Me: The following is really interesting, so pay close attention.
You: Yes sir!
Me: Scholars of Islam have stated in light of the ahadith (plural of hadith) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that keeping dogs as pets is not allowed.
Me: Yea, really! In one Hadith we find that whoever keeps a dog in their house, two mountains of Uhud worth of good deeds are deducted from his ‘akhirah account’ each day (Reference: Sahih Al Jaami’). This same dog, if it licks or puts its mouth on a utensil, that utensil has to be washed seven times with water and an eighth time with soil/clay/mittee (Reference: Sahih Bukhari).
Looking at these two evidences, isn’t it safe to conclude that dogs in Islam are looked at as filthy and unclean creatures?
Now check this out! The great scholar Ibn Qayim (may Allah have mercy on him) says that the following verse is very powerful and deep:
‘They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, “Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah .” Indeed, Allah is swift in account.’ [Surah Al Maidah – Verse 4]
You: Hmm, but what is so ‘powerful’ about this verse Hisham? Verses like Ayat Al Kursi are powerful. All this is telling us about is what is Halal and what is not.
Me: True, but Ibn Qayim (may Allah have mercy on him) says otherwise. Let’s briefly analyze.
The word ‘mukallibeen’ refers to hunting animals such as dogs. Ibn Qayim (may Allah have mercy on him) says that if this hunting dog is taught three things, it becomes halal for us to eat from what it hunts.
- When you tell it to go, it goes.
- When you tell it to stop, it stops.
- When it hunts, it doesn’t eat from the prey. (Reference: Al ‘Ilmu wa Fadluhu – Ibn Qayim)
You: Okay cool, but Hisham, on one hand you say that dogs are filthy and unclean, and on the other hand you say that if it goes out and hunts with that same mouth, using its teeth and saliva, what he hunts becomes halal. That’s a bit confusing. What changed?
Me: I know right! That is the reason why this Ayah is so powerful and deep. It teaches us that ‘gaining knowledge’ can raise the status of such a filthy and unclean creature. If this is the case with dogs, imagine what levels we can reach by gaining knowledge.