KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 ― Some Muslim personalities have disputed the authority of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) that denounced a Muslim woman for owning a pet dog.
In several social media posts, the authority and jurisdiction of the federal agency under the Prime Minister’s Department was called into question, with some referring to Quranic verses and texts that do not indicate that it is actually prohibited for Muslims to touch dogs.
Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin said that there is no part of the Quran or hadith which says that it is “haram” (forbidden) for Muslims to touch dogs.
“All we have is the Shafie denomination, in which it is stated that a person needs to wash themselves seven times, including once with earth water, if they touch dogs,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“The issue of repenting does not arise for it does not involve a sin. Jakim does not decide what is a sin,” he added further.
Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha yesterday urged a Malay-Muslim woman, who had adopted a stray dog, to “repent” for her actions.
Wan Ji also referred to a “fatwa” (edict) by renowned Islamic scholar Ibn Abd Al-Barr, who said that touching dogs is something that is “makruh” (offensive act).
“The fatwa does not list this as ‘haram’ (forbidden), but just as ‘makruh’ (offensive act, which is avoidable but not to be punished),” he added.
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan said that Jakim does not have the power to issue any fatwa or to make decisions on any Islamic rules, except in relation to issuing halal certification.
“Jakim is not a state religious body, so its director-general does not have the status of a mufti,” Syahredzan wrote.
“It has no jurisdiction to advise or to warn anyone regarding the rules of raising pet dogs,” he added.
He said that Jakim “should not interfere” in the jurisdiction of the “mufti” (Muslim clerics) and religious councils.
Activist lawyer Siti Kasim labelled Jakim as an “insult to Islam” and shared a verse from the Quran in which dogs are mentioned as trained animals.
“Repent Jakim. You are going against God’s words,” she wrote.
Author Anas Zubedy shared a screenshot of the woman and her dog and said that she reminded him of a woman who was promised heaven by the Prophet because she was kind to a dog.