Re: Dr. Ingrid Mattson’s “A Muslim Woman and her Dog”

I do love dogs, as much as I love every other of Allah’s creatures. I respect them and value them for what they provide to humans because of Allah’s will; protection of property and family, in hunting for food, and protection of livestock and crops.

Without criticizing Dr. Mattson, who has inspired so many with her leadership and Islamic values (May Allah reward her, Ameen), I just wonder where the Islamic concerns go when you bring a dog into the home.

Ibn Taymiyah said the most correct view was that their hair is taahir (pure), but their saliva is impure. Many sahih hadith from Muslim that say if the saliva of a dog touches the vessel of a human, it must be washed seven times with water and an eighth time with soil (Muslim, 279 & 280). Al Nawawi says that keeping dogs is permissible only if it is for three reasons:

  1. Protection of houses
  2. Guarding livestock
  3. Hunting.

Sheikh Uthaymeen says this only applies to villages and not in the city (city dwellers can’t keep dogs, but those in rural or countryside can, as long as its for those three reasons). Abu Hurayrah said that unless its for the three reasons mentioned, Muslims who keep dogs lose a quantity of their reward each day. Ibn Majah says that the malaika (angels) do not enter a home that has a dog or an image. Allahu Allam.

After looking into it, I don’t wonder why there is so much confusion on keeping dogs. But one thing is quite clear. No where does it say that Muslims should hate, kill, or avoid dogs. All it says is to have them for a purpose, keep them out of your dwelling, and don’t let them eat or drink from what you eat or drink out of.

Harsh or fair? My understanding is that Allah did not create anything without purpose. Dogs, cats, rabbits, or other animals are not created to sit in homes and look cute. Cats are clean and have their own benefits, verified by many Hadith (and science, which shows that cats have antibacterial enzymes in their saliva, but beware here too, cat FECES are the number one transmitters of toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth and neurological defects, so be careful with that litter!).

Dogs are not as clean as cats but they have served a greater purpose than other animals throughout history in the protection of property, families, livestock, land, and crops. It has certain traits such as loyalty and submissiveness, so that it can be trained to do certain things that are useful to humans and gives the dog a sense of purpose and belonging. But in the end, it’s a dog. Studies have shown that the following bacteria live in a dog’s mouth: Porphyromonas gulae, Tannerella forsythia, toxocara, salmonella, giardia, hookworm, tapeworm and Campylobacter rectus. Alhamduliillah, the wisdom of not sharing your utensils with your dog makes sense.

From volunteering at animal shelters, I know first hand the habits of dogs, particularly where they put their mouth and nose. From my Epidemiology class, i know full well the dangers of salmonella, giardia, and campylobacter. Definitely not something you want coming into your home, regularly, in the mouth and nose of a dog you love but whose habits you can’t control or monitor. Dogs might have resistance to some of those things because of their ecology, but you don’t, and neither do your children.

Allah draws lines in all relationships, between human & human, human & animal, and human & material. In the case of confusion, consider everything said by the Messengers of Allah and the scholars who give their respects to the essence of Qur’an and defer to Allah, not to emotions and longings. Again, many people mistake Islam’s reservations on keeping animals within the home as hatred towards animals. This is ridiculous. Animals are gifts and signs of Allah. Being conscious of the cleanliness and safety of where we pray and from what we eat is not animal hate. It’s just caution.

This is no way an attack on Dr. Ingrid Mattson, but an expression of my views on a matter that is unclear to many.

And الله اعلم

Allah knows best.

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