A good friend met his wife and two boys at the station as they returned from a visit to her parents. When they hopped off the train, there weren’t three, but four! Grandma and Gramps had given a puppy present!
That’s a gusty grandparent move in most contexts. Even more so when it’s India, the wife is from a Christian background and the husband from a Muslim one. Although the husband was following Jesus, the puppy was a still a problem!
Muslims traditionally don’t do dogs.
The Quran is ambivalent on canines. In one story believers sleeping in a cave seem to be guarded by a dog. In another, the angel Gabriel says he won’t come in Muhammad’s house because a dog was there!
It’s the Hadith, the several volumes of collected sayings and doings of Muhammad that cast a shadow on man’s best friend. They’re not to be kept except for hunting or guarding livestock and crops. One Hadith reports Muhammad saying dogs should be killed! That said, the Hadith do have the nice attribute of “not entirely reliable!” If you really like canines, you can question validity of the the anti-dog passages.
So, why does this matter? Here are two thoughts:
- Since dogs are a beloved part of our culture, and maybe your home, whole groups of people who believe them to be ritually unclean might cause us to raise our eyebrows. “What’s wrong with them?” can quickly lead to, “They don’t fit in here. They don’t belong.” The dog issue can serve as just another way to “Other-ize” Muslims.
- As we build friendships with Muslims, we’ll want to be mindful when introducing them to our amazing, beautiful, “she just wants a little love” pooch!
While there’s certainly a great deal of variety in how Muslims view dogs in various cultures, my heart goes out to the little Fatimas and Abduls who are asking for a puppy for Christmas! The “it’s against our religion” defense is hard to thwart!
The countdown to Muslim Connect edition number 200 is underway. Just four more to go! Stay tuned for celebration announcements. There will be prizes!