Are dogs considered impure animals?...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Are dogs considered impure animals? How about cats?


Are dogs considered impure animals? How about cats?


The majority of scholars opined that dogs are impure and they based their opinion on what Abu Huraira narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “If a dog drank from a dish of yours, purify the dish by washing it seven times with dust being the first time”. So scholars said if the dog was not impure, the Prophet would not have commanded us to spill the water from which the dog drank because it would be considered a waste of money which the Islamic Shari’ah prohibits.

Those who maintained the dog’s impurity, some of them obligated washing the dish seven times along with one time with dust and others have found it only recommended to wash it seven time and one time with dust as they maintained the opinion that impurity of the drunk water by dog is similar to other forms of impurities. The latter opinion was held by the Hanafis and they based their opinion on the hadith of Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet said, “If a dog drank from a dish, it should be washed three times”.
Another group of scholars such as Imam Malik opined that the dog is pure because all living things are pure according to his legal school of jurisprudence. As for the command of spilling the water of the dish from which the dog drank and then washing the dish is a ritual act that is not subjected to reason. Therefore for the Malikis washing the dish does not indicate the impurity of the dog because impurities are not conditioned with a certain number. Therefore no command was found to spill anything from which the dog drank except water. Imam Malik supported his juristic opinion with the Quranic verse in which God says, “So eat of what they catch for you..” (5:4)

So if the dog was impure in itself, then it would make what it hunted impure as well. Imam ibn Daqiq al ‘Eid said in his book “Ihkam al Ahkam Sharh ‘Umdat al Ahkam”that the Malikis supported their opinion regarding the purity of dogs through citing the example of the permissibility of dogs to hunt animals without persisting on its purity because hunting animals without touching them is very difficult. Another evidence that is cited by the Malikis to prove the purity of dogs is a hadith which reported by al Bukhari in which ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar stated that dogs used to come and go in the mosque at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) without spraying anything on it. Imam Ibn Batal said that for dogs to come and go in the mosque usually entails wiping their nose, drinking water and eating leftovers because the mosque was the sleeping place for strangers and delegations. They eat in it and the mosque was also the living place for Ahl al Suffa. If dogs were impure, they would be prevented from entering the mosque because Muslims unanimously agree on the impressibility of impurities to enter mosques. Also the fact that dogs used to “come and go” indicates the repetitive nature of dogs’ entrance to the mosque and not forbidding their entrance indicates that they posses no impurity because impurity does not accompany living things.

Although the majority of scholars maintain the impurity of dogs, this does not indicate harming dogs or killing them as the Islamic Shari’ah commanded Muslims to be kind and merciful to all animals and dogs are certainly included.

As for cats, they are pure and this opinion is based on the Prophet’s hadith in which he said, “it is not impure. It is one of these creatures that live in our attendance” (Bukhari)

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