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‘Dogs are not impure,’ says prominent Islamic scholar

‘Dogs are not impure,’ says prominent Islamic scholar
Meet Teddy Bear. Credit: Egyptian Streets
Meet Teddy Bear. Credit: Egyptian Streets

Traditionally, dogs have been seen as unclean and impure, with Islamic thinkers warning Muslims to avoid contact with the loyal animals.

Despite the Prophet Muhammad’s kindness to animals, including notable stories of the Prophet caring for puppies, it has often been considered that dogs are unclean and are incompatible with those that practice Islam.

Yet, a new fatwa by Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa challenges this traditional view, stating that there is a misconception about dogs being impure and ritually unclean (najis).

Sheikh Gomaa, who was Grand Mufti for a decade of the Sunni Islamic world’s top Islamic authority, is one of the most respected Islamic scholars and clerics in the world.

During his television show which discusses Islam’s teachings, the Sheikh stated that there is nothing wrong with keeping a dog inside your house as a dog is not impure.

According to Sheikh Gomaa, Islamic jurisprudence, which he says is based off Islam’s adopted teachings of Imam Malik ibn Anas, dictates that dogs come from a group of immaculate and clean animals that worship and are not impure or unclean.

dogs
Pure happiness: street children feed stray dogs in Egypt. Credit: Amira Abdou

In regards to the popular conception that ‘angels do not enter houses which contain dogs,’ the former Grand Mufti stated that this is not true, but that dogs should not enter your prayer space.

Yet, Sheikh Gomaa went even further in his defence of dogs, stating that their loyalty allows them to be beneficial for protection, hunting and detection of explosives and drugs. The Sheikh added that guide dogs are extremely beneficial for those that are blind.

It is unclear whether the Sheikh’s fatwa will be quickly adopted across the Islamic world. In the past, there have been multiple Islamic scholars that have spoken out against the idea that dogs are impure or unclean.

Sheikh Mahmud Shaltut, a former Grand Imam of Al-Azhar who was in office between 1958-1963, had issued a similar fatwa declaring that dogs are not ritually unclean. Former Grand Mufti Sheikh Nasr Farid Wasil also issued the same declaration in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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  • Ravi Kumar Nadarajan (India)

    good man (Maria Cirillo)!! 100% vote for your thoughts..brother

    All things, under the sun God created for himself. No, human has the right to question God’s creation. If dog’s saliva is impure, then what about human saliva? In the form of greed (others property & women), wickedness (others property & women), blood thirsty (others property & women), etc… You don’t need a better answer than this one, at least I can show proof to what the scripture says – Jeremiah 27:5
    “With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.”

  • Basem Krichati

    Ibn Umar – God bless them – said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him says: (Whoever keeps a dog – except a dog for hunting or cattle – it detract from his reward every day two qiraats), Salim said: “The Abu Huraira says: or a dog for farming, and the owner was plowing.

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  • Christine Auf der Maur

    Dogs are actually cleaner than humans. Their saliva contains less microbes than ours, they don’t sweat except on the tongue and under the paws. If you let them lick a light flesh wound on your body it so contributes to the healing process. This is scientificallY proved. Moslems who regard dogs as unclean have have clearly a mental problem, can’t think for themselves.

  • RASHID V

    The dog becomes impure because you don’t know how to care for your pet. Just as you are impure coz you don’t clean yourself.

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  • disqusting

    I’m typing this with my little northern breed puppy, wolf-looking, beautiful soul, loves me and my family uncondinionally. At my feet, inside my house, condemn me or whatever, I only tremble for Allah and know for a fact that if he wouldn’t want dogs inside, he’d mention it in his Book.

    Also Angels made of light won’t shy from a dog, you know what you are implying with this right? TBH I think these are misinterpreted translations and have gone from generation to generation, so I guess something went wrong there because we don’t have scriptures dating back a thousand years, and if we do PLS SHARE I’d love to read them…

    People abuse these beautiful creations of God because of these misinterpreted hadeeths, is this what God would of wanted? Is this what anyone would of wanted? If so, I want to know why, because it pains me in the heart to see stories on the news of people abusing their dogs. You know, for a dog you’re around its whole life!
    And I’ve seen depressed and unmotivated people’s life getting changed when they got a puppy. Trust me, there’s much good in a dog besides herding and hunting, their companionship changes people for the Good! And that’s science!

    Peace and blessings to you all

  • Humans are more unclean than dogs.Dogs won’t steal from you, mug you, go inside a school and shoot innocent children, torture someone just because they are women, kill or betray your own siblings for greed and do anything for money like most of the politicians. They are innocent animals and it is clearly written in the Quran that Allah will rewards you if you are kind to animals because they can’t speak and express there feelings.It same like taking care of babies and older people.I think humans are becoming disgusting day by day.Animals are far more better than us.

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  • Maria Cirillo

    It`s funny how people here concentrate about how dogs are dirty and how you can get diseases from them or their saliva, instead of concentrating on the tons of trash in the streets! Those give more diseases than dogs!!! So before you talk about how a dog should be clean, look at yourself and at the place you live in first!

    • rosaline

      I m so sad to tell u that dog are not allow to most of the park in my country,Malaysia. When I looked at those rubbish thrown anywhere in park I m asking myself why local council allow these uncivilised ppl doing uncivilosed action but not dog? That is miserable living in this country whereby dogs r not treated one of the living creature in the world. SAD!

      • Yasin Onur

        We have dogs everywhere in Turkey also cats. Streets are full of them. Yeah sometimes they are scary but our Government always look after them, do vaccinations, desexualize than put them back on streets. We are very into our animals. Abu Huraira was Father of Cats not dogs he told the hadith about dogs. I believe if Prophet was living today he would give credit to every animal owner because they look after feed, them.

        • nuur12345

          Egypt is like this too. The people living in the streets where ‘their’ dogs guard (bark when strangers come along) take care of them; and also of the many cats. Officially, they do not belong to anyone but as concerned effort they are being taken care of. Nobody calls animal control to cage these animals and ‘dispose’ of them – new litters are also cared for. Maybe some are neutered, i am not sure about that, as i only lived there for a limited time.

  • JamesKalima
  • Maybe people should listen to what the Shaykh says himself, instead of this website, which has misreported: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cPqdlb4d0Y#t=47m00s

    And http://j.mp/1hRTEZW

  • Teri

    That this topic would even have to be debated in the 21st century sheds an unfavorable light on certain sects of Islam..

  • amy

    Please dont believe an egyptian.. these people legalised prostitution in war zones and called it jihad.. they were about to legalise a law that allowed men to have sex with their dead wives for upto 7 hours after her death calling it the goodbye sex.. they are sick!

    • S

      “An Egyptian”???? Do you want to elaborate what you mean by that? Why would you bring culture into this?

    • Tamer B.

      Amy
      Do you know that the past 800 years or more Egyptians taught and spread both the arabic language and Islamic studies to the modern world? Do you know that Al-Azhar School ( 10th century) is the oldest teaching institute in the world, which taught Islamic studies for people of all age groups?!
      Do you know that the people you mentioned followed the Wahhabi and Salafi sect and that this sect is not of Egyptian origin but a Saudi Arabian?
      Are you prejudice against all Egyptians?

    • Yasin Onur

      First egyptians divide Islam and caused Prophets Cousin Ali to die. Before that Aise R.A. and Ali R.A fight because of Egyptian Conspiracy. After Caliph Osman is killed. First Seperatists in Ottoman Empire was Egyptian Ruler. Muaviye was also Egyptian Ruler. Egypt nearly Always worst rulers including Pharaohs. But well Prophet never generalized people. People of Egypt is nice. Military couptas are not.

      • nuur12345

        Your glasses seem to be very Turkish when looking at Egypt. I am not Egyptian but i really like their culture. What i know is that the ‘separatist’ you are mentioning was originally a reformer who could have brought the empire economically and militarily up to level with its enemies. However, because of an hardheaded Ottoman sultan interested in his power more than in progress, an Egyptian ruler became just as hardheaded and clingy to power as the sultan and all the Muslims lost as a result of their dispute. We should get better at this thing and not keep repeating history. Hope we can break the cycles and find ourselves united.

  • Amira

    I totally agree with the respectable Mufti Ali Gomaa. Dogs are superior creatures that God created. They are loyal, smart and can give their humans so much care and love, that may even heal that human’s illnesses.
    In the Qoran, “suret Al Kahf” , the people in Kahf (cave) that spent 100 years in there away from the aethists of their town, had their dog with them God counted the dog as one of the group…how would the dog be impure, or bad or anything negative? The dog is actually one of the group, in the count. So they are five and their sixth is their dog, or they are six and their seventh is their dog!
    The dog is hence acceptable to be in the house just as a companion. Nothing was said about it being in the cave with these men for protection or work or anything. Just companionship.
    God bless our mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa.

    • Innominate

      “superior creatures”
      No. Just no.
      Everything else was perfectly logical but that and how you keep declaring what a great person Ali Gomaa is…is enough to make my blood pressure skyrocket until blood gushes out of my head and I die of non-progressive hemorrhage.

    • Rizz Samad

      300 years! 🙂

  • Sam

    When I see The continuous stupidity and retardedness of some people and their Self made conceptions and the most ridiculous assumptions about orher cultures. I just realise again and again how grateful I am to not live in this sick country anymore.
    For sure I can look in the mirror and know I did all I could to contribute to this society, just sad to conclude that it’s a lost case.

  • asta booij

    My biggest respect for this man!

  • amro

    There is nothing wrong with keeping a dog in your yard for protection but the main thing is that you shouldnt touch dogs because you will have to wash your hands with sand and water every time . Regardong the man who entered heaven because he saved a dog is true but that man didnt keep the dog at his house or maybe even touched it. This article provided me with nothing new since most of muslims know you can keep dogs for hunting and loyality but you shouldnt touch them thats all.

    • Umar

      Lol..my friend for protection and loyalty you’ll need to show affection to the dog,inevitably have to touch it. Why don’t you touch and wash after…its a basic rule after getting your hands dirty

    • j paul

      you can keep the dog for hunting..that’s agreed, right??? when the dog is hunting doesn’t the saliva of the dog touch the flesh of the animal which is being hunted? you can’t touch a dog but you can eat the meat which is contaminated with dog’s saliva???

  • Mimi

    Almost everybody who wrote comment here had a point. Dogs saliva is unclean however the animal is not unclean. Despite, Islam teaches to be kind and merciful to ALL CREATURES, ALL ANIMALS. When you are a good person, you will recognize how beautiful soul animals have including dogs. Dogs are loyal, loving, intelligent and good companions. Someone with a heart will recognize it. Many Muslims do not practice and don’t understand their religion. Whatever knowledge passed on them from their ancestors, will take even if it’s wrong. I heard of cases when dogs were abused only because ignorant Muslims considered them dirty. Cruelty is unacceptable in Islam and there are many stories narrated in Hadith of Prophet (sws) warning against mistreatment of animals and encouraging a mercy and a god treatment. Example: prostitute entered paradise because she gave water to a thirsty dog and a believing woman entered a hell because she tied up a cat in her house and neither gave her food nor released her to find its own provision. In the Quran there is a verse which says: if you save a life, it is as if you saved the whole nation. Do not pick up some verse of Quran or a narration and act solely upon it. Tried to learn your religion as a whole and understand it in its entirety. Yes, there is a narration that says that keeping a dog inside your house will take 1 reward from you but keeping a dog in scorching heat without a shelter where he struggles – do you think honestly you are following Islam?!!!!

    • michelle

      Mimi..I converted because of intelligent like yrself… it’s a shame of all the “muslims” that translate and take parts of paragraphs from the qaran…to make Islam sound bad, hard and to suit themselves… ignorant people that give Islam a bad name… I have been living in the middle east for 18 years and have met many. Angels are everywhere.. they won’t leave just cause of a dog… I have had dogs living in my house since I was born.. even sharing food when I was young… humduallah… I’m a fit healthy 40 yld who gets sick maybe once every 2 years!!! Haha I even had a pet pig living in my house growing up.. they are cleaner and more intelligent than dogs… lol… I can sense the comments about to come my way:) fire ahead…

      • Nashma Carrera Massari

        Love your comment Michelle!!! 🙂 Same here…

    • moumou

      Just out of curiority… does “all creatures, all animals” also include pigs?

      • disqusting

        Let me answer your curiosity with a YES. We should not eat pig meat, trade in pigs or share living space with pigs, but if a pig is clearly struggling and you can help it, go ahead, you’re human for a reason.

        Why we can’t eat it goes further then “it’s haram or inpure”, it’s because diffrent reasons. Imagine a man eating cat meat, dog meat or wolf meat, same goes for a pig. It’s not because it has big chumps of meat hanging on it, that we should eat them…
        But why can’t we eat it?
        Allah knows best we can but interpret the word of God, the Quran in our own human ways.

      • Yasin Onur

        Pigs and Monkeys are mentioned as Devolution of Humans in Qur’an. Their gene system are so close. Allah says some of these animals were cursed real people which was humans. The same reason we don’t eat human meat , is the reason we don’t eat pigs. They are close in gene also they can transmit diseases easily.

        • Yasin Onur

          Scientist can grow human organs, ears etc on Pigs today.

        • stjohnofthevatican

          I have a dog, i dont let him enter my house. He has a place of his own in our property. As long as we dont eat them, pigs, monkeys and dogs i believe we are good. My daughter loves Peppa pig!

    • Yasin Onur

      Dog Saliva is hygenic, it is proven by scientists.

      • stjohnofthevatican

        i agree, as long as they get their shots every now and then.

  • Al Hashimi

    What sticks in my mind always since I was a child was a Hadith (Prophet’s saying PBUH) that says that a man entered heaven because of a dog… It goes on to say that this man was walking in the desert and saw a dog that was dying because it was thirsty, so he shared the little water that he had with that dog, and saved its life, and so God sent him to heaven… That is what this religion is all about… peace and love not just with one another but with all the creates on earth too… I am not sure why our culture has become so against animals, but I can tell you for sure its not in the teachings of Islam or Prophet Mohammed PBUH…

    • Nashma Carrera Massari

      Amen! I think it was a prostitute who gave water to the dog and saved her life…beautiful verse indeed! :0

  • Bassel Saleh

    Typical Egyptians, you see an article that gives a point of view and then you start fighting each other, this is why we will always stay a third World country because your attitudes and ignorance! learn to listen and accept others points of view even if it is different than yours! beautiful article and total respect!

  • Sam

    Once again it proofs that Egyptian culture actually is the real problem…
    My Egyptian dog has been raped and abused by Egyptian kids, luckily she lives with me, away from those retards for more then seven years!

    • reem

      dear sam,
      the only retard i see here is you
      plz grow a brain beofre you open your mouth. i have a dog and i love her to death and so do many many egyptians. unlike americans and the west in general, we dont rape dogs, sheep, goats….etc but yea keep telling yourselves you do so you dont feel so bad about yourselves doing it

      didnt your mama teach you not to believe everything you read\hear ?
      grow up plz

      • Karina

        Americans don’t rape dogs.

      • Sam

        Taking about stupid: I saved her from these frustrated boys and had tonpay quite some vet bills to have her survive.
        These little boys ain’t going to graven, but to hell.
        Just what Egypt has turned out to be!

      • Nashma Carrera Massari

        Please don’t generalize all Americans in this statement. Americans are Canadians, US Americans, Central/Caribbean and South Americans. Please have more respect! Not all Westerners are bad people!

    • reem

      and try to show some respect.

  • Faz

    dear samirah, im a dog lover, but let me tell u a few points why islam( the petfected religion ) is a lil against keeping dogs inside the house; dogs shed a lot of hair, enhancing asthma and uncleanliness. Dogs smell, lick shit and come lick us. Dogs roll around in shit on the roads if they find one. Also worse, dogs and pigs are the only few animals that can smell a woman menstruating and try to hump her. So for such reasons, islam may not explain all the reasons, it expects u to understand for urself as to the reason why it says so. Be smart, read smart, understand the quran well. It’s a well written book.

    • Sam

      Unies you take proper care of the animal!
      Civilisation is not easy…

    • Ash

      Mufti gone haywire. What pollution does to your head!

    • Karina

      Also, people shed their hair and skin daily, most kids and some adults don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, they have a strong sense of smell but don’t hump women, it is proven that men think about sex and want to hump all day, dogs generally don’t roll around in poop in the road, if they do then give them a shower like you do to your children who play in the dirt, dogs are living beings and get dirty just like you do, simple clean them it’s not difficult, 90% of allergies and asthma are brought about by pollens and dust in the air.

      As custodians of the Earth it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love, and compassion.
      I wish to make people realize how totally helpless and dependent animals are on us, trusting that we will be kind and take care of their needs, animals are our responsibility, a responsibility that we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty and ignorance.

      The birds and animals cannot speak, but they can surely suffer, and our God who created them, sees their sufferings, and will hold him who causes them to suffer unnecessarily.. to answer for it. It is a sin against our Creator.

      I believe this would be Mohammed’s point of view…

      • michelle

        Well said karma

        • michelle

          I mean karina.. auto spell check 😉

    • hamza

      However dogs are very trainable and know when certain things are unacceptable, including humping their masters and going to certain places in the house. In comparison to cats, dogs are easier to control and track. Speaking of which, cats also lick their genitals and the rest of their bodies and lick us so should they be considered unclean. All animals roll around and introduce themselves to territories they haven’t touched before.

    • i have read the quran many times and never once its said that dogs are haram, so if possible pin point it that way i can do more research.

    • Suzanna Austin

      HAha! your a dog lover? Are you sure about that ..?

  • Faz

    Dear ZZ, please do not term anyone ‘small mind’. Be it hindu/ muslim/christian or atheist. All are children of God first. Secondly, u r confusing hindu culture with religion. First of all hindu religion does not condemn women to cook n stay at home. Its just a lifestyle that ppl in india adopt. The hindu religion does not preach such a thing. Similarly,its not just Hindus, also muslim women are forced to cover themselves up, avoid going outside, be at home etc be it in india, pakistan, Afghanistan or even arabia. Muslim women are ofcourse given a lot of value in the quran, but our ppl hardly follow it. So lets not term which religion is small or big minded, all are the same. To be honest i believe there r more stay at home muslim women than any other religion, unfortunately. I hope u keep an un judgemental heart from now as u urself preached. So pointing fingers when we are all the same. – a fellow muslim.

  • Yasser Elshami

    I agree with every with this article says.
    Unfortunately, a lot of misconception is blindly adopted by many Muslims in Egypt.
    Although dogs are honored in the holy Quran …. I hope Muslims some day follow the first heavenly order on profit Muhammad to “read” and use there heads and Think! Before they believe or decide on something.

  • samirah amantullah

    In general Muslims suffer from doggaphobia. I don’t even deal with Muslims anymore because their ways and thinking are totally antiquated and make no sense to me. Can’t be bothered by their small minds. Love me, love my dog, or get away from me.

    • dave

      talk about phobia, samirah.

    • ZZ

      Sorry , Muslims do not have small minds. If generally we do not like dogs , it’s totally our choice. We can like or dislike anything . Hindus has small minds, for example :
      in Hindu religion women are to cook and stay at home. But in Islam the position of women is very high. The responsibility of a woman is to raise generation . If she doesn’t wish to cook and do house work etc, she is not responsible. Before being judge mental for muslims see yourself. I have pages to say on this . But with small minds I better end this here. Kindly keep your small minded comments with you!

      • Sam

        They do, actually we call that narrow mindedness.
        Read that quran properly, or learn to read it!

      • marcusosborne

        I think it is a bit harsh to say “muslims have small minds” but we tend to generalise when talking about others and I’ve heard muslims say ‘all other religions are irrelevant.” But I think it is fair to say that Islam is not making the innovative and scientific and intellectual contributions it once did – think the compass, algebra, understanding disease and its spread – and whilst it was once at the forefront of the development of civilisation, Islam struggles to find a place in the modern world. This is taken from the New Atlantis and is telling:

        Today, however, the spirit of science in the Muslim world is as dry
        as the desert. Pakistani physicist Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy laid out the
        grim statistics in a 2007 Physics Today article:

        Muslim countries have nine scientists, engineers, and technicians per
        thousand people, compared with a world average of forty-one. In these
        nations, there are approximately 1,800 universities, but only 312 of
        those universities have scholars who have published journal articles. Of
        the fifty most-published of these universities, twenty-six are in
        Turkey, nine are in Iran, three each are in Malaysia and Egypt, Pakistan
        has two, and Uganda, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Azerbaijan each have one.

        There are roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, but only two scientists
        from Muslim countries have won Nobel Prizes in science (one for physics
        in 1979, the other for chemistry in 1999). Forty-six Muslim countries
        combined contribute just 1 percent of the world’s scientific literature;
        Spain and India each contribute more of the world’s scientific
        literature than those countries taken together. In fact, although Spain
        is hardly an intellectual superpower, it translates more books
        in a single year than the entire Arab world has in the past thousand
        years. “Though there are talented scientists of Muslim origin working
        productively in the West,” Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg has observed, “for forty years I have not seen a single paper by a physicist or
        astronomer working in a Muslim country that was worth reading.”
        Comparative metrics on the Arab world tell the same story. Arabs
        comprise 5 percent of the world’s population, but publish just 1.1
        percent of its books, according to the U.N.’s 2003 Arab Human Development Report.

        Between 1980 and 2000, Korea granted 16,328 patents, while nine Arab
        countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., granted a
        combined total of only 370, many of them registered by foreigners. A study in 1989 found that in one year, the United States published 10,481 scientific papers that were frequently cited, while the entire Arab world published only four.

        This may sound like the punch line of a bad joke, but when Nature magazine published a sketch of science in the Arab world in 2002,
        its reporter identified just three scientific areas in which Islamic
        countries excel: desalination, falconry, and camel reproduction.

        • Yasin Onur

          We take new Nobel Prize this year from Turkey.

        • stjohnofthevatican

          As a Muslim, i understand why the contribution of Muslims this century and earlier is quite low. This is because of some Muslim leaders who focused more on the practice more than a conservative way. Muslims in the early times have contributed greatly in the field of astronomy, math, medicine etc.

    • Des

      very well said samirah 🙂 …

    • Nashma Carrera Massari

      Well said Samirah! Unfortunately, many Muslims haven’t been educated on how to treat animals so is not their fault. They’ve never been taught to live or take care of a dog like we have…we have been lucky that’s all! :0

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