07 January 2013
Islam allows blind to use dogs
By NURADILLA NOORAZAM AND AISYAH SULAIMAN
EYES AND EARS: There is no issue in using the services of trained dogs, says Perlis mufti
KUALA LUMPUR: THERE is no rule in Islam which prohibits the use of service dogs to guide the blind, said Perlis mufti Dr Juanda Jaya.
"Using the services of guide dogs which are well trained is allowed in the religion, including the Syafie mazhab, which is subscribed to by Muslims in the country.
"There is no issue on using service dogs for various purposes like hunting, guarding and as guiding dogs," he told the New Straits Times, yesterday.
Considered as one of the most sought after service dogs, guide dogs are trained from young to act as eyes and ears for the blind.
Guide dogs are also trained to improve the mobility of the blind and have been proven to help them lead independent lives.
On why blind Muslims in the country do not consider having guide dogs, Juanda said there was confusion on the exact ruling and status of dogs in the religion.
"People need to learn to differentiate between religion and culture in order to make decisions in their lives and to not follow blindly what others say about rulings in Islam."
Fatwa Council president Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Husni said there was no specific fatwa issued for guide dogs for the blind.
"It is mainly because we didn't receive any enquiry or requests from the affected community to consider a fatwa on guide dogs.
"If there is a request and we see a present need for the issuance of a fatwa on guide dogs, we will have a meeting to discuss this issue thoroughly," said Shukor, while calling for Muslims who are concerned about the issue to come forward.
In 2008, the United Kingdom's Muslim Law (Syariah) Council issued a fatwa stating that "a blind person, in the light of syariah law, will be allowed to keep a guide dog to help him and if required to take him to the mosque for his prayers".
Then, 18-year-old Mohammed Abraar Khatri, who lost his sight because of a degenerative disease the same year, championed the rights of Muslims to use the services of guide dogs with help from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the Muslim Council of Britain.
His guide dog, named Vargo, accompanied Mohammed to school, outings and to the mosque.
A special compartment was set up within the mosque compound to let the dog stay while Mohammed went to pray.
Perak mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria said Muslims were allowed to keep dogs if they were trained to be guard dogs, to watch over the garden (kebun) or to be seeing-eye dogs.
"It is said in a hadith that the angels do not like the barking of dogs and will not enter a house in which a dog is kept. But that does not mean that we cannot keep them for certain purposes.
"We are permitted to keep them, as long as they are not kept in the house, and we have to sertu if we touch them when they are wet."
Sertu, he said, is the act of washing the skin with water six times and with a mixture of water and earth once.
It is often mistaken for the term samak, which is the act of cleaning an animal's skin with rough materials such as sand or ashes.
Guide dogs have been proven to help the blind to lead independent lives.
In Islam, blind Muslims are allowed to use guide dogs to get around.
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