KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — In defence of Malaysia’s Shafi’i Islamic practice, Pahang Mufti Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Othman urged religious authorities to investigate a controversial animal awareness event in neighbouring Selangor yesterday where some Muslims petted dogs for the first time in their lives.
According to Abdul Rahman and two other senior Islamic clerics, Selangor Mufti Datuk Tamyes Abdul Wahid and Johor Islamic Religious Council advisor Datuk Nooh Gadut, it is “haram” or forbidden for Muslims to touch dogs, Malay dailies Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia reported today.
“Muslims cannot take this lightly and they need to refer to the religious authorities first if they want to do something that is against Shafi’i school of jurisprudence,” Abdul Rahman was quoted saying by Berita Harian.
The “I Want to Touch a Dog” event organised by Syed Azmi Alhabshi yesterday was held at the Central Park in Bandar Utama, Selangor which drew nearly 200 volunteers and dog owners and where Malay Muslims were given the opportunity to pet the pooches, an animal that many of them regard as culturally taboo.
Nooh was quoted by Berita Harian as saying that touching dogs is forbidden in the Shafi’i school of thought.
“Don’t try to create a culture that is opposite to Islam and the Shafi’i jurisprudence, what more something that has elements of insulting the ulama in this country,” said Nooh.
Selangor Mufti Tamyes questioned the objectives of the event and said it should be rejected if it carried the message of liberalism.
“What’s the motive of the campaign? If it’s for dogs to guard our homes, we can keep them as long as they are dry if only to express our gratitude, but if we bring them into the house, kiss and bathe them, then I disagree with that,” Tamyes was quoted saying by Utusan Malaysia.
Former Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, however, disputed claims that touching a dog is “haram”, pointing out that if it is considered “haram” to touch a dog because the animal is deemed unclean like excrement, then it would also be “haram” for one to handle their own excrement or their children’s when cleaning them, as well as toilet cleaners and veterinarians to do their jobs.
“That is a shallow understanding of the rule. Therefore, it’s NOT HARAM to touch a dog,” Asri wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
The Islamic scholar also said Muslims are allowed to keep a dog to guard their homes as the Quran deems dogs as hunting companions.
He noted, however, that Islam does not encourage believers to keep dogs as pets without reason as a hadith says that doing so will reduce one’s “pahala” (reward for good deeds), though the act is not stated as a “sin”.
“Islam tells us to welcome guests. Not everyone likes dogs. Their smell and barks can scare some people,” said Asri.
“There are also dangers from the aspect of safety and health. A dog’s bite, excrement and licks are dangerous. Much research has been done about this,” the cleric added, though he did not specify the research studies backing his claim.