by Fudia Muhammad
I write this article knowing full well that this subject is not going to endear me to many readers and may even get me cursed out by a few (smile)! Due to how much we love our pets, we are willing to squabble with anyone who suggests that we may need to rethink that relationship. It is an important area to explore because children are fascinated by animals and are often the reason why parents choose to bring a pet home. But relax, no one is saying that we should not have pets, we just have to remember that our pets, though domesticated, are still animals.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was asked the following question via Twitter: “Should Muslims have dogs as pets? If not, will you please explain.” The Minister answered, “You can have a dog as a pet; but you should always have a place for your pet – not in your house, in your bed, but a place outside. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad never told us we shouldn’t have a pet.” Animals belong outside, it’s their natural habitat. Living, eating and sleeping side-by-side with our pets is unnatural. But as is the case with most of our unnatural behaviors, we learned and adopted them from those who are not natural to our planet.
In the Holy Qur’an, there is a section titled, The Dwellers in the Cave, where it reads, “And thou mightest think them awake while they were asleep, and We turned them about to the right and to the left, with their dog outstretching its paws at the entrance. If thou didst look at them, thou wouldst turn back from them in flight, and thou wouldst be filled with awe because of them” (18:18). This particular verse is referencing the era when Caucasians lived in the caves and hillsides of Europe for two thousand years (i.e. caveman). The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches that during this time they were deprived of divine guidance which caused them to live as and look like wild beasts. They lived in caves and trees, crawled on all fours, grew hair all over their bodies, and ate raw food. He teaches that before the new man (Caucasian), there was no such thing as swine, apes or monkeys.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote, “Their [white race] next and best weapons were the dogs. They tamed some of these dogs to live in the caves with their families, to help protect them from the wild beasts. After a time, the dog held a high place among the family because of his fearlessness to attack the enemies of his master. Today, the dog is still loved by the white race and is given more justice than the so-called Negroes, and, is called the white man’s best friend. This comes from the cave days” (Message to the Blackman).
How could the Original man have a dog (god, spelled backwards), as his best friend? This is the invention of ‘mankind.’ The white man literally cares for his dogs and other pets with the same attentiveness and extravagance as he would a child. They schedule playdates for their pets, provide dental care, vaccines, health insurance, life insurance, grooming at the salon, fancy outfits, therapy, social media profiles and more. This is insanity.
This is not to say that we should mistreat or abuse animals. In fact, Allah (God) is displeased when we mishandle our authority over the lower animals and use them for other than their given purpose. They should not be killed for sport. They should only be killed for food, clothing or shelter. Yet, even in these instances, mercy is required in the manner they are slaughtered, which is done by taking them by surprise. They should be taken in the name of Allah (God) and should never see death coming. Cruelty to animals is considered a sin in Islam. Allah (God) requires kindness and mercy.
We should teach our children to not only be kind to animals, but to also study them in their natural habitat. There is so much that we can learn about ourselves and divine order by studying nature and the lower creatures. In everything that Allah (God) has created there is a lesson. People and their pets both benefit from keeping pets as close to their natural environment as possible. Instinctively animals are hunters. A domesticated pet will not hunt, but it should still be kept on property where there is a large yard and ample room for exercise. Exercise is good for both the mental and physical health of animals. They love being close to nature with the freedom to be active and have all of their senses stimulated. Animals are created to live outdoors, constantly absorbing Vitamin D from the sunlight. Therefore, a deficiency in Vitamin D can actually be more harmful for animals than for people.
Of course, the primary reason we want to keep our pets outdoors is for the cleanliness, health and refinement of the family home. The scripture reads, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” – the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “Cleanliness is godliness!” Muslims remove their shoes upon entering the home. The bottoms of our shoes are incredibly filthy; just as filthy as the bottoms of the feet of our pets. If allowed indoors, they immediately track a myriad of grime, dirt, mud, excrement, muck, etc. on our floors, sofas, beds and more. Not to mention that pets are notorious for shedding, relieving themselves indoors and destroying furniture. Pets can also activate allergies and other zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that normally exist in animals, but can be transferred to infect humans. We will find that if we give our children an explanation of why we choose not to have pets, or why the pets will be kept outdoors, they will understand and learn to appreciate that the nature of the human is not the same as the nature of an animal. Give them the true history of the “caveman” and what type of people and lack of civilization emerged from people and animals cohabiting. If we really love our pets, we will respect their nature and demonstrate it by not taking them completely away from their designated existence and keep them outdoors.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)