Mainstream American Muslim “Jurisprudence” on Dogs

In follow-up to the wrenching story related yesterday about Wiley, a cruelly brutalized Afghan mutt—treated in accord with doctrinal and historical Islamic attitudes towards dogs—I discovered the fatwas (reproduced below) on dogs and dog ownership, from the mainstream American Muslim font of Islamic “jurisprudence,” the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).

The AMJA mission statement maintains:

[The AMJA was] founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America. … AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities.

A report in The Muslim Observer published October 21, 2010, highlighting AMJA’s “seventh annual American conference of imams,” confirms the organization’s mainstream acceptance as by the American Muslim community. Thus AMJA and its recent “training” conference for American imams were described in these banal terms:

The organization AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) has a list of scholars associated with it which stretches from Al-Azhar University to Virginia’s Open University, and back across the ocean to the professors at Saudi universities. Its website,, provides fatawa on many issues and promises 24-hour access to scholars who can give legal opinions on the issues people face. AMJA focuses on providing fatwas to Americans, and believes it is able to provide culturally appropriate fatwas although many of their scholars are not American–because they have some American scholars and because of the technological ties that bind AMJA’s American scholars with those abroad. AMJA just had, in Houston, its seventh annual American conference of imams, and two local Michigan imams attended, namely Imam Musa of Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center, and Imam Ali of MCWS. Mr. Sadiqul Hassan of AMJA explained that “the event was the 7th annual imam workshop.” Mr. Hassan said that AMJA is “a fiqh council basically,” with “scholars who live abroad and inside the U.S.; we have experts in different fields to educate about life in the U.S. — fatwa are based on life in the U.S.”

AMJA’s recent fatwas regarding dog ownership reiterate two of the canonical hadith I mentioned in a previous blog, before reaching their inevitable conclusions at the end of the “rulings”: dogs are “impure,” and cannot be kept simply as loving pets within a household, even puppies. Fortunately, I found no ruling issued which sanctioned the wanton killing of “mere” pet dogs in North America (as per this canonical hadith: Volume 4, Book 54, Number 540: Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: ‘Allah’s Apostle ordered that the dogs should be killed.’)—yet.

Fatwa #76322

It only remains to mention to you that the Prophet  said: “Whoever keeps a dog that is not a dog for hunting, herding, livestock or farming, two qiraats will be deducted from his reward each day.” Thus, keeping dogs in houses for fun and company is not part of Islamic civilization but whoever needs them for protection or guarding a house or a farm or hunting then that is fine while being careful not to let the saliva of dogs touch you. As for the purity of dogs saliva then it is a matter of dispute; the Maliki scholars consider it pure because it was allowed for to us use them to hunt and still we were not commanded to wash the place of the dog’s bite while the majority of scholars view it that it is impure because of the hadeeth of the Prophet : “If the dog licks in your vessel then wash it seven times; one of which should be with soil.” And the view of the majority is the safest. And Allaah, most high, knows best.

Fatwa # 77827

Question: Why are Muslims not allowed to have dogs for pets when the Prophet (pbuh) was said to have a puppy? Also, he was said to have patted a dog on the head and made salah (prayed) near a dog. Also, my wife and I have a dog, and we had the dog before we became Muslim. What should we do?

Fatwa: It is not true that the Prophet had a puppy or that it has been recorded that he petted a dog as far as I know. On the contrary, when the Prophet found that his grandson Al-Hasan had brought a puppy into the Prophet’s house, the Prophet refused to enter the house until the puppy had been removed. Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with both him and his father) reported: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: ‘Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.’” [Reported in Sahih Muslim] Also, the Prophet said: “Whoever keeps a dog as a pet, except for the purpose of guarding cattle or hunting, will lose a qiraat (a huge portion of the reward from his good deeds) daily.” [Reported in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim] So, my advice to you, brother, is that, if you are keeping this dog to guard the house, you should actually keep it outside the house (in the backyard, for example). Otherwise, you should give it up. (And note also that it is not permissible to sell dogs.)

Fatwa # 82794

Question: i have a quick question : i wanted to get a puppy and i live in a townhouse ,and i was wondering if i could put it in the basement ( no one prays there, but sometimes guests are over ) is it halal or haraam ?

Fatwa: Alhamdu Lillah. Owning domestic dogs (pets) living with people in their residence is not allowed in Islam. The Prophet SAAW permitted people who need so to own dogs but not to allow dogs living in the same house with people. Excuses for having dogs include guarding cattle and for hunting. In many Ahadeeth, the Prophet SAAW indicated that angels do not enter a house that has a dog in it, and that the reward of people gets reduced when they have dogs living with them.




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