Traditionally, dogs have been
seen as impure, and the Islamic legal tradition has
developed several injunctions that warn Muslims against
most contact with dogs. Unfortunately, many Muslims have
used this view to justify the abuse and neglect of dogs,
even though cruelty contradicts the Qur'an's view that all
animals form "communities like you." We are
pleased to present several articles examining the place of
dogs in Islam.
Animal Abuse and
Welfare in Islam
by Dr. Ayoub M. Banderker (BVMCh),
Animal abuse, cruelty, and/or neglect form part of the
many social ills plaguing the Muslim community.
Last Ramadaan, I wrote an article highlighting the
phenomenon whereby misinformed Muslims took their dogs
(and/or cats) to the animal hospitals or mobile clinics
during Ramadaan, to have them put to death by lethal
injection. The reason given by the majority of these
Muslims was that Islam forbids them to keep a dog. Also
encountered was when an animal that had been ill for a
prolonged time and the disease had progressed to an almost
terminal state was it only then brought in for veterinary
attention. When asked why they waited so long, the Muslim
owner would use Islam as a reason, stating that it is not
permissible to touch a dog. This still happens.
Alhamdulillaa, during this Ramadaan, there has been a
significant reduction in the number of Muslims who have
gone to animal welfare organizations to have their animals
put to death.
However, cruelty and neglect of animals still occur daily
throughout the world. The approach of the holiday season
sees many animal welfare organizations get an influx of
dogs and cats brought in to be put to death during this
time. Healthy, happy animals belonging to Muslims are also
brought in to be put to death. This is a very disturbing
and un-Islamic action. If one cannot afford to feed,
shelter, and maintain one’s animals, and a new home
cannot be found for them, take them to one of the many
animal welfare organizations where there is at least a
chance of the animal’s finding a new home. The real
tragedy is that many of these Muslims still do this in the
name of Islam and openly express such ignorant views. This
contributes to propaganda against Islam. When a non-Muslim
is cruel to an animal, it is considered an individual’s
action, but when a Muslim does it, non-Muslims see it as
an Islamic practice.
I cannot overemphasize the need to have one’s cats or
dogs sterilized. Having pets sterilized would help to
prevent unwanted litters, thereby reducing the amount of
unwanted animals. It is much better than abandoning the
animals, which many Muslims are also guilty of. Abandoned
pets cannot fend for themselves, with the result that they
starve and experience untold suffering, cruelty, and an
eventual, agonizing death.
All animals are a part of Allah’s creation and belong to
Allah (swt). Muslims are custodians of this beautiful
planet. How we care for animals and what we use them for
we will be accountable for to Allah (swt). All of creation
is Muslim, submitting to Allah’s will—only man and
jinn are granted a freedom of choice. So yes, even animals
In the Holy Qur’aan (S4:36) we are advised to do good to
“… what your right hands own …” According to the
commentator Imaam Faghruddin al-Rhazi, this refers to all
those who have no civil rights, including animals. Thus,
the verse lays down the duty of being good toward animals.
All things “…have been created for you ...” for our
benefit (S2:29). It thus becomes our duty to protect,
employ with dignity, and promote the well-being of any
animal in our care. In this way, we are expressing our
thankfulness to Allah (swt) for His blessings in a
practical manner. (Qur’anic Foundations and Structure of
Muslim Society, Mawlana F.R. Ansari, vol. 2, pp. 125-126)
Every animal has been created for a purpose. It is a duty
upon every human being to respect Allah’s creation. If
we ill treat any of His creation, we will be questioned
about it on the Day of Judgment. Sayyidina ’Umar (ra)
was very concerned about the animals during his rule as
Amir or head of the Islamic empire.
Let me clarify a few myths and make a few points:
1. It is NOT haraam to own a dog, though it is not
hygienic to keep a dog in the house.
2. It is NOT haraam to touch a dog or any other animal. If
the saliva of a dog touches you or any part of your
clothing, then it is required of you to wash the body part
touched and the item of clothing touched by the dog’s
mouth or snout.
3. It is incumbent upon all Muslims who own animals,
whether for farming or work purposes or as pets, to
provide adequate shelter, food, water, and, when needed,
veterinary care for their animals. Arrangements must be
made, if one is going to be away from home, to have
one’s animals taken care of as well.
4. It is haraam to keep a dog or any other animal on a
short lead for long periods without food, water, and
shelter. Dogs need exercise and are social creatures who
form organized “family” structures in nature. Dog
owners therefore need to spend time daily with their dogs.
5. It is cruel, and therefore haraam, to keep any animal
in a cage so small that it cannot behave in a natural way.
6. Fireworks cause untold suffering to most domestic
animals because of their acute sense of hearing.
7. It is haraam to participate in any blood “sport,”
like dog fighting and trophy hunting.
No animal has been cursed in any way. Animals are referred
to in many instances in the Qu’ran. In Surah Kahf,
mention is made of the companions of the Cave and their
dog. (S18: 18-22)
We would love for Allah to bestow His mercy upon us, so
let’s show mercy and compassion to all His creation.
This will also give non-Muslims a true reflection of
Islam, aiding da’wah.
There are many Muslims who care well for their animals,
and this article is aimed at those who are misinformed.
The appeal goes out to those Muslims: Please do not abuse
or neglect any animal. This gives a distorted picture to
others who are not Muslim.
May Allah be pleased with our efforts.
As salaamu alaikum
surgeon, Dr. Ayoub Banderker, BVMCh, wrote this
article to coincide with the holy month of
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The holy month of Ramadaan has dawned upon us. All
believing Muslims look forward to this month as [an
uplifting spiritual] period … in service of Almighty
Allah (swt). However, there is one very disturbing event
that occurs with the approach of every month of Ramadaan.
It has absolutely nothing to do with Ramadaan but has
everything to do with ignorance, misinformation, and
misinterpretation of the deen of Islam. Our community is
faced with many social ills, like child abuse, [the abuse
of] women, drugs, etc. Islam is [a] holistic way of life,
encompassing every aspect of one's life and environment.
Animal abuse, cruelty, and/or neglect form part of the
social ills plaguing the Muslim community, locally and
Since February 1999, I have worked as a veterinary surgeon
for organizations that primarily serve to see to the
health care of animals belonging to the poor [in]
underprivileged communities. With the approach of Ramadaan
(and also the holiday season), many Muslims bring their
dogs (and/or cats) to the animal hospitals or mobile
clinics to have them … euthanized (that is, put to death
by lethal injection). The reason given by the majority of
these Muslims is, "It is the month of Ramadaan, and
my religion forbids me to keep a dog." Another
scenario encountered is when an animal [who] has been ill
for a prolonged time [is not brought in for veterinary
attention until] the disease has progressed to an almost
terminal state … When asked why they waited so long to
bring in their dog, the Muslim owner will then, again, use
Islam as a reason for his/her apathy, stating that it is
not permissible for him/her to touch a dog.
We have a reported case of a dog [whose] legs [were]
wrapped in plastic bags [and he was] then carried by two
people on either side … into the hospital. Once again,
Islam [was] used as an excuse for this un-Islamic action.
There are many more cases of animal cruelty and/or neglect
in the name of Islam occurring daily.
Many of the animal welfare organizations in Cape Town get
an [increase in the number] of dogs and cats [who are
brought] in to be put to death during this time. Yes,
there are many people that, for some or other reason, come
to have their animals euthanized. In this instance, I am
referring particularly to healthy, happy animals belonging
to Muslims, being brought in to be put to death. This is a
very disturbing and un-Islamic action. If one cannot
afford to feed, shelter, and maintain one's animals, and a
new home cannot be found for them, then [they should be
taken] to one of the many welfare organizations, like the
[Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals], Animal
Anti-Cruelty League, [or] Animal Welfare Society, where
there is at least a chance [that] the animal [will find] a
new home. Having existing pets sterilized would also help
to prevent unwanted litters, thereby reducing the [number]
of unwanted animals. It would be far better than
abandoning the animals, which many Muslims are also guilty
The real tragedy is that many of these Muslims believe
that they are [performing these cruel acts] in the name of
Islam and openly express such ignorant views. This not
only feeds the propaganda against Islam, but also gives
non-Muslims, who may have been interested in Islam, a very
negative view of Islam. It hurts tremendously when fellow
Muslims use the beautiful deen of Allah and the month of
Ramadaan to justify the cruelty to and putting to death of
A dog, as every other living [being] on this earth, is a
part of Allah's creation. We, as Muslims, are custodians
of this beautiful planet. A dog, if in our possession, as
with everything else we claim to own, belongs ultimately
to Allah (swt). [We will be accountable for how] we look
after our animals and what we use them for … to Almighty
Allah (swt). All of creation is Muslim, submitting to the
will of Allah (swt), only man and jinn are granted a
freedom of choice. So yes, even animals are Muslim.
In the Holy Qur'aan (S4:36), we are advised to do good to
"… what your right hands own… ." According
to the commentator, Imaam Faghruddin al-Rhazi, this refers
to all those who have no civil rights, including animals.
Thus the verse lays down the duty of being good [to]
All animals are part of Allah's creation, and each animal
has been created for a purpose. It is a duty upon every
human being to respect Allah's creation. … It, thus,
becomes our duty to protect, employ with dignity, and
promote the well-being of any animal in our care. In this
way, we are expressing our thankfulness to Allah (swt) for
His blessings in a practical manner.
If we ill-treat any of His creation, then we will be
questioned about it on the Day of Judgment. Sayyidina 'Umar
(ra) was even concerned about the animals during his rule
as Amir (or head of the Islamic empire). Let me clarify a
No animal or any of Allah's
creation has been cursed in any way. In Surah Kaf, mention
is made about the companions of the cave and their dog
(S18:18-22). We would love Allah to bestow His mercy on
us, so let's show mercy and compassion to his creation.
Let us use the intensity of the spiritual light of
Ramadaan to obliterate the darkness of ignorance that has
enveloped us. It must be stated that there are many
Muslims who care well for their animals and that this
article is aimed at those who are misinformed. The appeal
goes out to those Muslims: Please do not abuse the deen of
Islam by [using] it [as] an excuse [to put] your animals
to death. This gives a distorted picture to others who are
not Muslim. May Allah be pleased with our efforts. Please
note that, during the time you read this, hundreds of
healthy animals will be put to death in the name of Islam.
- It is not haraam to own
a dog, though it is not hygienic and, therefore, not
permissible to keep a dog in the house.
- It is not haraam to
touch a dog - or any other animal, for that matter. If
the saliva of a dog touches you or any part of your
clothing, then it is required [that] you … wash the
body part … and the item of clothing [that was]
touched by the dog's mouth or snout.
- It is [necessary for]
every Muslim who owns animals, whether for
farming/work purposes or as pets, to provide adequate
shelter, food, water, and, when needed, veterinary
care for their animals. Arrangements need to be made,
if one is leaving for Hajj or going to be away from
home, to have one's animals taken care of, as well.
- It is haraam/not
permissible to use one's dog for dogfighting, as one
is causing harm to them. No, it is not natural, for in
nature, the weaker would submit and retreat, and the
stronger would not continue to pursue in order to
This article originally appeared in Animal Voice,
published by Compassion in World Farming, South Africa.
for more information.
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl,
professor of Islamic Law at UCLA and holder of many ijazat
(teaching diplomas) from traditional Sunni scholars in the
Middle East, has come to believe that the ahadith
(prophetic traditions) about dogs that form the basis of
legal injunctions against contact with them are
Khaled Abou El Fadl with his rescued dogs
An Islamic Scholar's
Kindly View of Dogs
An excerpt from the Los
Angeles Times, January 2001
Dogs and Books as Symbols
of His Effort
The man at the center of this
ideological furor is physically unimposing, with a short,
stocky frame, light brown eyes, and olive skin. His home
is dominated by two elements that symbolize much about
Islam's ideological tensions today: dogs and books.
(Khaled) Abou El Fadl loves to use dogs to illustrate what
he regards as the puritans' willful ignorance of Islamic
tradition and an oppressive emphasis on law over morality.
In much of the Muslim world, dogs are decidedly not man's
best friend. Abou El Fadl says he was taught that they
were impure and that black dogs in particular were evil.
Religious traditions hold that if a dog - or woman -
passes in front of you as you prepare to pray, it pollutes
your purity and negates your prayer. Dogs are permissible
as watchdogs or for other utilitarian purposes but not
simply for companionship. Abou El Fadl says this zealous
adherence to doctrine led one religious authority to
advise a Muslim that his pet dog was evil and should be
driven away by cutting off its food and water.
Many Muslims say this caution toward dogs is fundamentally
a matter of hygiene. Many devout Muslims follow such rules
without question, for submission to God is Islam's highest
call whether the reasons for divine law are apparent or
not, according to Sheik Tajuddin B. Shuaib of the King
But Abou El Fadl prides himself on questioning just about
everything. He could not fathom a God who would condemn
such loving, loyal creatures. So about five years ago, he
set out to investigate.
After a lengthy process of textual research and prayer for
divine guidance, he concluded that reports against dogs
were passed on through questionable chains of
transmissions or contradicted by more favorable reports -
for instance, one story of Muhammad praying with his dogs
Some reports against dogs bear uncanny similarities to
Arab folklore, Abou El Fadl says, leading him to suspect
that someone took the tales and attributed them to the
As Abou El Fadl speaks, Honey snoozes near his side. The
yellow cocker spaniel mix was abandoned by his owners and
was cowering in the corner of an animal shelter, dirty and
racked by seizures, when the scholar and his wife rescued
They also rescued Baby, a black shepherd a day away from
being killed, and Calbee, an abused dog who smelled of
garbage for a year and still feels secure only when curled
up inside a plastic laundry basket.
"Dogs represent my rebellion against ignorance about
the basis of actual historical law," Abou El Fadl
says. "They are a symbol of the irrationality of our
tradition, the privileging of law over humaneness."
How, he asks, pointing to Honey, who constantly follows
him and nestles at his side, does God "create animals
with these natural tendencies and then condemn them as
From Newsweek, April 15,
Take that matter of dogs, for
instance. To the literalists, the prohibition against dogs
as pets is clearly delineated in one of the hadiths, the
traditional accounts of the life and sayings of the
prophet Mohammed. In their view, the hadiths and the Koran
unambiguously set forth the laws of sharia. But as Abou El
Fadl points out, determining which of the tens of
thousands of hadiths are authoritative requires both
knowledge and critical analysis. One must evaluate the
reliability of the sources and assess how consistent the
hadiths are with the moral vision of the God who speaks in
and through the Koran. In the case of the dog hadith, Abou
El Fadl found it hard to believe that the same God who
created such companionable creatures would have his
prophet declare them "unclean."
Investigating the sources, he discovered that the hadith
in question not only derived from an unreliable chain of
sources but reflected views far more consistent with
pre-Islamic Arab customs and attitudes. What's more, he
says, he found that a hadith from one of the most
trustworthy sources tells how the Prophet himself had
prayed in the presence of his playfully cavorting dogs.
THIS ARTICLE WAS OBTAINED
AND WITH THEIR KIND PERMISSION TO REPRODUCED HERE FOR
BENEFITS OF OUR READER.