have. Having read Quran as a child, returning it to the library at it’s due time, being punished and commanded by parents to ignore all of it’s teachings because it was not christian, according to them.
      Then later it was Christians who deemed me unworthy of life and banished me to live like a dog. Long story short, there were many misconceptions about me, being a traveller from another place and having my medical needs unmet that left me in an unhealthy and emaciated state. Upon having reconciled this problem myself because my father would not purchase the medicine I needed, once I saved my own life this angered him, and he attempted to take my life from me.
      I always had a dog until that time. The dogs being limited creatures of the earth, but they look up to us, humans, for guidance and care. Then it was their turn to return this care.
      Because the dogs led me to where I am now. Yes I lived with them. I had to live in a cardboard box in chokingly polluted air to salvage myself from my father’s insistence upon my murder. The dogs comforted me. They led me to where to find food. Where the dog’s weren’t I had to resort to terrible sins to survive this youth.
      And a black widow spider was a tool of Allah’s to salvage me from the streets until I was deemed legal to care for myself, forced my family to care for me to some extent.
      A few years ago I was injured in a random act of violence by drunken and likely drugged individuals, mugging me for what money I had.
      My doctor agreed I needed a service dog for protection and guidance home when my brain injuries left me dizzy, vulnerable and confused.
      There is much, much more involving where dogs have intervened in my life. If it was not for my dog Fred, and a dream he caused me to have, and a warning at the last minute before my fathers attempt at the most horrific of mortal sin, I would not be alive today to tell you of this.
      9 years later my dizziness and clarity is much better. I do not live in urban surroundings now, so my dog’s service function to me is only when I travel.
      It was distressing to me that a Muslim family would not even emerge from their apartment at one work assignment I had when I had Caleb with me. Although I told them they had nothing to fear, they still hid and one of them said “He has teeth, doesn’t he”. “Yes”, I replied, “And so do you.”
      My adoptive son has encouraged and motivated me to study the Quran and Islam. So I have adopted some of the practices. Living in an area practically devoid of Muslims now, halal things are impractical to the point of being unaffordable, unattainable here. This bothers me some, as does the notion that many Muslim would harm my animals that have done so much for me.

  • Assallaamu alaykum,

    From having read many of the comments, it is clear why Islam is in the state it is in.

    Please study the authenticity of Hadith, especially the one where Allah will just take away good deeds for merely keeping a dog in your house. It sounds rather inaccurate to me.

    As a revert Muslim, I am saddened and rather tired of the superficial excuses made by many Muslims on why I as a blind person should not have a guide dog. My wife’s family goes as far as to prohibit my guide dog from relieving herself on their lawn as their lawn is (holy) and in return I forbid them to enter into my guide dog’s space at my place of residence.

    My dog has far better qualities than many people that I have met in my life.

    People (including some prominent Ulama in my community) telling me how I am going to hell for having a guide dog, need to reevaluate what it means to be a Muslim and stop following the dogmatic teachings of the uneducated and culturally afflicted intolerant entities within our communities.

    Islam’s concern for animals goes beyond the prevention of physical cruelty or even condescending kindness to them, which is a negative proposition. It enjoins on the human species, to take over the responsibility of all creatures in the spirit of a positive philosophy of life and to be their active protectors.

    The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam),was asked if acts of charity even to the animals were rewarded by the Almighty. He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive.” (Narrated by Abu Huraira, Bukhari)

    Mishkat Al-Masabih concluded from “Bukhari” and “Muslim” to the effect that: “A good deed done to a beast is as good as doing good to a human being; while an act of cruelty to a beast is as bad as an act of cruelty to human beings,” and that: “Kindness to animals was promised by rewards in Life Hereafter” (Mishkat al Masabih; Book 6; Chapter 7, 8:178).

    Owning a guide dog is permissible in Islam based on authoritative evidence. This is not Halal because I say so but because the divinely inspired Sunnah says so.

    Only Allah has the power to make something halal (permitted) or haram (prohibited) within Islamic law. If one doubts that Allah alone has this power, one need only look to Surah Tahreem. It says:

    “O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee?” (66:1, Yusuf Ali trans.)

    Not even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had the power to dictate the permitted and the prohibited as He was only a messenger to mankind.

    Only a narrow domain of actions are prohibited while an expansive galaxy of actions is permitted. In a dispute over the permissibility of an action, the burden of proof lies on the person arguing for prohibition. It would be impractical for the Quran and Sunnah to list all the things which are permitted. Instead Allah has chosen to inform us of the narrow domain of prohibited actions, with the understanding that actions He has not mentioned are permitted. Also, rather than delineating each possible individual case, like saying murdering parents is prohibited, murdering spouses is prohibited, and so on, actions are grouped into broad categories. Islam says, all murder, defined as the unjustified taking of human life, is prohibited. Since the burden of proof is on the one arguing for prohibition, if both I and my opponent present weak unconvincing evidence, I win because my opponent has not met the burden of proof while I have no burden of proof to meet.

    I could still lose, however, if my opponent presents strong evidence of the prohibition of owning a guide or service dog and I present weak evidence of its permissibility.

    And for this reason, I will keep on travelling with my guide dog, and politely decline invitations to events where I am stripped of my dignity due to my quest for independence.

    Salaams to all.

      • My doberman just passed away at 5 years old, best friend our family has ever had. I buried him the way we would our own. Be good to yours, may he be free to run green fields and enjoy his family’s company for many years. iA

    • I fully agree with you. The ruling that dogs can be kept for certain purposes but not as a pet is untenable. One cannot keep a dog (especially a guide dog) without having to be near it: to feed it, to wash it, to show gratefulness (or affection, why not) to it and to treat it if its sick. Any saliva, even that of humans, has germs in them. OK one may use dirt/earth to cleanse things mainly because those are coarse and rough. We have all kinds of scrubs now. Then, there is our current knowledge about antiseptics including the antimicrobial and cleansing properties of soap. In my country Malaysia we use dogs for all kinds of purposes including catching criminals, crowd control, detection of drugs, search for victims of calamities or natural disasters or lost persons. However, we insist that all handlers are non-Muslims. Why this hypocrisy? We have to look at issues from a balanced perspective. Even if we want to belief those hadiths regarding the killing of dogs and not keeping them at home we must consider that the Prophet, as much as we love him, is an ordinary human being. The Quran describes nicely the fitrah of the dog. It has beneficial and endearing characteristics that the much beloved cat do not have. If you love a cat, the dog is equally, if not more, fitting of our love.

  • Hello there. I’ve been exploring Islam. I’m confused as hell. I understand the holy book is the Koran, the word of allah. But I don’t understand that if it is the word of Allah, why it can’t stand alone. Why are other books (the Hadith etc.) and interpreters needed to explain what it is talking about. I even read some things were expunged from the Koran. What does this mean? Was there a typographical error? This worries me greatly.
    I know the Koran says that Allah will blind the truth from various people that he so chooses but I don’t understand why if one was seeking enlightenment about Islam that he would do this with respect to the Koran.

    So how do I get from dogs to this? I found your site by researching the dog thing. Most Islamic people I’ve met hate dogs, no rather fear and hate dogs. Now you are reversing what most people hold as true regarding dogs in Islam. I don;t know, like the blind man with his dog, if there is so much confusion in Islam and it is so complex to navigate and anyone seems to be able to make his own interpretation, it really dissuades me from wanting to become a Moslem. Surely Allah would not have been so obtuse. Where is the wisdom in this?

    • Asalamualikum, Allan Finkelston. My dear brother , Allah in the Holy Quran says that Muslims must follow the the ways and teachings of the last prophet Muhammad PBUH. A verse of the Quran was revealed during the time of the prophet’s nearness of death where Allah says ”This day i have perfected your religion…..” The HADITH is just the ways and teachings of how the prophet lived his life PBUH and so we muslims are commanded to follow his ways, the last and final prophet of Allah. Follow the Quran as it is God’s words, the hadith has both authentic (reliable books) and unauthentic(unreliable books). My dear brother the hadith is just how the great and final prophet of God did things (lived his life). There are some hadiths that are not reliable. But most importantly follow the Quran. May Allah bless you my dear brother.

    • You can be a Muslim and keep dogs . But make sure that you keep yourself clean and pure when praying. Dog is not a big issue actually.

    • Salam to brother Allan Finkleston

      Dog issue is a very minor (even less than a minor) thing in Islam and different people have different interpretation (similar to many versions of Bible or interpretations of the Bible). Please explore The Holy Quran as it is (which has no other version) and Hadiths. Dog issue should not be an obstacle for you to convert into Islam which is more important for you than your liking or dislikes of it. In comparison to your confusion regarding Islam by the comments or interpretations of Dog issue please concentrate on the 5 pillars of Islam. Once you enter into Islam (may Allah guide you), believe and follow mandatory 5 pillars of Islam, gain TAQWA (obedience and fear of Allah) then you would be able to judge yourself what to do with the dog issue. Just to tell you, Islam do respect and command to be kind and caring towards every living creature including dogs.

      • Your comment belittling him and his compassion for dogs showed your true character. People do think of dogs as part of the family and I left Islam because people would not accept my dog. It may be a small thing to you but, it isn’t to many and you are very judgmental for condemning him.

        • You left Islam because people would not accept your dog? So you would leave islam and stop believing in Allah, who created the heavens and the earth and whatever it contains, because your love for dogs outweighs your love for Allah? For some reason I believe their might be OTHER reasons why you chose to leave islam.

          • He didn’t say he stopped believing in Allah, and he didn’t say his love for dogs outweighed his love for Allah. He said he left Islam, possibly meaning as it is practiced and interpreted today. There’s a difference between accepting real Islam and accepting traditional interpretations of Islam. To find out what he means, you need to get him to clarify instead of simply accusing him of something he didn’t say and perhaps didn’t mean.

          • It is not like that at all. Allah made human to have fitrah that includes a love for animals especially dogs and cats. It is in our nature. At the same time Allah made cats and dogs to have fitrah that endears them to humans. Dogs have characteristics that make them useful as well as good companions. (Cats are supposed to catch rats but they don’t seem to do them now). The argument against dogs being dirty is not tenable. Which animal or person is not dirty. I am an immuno-supressed person and has been told by my doctor not to shake hands with people. If I do then I am supposed to clean my hand. It doesn’t mean that I cannot meet or be near people. If your cleanliness for some reason is tainted by a dog just wash it. We have now things that are better than dirt to use. I keep cats and I also have to keep my house clean after they make a mess.

        • And how will that dog save you on yawm alqiyamah if you don’t repent?

          Leaving Islam for a dog… Subhan Allah.

          This should be a lesson for all of us not to let our desires overcome us and instead submit truly to Allah. Islam is not based on our personal preferences. We have jihadul-nafs in Islam (striving against oneself), leaving such a battle opens up all kinds of doors of evil.

          May Allah protect us from being slaves of our desires.

          • Remember Hadith when a man gave water to a thirsty dog, Allah forgave his sins….being kind, feeding and caring for any animal Allah created is a sign of kindness. Animals will rise on the day of judgment to speak against the abusers as well, may Allah have rahmet on all creatures Allah created.

          • Islam is the guide for us to live in this world. Does keeping a dog add benefit to our life? Certainly: Yes. Why does Allah give all the beneficial faculties (fitrah) of a dog if if not for us to use. Which blessings of your Lord do you deny?

    • Dear Allan,

      I just happened to be reading this article and the comments when I noticed no one replied to your questions. As someone who accepted Islam myself I know what you’re going through, the questions you’re facing, and your concerns, which is why I feel duty-bound to give you a response, though it’s been some time since you posted your comment.

      Maybe a look at the big picture will help put things into perspective. What is the essence of Islam? The answer, as I’m sure you know, is serving and worshiping our Creator alone, without partners or intermediaries. It’s easy to lose sight of that when Islam seems to have so many rules. And if you haven’t yet reached a stage of firm knowledge of and belief in who your Creator is and why He deserves to be obeyed in everything, all of these subsidiary issues–like how to go to the bathroom properly, how to interact with dogs, which shoe to step into first–will seem trivial. To people like myself and other practicing Muslims, these issues aren’t trivial because we so strongly desire to follow Allah’s command that we will spend a lot of time and energy trying to determine its most minute details. But for you and your situation I would advise building your foundation before trying to build a roof, if you catch my drift.

      As for the Quran, it is the Word of Allah. But it can’t stand alone because Allah has told us in the Quran that revelation is more than just the Quran, it is also in the Prophet Muhammad’s speech and actions.

      Allah says in the Quran:
      “And We revealed to you {Muhammad} the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.” 16:44

      “And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from.” 59:7

      “Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.” 3:31

      “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day.” 4:59

      And we could go on and on. The important thing is that wisdom behind sending a message with a messenger is so that the messenger can explain, clarify, specify, and apply the message for everyone. And this is a beautiful thing, if you read how the Quran was revealed verse by verse according to different situations that arose and even according to different questions posed to the messenger.

      There are no errors, typographical or otherwise in the Quran. However, there are some verses and rulings that were abrogated or replaced by others. You’re probably wondering, or have wondered, that if some rules had to be changed doesn’t that imply that there some sort of mistake, or maybe the revelation wasn’t perfect to begin with? To the contrary, that some verses and rulings were replaced by others is actually evidence for the perfection of the revelation of the Quran, and when I bring examples hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

      Let’s take the prohibition of alcohol. There are three verses pertaining to it in the Quran, of the first two chronologically, one concedes that there is limited good in alcohol but that the bad far outweighs the good (2:219) while the other specifically commands the Muslims not to pray while intoxicated (4:43). At an later date alcohol and all intoxicants were clearly prohibited (5:90). Is this a contradiction or hypocrisy? No, it is mercy from our Creator who know His creatures, having said that He does not burden a soul with more than it can bear (2:286). This is from wisdom, as Islam was sent to bring people out from darkness into light and that is often a process that takes time and self-reform.

      I hope you find this reply helpful, anything I said that is incorrect is my own fault and not attributable to Islam in anyway. Likewise anything I said that is correct is just me repeating what Allah, the Prophet, or the Muslim scholars have said.

      • Looking at Islam from an overall perspective is something alien to most of those who are born muslims. They take hadiths in isolation even if it contradicts the Quran and the basic tenets of Islam. Consider yourself lucky because you are (most likely) a revert to Islam by discovering it through the Quran. It gives you a foundation which cannot be shaken.

  • y studying the Quran we find no such truth. No where 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 okay to eat what the trained dogs catch (dogs are used in hunting). Now if the dog is an animal which causes contamination by mere touch, would God tell us it is perfectly okay to eat what the dog catches with his mouth (let alone just touch the dog)?

    3- The Quran contains a very important rule for all believers, and the rule is:

    Nothing is haram (unlawful) unless it is prohibited by God Himself, and since God describes the Quran as complete, perfect and fully detailed, thus all the prohibitions decreed by God are found in the Quran.

  • Thank you for that wonderful well researched and honest article. I always thought differently as well. Aren’t we all god’s creatures? why single out the dog and black one at that. I happen to have a black Doberman and he’s the greatest, guradian/pet/caretaker/ what have you. I am very annoyed by the ignorance of cultural islam. why must people take it so literally? one must do, act, and behave as civilized intelligent human beings. The more aware we are and I thank you for bringing this awareness, the better off we will be. Peace!

      • Courtney, these “some Muslims” are following the Prophets guidelines regarding dogs. It is not relevent if you love dogs or not. Everyone have their own preferences but we have to adapt them to the Islamic guidelines as thats part of submitting to God.

  • Does are dirty animals and there is no doubt about that. Just today I saw a dog put its face in a another dogs poop. Ive seen dogs eat poop (look it up online it happens a lot). Dogs will put there noses and mouth in pretty much anything. So ALL those who keep dogs in home as pet..if ur duas are not being answered or u lose blessings in ur life..there’s ur answer

    • So you are saying that if you keep and take care of one of Allah’s creatures, he is going to punish you?

      • You can take care and keep Allah’s creatures any way you like. You will be rewarded for it. Maybe open a shelter, maybevolunteer at a shelter. Just dont have it in your homes. Makes sense?

        • Dogs are wondeful companions who don’t overcomplicate life like you are doing; nor do they try to control the values and lives of others who wish to be free of cultural and ideological contraints and cultural rules to think freely. Only those wedded to a strict interpretation of religion could make this non issue an issue; piety is a depressing trait. Dogs are life enhancing unlike the controlling rules espoused by some here. Dogs for many are part of the family and show more love than many people. Let people decide for themselves whether they have a dog in the home, for like sex and sexuality, it’s nothing to do with anyone else or a slight on their religious devotion.

        • No. You cannot have a guide dog without having it in your home, feeding and touching it. It is a guide dog because it (by the grace of dog) understands companionship and getting a reward for help including a persons gratefulness and love for him. Are you going to say that, well you have the walking stick.

  • There is nothing complex and confusing about this issue.
    1. Dogs Saliva is impure, NOT the ‘najas’ impurity that nullifies ablution (Hadith clearly states that)
    2. Only keep dogs under necessity
    3. Be passionate towards animals
    Simple.

  • I stumbled on this article because of a situation that I experienced last night. I showed a home in the US to someone from the UAE to rent. As we were going into the backyard to show, we have a pet dog. I reached my hand down as is normal so he know I was there (his sight and hearing are going as he is 13 years old).

    The 2 jumped back in terror and exclaimed, if it licks me I have to wash myself 7 times. As times change from 1400 years ago, and rabies and other deseases contracted by dogs of old are now no longer an issue, wouldn’t the muslim religion adapt it teachings, putting the teachings in context? Dogs mouths are 10x cleaner than humans. I understand history and doctrine, but an evolution of thinking to Soap and Water from dirt, and adaptation of older teachings seems like it makes sense.

    After the situation, I apologized repeatedly, and they were not disrespectful. Had I known, I would have put the dog away before they arrived.

    The two left without shaking my hand (which is understandable as I had put my hand down so it could smell me – although it did not lick my hand).

    Not meant to be disrespectful or discredit the muslim teachings or beliefs, but does the muslim religion adapt any of its teachings to put them into perspective as we are in a world 1400 years advanced from when teachings were given?

    -Curious

    • You shouldn’t have to change who you are when you are in your own house and country. The man from the UAE should have been more respectful of you and your family which includes your dog.

  • Here’s the thing about Islam. Allah did not make it complicated, Muslims did. Having been born a muslim, I am not one from ancient times and neither do I believe things that were taught and said at a time when there wasn’t enough water or soap or detergent should be taken seriously. I prefer to approach things in life in a more common sense and logical way.

    Allah has put all animals on this planet. Did he put all animals so that we humans should beat them up and disrespect them? It is said that an animal has the innocence of a child. Meaning that animals are uncorrupted and act on instinct. If humans are nice to animals, it’s highly unlikely animals won’t reciprocate the feeling.

    The reason I am saying this is because I have had cats for years. I have bought these cats, they came to my house looking for food and I fed them. They stayed, I continued feeding them and taking care of them, including bringing them to the doctor if they are sick.

    Now I have a dog to take care of as well. The dog too used to hang around our street and soon enough, it too jumped the wall and started staying here in my yard. So as a Muslim, my initial reaction was, “what would people think?”…But then, I thought that the dog must have thought that it would be safe here, which is why it’s staying in my yard. That said, with common sense and logic, had Allah not wanted me to take care of this dog, Allah wouldn’t have sent it to my place.

    Logically speaking, after taking care and still taking care of so many cats, it’s not a big deal to take care of a dog and feed it..That’s all, it’s asking from me.

    I wished more people, especially Muslims, would see this. They are blinded and they have been mistreating dogs for far too long. But fear not, Allah will make them pay for this.

    On the day of judgment, all animals that have crossed our paths will have a voice to speak. And they will tell Allah of the good and bad things we did for them..

    May Allah bless all of us and open our eyes to do what’s right..Ameen

    • It’s so nice to hear that you took care of them! I was born and raised in the United States as a Muslim with immigrant Pakistani parents and I feel like everyone obsesses over how and what other people of the community will think. Oh my gosh, who cares! Allah knows all about you and your intentions, so let’s leave it at that!

      • It’s the right thing to do…We all have to make choices, but it’s making the right ones that is the right way to live life in the eyes of Allah…seriously though, I know a lot of people who would prefer not to feed stray animals in case they keep wondering near their place or in case they litter at their place. I know others who complain about feeding other animals despite the fact that they have their own pets. My reasoning is these animals are not asking you for an arm or a leg, if you can afford it you should give them. Why else do you think God gave you a comfortable life?

    • May Allah reward you with Jennah brother, animals are helpless, all they need is food and water to survive. I hope cruel people who harm innocent animals end up in hell.

    • Haj,

      “with common sense and logic, had Allah not wanted me to take care of this dog, Allah wouldn’t have sent it to my place.”

      That’s not logic. It’s like saying “if Allah had not wanted me to eat pork he wouldn’t send me neighbours who invited me to a pork dinner”.

      We will be tested with different tests in life that requires us to deal with them in an Islamic way and not interperet them according to our own personal desires and limited thinking. Every human has his own way of reasoning and his own logic. We have Islamic guidelines to tell us what is right and what is wrong, that’s the logic we should attempt to follow in such situations.

      • Seriously? That’s an idiotic statement. If my neighbors know I am Muslim, why would they invite me to eat pork? What I meant to say was, there are tons of houses on my lane and yet, my house is the only one that stray animals come to. That’s what I meant. In case you don’t know, if an animal comes to you for shelter or food, it’s your job to take care of the animal. This is the Islamic way.

  • Hello. I am so baffled by Hadiths. They were collected after about 250 years of Prophet death. They were not written down. They were just handed down and the authenticity was if some people in same area narrated same hadiths. Now if i hear some news then millions will tell you the same news so does it shows its authenticity. Bokhari collected from sane people and criteris for sanity was mind boggling. These imams and Hadiths have taken Islam what it is now. Many sects and and different ideology. I think and believe the demise of Islam is to be blammed on these people who collected the hadiths as if these were to be followed as Quran.

  • I do agree with you…I realised this when I was a teenager and I enjoyed reading books about the prophets and all..I think the people who claimed this hadith was said by so-so just want their name out there in islamic books….that’s it…

  • As Salamu Alaykum
    Bro
    I have checked the verse it doesn’t comes out to be DOG clearly ….but it says hunting animals
    Quran (5:4)
    Please check it

  • Does keeping a dog to help with depression count? Also if it’s a puppy can I keep it in the house until it’s old enough to stay outside on its own? We live in an apartment and don’t have an enclosed yard.

  • @Mustatab Ahmad ….they were collected after 250 years of the prophet? where did u get that figure…. , besides they were put together after many years, but were memorized or written on invididual sheets(or watever they had at that time) even if they were not in a book form. Dissension in groups in Islaam never was created my Ahadiths dunno where you concocted that from.. The imams or peer or whatever took out their own meaning acting blind to the obvious true meanings of it; remaining persistent on the beliefs the neighbourhood or ancestors have..That is what caused different groups to be created. Last thing, Demise of Islaam? real?,, its more like demise of muslims , Islaam was there how it was for all this time, its people who are going to their destruction by adding, changing or rejecting things that are reported in the hadiths….i dont know how these ideas have crept in your mind but please think on what i have said….

  • I know this post is old, but I just stumbled upon it on Reddit and thought I’d ask a question as a non-Muslim: how’s it viewed to shelter a homeless dog? Is it viewed as help to a living creature or not differentiated from “normal” keeping of a dog?

    • You are talking as if it’s like buying a porshe or getting it as a gift. It’s not the same thing as animals. Any animal that a person looks after is considered a good action in any religion, not just Islam. In Islam, Allah asks people to be kind to all of his creations and he will be kind to you in return. I do get your question because I am in this situation. I like keeping the dog because it’s the right thing to do. I only use the “sheltering a homeless dog” when Muslim people enquire why I have a dog. I know at the back of my mind that it’s a good decision.

  • Revert Muslims and born-into-Muslim-families Muslims both have to realize that there will be times when our cultures go against what Allah and his Messenger said. We can’t make things halal and haram just because our culture taught us to like and be accustomed to something.

    So what if some people get a bad image of Islam because we aren’t allowed to have dogs at home (except in some situations) or because we don’t want to be licked by dogs? There are also people who get a bad image of Islam because zina is prohibited or drinking alcohol etc. Are we supposed to change Islam so that peoples shallow desires are fulfilled? No, it’s rather us humans that need to comply.

    Neither western nor eastern culture is a proof of what is good and what is bad.

    None of us are making Allah any favours by being Muslim. He is self-sufficent and the one who puts demands on us, not the other way around.

    The way some liberal american reverts try to argue against Allah and his messenger is truly horrible.

    If you don’t want to be a Muslim then don’t be but if you choose to be one then you are obligated to believe that Allah and his messenger were right, not your culture.

    These days, liberals even get offended by the fact that homosexual “marriages” and sexual acts are completely haram. If you say something they start saying things like “this is why people hate Muslims”, “this is why people see Islam as backward” and bla bla bla.

    They don’t realize that they are turning liberal propaganda into their religion and that they worship people beside Allah.

    It is like they are saying “yes i will believe in Islam but only in the parts that suit my desires”. That is what some from bani isra’eel did and Allah condemned them for it in the Quran.

    Submit to Allah, not to people and not to desires.

  • Such a great article I have been looking to get a real understanding using the schools of law (hanafi,maliki,hanbali ,shafi) view points on this with its current justifications and nuances cleared up. although living in the UK the popular view of dogs from predominantly Asian sunni (hanafi) Muslims they are terrified of them (due to culturilism). But I like to take things using evidences and logic but more so evidence. thank you John also your credentials of studies place more trust and emphasis to what has been relayed. I will share this article with number of friends though I don’t comment hardly.

Leave a Comment