Sunday, 30 March 2008

Dogs in Islam

In the early hours of my first morning in Koh Lanta I was awoken by a noise. It took me a while to get my head around what it was that I was listening to.

Awake but eyes still closed I let out a huge sigh and thought “What is that?”

“It sounds peaceful, but it’s loud enough to wake me up.”

“ It sounds like singing.”

Another sigh, or more like a pleasant, contemplative groan.

“It’s veeery spiritual !”

Suddenly an image of the women I’d seen wearing veils the day before when I arrived, flashed up before my eyes.

“Oh! It’s the call for prayer!” I realised.

“How bizarre – I had no idea there was a muslim population here. I thought they were Buddhists!”

And with that I drifted off to sleep again.

The next day I had several discussions with people who all clarified that yes – the inhabitants of Koh Lanta are predominantly Muslim, as oppose to the Buddhism I’d ignorantly assumed. I was really surprised. It’s not that I have any aversion to the muslim faith at all, but I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been aware of that fact - particularly as I’d spent time in Koh Lanta before.

Over the next few days I started to notice how there were loads of cats around Kan Tiang Bay – but no dogs. That also completely threw me. I remember there being loads of dogs before. I often fondly look back on a memory I have of skipping along the beach of Koh Lanta with my head phones on carrying a little puppy in my arms. It had been trotting along behind me while I was walking. Put a dog lover, a really cute puppy, and a walk along the beach together – and it was inevitable I would end up picking it up! But anyway – where was that place? There are no dogs here in Kan Tiang Bay?

Previously I had been staying further North on the island – at Long Beach. My friend was staying there this year, and when we visited I was relieved to see – that yes – there were dogs around – quite a few of them. So – No – I wasn’t going mad.

I was intrigued to know why there were loads of dogs on one part of the island, yet further South, there were none – though there were loads of cats! I am allergic to cats – but I love dogs!

Aside from the obvious increase in number of dogs, I also noted that further North on the island there were less signs of the muslim faith. I didn’t hear any call for prayers, and didn’t see so many women in traditional clothing.

“hmmmm – I wonder if the two are connected? “

A few of my friends confirmed that they believed muslims didn’t like dogs, and with a little bit of investigation on the good old tinternet – I discovered an entire tin of worms.

It would seem that there is some confusion within the muslim faith over how dogs ought to be treated. There are those that follow the belief that dogs are unclean, and those that believe that all creatures are from Allah and are deserving of love. In general though dogs have been viewed as impure and unclean, especially their saliva, and many jurists have declared that it is not permissible to keep dogs as pets, though it is permissible to keep a dog for security purposes, hunting and farming.

Here are some informative links for those of you who want to know more...

“Q.) I am a 15 year old Muslim American and my mother is buying a dog. I heard that if I touch the dog, I cannot pray. Is this true? What should I do?”

Dogs in Islam: Traditionally, dogs have been seen as impure, and the Islamic legal tradition has developed several injunctions that warn Muslims against most contact with dogs.

We are, however, not allowed to keep a dog as a pet, since it is not a very clean animal.

Fabricated hadiths contradict the Quran. Many of them narrated by Abu Hurayra. Abu Hurayra, whose name is translated as , father of the little cat, hated dogs and women and from his mouth came many hadiths that insulted women and cursed the dogs and make them undesirable animals that need to be avoided and in other hadiths killed.

In The Daily Mail a couple of years ago.
A Muslim minicab driver refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was "unclean".

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