Dogs get a bum deal by Muslims. They see them as unclean. By this I mean ritually unclean. If a Muslim handles a dog he may need to ritually purify himself to get rid of their uncleanliness before praying. That is how I understand it.
There are two stories in the papers today which confirms that dogs get a bum deal by Muslims.
In Jeddah, two men who tried to organise a “beautiful dog” contest at the end of Ramadan have been arrested because dogs are considered unclean by many Muslim jurists who warn against contact with them. The ambivalence in the attitude towards dogs is apparent if the men were Muslims.
It is interesting that there appear to be no cat shows in Saudi Arabia even though they don’t suffer the same debilitating description. Although, recently, posing with cats was forbidden by a senior cleric.
On the radio today, I heard about a taxi driver in the UK who refused to pick up a blind man and his guide dog. The driver was a Muslim. He did not wish to take the blind man because of his dog. This would seem to be contrary to his licence in which I believe it states that he is obliged to pick up anybody and certainly a blind man with a guide dog. In addition, it would seem that he misconstrued the teachings of Mohammed and other scholars, in Haddiths and in narratives. Although to me the relationship between Muslims and dogs is highly confusing.
It would appear that the way Muslims interpret the teachings of the Quran and associated documents varies to suit personal taste.
Conflicting information comes from the Quran, which states that Muslims should respect animals which includes dogs and cats and should not abuse them. It is believed that the Prophet Mohammad was kind towards dogs as he was towards cats. Describing a dog as unclean is disrespectful. Because dogs are seen as ritually impure or unclean they are unpopular with Muslims. This is unfair.
Even if the dog is physically less clean than the fastidious cat, it does not mean the dog is more hazardous than a cat to the human. I don’t see how Muslims can decide that the dog is unclean. There is no difference between dogs and other pets at a basic level.
Dogs are not recommended as pets but Muslims are allowed to keep them especially as working dogs such as guarding a place of residence or hunting. A report suggested that sniffer dogs trained to detect explosives shouldn’t come into contact with Muslim passengers.
I know we should be sensitive to cultural differences but for me this is irrational because the difference in treatment between cats and dogs is unjustified despite the fact that it has been part of the Muslim culture for centuries.
I also heard on the radio today that the key element about dogs being unclean amongst Muslims is the saliva of a dog. If a Muslim who wishes to worship comes into contact with the saliva of a dog he should shower beforehand. If this is about dog saliva then I still don’t believe it is justified because cat saliva is an equal potential hazard to humans which is not to say that it is a serious hazard but something to at least consider. At least there is some rational science in considering dog saliva potentially hazardous to people. However, this does not, in my view, justify calling a dog “unclean”.
British prisons have quite a high number of Muslim convicts and they are entitled to fresh clothes if they may been in contact with dog saliva.