Monday, June 30, 2008

Spiritually unclean dogs ?

1. E-mail from Kaustubh
I received an e-mail from Kaustubh yesterday. He said that he encountered the following news in Times of India, and he asked my opinion.

Being touched by sniffer dogs 'unIslamic': UK Muslims
London: British transport police sniffer dogs trained to spot terrorists at railway stations may no longer come into contact with Muslim passengers after complaints that it is against the suspects' religion.

A transport department report has raised the prospect that animals should only touch passengers' luggage because it is considered "more acceptable."

In the Muslim faith, dogs are deemed to be spiritually "unclean", but banning them from touching passengers would severely restrict their ability to do their job.

The report follows the trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, some female Muslims said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it was tantamount to being forced to strip.

British transport police last night insisted that it would still use sniffer dogs — which are trained to detect explosives — with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of "cultural sensitivities".

Critics said the complaints were just the latest example of minority religions trying to force their rules and morals on British society. During the trials, passengers stopped in London had their bags checked by dogs. But in Brighton, dogs patrolled the station and were walked past passengers. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic human rights commission, said even dogs touching baggage would be an issue for a Muslim preparing to pray. But said it is fine to allow dogs to check passengers without physical contact. ANI

2. My personal opinion
The major problem in current muslim society is the tendency to interpret everything too literally. I do not see any logic behind considering dogs "spiritually unclean".

So, this must be just an exaggaration and misinterpretation of a religious tradition. The dogs in railway stations there are not used for fun, they are used for security purposes. If you are that sensitive as a muslim, then just wipe the place the dog sniffed afterwards :), that simple.

3. My search over internet

  1. There is a hadith by Prophet Mohammad saying that a container must be washed if a dog licks it or eats/drinks from it. I guess this is the basis of the reaction of british muslims to sniffing dogs. However, many hostorical islamic jurists argued that this was due to health reasons: to prevent disease spread from dog's saliva since it may contain viruses. This makes very much sense, and something to be appreciated: hygenity 1400 years ago!. So, nobody says that they are spiritually unclean.
  2. It is known that black dogs were seen as evils in pre-Islamic arab mythology. It seems that this belief later interfered the islamic belief, and led to "spiritual uncleanness" myth.
  3. Shia islam and three of the equally-respected four subsects of Sunni islam consider dogs unclean mostly based on the above hadith in 1st point.
  4. The other subsect of Sunni Islam, Maliki, says that dogs are clean, unlike the other three (based on 4th point below).
  5. There is no ban in Islam to use dogs as hunters or farm-keepers or shepherd-helpers etc. There is even this verse: "What is lawful to you is that which is good and pure and also what you have trained your hunting animals to catch in the manner directed to you by Allah." (5:4). For sure, dog is one of the hunting animals, and nothing was stated after this verse about not to use dogs as hunting animals. Additionally, since hunting animal brings the game on their mouth, this fact indirectly suggests purity of dog saliva. (basis for Maliki view).
  6. In Koran, the story of seven-sleepers and their dogs are mentioned in a positive way; and there is nothing condemning dogs.
  7. There is another hadith by the prophet Mohammad about a prostitute who was forgiven by God because of giving water to a thirsty dog.

  • So, in summary; "spiritually unclean dog" contradicts with islam.
  • There are muslims who follow other schools than Maliki. They can consider dogs as unclean. However, they must keep in mind that this was for cleanness. This was not an advise to hate dogs.
  • I do not agree with the reactions of Muslims mentioned in the article of Times of India based on the bullets above. For me, security issues must be the priority; and I guess there are examples of changing of rules due to such priorities in the Prophet's life, based on logic.
  • As Kaustubh commented, such things make people more suspicious about islam, and makes general opinion about islam worse. So, much care is needed.

1 comment:

tunahan said...


I received another e-mail from Kaustubh today.

Puppies on police postcards offend British Muslims

London: Muslims living in UK's Dundee area have complained over a police advertisement featuring a puppy sitting on an officer's hat.

A police force has apologised to Islamic leaders for the "offensive" postcard advertising a new nonemergency telephone number, which shows a sixmonth-old trainee police dog named Rebel.

As part of a campaign to publicise its new nonemergency telephone number, Tayside Police used a picture of a black puppy, Rebel, on postcards to be distributed throughout the east coast region, reported.

The German shepherd puppy has proved hugely popular with the public, hundreds of who have logged on to the force's website to read his on-line training diary.

However, following the intervention of Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif, who warned police that the image would "not be welcomed" by some communities, the force described the publicity drive as an "oversight".

Asif, a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, raised the matter on Monday after claiming that members of the city's 3,000-strong Muslim community had brought the potentially offensive nature of the postcards to his attention. ... ANI

This is too much. Even if you believe that dogs are not clean, what has this to do with a puppy in an advertisement?? So embarrassing.

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