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.




This is Derik. He is 7 years old, and I’m not sure what breed he is. He’s got this amazing panther-like face, jet-black glossy fur; graced here and there with strands of white. I love his paws. They’re powerful, but he never uses them to hurt or maim.

Everyone who meets him at the shelter falls in love with him, but sadly no one has adopted him.

He’s been my favorite cat since I began volunteering at a nearby animal shelter in September of 2012. He has never hissed or scratched me and has always greeted me with his trademark affectionate purr and feline saunter; a winding, confident way of walking that always made me think “dang, that’s one romantic cat.”

I have at times referred to him as Casanova.

For the past few months, Derik has been getting thirstier and thirstier. During my shift, he’d jump onto the counter-top and drink from the stream of water coming out of the faucet. If not that, he’d lick the drain on the floor beneath the large sink we use to clean litter scoops. If not that, he’d find a way to get into the other cat’s cages and drink from their bowls, until one of us, the volunteers, gives him a new bowl of cold water, because for some reason, he wouldn’t drink from his own.

One month ago, he was put on meds for a reason I don’t know of.

Today, I didn’t even recognize him. He’s lost so much weight and isn’t eating. There were 3 bowls of different kinds of food in his closure but he had touched none of it.

My heart broke when I heard from one of the staff that Derik’s kidneys are failing and he has a bone infection as well. He’s not expected to live much longer, I think.

I spent some time with him at the end of the day, keeping him in my lap. He’s still as affectionate as ever, curling into the curve of my arms, pushing his head into my hands and flexing his paws against my legs and chest.

He doesn’t have much time. The staff at the shelter are looking for volunteers to take him home, make his last days comfortable and happy.

I smiled ruefully. I’ve wanted to adopt Derik for so long, but my family is really quite strict on keeping animals in the home.

Still, I’d bring Derik home even if he may only have a few weeks left to live.

As I walked out of the door at the end of the day, I peeked into his closure and saw him eating from a plate of food we’d given him earlier. It was an encouraging sight.

I love you, Derik.

May Allah ease your pain and give you health, Ameen.