The dog in perspective

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By listening to the different reactions of the general public after the incident which occurred in Grand Gaube some time back concerning dogs which had savagely assaulted children, one is reminded of the different connotations of hadiths regarding dogs. “Such dogs should be killed” said some people, whereas others stated that “you cannot blame dogs which are not wild animals.” Does the law protect the rights of dogs more than the rights of human beings? It is difficult to calm down people who have been victims of such a wicked act. How do we do it? And if one of ours was such a victim? Perhaps, with Allah’s help, we could evolve a policy concerning dogs whereby some help could be given to people who need to keep dogs, as regards the management of those animals.
Allah Ta’ala has created everything that is on earth for use by man. “It is He who has created for you whatever is on earth.” (Baqarah: 29). Therefore, animals, stones and foodstuffs have actually been created to be of service to man. So also, the dog has been created to be at the service of man. Allah Ta’ala, the Creator, has created and He knows better than anybody else the nature of His creation. In addition, He has decreed the manner of the use or consumption of His creatures. The elephant and the ass can be used for riding, but the consumption of their meat is prohibited. Flesh-eating animals such as lions, cheetahs and foxes are also prohibited for human consumption, but their tanned skins can be used.

The dog is among those animals with canine teeth which are prohibited for human consumption because their saliva is impure. But the dog is not a wild animal like the lion or even the zebra. But it is more like domestic animals such as the cat. The dog can be closely integrated to satisfy human needs. By nature, the dog can be tamed. It possesses the potential of participating as a hunting dog or to watch premises. However, in that respect, it is not the only animal. For example, both the hawk and the eagle can be tamed and be used as hunting animals. The Qur’an authorizes the consumption of the meat of the game hunted by a dog provided the word Bismillah has been pronounced at the time the dog is released for hunting and provided it abides by the rules of hunting: “Lawful onto you are (all) things good and pure: and what you have taught the beasts and birds of prey, training them to hunt in the manner directed to you by Allah.” (Al Maidah: 4)
Allah Ta’ala has laid a positive potential in the genes of animals as well as reprehensible qualities. Man is informed by his Creator to derive benefit from their service while being aware of their reprehensible qualities: “Of them, some do carry them and some they eat, and they have (other) profits from them (besides), and they get (milk) to drink.” (Yasin: 72-73)

Some animals have a nature which is not always to our liking, for example the ass and the dog. The Qur’an establishes a balance allowing the use of the dog for hunting and in view of its sense of smell, and the use of the ass for riding purposes. However, the fact remains that their innate qualities such as their stubbornness and sometimes their mischief are close to the devil. Benefit has to be drawn from them from a distance and not near. Just like fire, which we can use for cooking and heating, but which, if it comes into contact with the skin, will burn it. It is recommended to recite the du’a of protection from the devil when you hear them cry. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said: “When you hear a dog barking and an ass braying, then seek protection from the devil (A’ouzou billaahi minash shaitwaanir rajeem) because they see what you don’t see.” (Abu Dawood)

Allah The Almighty is Just and Wise. He is the Only Creator. He satisfies the needs of everyone according to His will. He is not answerable to anyone whereas men have to answer to Allah for their actions: “He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs).” (Al Ambiyaa: 23)

However, while being All-Powerful, He acts with justice and equity in accordance with His Attributes. Allah Ta’ala has established a balance in the universe. It is thanks to this balance that the moon circles the earth, and the earth goes around the sun. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of justice).” (Ar Rahmaan: 7)

In the world of creation, man distinguishes himself through the following three characteristics: his handsomeness, his intellect and his values. Endowed with an aesthetic physique, his prestige is thereby enhanced thus allowing him to maintain his supremacy over his surroundings. Still more, this has made him master the dimensions of the earth, water and air space. Himself being constituted of these materials, he has developed the art of ingeniously manipulating gaseous, liquid and solid matter. In this way, he has asserted his supremacy of being the most honored creature. This is one more factor which distinguishes us from other creatures.
Islam not only contains the most pristine religious precepts, but from it also flows a source of knowledge and wisdom.
Islam is established on a balance of good judgement. Although the dog holds qualities of loyalty and gratitude, and protects his master, the balance of Shariah holds the negative aspect as being heavier. As explained on the subject of wine and gambling, the shariah decides in favor of the scale of the balance which is heavier.

The shariah recognizes the obedient nature and hunting potential of the dog, as mentioned in surah Mai’dah verse 4. Mention is also made in surah Kahf of the dog of the sleepers of the cave. But the Qur’an also qualifies the dog as being a stubborn animal which barks unnecessarily. The Prophet of Allah (saw) has explained very clearly that the dog is an animal whose presence repels angels. It is recommended that all utensils used by the dog be washed seven times. (Mustadrak Hakim). The Prophet of Allah (saw) has prohibited the keeping of dogs except for three items of usefulness: hunting, watching over plantation, and mounting guard over herds. (Muslim)

Therefore, for the security of his surroundings, a person may find a valid reason for keeping a dog, subject to reservations. According to a hadith of Muslim Shareef, the Prophet of Allah (saw) has stated that whoever keeps a dog without a valid reason will sustain a loss of two qirats from his good deeds. (Muslim). One qirat is described as being equivalent to Mount Uhud of Madinah in size. (Shu’ab ul Iman). It is therefore clear that the shariah forbids the keeping of dogs, except for valid reasons as mentioned above.
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