Is keeping dogs allowed in Islam or not?

Dubai - According to Islam, a dog may be kept out side the house for useful purposes like guarding, hunting, leading a blind person, sniffing narcotics, detecting explosives etc

By Ahmed Shaaban and Sherouk

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Published: Mon 1 Aug 2016, 10:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Feb 2023, 1:38 PM

Is keeping dogs, whether they are harmful or not, advised or prohibited in Islam? What about killing homeless ones? Or should only mad dogs, or the ones that could be contagious or harmful be done away with? Does dog saliva contain germs?

In the wake of recent repeated attacks by street dogs on people and livestock here in Ras Al Khaimah, these questions are on top of everyone's minds. A pack of stray dogs attacked the animal barn of an Emirati national in the Ghalilah area, leaving eight cows dead and nine others badly hurt.

In Umm Al Quwain, a pack of 20 dogs set upon Omar Ramadan, a seven-year-old Egyptian boy, and left him with three serious bites in the hand, leg and shoulder. Asma, the boy's older sister, was also attacked by four dogs while waiting for the school bus.

Recently, dozens of stray dogs have been reportedly killed in other countries in the wake of increasing attacks by these dogs. In Pakistan alone, 150,000 people are reportedly bitten by dogs every year. However, animal lovers and advocates say stray dogs are treated inhumanely all over the world. They instead recommend peaceful alternatives to control the stray dog population, such as building a shelter for them, or spaying and neutering the animals.

What the Holy Quran says

The Grand Mufti of Dubai, Dr Ahmed Al Haddad, told Khaleej Times that keeping a dog at home is not advisable according to Islam, as affirmed by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). "If dogs were not a nation among nations, then I would order that they be killed. There is one inhabiting a home in which they keep a dog but their deeds are decreased by one Qirat every day - except for a hunting dog, or a farm dog, or a sheep dog."

As such, Muslims are advised to be proud of their religion and culture, and refrain from blindly imitating others, Dr Haddad said. "If a dog is needed for guarding, herding, or hunting, it must be kept in a proper place and as per need."

When you can and cannot keep a dog

"Raising or keeping a dog inside the house is not allowed in Islam under any circumstances, and even prevents the Angels of Mercy from entering the house, and deducts a large amount of a Muslim's worship reward on every single day," Dr Ali Mashael, Chief Mufti at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai, told Khaleej Times.

However, a dog may be kept and benefited from outside the house for permissible reasons, such as farming, hunting or herding as explained by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), he said.

Street dogs are either harmful or not, he stated. "If harmful, they should be banished or killed if needed, but not because they are dogs or just homeless," he underlined. "If harmless, they should be kept away or in a safe shelter, but never neutered or locked up until death."

Prof Dr Ahmed Omar Hashim, former president of Al-Azhar University, said the angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog as "authentically warned by the Prophet (PBUH)."

Reiterating the same, Dr Shaikh Khalid Al Jundi, said keeping a dog inside the house has nothing to do with civilisation or modernity, and is not allowed for any reason, particularly for having fun, as a prestige factor, or for scaring people. "However, a dog may be kept outside the house for guarding, hunting, leading a blind person, sniffing narcotics, detecting explosives, etc."

The medical community weighs in

Dr Sarah Elliott, director of veterinary services at British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai, told Khaleej Times that since the UAE is considered a rabies-free country, and there should be no major worries about stray animals. Rabies is a neurotropic virus transmitted to humans via bites or scratches from infected animals.

Otherwise, she added, few serious health problems can be result from sick dogs. "Dogs can sometimes carry infections or parasitic diarrhea that can be transmitted to humans, but nothing serious." She said the ideal solution for stray dogs is to trap, neuter and try to re-home them. "De-sexing stray animals to avoid illnesses for public safety is the way forward," noted Dr Elliot.

Dr Murad Basheer Mustafa of the Veterinary Treatment Unit at Dubai Municipality Veterinary Section said merciful killing is carried out against dogs that suffer from incurable diseases to preserve public safety.

"We don't usually find wild dogs. Animals with harmful or contagious diseases are terminated at once," he said.

Iraqi Consultant Veteran Dr Diya Al Deen Saleh, who has been bitten five times by dogs, said the dogs' sharp teeth, as well as the pressure exerted by their jaws usually cause serious damage to the skin, underlying tissues, bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.

"Wounds should be kept elevated and, if possible, washing the wound with water, soap and an antiseptic is of great importance. Taking the anti-rabies vaccine is a must, irrespective of whether the dog is rabid or not, as the saliva of the dog harbours a lot of microbes, bacteria, and parasites that can be transmitted to humans and cause disease."

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