A Man’s Best Friend: Are the Feelings Mutual in the Middle East?


A man’s best friend is loyal, always by his side, never tells his secrets, and of course, gives him a big wet kiss when he is “down in the dumps.” This best friend is a dog, known to be one of the most loving creatures on planet Earth- at least in my opinion! Studies have shown that 47% of American households are proud owners of at least one pup, and 20% own a second furry companion! The percentages for households that are dog owners in the Middle East are nothing compared to ours for one big reason: it conflicts with their religion.

The Qur’an: no dogs allowed.

no dogs allowed

            The Prophet Mohammed believed, “If a dog licks the vessel of any one of you, let him throw away whatever was in it and wash it seven times.” This belief has caused widespread interpretations of how one should view a dog in Islam. An Islamic legal term “Najis,” meaning “unpure,” is what many Muslims mainly use to describe their feelings towards these tail-wagging bundles of love. A dog’s saliva is seen as ritually impure, along with their fur believed to be unclean, making it hard for Muslims to coexist with them in a household. Also, many Muslim’s find it necessary to wash their hands immediately after coming in contact with dogs, since they view them as dirty creatures.

A Movement: Muslims connecting with dogs on a more emotional level.

            Although tradition is nice, sometimes it’s not necessary and can be forgotten, which is exactly what countless Muslims have done today, since they’ve adopted a dog to be a part of their family and everyday lives. Those Muslims who find it to be no problem owning these furry little guys refer to a passage in the Holy Qur’an, about a group of young believers who resisted the pressure to worship others besides God, and were protected by a canine companion while taking refuge in a cage. This passage brings out beliefs that dogs are great sources of protection. It has been also mentioned in the Qur’an that dogs are a great source to aid in hunting, and the any prey caught by dogs may be eaten without any other need of purification-which contradicts the idea that a dogs saliva is impure.

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Pictured: A Muslim family poses with their two dogs.

http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/news/id_8249/The-doggie-debate:-Muslim-dog-owners-debunk-stigmas.html

One is entitled to their own opinion.

            Whether dogs in the home are allowed or not, Muslims have their own views on what is clean or unclean, regarding dogs. In one story I read about, after a Muslim family adopted a saluki mutt, they introduced their friends and family to their new addition. Although some visitors did not care whether or not a dog was inside the home, others carried strong opinions, saying the family’s home was “contaminated” and that angels would not enter their home because a dog resided there.

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A photo of me, smitten with the most adorable puppy in the world.

            No matter our religious views, how could anyone resist the loving face of a pup? I know I have a weakness for dogs, and am aware most people agree that they believe dogs are gentle, loving creatures that are great additions to a family. Dogs may get dirty from time-to-time and eat questionable things, but that is expected of these four-legged friends. After all, we aren’t the cleanest creatures ourselves!

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Lastly, a photo of my dog Violet, whom I have grown to love despite how wild she is!

References:

            Hijazi, S. (2014, February 7). The Arab American News – The doggie debate: Muslim dog owners debunk stigmas. The doggie debate: Muslim dog owners debunk stigmas. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/news/id_8249/The-doggie-debate:-Muslim-dog-owners-debunk-stigmas.html

            Holly, W. (2011, October 12). Arabic Zeal. Our Desert Dog. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from http://arabiczeal.com/tag/dogs-in-the-middle-east/

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6 thoughts on “A Man’s Best Friend: Are the Feelings Mutual in the Middle East?

  1. There are four schools of law in Sunni Islam…3 of them teach that dogs are “ritually impure” (najis) and if you touch them, you should wash before you can pray…
    But in the MALIKI school, dogs are considered clean…so anyone who is really a dog-lover must consider following the Maliki school. 🙂

  2. Thumbs up for showing us in your post the two sides of muslims.
    Ive got lots of muslim friends owning a dog and two sometimes, and personally spending time with my two little best friends is always the best part of my day..

  3. I can’t imagine life without my dog, Luna! I did not have a dog growing up and lived in a neighborhood where there weren’t very many, so I have some reference for what it is like to live without the companionship of a dog. It’s obviously doable, but very hard to revert back to once you have experienced a dog in your life. I honestly do not know if this religious belief translates similarly in other religions, but I do know that cultural norms have taken precedence for most Western cultures and that’s why a “traditional American family” was always depicted with a pet dog. Pet dogs have such a cultural impact besides being adorable!

  4. Terrific blog! I’ve never thought about whether or not dogs are valued as highly as they are here in the U.S. in other cultures. That’s unfortunate that the general impression is that dogs are impure but in defense of the Prophet Mohammed, dogs in other countries are sometimes only known as being strays. In Ecuador the streets were littered with stray dogs that ate trash to survive so you naturally started to think of them as bottom dwellers. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs but after seeing how dogs exist in another culture I understand where someone would be coming from that viewed them as “impure” animals.

  5. This was so interesting! Dogs as pets are such a huge part of American culture, so it’s hard for me to imagine them as being against a religious code. I never knew that some Muslims saw dogs as impure, and I’d be interested in learning about what they think of other pets. I hope that the impression of dogs as impure doesn’t lead to abuse and mistreatment of them. Obviously dogs can be pretty dirty (in the literal sense) at times, but I’ve always personally loved the companionship they provide!

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