Input by Ustazah Nuurunnuur
It is important for Muslims to realise that Allah s.w.t. has entrusted us with the earth and all of its resources. This means that the earth is not just an unconditional gift, but also a responsibility.
The Prophet s.a.w. also emphasised on the importance of safeguarding and respecting the rights of all animals.
However, during a dog-touching event in a neighboring country not long ago, debates sprung up within our local community. Some said that dogs were the enemies of Islam. Others said that the touching of dogs was considered haram.
Alternatively, some also said that there was no wrong in caring for dogs just as we would for any other animal.
So what does Islam say about dogs, actually?
“And you would think them awake, while they were asleep. And We turned them to the right and to the left, while their dog stretched his forelegs at the entrance.”
It is important to note that the dog in this story is a symbol of loyalty and honour.
“They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, "Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah." Indeed, Allah is swift in account.”
Imagine that - Allah made it permissible for Muslims to eat foods that have been caught by hunting dogs. As in actually put something that has been in the mouth of a dog into our own mouths.
As for accounts in the hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. encouraged his followers to take good care of animals, and there are many hadiths which highlight the tremendous rewards from Allah s.w.t. for those who are good to animals and treat them with rahmah.
He went down the well to get water to quench his thirst. After he was done, he climbed back up when he saw a dog panting with thirst. He then said to himself:
‘This dog is as thirsty as I was.’ So he went down into the well again, filled his shoe with water, and climbed back up, holding it between his teeth. He gave it to the dog to drink, and for that, The Prophet s.a.w. said he was forgiven of his sins.
The Prophet s.a.w. was then asked by his companions:
“O Prophet, do we get a reward for being good to animals?”
The Prophet answered:
“Any good done to a living creature gets a reward.”
“A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.”
On the other hand, Muslims are discouraged from keeping dogs inside the house for reasons of hygiene. The saliva of dogs is considered a type of najis that would render a person ritually unclean, like other substances such as blood or waste.
That said there are ways to keep clean.
The Prophet s.a.w. said:
“The cleansing of the utensil belonging to one of you, after it has been licked by a dog, is to wash it seven times, and using soil for cleaning at the first time."
To conclude, from the verses in the Quran and narrations in the hadith, we can see that dogs are definitely not considered enemies of Islam, and that Muslims should care for them as other animals. We certainly should not abuse dogs or any other animals that have been entrusted to us on this earth.
Muslims can also certainly touch dogs. Just make sure that you clean up afterwards, as you should too after touching any other animal. So don’t give up on that dream of becoming a vet!