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Keeping dogs inside the house without any necessity merely as pets was forbidden by the Prophet (saw). When we observe how lavishly the well-to-do treat their dogs while despising their relatives, and how much attention they give their dogs while neglecting their neighbors, we realize the wisdom of the prohibition. Moreover, the presence of a dog makes the household utensils unhygienic due to their licking of them. The Prophet (saw) said:” If a dog licks a plate (or pot), clean it seven times, of which one time should be with sand (or earth).” (Bukhari).

Some scholars are of the opinion that the reasons for prohibiting the keeping of dogs may be because they bark at visitors scare away the needy who come to ask for charity and chase and try to bite passers-by.

The Prophet (saw) said:” Jibril came to me and said,’ I came to you yesterday but what stop me from entering was that there was a statue at the door, a curtain with figures on it in the house, and a dog inside the house. So order that the head of the statue be broken off so that it resembles the trunk of tree, that the curtain be cut and made into two pillows to recline on, and that the dog be taken out.’” (Abu Dawud)

This prohibition is limited to keeping dogs without need or benefit.

The permissibility of keeping hunting dogs and watch dogs.

Dogs which are kept for a purpose, such as hunting, guarding cattle or crops and the like are exempted from the above ruling. In a hadith reported by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim, the Prophet (saw) said:” Whoever keeps a dog except for hunting or for guarding crops or cattle will lose one large measure (qirat) of his reward each day.

The findings of scientific research relative to keeping dogs.

Some lovers of the West in Muslim countries claim to be full of love and compassion for all living creatures and they wonder why Islam warns against this “best friend” of man. For their benefit, we quote here a lengthy excerpt from an article by the German scientist, Dr. Gerald Finstimer, in which the author sheds light on the dangers to human health resulting from keeping dogs or coming in contact with them. He says:” The increasing interest shown by many people in recent times in keeping dogs as pets has compelled us to draw public attention to the dangers which result from this, especially because pet dogs are hugged and kissed and permitted to lick the hands of the young and the old, and what is worse, to lick the plates and utensils which are used by human beings for eating and drinking. Besides being unhygienic and uncouth, this practice is bad manners and abhorrent to good test. However, we are not concerned with such matters, leaving them to be addressed by teachers of etiquette and good test. Rather this article is intended to present some scientific observation.

From the medical point of view, which is our main concern here, the hazards to human health and life from keeping and playing with dogs are not to be ignored. Many people have paid a high price for their ignorance, as the tapeworm carried by dogs is a cause of chronic disease, sometimes resulting death.

This worm is found in man, in cattle, and in pigs, but it is found in fully-developed form only in dogs, wolves and rarely in cats. These worms differ from others in that they are minute and invisible, consequently, they were not discovered until very recently.

Biologically the developmental process of this worm has some unique characteristics. In the lesions caused by them, one worm gives rise to many heads which spread and form other and varied kinds of lesions and abscesses. These heads develop into full-grown worms only in dogs’ tonsils. In humans and in other animals they appear as lesions and abscesses completely different from the tapeworm itself. In animals the size of an abscess may reach that of an apple, while the liver of the infected animal may grow from five to ten times its normal size. In human beings the size of the abscess may reach that of a clenched fist or even the head of an infant; it is filled with yellow fluid weighing from ten to twenty pounds. In the infected human it may cause diverse kinds of inflammations in the lungs, muscles, spleen, kidneys, and brain, and appears in such different forms that specialists, until very recently, had difficulty in recognizing it.

In any case, wherever this inflammation is found, it poses great danger to the health and life of the patient. What is worse is that, in spite of our knowledge of its life history, origin, and development, we have not been able to advise a cure for it, except that in some instances these parasites die out, possibly because of antibodies produces in the human body. Unfortunately, cases in which such parasites die without causing damage are rare indeed. Moreover, chemotherapy has failed to produce any benefit, and the usual treatment is surgical removal of the abscessed parts of the body. For all these reasons we should use all possible resources to fight against this dreadful disease and save man from its dangers.

By Prof. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qardhawi