Is it okay for a Muslim to have a dog as a pet? Not just as a guard dog, but as a companion. Bring them inside the house, play with them, take a walk, etc. I've read somewhere that if there's a dog in the house, angels will not come inside our house. Is it true? Thank you
This is a highly controversial topic among the scholars. The opinion of the Mālikī school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī , al-Zuharī , Sufyān al-Thawrī, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Mundhir al-Shāfiʿī and Ibn Ḥazm.
Keeping dogs as pets, however, is more problematic because of certain authentic narrations, for example the following:
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, "If someone keeps a dog neither for hunting, nor for guarding livestock, the reward (for his good deeds) will be reduced by two Qirats per day." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 72, Hadith 7)
Abu Talhah said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a portrait [or religious idol]." (Bukhari and Muslim, see Riyad al-Salihin Book 18, Hadith 1684)
According to a fatwa from Egypt’s fatwa authority, it is permissible to keep dogs if there a “need” for it in one’s life or work, such as a guard or guide dog, and as long as the person keeps a prayer room that is not entered by the dog.
Dr. Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s Grand Mufti from 2003 to 2013, issued a fatwa that permits keeping dogs as pets if someone has a strong emotional need for it. In order to accord with the narrations mentioned above, he says that one should not pray in a room where the dog is, but that it is permitted to let the dog in the house.
The Egyptian scholar Maḥmūd Shaltūt (1893 – 1963 CE), who was Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (Egypt’s highest authority on Sunni Islam), ruled that keeping a dog as a pet and letting it in the house is permissible as long as it is not diseased. However, he says that if the dog eats or drinks from a utensil, it must be washed thoroughly before it is used by a human.
The rest of the scholars, the Ḥanafīs, Shāfiʿīs and Ḥanbalīs say that a dog is either unclean or that it is forbidden to keep as a pet, that it must only be kept if it is a hunting, shepherding or guard dog.
So there is sufficient support within the Islamic scholarship community for a person to keep a dog as a pet. But the majority of scholars are against it, and so are the majority of Muslim cultures.
If an American who already has a dog converts to Islam, there is sufficient evidence within Islam for them to continue keeping it as a pet. But they shouldn’t be surprised if the Muslims around them strongly frown upon their doing so.
Follow up question:
assalamu alaykum, having a dog isn’t prohibited as long as you keep a separate room for praying and other acts of adoration? what about wudu? won’t we have to shower each time we pray?
Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,
The opinion of the Mālikī school is that dogs are pure (i.e. not ritually unclean), and that it is permissible to touch them and play with them as long as they are not diseased. This is also the opinion of al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī , al-Zuharī , Sufyān al-Thawrī, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Mundhir al-Shāfiʿī and Ibn Ḥazm.
According to these scholars dogs are just like cats or any other animal, so there is no special cleansing requirement if you follow their opinions.