Fighting Islamophobia, a Policy Built on Fear, Ignorance of Religion and Thin Air. By Imam Luqman Ahmad

I I was the first American Imam who openly challenged in published writing, the use, potential misuse, and overuse of the neologism “Islamophobia“. Much of what I wrote more than a decade ago in the article that follows this article, has come to pass as I predicted. American Muslims have spent billions of dollars in the so called fight against islamophobia and here it is in the latter part of 2018, and many of us still regard fighting islamophobia as the number one priority for Muslims living in the United States.

Our tactics in the anti-Islamophobia campaign have not changed that much since the time the article you are about to read was originally written, nor has there been too many changes made to the anti-islamophobia playbook. It is nearly the same at it has always been;

  • Reject any and all criticism constructive, accurate or otherwise of American Muslims as the musings of an islamophobe.
  • Present a sanitized, mostly white looking version of the American Muslim,
  • Try to prove to other Americans just how American we are, or that we are more American than the average American.
  • Place limits on the meanings of scriptural terminology like Islam, and Jihad, to make it more palatable to the American public. When Islam meant submission, it meant that you had to do something to be a Muslim. Once we changed the meaning to mean peace, and peace only. That meant that all you had to do to be Muslim is be peaceful.
  • Marginalize converts and Black American Muslims because well, one, they’re Black, and two, if Black, White, and Latino Muslims had a fraction of the funding to build Masajid and organizations that serve people and people’s needs, that immigrants and immigrant organizations have at their disposal
  • Modifying our belief expression to exclude public mention of the Shaitaan, ad-Dajjaal, the last days, unbeliever, kaafir, kufr, or hell-fire, and hereafter. These are all banned words in the fight against islamophobia. to make us seem more mainstream.
  • Insulting the intelligence of thinking people while shutting down anyone who thinks too much, or like me who talks too much.
  • Thats been pretty much the multi-billion dollar anti-islamophobia game plan for more than a decade, and till this very day, no one can tell me who is the chief strategist, policy maker, agency, group of consultants, or anti-islamophobia czar who is spearheading this fight and mapping out strategy. In the United States of America, you can trace policy to a particular law, a President, a Governor, a city council, a state, federal or local legislative body, a ballot measure, a referendum, a court ruling, or the old guy in the back room that makes policy. In Muslim America, as far as There has been no cost benefit analysis that I’m aware of, to determine whether or not we are winning or losing the fight, or whether or not fighting islamophobia was or is the right path for Muslims living in the United States. There is not even a mention of a moral imperative, a godly reward, or a link to how fighting islamophobia is pleasing to Allah or in any way will bring you closer to Him.
  • Fighting islamophobia has become an industry in and of itself, and quite a lucrative one. It’s not a religious industry; it’s a political industry masquerading as a path to salvation or a religious path. As long as your fighting islamophobia, you are regarded as a true Muslim activist. The fight against islamophobia is industry that not surprisingly excludes Black and Convert Muslims from any funding. Which is ironic since if there was any people who would understand the historical sensibilities of Non-Muslim Americans, and how we think as traditional Americans it would be the people who were once themselves, non-Muslim Americans. Doesn’t that make sense? Fighting islamophobia is an American Muslim policy. It’s not a hukm shar’i ( Islamic legal ruling). It’s a policy built on fear, ignorance and thin air.

    The word Islamophobia does not appear anywhere in the Quran, and there are no hadith or prophetic tradition whatsoever according to my knowledge where Islamophobia is mentioned or where fighting it as a full blown campaign is precedented. Furthermore, there are no scholars from amongst the salaf (early generations) of the Ummah who sanctioned or made fataawa that Muslims should be fighting islamophobia. Think about that as you read the article below.The rendition below was published in 2007 on the Islamicity.org website (a quick search and you’ll find it).

    I want you to read the following article for yourself, read it carefully and see if any of my predictions and analysis about our use of the word and concept islamophobia turned out to be true and on point. If you see value in my summations then please consider that these viewpoints are coming from an Imam whose family is currently homeless in Sacramento California. Yes, you read it right, we have been displaced home, and are now homeless and I could be of much more benefit to our Ummah if I and my family weren’t homeless. This is a tough time for us. Something that could happen to anyone and something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone If you’d like to help get us back on our feet, then you can donate in three ways;

    1. Via Zelle to 916-595-9503

    2. Via cash app to 916-692-6184

    3. Via Facebook fundraiser by clicking on the link. https://www.facebook.com/donate/253074035541780/2322832827732763/#

    Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad.

    Confronting Islamophobia, It’s No Dog and Pony Show [Published in 2007]

    Recognition of islamophobia as the irrational and unwarranted fear of Muslims and Islam lingers in lexical incubation. Some accept the term fully while others discount its validity. Whether this neologism will gain currency as a bona fide social pathology, or be viewed simply as a marginally legitimate term, moonlighting as a public relations tool, remains to be seen. Phobias, according to the American Psychiatric Association are mental disorders characterized by persistent and irrational fear of a particular thing, situation, or animal. The word islamophobia, and the operative definition applied to it, is far from clinical recognition. However, I must admit, it is a catchy term; and certainly trendy sounding enough to fuel circulation. Like; “what are you guys doing this weekend? “We’re going to fight islamophobia!”” Its etymology insures seamless placement in the “for Islam”, “saving the deen”, “for Allah” category. 

    Islamophobia has a diabolical, sinister ring to it. You can almost picture a young Muslim mother sending her child off to public school; “Now son, remember to drink your milk, look both ways when you cross the street, don’t forget to say your prayers on time, and be sure to watch out for any islamophobia! We’ve used the term with such frequency and with such self serving overtones that it has started to lose it effectiveness if it even had any. Picture the scenario of a man who utters an anti-Muslim remark causing outrage in the Muslim community; he’s rushed to a licensed islamophobist for diagnosis, after submitting to a few diagnostics, the man turns to the doctor in anxious trepidation and says; “well Doc, tell me! What is it? Racism? Psychomotor agitation? Bipolar disorder? Bird flu? The doctor, clipboard in, hand, gazes solemnly into his eyes and says: “no Pat, what you have is a mild case of islamophobia”. The man wiping the sweat off his brow says: “That’s all? Thank God, for a moment, I thought it was something serious”. 

    As Muslims, accurate and responsible use of categorical verbiage is a moral obligation, and in this case, a vital tactical adjunct for Muslims in America. This is why it is critical that before we wage jihad against islamophobia, we accurately define the terminology. Perhaps, we can avoid misdirecting our energies in what may very well be another fruitless pursuit, frocked in Islamic trappings that fails to address the root of our problems as Muslims. Sure there is discrimination against Muslims and yes, it should be addressed, but not manipulated. I don’t see crowds of rednecks chasing down Muslims in the streets. 

    Let’s set aside American foreign policy for a moment, that’s a separate issue. I’m talking about everyday life, living in America. Are there Americans who fear Muslims? Absolutely, and there are some that fear bald headed bikers clad in leather, there are some that fear Latinos, Italians whose last name ends in a vowel, and Christian Fundamentalists. There are people in America who fear African Americans, especially those less than 25 years of age who parenthetically, may be the most feared minority in the country. There are people in America who fear skinheads, the sound of fire trucks, the din of crowded subways, men with bushy mustaches, Caucasians, the police, Catholic priests, the homeless, and there are even people in America believe it or not who are mortified by toothless old ladies. I’m terrified of dentist visits and a contentious divorce could make a person afraid of the opposite sex. Welcome to the club. Fear is an industry in America and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

    Accepting that there are Americans who fear Muslims, is such fear completely irrational? Well, knowing that a surgically worded fatwa can turn an unsuspecting young Muslim into a societal menace overnight, and the capricious way in which a Muslim can be suddenly labeled a non-Muslim, a deviant, or infidel does cause concern. Is there fanaticism in the name of Islam? Yes. Is it widespread? Yes. Are we doing much to combat it? I don’t think so. I’d never expect that anyone could find any moral imperative to suicide bomb a Mawlid celebration. Regardless of the variant opinions of Muslims on celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad , bombing a group of Muslims many of whom were scholars of Islam, gathered in honor of Allah’s final Messenger would make a person say hmm… Talk about Americans fearing Muslims, there are Muslims that fear Muslims! Does this qualify then as islamophobes? I think not.

    We can blame the media until we are blue in the face for negative portrayals of Islam and Muslims; Even as of this writing, graphic imagery of Muslim on Muslim violence, Muslim rage, Muslim turmoil, dominate network and print media. However, these images fuel policy; they help pass massive budgets appropriations, and provide the justification for the mega industry that is known as the war on terror. Preparing ourselves for the so-called Muslim threat has created completely new industries in America as well as bolstering others. Police departments are spending billions dollars on preventive arsenal and technology to prepare for the Muslim threat. Kevlar fitted canines which ten years ago might have been the butt of a Jay Leno opening monologue, is now a lucrative commercial venue. 

    There is such abundance and variety of Muslim media footage, that politicians, policy makers, businessmen, non-profits and industrialists can literally pick out what suits their purpose. Want to do missionary work in Iraq? Grab some hungry children footage. Want to get funding to buy new jail doors from your brother in-law’s Company? Get some terrorist cell simulation footage. Want to retrofit that county bridge to withstand a terrorist attack? Of course, no one could imagine what a so-called terrorist would want with a bridge in the middle of nowhere, but you simply pull out the appropriate news footage and motion passed. The press is only doing their job, selling news entertainment. 

    The question is, what are we going to do? Continue complaining? Ignore our own ills? Only take on agendas that have fundraising potential? The only thing stopping the Muslims from changing their condition is our own arrogance, religious sectarianism, injustices to own selves, and refusal to address serious social Islamic issues. It is nonsense to assume that the media is the only culprit. Or to assume we can somehow eradicate unwarranted fear or distrust of Muslims through the rhetoric of public relations, or references to the glorious history of Islam. America is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of country. Which by the way is not an un-Islamic viewpoint. The Prophet said: “Verily deeds are tallied according to those that are last” (innamaa al-a’maalu bil khawaa’teem). Years of town halls, demonstrations, accountability sessions, sensitivity training and boycotts hasn’t removed graphic negative Muslim media imagery from top billing on headline news. Money can’t buy you love. Yeah I know the Beatles said it 1964, but Allah said it 1400 years prior; “And if you spent everything in the world you could not have joined between their hearts, but it is Allah who joined between them” Quran 8:63. 

    Americans do not necessarily fear Islam and Muslims. What Americans do not want is to see suicide bombers in New York City. As an American Muslim who knows no other homeland, I have no problem in protecting our borders or legitimately defending my country. Does that make me a bad Muslim? I live here, why would I want to see America go down in flames? I have issues with the phrase “death to America”. Our way of life here may not be all good but it definitely is not all bad. We need to stop making politics part of theology or if we insist on doing so, we should accept that no one group or ethnicity can speak for all American Muslims. You have scholars who have never experienced the family bonding that takes place at Thanksgiving dinner, or understand the true nature of the holiday, making fatwas (religious edict) using triangulated logic, telling me that to sit down with my Muslim and non-Muslim family to eat roasted turkey, macaroni and cheese, hug my aunties whom I haven’t seen all year and watch a football game with my cousins is a faith deficiency! My response to that fatwa is posted elsewhere. However the point I’m making is that there is a distinct, irrational, extremist tendency in our application of Islam that needs to be extricated. 

    Americans are more confused about Islam and Muslims than anything else. I don’t think that the media is entirely to blame for that. Heck, even Muslims are confused about Islam. Every year there are millions of Muslims in America who are confused about the start of Ramadan. “Should I fast or should I eat? Can I do both? Taraaweeh prayer; is it 20 rakaat or 8? Am I wrong if I do 8? Am I an innovator if I do twenty? Do I give salaams to all Muslims or just some of them? Do I boycott American products even though I live in America? I still can’t figure that one out. There are so many conflicting fatwas flying around that a person spirals into bewilderment just trying to keep track of them, let alone making sense of some of them.

    Domestically, the American people have accommodated, and accepted the Muslim presence in too many ways for anyone to suggest that there is a pandemic of islamophobia. It has been and still is a struggle. However, the doors have already been opened in large part by African American Muslims. American Muslims in the United States have very little difficulty buying homes, starting businesses, enrolling in universities, or obtaining the so-called American dream. Redundant use of psycho-suggestive coinage would tend to make you feel people are staring you down when they just happen to be looking at you like they do everybody else. It can also convince you that you were not hired because you were a Muslim and not simply because another candidate was more appealing, or more qualified. Statistically speaking, incidents of anti Muslim hate, violence, discrimination in America are relatively low. If we divide the 1500 or so anti Muslim, and anti-Arab (what about anti African, or anti Asian?) incidents reported by one of the largest and loudest civil rights groups in America, into the 6 million Muslims who legally reside in America, that comes up to 2/10ths of a percent. If we multiply the number by five to take into consideration unreported incidents, we arrive at the grand total of 1% of the general Muslim population, hardly enough to qualify fighting islamophobia as a top priority!

    Using the term as a scare tactic has created another neologism; ‘islamophobia-phobia’, (the fear of islamophobia),, which is a greater threat to Muslims than islamophobia. It is true that many Muslims in America receive daily briefs detailing anti Muslim incidents. However, these daily alarms appear more like self-serving, opinion shaping, headline grabbing, and manipulative issue control, than proof of an evil, unwarranted, mindless campaign against Muslims and Arabs by the American citizenry. Give me break! 

    With respect to the religion of Islam, the only ones who can taint its image are its designated practitioners; i.e., the Muslims. This is why the Prophet opted not to dispose of some of the treasonous hypocrites in Medina. It also explains why he reprimanded Mu’aath ibn Jabal for leading the congregational prayer beyond reasonable length. Both actions are potential repellents. Extremism, although it may seem, depending upon the interpreter, to have a textual basis (Quran and Sunna),, usually results in other than the desired outcome. Our failure to realize this point will leave us in disappointment. We have many examples of such. Our recent overreaction to the cartoon portrayal of the Prophet is just one. None of our protests altered the Prophets status in any way. His place with Allah is still secure, and in the same degree, he is still the honored last Prophet of God. All the ranting did not endear the masses to Islam, it exposed our lack of rectitude, it cost us lives, money, time, moral capital and lacked definitive textual basis

    Human beings cannot invalidate the quality or value of Islam; on the contrary, Islam is a divinely pre-validated faith and way of life according to orthodox Islamic creed (agenda). “Verily the religion of Allah is Islam” Quran 3:19. Adherence to Islam or lack of it determines humanistic value, balances societies, and by the way, supports stable, healthy civilizations. Anti Islamic sentiment in the United States has particular causes such as providential disbelief or what is known is theological jargon as (kufr). Nothing we can do about that. “And it is no different whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe” Quran 36:10. Other causes are misunderstanding, misrepresentation of Islam by Muslims or non-Muslim, injustice, the absence of Islamic standards of civility, (yes there is such a thing) and the conspicuous scarcity of Muslim social service institutions in America. Furthermore, anti Islamic sentiment is not always tantamount to anti God, anti righteousness, or anti-justice. You can’t go around accusing anyone who criticizes a Muslim as immoral or islamophobic. We are gullible but were not idiots, at least not all of us.

    Placing responsibility for Islam’s image on other than ourselves is a flawed and unstable paradigm that siphons away valuable time, energy, and spiritual as well as temporal benefit. It distracts us away from individual and collective responsibility and sets in motion as’baab (causative factors) that could deprive us at this critical juncture in our history, of what we need most; divine intervention and support. This can only come from Allah. “Allah is the Friend of those who believe; He takes them out of the darkness’s into the (one) light”. Quran 2:257. Faith, is more than rhetoric action is required. If we for a moment think that success or improvement in our condition can ever occur without it, we are engaging in a fantasy, existing only in the quilt of our minds, wove together with the threads of wishful thinking. Want to prove people in the west wrong about Muslims? Be charitable, help others, feed the hungry, assist the orphan, teach people to read, build a hospital, pave a road, or clean a park. Charitable work does wonders for the soul and it doesn’t hurt public image either if that’s what we care about. The Prophet said: “Prayer is light and charity is proof”. When a people address their own ills and acknowledge their individual and collective faults, and their need to change wrongful ways, and embrace fairness, righteousness, civility, adab, humility, brotherhood, honesty, patience and the qualities that ultimately define our character, change becomes imminent. Divine assistance is set in motion. 

    Labeling people islamophobes, still muzzles some criticism of Islam and the Muslims, However, for many other Americans, it just tees them off, especially when one can easily see the upward mobility, affluence, academic, commercial, and political presence of immigrant Muslims in American society. No one likes a perpetual whiner especially when perceived as having a silver spoon on his palate. This is regardless whether he worked for it or not. Other than paying taxes, there is no significant Islamic social welfare component to offset suspicion, hostility, resentment, or mistrust. This is another cause of anti-Muslim or anti-Arab sentiment in America. 

    We hardly see Islamic ideals and principles manifested institutionally in United States. Oh, pardon me, that’s not entirely true. Islamic ideals and principles do exist in many American institutions. Let’s see, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, free and reduced fee clinics, food stamps, homeless shelters, the SPCA, Fire Departments, traffic lights, free libraries, trash collection, the ability to disagree publicly oh and we have tawheed (monotheism) here too. Maybe we have forgotten what Islam is all about. It just may be possible that we have some closet islamophobia in us! Let us all, myself included, get our act together and leave dog and pony shows for the circus.  [Published in 2007]

    Dissecting the Daleel about Dogs, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

    me-and-the-dogsThis is not about the rantings of a dog lover. I do not consider myself a dog lover or a champion of the canine species. In fact, I have never written an article about dogs in my life, and only in the last few years, acquired dogs for security purposes. I just happen to be a Muslim who used to own dogs, and who has learned to love his dogs and considered them part of my household, and who learned a lot about things like loyalty, gratitude, preserverence, survival, love, care and compassion, all from owning dogs, which is something I’ve always avoided.

    About a year ago, I posted a picture on social media of me and my dogs sitting in our back yard at a previous residence. The picture of a Muslim, an Imam to boot, sitting between two big dogs in his back yard, prompted questions, confusion, perhaps a bit of disgust, some likes, and of course, discussion.

    After all, much of the general sentiment in many Muslim communities are that dogs are entirely unclean, that they are haram (prohibited), and that dogs are definitely un-islamic, and no self-respecting Muslim, Imam or otherwise, needs to be pictured with dogs unless he’s running from a dog (lol), or if he’s featured in some super cool pic standing on a snow blanketed mountainside with his hunting rifle in his left hand, his thikr beads in his right hand and his two dogs at his side. But sitting with your two dogs in your back yard? There is a distinct religious-cultural attitude of disapproval towards dogs in general and towards Muslims who own dogs in particular. Generally speaking, unless you’re a rancher or something. dogs and Islam do not mix; at least in the popular narrative, and that’s what I used to think.

    Until I acquired a German Shepherd and a Husky Malamute to help guard my homes, my person, and my family during a difficult time. That experience changed my perception and understanding about dogs and dog lovers, and taught me a lot about myself, about canines , and about people.

    Now these dogs were guard dogs; they lived outside and were not house dogs. They were good at their job wal-humdu lillaah (praise God), they were fiercely loyal and they protected, and watched over my home, my family and my children. They warded off strangers and let us know when we need to be on heightened alert. When the time arose, they handled their business like clockwork (at least one did) and I loved them for that. They had their own unique and individual personalities, and I became attached to them.  so you can’t help but to get to know them and either like or dislike them. This is by the decree of Allah. I happen to love them. Don’t always like them though, because they will tear up stuff on occaision.

    Obvious Drawbacks to Dog Ownership

    Owning a dog is not for everyone. Just like owning any pet or even having children is not for everybody. Dogs are Allah’s creation that require care, compassion, affection and time. Nevertheless, a Muslim owning a dog has its obvious drawbacks; partially because of the cultural taboo against it, but mainly because we have to pray five times a day and there is the issue of impurities and the recurring need to be in a state of tahaara (purification). This was one (just one) of the reasons that I ended up not having dogs although I don’t rule it out for the future.

    The general idea is that if a dog sniffs you, and everybody knows that dogs sniff people, you are no longer fit to make prayer in those clothes. I myself have went into near hysteria when approached by a dog when I’m out and about. Not because I’m afraid of the dog, but because I wasn’t in position to change my clothes any time soon or before the next prayer came in.  So if you own dogs you have to make adjustments and take special care in order to be in compliance with Muslim laws regulating ritual purity.

    Dog Ownership and Rules

    As a rule, you don’t pray in the same clothes that you wear when dealing with your dogs. You change your clothes, and you wash your hands, face and body parts after you deal with them. Especially of course, knowing that you have the next prayer to contend with. The prescribed prayer requires purification and there is no getting around that. There are parts of a dog that are considered to be impure according to islamic law, and there is no getting around that. The upside to that is that because you own a dog, you develop a heightened sense of ritual purity and there is certain spiritual praise attached to that. The Prophet ﷺ said; “No one guards over their ablution except a believer” [Ibn Majah] Another upside in owning dogs, at least for my family is that they remind us of gratitude, love, loyalty, compassion, the value of rizq (sustenance), and ultimately, believe it or not, they remind us of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. This was not my intention but it just came about that the dogs made us more aware of our religious obligations and the importance of compassion towards animals.

    As far as the official religious rulings about dogs. There is nothing in our religious and canonical laws that inherently prohibited owning a dog. However, there are some guidelines based upon our religious texts. For example, the hair of a dog is not considered najas (unclean) according to most scholars. However, the drool of a dog is considered najas based upon the hadith: “If a dog drinks in a vessel belonging to one of you, then he should rinse it out seven times”. So if dog drool gets on your hand for example, you have to wash your hands, and if it gets on your clothing, you have to rinse your clothing.

    Secondly, so there is little room in Islam for a Muslim to become the quintessential dog lover type since it is only permissible for a Muslim to own a dog in certain circumstances; (hunting, herding, and guarding). Other scholars add seeing eye dogs, personal care dogs, rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, and search dogs to that list. Islam upholds the permissibility of owning dogs if there is a legitimate reason and of that, there are several as mentioned. The Quran states, “So eat what they (your dogs) catch and mention the name of God thereon, and fear God.” (Surah Al Ma’idah).

    Feeding and Caring for Your Dog is a Righteous Deed

    Proper care and feeding your dog is associated with religious piety. The Prophet ﷺ recounted the story; “While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. He came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. The man said to himself, “This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did.” So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He said, “(Yes) there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).” [Bukhari; Muslim]

    Thus, if a person owns a dog, then they have to feed her, mend her when she’s sick, help her with childbirth, protect her from the elements, train her, be kind to her, be just to her, and not burden her with more than she can bear. All of this is a part of sharia law as it governs animal ownership, and if you do it proper it can make you a better person, and a better Muslim. The same goes for horses, oxen, mules, and sheep. As for the opinion that a dog by itself is all unclean, or all haram? There is no basis for that whatsoever in the sharia and in fact, such a notion would contradict the Book of Allah.

    Keeping Your Dog Outside

    A general principle is that if a Muslim owns a dog, it should not be a house dog. Sheltering your dog inside the house is considered disliked (makrooh) based upon the prophetic tradition, “the angels will not enter a house that has images or a dog” [Bukhaari]. Most Muslims don’t even know the whole story about why the angel Jib’reel would not enter the Prophet’s ﷺ house on one occasion. The story goes that Jib’reel made an appointment to come visit the Prophet ﷺ and the Prophet waited for him and he didn’t come. Later, the Prophet asked him why and then Jib’reel mentioned why. “the angels will not enter a house that has images or a dog”.  It turns out that the Prophet ﷺ had an image on a curtain in his doorway and a dog had crept in his house and was hiding under the bed. That’s one reason why certain scholars say that the issue of angels not entering the house because of a dog is for the Prophet ﷺ only and that’s perhaps why the only penalty mentioned for owning a dog as a pet it the home is the loss of one or two ‘qiraat’ (karats).[Note: Scholars differ as to what exactly is a ‘qiraat’ according to islamic law, from anything from 1/20th of a dinar,  to 16 grams of silver. In any case, it s not deemed to be too much according to most scholars.]

    The Quran also mentions the story of the people of the cave who had a dog as their companion. Some people see a conflict in the story about the dog of the people of the cave and the hadith about angels not entering houses that have a dog in it.  Actually, there is no conflict here because firstly, the people of the cave were outside, and secondly, because the people of the cave were not prophets. Angels act differently around prophets, especially Rasoolullaah (SAWS) than they act around folks who are not Prophets. There is a different level of reverence. The third reason is there was no wahy (divine inspiration) being sent down to the people in the cave and when Jib’reel comes, he is likely to bring wahy with him which requires a different decorum, ambiance and situation. There are a lot of reasons if I had more time i could explain but there is ample reconcilement of the verse in Kah’f and in the hadith in Bukhaari

    Having a dog outside, in a cave, in the park, in the woods, on the trail, out camping, hunting, hiking, herding or anything like it, is different from the ruling about dogs in the house and even then, as I mentioned, some scholars say that the house ruling was exclusive to the Prophet ﷺ. Sometimes as Muslims we tend to go overboard with dogs like we sometimes go overboard with a lot of things. In fact, dogs are a creation Allah made subject to our control, subjugation and training just like horses, cattle, sheep, some birds and so on. The basis for owing them is permissibility and they have purpose for mankind as mentioned in the Quran.

    What’s left are the laws, rules, etiquette and protocol that govern owing a dog or dogs. Part of these laws has to with purification and hygiene, and part of it has to do with the proper treatment and care of dogs (as well as other animals) and none of it has to do with outlawing all dogs, or stigmatizing Muslim dog owners like they don’t have taqwa or something.

    During the time of the Prophet ﷺ dogs used to roam freely and occasionally one would end up in someone’s house or even the masjid. In the hadith of Abdullah ibn Umar, he said: “I used to stay overnight in the mosque at the time of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ when I was young and single, and dogs used to urinate and come and go in the mosque, and they did not sprinkle water over any of that.” What the Prophet ﷺ frowned upon was owning a dog for no purpose except a pet in the house. The hadith about angels (of mercy) not entering which is a sound hadith by the way, scholars interpreted it differently. I personally err on the side of caution as far as dogs in the house but the fact remains that we make a bigger deal about dogs than the Prophet did ﷺ.  A lot of time because we follow someone else’s cultural attitude toward the canine and not the actual legal standard as codified in our religious laws. Dogs are here in part to serve some of the needs of humans, and over time people have discovered other uses for dogs. There are dogs who have saved many more lives than many men, by the permission and decree of Allah.

    Dogs and Pets as Reminders of Faith

    The thing about our dogs is that they remind us of gratitude, love, loyalty, the value of rizq (sustenance), and ultimately, believe it or not, they remind us of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. I love my dogs and I seek the blessings and reward from Allah in feeding them, kindness to them and the way that we treat them. They depend on us for their care and Allah has entrusted my family with them. We take that trust seriously. There is nothing strange about being reminded about Allah, His mercy, His goodness, and His guardianship over His creation through our interaction with our animals, remembering that Allah is their Lord too.

    Imam Luqman Ahmad

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