“The Prophet said, ‘Angels do not enter a house in which there are dogs or pictures.” (Sahih-Al-Bukhari, 7.833, Narrated by Abu Talha)
I first posted at Jihad Watch seven years ago (June 11, 2009) a piece about the fear and hatred Muslims appear to harbor for dogs, and about the consequent mistreatment dogs endure from Muslims. The reports of such mistreatment, by Muslims, of precisely the animal that is most celebrated for his devotion and loyalty to humans, has for many been further confirmation that something is terribly wrong with Islam. That is the tack taken by Peter Hammond in his recent appearance at The Glazov Gang on “Islam’s Hatred of Dogs.”
My post began with a few representative stories about such mistreatment, such as this from England:
In the Reading Evening Mail, for example, one story described a 71-year-old blind Englishman and cancer sufferer who was asked to get off a bus because of the hysterical reaction to his seeing-eye dog by some Muslims on the bus:
A driver told a blind cancer sufferer to get off his bus when a woman and her children became hysterical at the sight of his guide dog. George Herridge, 71, told how the mum flew into a rage and shouted at him in a foreign language. A passenger explained she wanted him to get off the bus during the incident on May 20.
Mr Herridge, from Tern Close, Tilehurst, said: “Her child was kicking and screaming and someone off the bus told me her child was frightened of my dog. The driver said, ‘Look mate, can’t you get off? I stood my ground. I had not done anything, my dog had not done anything and I was getting off the bus for no one.”
And a day after the latest bus incident a lady began screaming “I don’t like dirty dogs” at Mr Herridge at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
A week earlier he faced further animosity from a couple at Asda in The Meadway, he said.
He is unsure what has provoked outbursts but said he thinks some have come from Asian [i.e., Muslim] people and that it may be due to religious or cultural differences.
Drivers have been re-instructed to convey the blind and the bus company has sought advice from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and hopes to speak with Muslim leaders. As part of a Muslim Council of Britain project, Mufti Zubair Butt, Shar’ia advisor to Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS, admitted Muslims “require some education” on guide dogs.”
I went on to mention, in that 2009 posting, similar reports about Somali cab drivers in Minneapolis who refused to pick up passengers with seeing-eye or service dogs.
These were offered as examples of the extreme Muslim reaction to dogs that so often occurs when they are asked merely to accept what for us is a matter of course, such as the use of seeing-eye dogs. For many Muslims, dogs provoke not quiet distaste, but rather a kind of fearful hysteria.
But where does this extreme hatred and hysteria come from? It comes not from the Qur’an, but from the dozens of hadith in which Muhammad expresses his opposition to dogs. But what is most interesting are those hadith in which both dogs, and depictions of living creatures, whether as pictures or statues, are essentially declared to be haram.
Here is one such, where Muhammad is reported to have said: “Angels will not enter a house in which there are dogs or pictures.” (Sahih-Al-Bukhari, 7.833, Narrated by Abu Talha) There are other variants, in which the Muslim prophet says “Angels do not enter a house in which there are dogs or statues.” The point was to avoid all figurative art, whether paintings or statues, of sentient beings. And Christian homes would often have pictures or statues of Mary, Jesus, different saints. By stating that angels would not enter a house with pictures or statues, Muhammad — or whoever was responsible for those hadiths — signalled Muslims to follow suit, distancing themselves from Christian practices and from Christians themselves. And from those slender beginnings arose the ferocious antipathy to idols, pictures, and, especially, statues, which has led, over 1350 years, to the destruction of vast numbers of pictures and statues – first those of Christians, and later those of the conquered Hindus and Buddhists, continuing right up to the present day, with the blowing up of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the ISIS destruction of Assyrian statuary.
One way to help Muslims fulfill their duty “not to take Christians as friends” was to discourage them from entering houses where such taswir might still be found. And Christians, in order to have members of the dominant, i.e., Muslim, class feel able to enter their houses, which for some Christians could be a desirable thing (in order to curry favor with the Muslims who now ruled over them), might find themselves more willing to remove the offending statues, idols, and pictures from their own homes. Finally, the presence of such depictions allowed Muslims to easily distinguish the Christian from the Muslim households. To understand the warning against dogs in the same hadiths, that explain the refusal of Muslim cab-drivers in Minneapolis today to pick up passengers with their seeing-eye and service dogs, you need to go back to hadiths that are more than a millennium old.
The leading historian of Zoroastrianism, Mary Boyce, who lived in Iran from 1963 to 1964, offers an intimate view of the fiendish cruelty with which Muslim Iranians treated the dogs so revered by Zoroastrians. Boyce suggests that the cynophobia in Islam started in Iran, after its conquest by Muslim Arabs, and was “deliberately fostered in the first place in Iran, as a point of opposition to the old (pre-Islamic jihad conquest) faith (i.e., Zoroastrianism)”:
In Sharifabad the dogs distinguished clearly between Moslem and Zoroastrian, and were prepared to go…full of hope, into a crowded Zoroastrian assembly, or to fall asleep trustfully in a Zoroastrian lane, but would flee as before Satan from a group of Moslem boys…The evidence points…to Moslem hostility to these animals having been deliberately fostered in the first place in Iran, as a point of opposition to the old (pre-Islamic jihad conquest) faith (i.e., Zoroastrianism) there. Certainly in the Yazdi area…Moslems found a double satisfaction in tormenting dogs, since they were thereby both afflicting an unclean creature and causing distress to the infidel who cherished him. There are grim…stories from the time (i.e., into the latter half of the 19th century) when the annual poll-tax (jizya) was exacted, of the tax gatherer tying a Zoroastrian and a dog together, and flogging both alternately until the money was somehow forthcoming, or death released them. I myself was spared any worse sight than that of a young Moslem girl…standing over a litter of two-week old puppies, and suddenly kicking one as hard as she could with her shod foot. The puppy screamed with pain, but at my angry intervention she merely said blankly, “But it’s unclean.” In Sharifabad I was told by distressed Zoroastrian children of worse things: a litter of puppies cut to pieces with a spade-edge, and a dog’s head laid open with the same implement; and occasionally the air was made hideous with the cries of some tormented animal. Such wanton cruelties on the Moslems’ part added not a little to the tension between the communities.
At The Glazov Gang, Peter Hammond makes the case that because the distinguishing features of dogs – loyalty, self-sacrifice, devotion – so obviously represent the Good, Muslims hate them for that very reason. It’s certainly not impossible. But following upon Boyce, I suggest it is more plausible to imagine that Muslim hatred of dogs had nothing to do with their canine virtues, and everything to do with the desire to distinguish Muslims from Zoroastrians. Had not dogs but some other animal — say, cats — been revered in Zoroastrianism, then the hatred of cats rather than dogs would have “been fostered” in Islam in the same way, with one Hadith having Muhammad report that angels refused to enter a house with cats, and another with Muhammad saying that Muslim prayers lose their efficacy if said while a cat passes. Dogs were hated by Muslims not because, pace Hammond, of their innate virtues, but simply because Zoroastrians placed so high a value on them: Despise whatever the Kuffar revere.
Would that those in power began, possibly with the assistance of one or more of Spencer’s vademecums, to familiarize themselves with Islam, to understand what the mosques and madrasas inculcate, to grasp the Islamic division of the world between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, to take note of the Arab supremacism that perdures within a faith that claims to be universal, and to figure out what the spread of Islam means for all of us, the world’s Infidels, for our arts and sciences, for our freedoms of speech and religion, for our legal systems, for our household goods and gods, for the survival of our paintings and statues, and yes — also sprach Zarathustra – even for our dogs.