Mahad’ad-Dawa Institute (MDI)
Orientation and Facilitation Centre
Human rights (حقوق العباد)
April 10th, 2020
I remember being with a demining team, between the towns of Bin Hissar and Charasia, around the time of the beginning of the Karzai government in Kabul. It was the summer of 2002. The role of dogs was essential in the work of the deminers. Dogs would patrol around the mined area. When they found a mine, they would sit next to it, and wait for a deminer to come to the scene. The demining work could not have been done without the dogs’ expertise.
Of course, when the Quran was revealed, and the Holy Prophet came to the world, there were no mines, so there was no question of this function of dogs – detecting mines – being mentioned in Quran and Hadith. The first function of a dog, mentioned in the Quran itself, was in the capacity of a dog for keeping guard. The dog that accompanied the Companions of the Cave – his name was Qitmir – kept guard for the Companions of the Cave all 300-plus years that they were sleeping in the cave:
وَكَلۡبُهُم بَٰسِطٞ ذِرَاعَيۡهِ بِٱلۡوَصِيدِۚ
Their dog was stretching out his paws on the doorstep.
Grotto of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
(courtesy, Turkish Archaeological News)
The role of the dog in keeping watch for the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus staying asleep in the cave over more than three hundred years was so important that in the Holy Quran, the dog is mentioned almost as one of their number:
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَٰثَةٞ رَّابِعُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمۡسَةٞ سَادِسُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡ رَجۡمَۢا بِٱلۡغَيۡبِۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبۡعَةٞ وَثَامِنُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡۚ قُل رَّبِّيٓ أَعۡلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم
Some will say, ‘They were three, the fourth was their dog’, and others will say, ‘They were five, the sixth was their dog’, guessing at random. And yet others say, ‘They were seven, the eighth was their dog.’ Say, ‘My Lord knows their number.’
Apart from keeping watch, another function of dogs that is mentioned in the Quran is their use for hunting:
يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَآ أُحِلَّ لَهُمۡۖ قُلۡ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتُ وَمَا عَلَّمۡتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡجَوَارِحِ مُكَلِّبِينَ تُعَلِّمُونَهُنَّ مِمَّا عَلَّمَكُمُ ٱللَّهُۖ فَكُلُواْ مِمَّآ أَمۡسَكۡنَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱسۡمَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡهِۖ
They ask you what has been made lawful for them. Say, ‘All pure things have been made lawful for you.’ And what you have taught your hunting animals and birds to catching, training them as Allah has taught you. So eat what they catch for you, but first pronounce Allah’s name over it.
Among the animals and birds that are used for hunting are dogs and also eagles – falcons. Dogs and birds are trained for this purpose.
This is particular evident in the modern age. Nowadays, dogs are trained to do a host of tasks. Guide-dogs guide the blind*.
Some dogs are used at airports to search for various types of contraband, weapons and drugs. As we saw above, dogs are also trained to detect mines.
These are all acceptable reasons for keeping a dog, since dogs have been specially trained for these useful purposes.
Some people train dogs for fighting. That is cruelty and explicitly forbidden in Hadith:
عن ابن عباس نهی رسول الله صلّی الله علیه و سلّم عن التحریش بین البهایم.
According to Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet forbade inciting animals to fight against one another.
(Tirmidhi and Nasai)
Having a dog around the house, as a pet, is also not something that fits in with an Islamic lifestyle:
ما من اهل بیت یرتبطون کلبًا الّا نقص من عملهم کل یوم قیراط الّا کلب
صید او کلب حرث او کلب غنم.
No family attaches itself to a dog without a qirat** of their good deeds being deducted daily, except in the case of a hunting dog, a farm dog or a sheep dog.
(Tirmidhi and Nasai transmitted this saying of the Holy Prophet, on the authority of Abdullah bin Mughaffal)
The thing is, Islam likes every animal to be kept in its natural environment, and used for the purpose for which it was created. The animal is also happy that way, fulfilling its natural role.
* Go to this link for a photo of a guide dog going about his work of guiding the blind:
** A qirat being a considerable amount,not any fixed amount.