Why can’t Muslims touch dogs?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Muslims are prohibited from touching dogs due to several reasons rooted in Islamic teachings and cultural beliefs. It is important to note that the prohibition varies among different interpretations and levels of religious observance within the Muslim community.

One of the main reasons behind the prohibition is the perception that dogs are impure or dirty animals. This belief stems from a hadith (a saying of the Prophet Muhammad) that states that angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or an image of a living being. Consequently, some conservative interpretations of Islam consider dogs to be inherently impure and discourage any contact with them.

However, it is crucial to highlight that not all Muslims view dogs in such a negative light. Moderate Muslims may follow a more lenient interpretation, suggesting that it is acceptable to be around dogs as long as contact with their mucous membranes is avoided. This means that Muslims should refrain from touching a dog’s nose or mouth, as these areas are considered particularly impure.

The idea of avoiding contact with dogs’ mucous membranes is based on the belief that they are more likely to be contaminated with impurities. In Islamic teachings, cleanliness is highly valued, and Muslims are encouraged to maintain a state of ritual purity (known as taharah) in their daily lives. Touching a dog’s mucous membranes is seen as potentially compromising this state of purity.

It is important to understand that these beliefs and practices surrounding dogs in Islam are not universal and can vary greatly across cultures and regions. In some Muslim-majority countries, dogs are widely accepted as pets and are treated with affection and care.

Personal experiences and cultural contexts also play a significant role in shaping individuals’ attitudes towards dogs. For instance, some Muslims who have had negative encounters with dogs, such as being bitten or chased, may develop a fear or aversion towards them. This fear can influence their perception of dogs as impure or unclean.

The prohibition on touching dogs in Islam is primarily based on the belief that dogs are impure animals. While some conservative interpretations advocate complete avoidance, moderate Muslims suggest avoiding contact with the dog’s mucous membranes. However, it is important to recognize that attitudes towards dogs can vary among individuals and cultures, and not all Muslims view them as inherently impure.