The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

19Aug/119

Islam: A Religion Against Dogs?

I love learning about various religions.  One of those I'm least familiar with is Islam, a religion which offers the lives of ~1.4 billion people meaning, ritual, joy, structure, and answers to their ultimate existential questions.  Despite owning a Qur'an I've always been discouraged from reading into it for two specific reasons.  The first reason is that the copy I have (at least) seems to begin with a bit of a grave warning, saying that if you read the Qur'an and choose not to accept and follow it, you're screwed (I forget if this meant death, misery, something akin to hell, or what).  Being of somewhat good conscience it didn't seem right for me to continue reading the Qur'an if I couldn't agree to its terms.  It felt a bit like a software EULA I was being asked to accept, when I knew there was a clause in it I had no intention of agreeing to.  I had to hit the decline button.  My learning about Islam has thus been somewhat indirect, in the form of summary and analysis by others who supposedly have read it.  Out of that comes the second reason I've not delved into much related to Islam.  I love dogs, and Islam is the only religion I've ever heard of that has teachings against dogs.  I found a site which list many of the specific hadiths prohibiting dogs and outlining how dogs annul prayers, decrease your heavenly reward, and prevent angels from visiting; and how all dogs except working dogs should be killed.  The site is certainly biased, written by a Christian trying to convert people from the Islamic faith, but it still presents citations of the relevant portions of the hadiths as well as variations in the teachings as they are interpreted by various Muslim scholars.  I tried to find a less biased source (hoping to find a site run by a Muslim) with a similar list, but found none as comprehensive in my searches.  I do understand that there are many faithful Muslims who own and love dogs, but they seem to be very much in the minority, and I'm somewhat unclear on how (given the very specific nature of the passages in the Qur'an) anyone could believe in the Qur'an and simultaneously own and love dogs; I'm somewhat of a literalist, if I'm going to bother believing a particular work has divine authorship I would struggle to literally believe some portions while figuratively disbelieving other portions.  Dogs have been good friends to the human race, arguably giving us the edge in our war of displacement with the Neanderthals, so I hope the Islamic faith does not continue to discount the value of our furrier friends.

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  1. Hi, I am a young muslim that stumbled upon this post after reading your helpful guide to the Nook Color OS.

    The intro to your copy of the Quran is frustrating. I urge you to ignore that intro and read the Quran for yourself. Let the words speak for themselves, and you be the judge. No one can force you to believe anything, and you certainly shouldn’t let anyone prevent you from seeking knowledge.

    As far as dogs and Islam are concerned, there actually isn’t anything in the Quran about them, but I would like to point out a famous hadith:

    Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A man saw a dog eating mud from (the severity of)
    thirst. So, that man took a shoe (and filled it) with water and kept on pouring the water
    for the dog till it quenched its thirst. So Allah approved of his deed and made him to
    enter Paradise.” Bukhari, 4-174

    If he was supposed to kill it, wouldn’t he have just let it die of thirst? And if keeping a dog decreases your reward, why was he granted entry into heaven for helping one?

    There are many extreme or hard leaning hadiths and opinions floating out there on the
    internet, but almost always there are moderate hadiths and opinions to counteract those. All are open to interpretation. The differences of opinions are meant to give us some leeway in choosing our own path through life.

    I hope I have provided you with a useful perspective 🙂

  2. The Afgan hound is a muslim dog, right? =/

  3. Mohammad –

    Thanks for your thoughtful and knowledgable response. I truly appreciate it. Is there a book/section in the Qur’an that you particularly like and might recommend? Perhaps it would be easier for me to find beauty in it by following where another’s finger points. It is unlikely I will become a believer, but I would like to catch a glimpse of the beauty that others such as yourself see in it.

    As for the dog issue, thank you for introducing me to the difference between the hadiths and the Qur’an. I had misunderstood (the terminology is new to me) and thought the hadiths were lessons found within the Qur’an, not lessons separate from and written after the Qur’an. I have been Googling around a bit, but am admittedly still a little confused about the topic, about just what role the hadiths play. Is someone a Muslim if they believe the Qur’an but don’t necessarily accept as true any of the specifics in the traditional hadiths? I am sure there are various interpretations of Islam in the same way as with Christianity, I suppose I mean would the majority of Muslims believe you were a Muslim if you only accepted the Qur’an as true and not necessarily any hadiths.

    What do you feel towards dogs?

    Quinxy

  4. Francine, from what I’ve understood, the prohibitions on dogs relate only to non-working dogs. Shepherds, hunting dogs, etc. (who actually do work, not merely have that lineage) are specifically allowed.

  5. Quinxy,

    I would recommend chapter 1, Surat Al-Fatiha, and chapter 31, Surat Luqman. Al-Fatiha can be viewed as a summary of the Quran, and holds an important role in our 5 daily prayers. Luqman is another surah that I personally find exemplary of the overall message of the Quran. In order to fully appreciate the poetic language used in the Quran, I recommend that you read the translation while listening to the arabic recitation of the verses. http://www.quranexplorer.com is a great site where you can find recitations of the entire Quran that you can listen to in your browser.

    The hadiths are collections of sayings that are attributed to the Holy Prophet. A couple of hundred years after the Prophet’s death, there were many such sayings going around in the muslim world and several scholars attempted to compile the most authentic of them into volumes. Every hadith has a “rating” which says how strong or weak its chain of narration is. Because these sayings were compiled and recorded by fallible men and women, they are not held as high in our faith as the verses in the Quran. There are some muslims who refuse to accept anything other than the Quran, however, it may be impossible to find a ruling for every concievable social or legal problem using only the Quran. This is why the majority of muslims accept at the very least some subset of strong hadiths. I hope this clears up some of your confusion.

    My wife was born and raised in India and her family has always kept a dog. If you ask them why they have it they’ll say its a watchdog, but in reality it does hardly any “watching” and they treat it just as any family would treat their housepet here in the US. My wife adores dogs, so we may end up getting one in the future, haha.

  6. Quincy and Mohammad,
    I just read both your post and found them to be very helpful. I have been watching the new show on tv All-Amercan Muslim and they were talking about not having dogs. I AM a big dog lover have had one or more all my life. I know that it may be in some religions that certain religions could have a preference not to have them such as black cats to Christians. It was said in the past that only witches had black cats. Hopefully it isn’t that way but it is to be understood if it is. Thank you for your words and the lessons you have taught here. BB

  7. Quinxy, I am a Moslem and from Indonesia. Even though I am a Moslem, I always wonder how dogs are seemed to be unclean, etc. After I read some articles, I found out that the reasons why Moslems seem to have misperception towards dogs are the hadith, and for some people, they don’t even (or never mention) about this from Qur’an, so all they do is citing from hadith. And hadith is used to denote a saying or an act ascribed neither validly or invalidly to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). so there are valid and apocryphal ones, and as the hadith that you read about dogs, some of them are contradictory with the Noble Qur’an.

    Dogs are mentioned several times in Qur’an (5:4, 7:176, 18:18, 18:22), and nowhere does God call the dogs dirty animals or give any indication that they should be avoided or treated the way many Muslims think they should. there are some chapters in Qur’an in which God says the dog as human’s companion and there is no any verse nor chapter nor part in Qur’an that encourage people to hate, mistreat, or even kill the dogs :). one of this story was told in People in the Cave and the Dog in Chapter 18 (Al-Kahf/ the Cave) verse 18 and 22 🙂

    And we know that Muhammad (pbuh) with his gentle attitude wouldnt have such a ruthless and thought to command people to neglect, abuse, or kill the dogs. But yes, he was positive to allow the elimination of rabid dogs during Rabies plague back then in Medina.

    Hope you can understand Islam even better :), thank you and warm regards from Indonesia (BTW, im a biggest fan of German Shepherds :))

  8. Thanks Nurria, I greatly appreciate your sharing your perspective. Each religion seems to add so many layers of misunderstanding (as well as understanding) on top of their core holy texts it can be hard to know just what any religion really includes or excludes. I am grateful that you and the other commentor Mohammad pointed out the anti-dog ideas were part of hadiths and not the Qur’an.

    Quinxy

  9. Quinxy,

    That’s true that some people start to call them as the ‘right’est one without even looking up at the core, in this Moslem’s case is the Qur’an. Me, personally will really apreciate the hadith, as long as it is in the same way and direction like in Holy Qur’an. But, for me, it seems nothing to me at the point where the hadith is contradictory with Qur’an. Since some of the hadiths are weak, and if we elaborate the anti-dogs hadith and Qur’an, its very clear to us that its contradictory, and I’ll absolutely go with the Qur’an. Because it doesnt make any sense that Holy Prophet will have such an act or saying that’s contradictory with the Words of God 🙂

    one thing for sure that I do truly believe is that the Holy Qur’an will stay unchanged till the end of the time, :), there will be no any addition nor reduction 🙂

    Nurria 🙂


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