This is a case which has come to my attention and one that is kind of shocking to us Muslims here in Malaysia to see pictures of this tudung clad Malay Muslim student nonchalantly handling dogs and pigs with her bare hands and posing for these pictures without any expressions of being squeamish or disgust as what would usually be the case for many of us here in Malaysia.
I received this email recently forwarded to me and took the time and trouble to translate it into English so as to enable you to read about this quite an eye-opening case.
The email is from a Malay Muslim Veterinarian based in Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
To all those who are concerned. I wish you all the best and pray that you are in the good graces of the Almighty and Most Merciful Allah.
I feel drawn to share with you what I have to say about certain pictures now being circulated in group websites and forums in the internet of a Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University Putra Malaysia Malay Muslim student who has posed for photos whilst being in a pig sty and handling both dogs and pigs!
I am writing this email in length with the hope that my explanations will be understood clearly and not misinterpreted.
NEVERTHELESS, to those who don't have much time to spare in reading this, its enough for me to state that :
- 'THERE'S NO PROBLEM WITH THOSE PICTURES!
- THOSE PICTURES AREN'T INSULTING ISLAM BUT IN TURN SHOW THAT MUSLIMS CAN IF THEY NEED TO ; TOUCH DOGS AND PIGS!
- IT'S MANKIND'S RESPONSIBILITY AS KHALIFAH'S OF ALLAH TO ENSURE THE COMFORT, SAFETY, FREEDOM AND WELLBEING OF ALL OF ALLAH'S CREATURES ON EARTH!
There is no injunction that says that it is forbidden to touch dogs and pigs.
What's forbidden is to eat the meat of swine and any animals that have fangs.
We need to be clear about what Islam's views are about these animals?
Both of them are amongst the Creation of Allah and Allah would not create anything in vain ; in fact, each creation of Allah has a significant role to play in this life.
Has Allah created the dog and pig to be viewed with disdain by His Ummah?
Before continuing with this discourse, please allow me to introduce myself.
I am a graduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, year 2006. I am now continuing my Master of Physiology, first semester studies in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UPM.
I studied at the Kuala Selangor Islamic Secondary School before this.
I might not be the best person to explain about this for there are better individuals who are Islamic scholars, who could give in depth explanations about the subject matter together with the relevant verses and their detailed translations.
Even then, I will to the best of my abilities, try to share with you with my limited Islamic knowledge and from what I have learned from my personal discussions with the learned religious teachers in seminars that we have held in our own faculty with regard to this issue.
Firstly, as a Veterinary Doctor @ ( Animal Doctor), it is just part and parcel of our duty in having to carry out treatment of dogs or pigs.
For those of us who work as Veterinary Doctors or Vets in short in Animal Clinics, most of us have to treat dogs and cats.
Even then, there are those who limit their treatments to just cats.
As for pigs, usually no Muslim Vets will choose to work in those farms.
Those who work in the Department of Veterinary Services, at times have to visit the pig farms to ensure that the farms concerned practice good farming procedures and management in order to be free from contagious diseases such as the Nipah virus which wreaked havoc in 1999 that also threatened the life's of human beings.
There are also Vets working in the laboratories, who have to process samples coming from pigs or dogs such as their blood, faeces, or anything else derived from them.
Hence, in the curriculum of the Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, students will be involved in handling dogs and pigs.
Starting with practical studies of the organs of such animals in the study of the anatomy and physiology subjects to the extent of handling, treatment and carrying out postmortem examinations of such animals in depth upon entering the pre-clinical and clinical years.
In general, I agree with the term of 'desensitization' used by someone who emailed me recently.
As veterinarians, this desensitization is necessary for us to not feeling disgusted when treating our animal patients for it is our responsibility and also part of our oath that we recite when we graduate.
Upon entering Year 4, a veterinary student will have to follow the introduction to clinic subject and clinical subjects in Year 5.
In both these subjects, students will be divided into small teams. These teams will take turns to carry out practical work in the prescribed activities. They have to carry out practical studies for a week on each subject.
These practical studies involve the treatment of pets such as dogs and also the pig rearing industry. They have to visit pig farms to carry out observations, diagnose diseases and carry out treatment procedures.
From what I have seen, the pictures being circulated through the internet are those of a UPM veterinary student, taken during her practical studies at the pig farms and clinical studies.
Its my opinion that the student posted such pictures publicly not to insult the Islamic Faith or anyone but to share an experience that not many in the general public might go through!
Regarding the issue of touching, holding, treating dogs and pigs that are categorized as 'Najis Mukhallazah' @ Severe Najis according to Islamic Fiqh, its not actually 'HARAM' as understood by most Malay Muslims.
Many ask me as to how I being a Muslim can touch dogs and pigs which are forbidden to be touched?
According to the Fiqh of Islamic Knowledge that I studied since my Islamic primary school up to the secondary school, the touching of 'Najis Mukhallazah' is not 'haram'.
- What is taught in the Fiqh Laws are when we have touched 'Najis Mukhallazah' ;
- we are to purify ourselves with carrying out the 'samak procedure' which is to wash the affected areas 7 times.
- Once with water mixed with pure earth and then to rinse it off 6 times with pure water .
What's haram with regard to dogs and pigs is the consumption of their meat and by products ; not touching them.
As a Malay, I understand the views of the Malay society who feel squeamish or disgusted against dogs and pigs.
This might have come into being from the traditions brought about by our forefathers who tried their level best to avoid touching of dogs and pigs for their aversion to have to cleanse and purify themselves when such a situation occurs and would affect their acts of ibadah.
I myself, even after being clear about the rules regarding the touching of dogs and pigs, felt awkward and squeamish when I held a pig's heart for the first time, what more when I had to lift a dog to be placed upon the examining table where the technique calls for me to hold the dog close to myself as it is the safest technique to avoid injury to the animal in the lifting process.
Still, we need to be clear about what is Islam's view with regard to these two animals, created by Allah the Almighty?
Did Allah create the dog and pig to be reviled and loathed as severe 'najis'?
If so, why then is there the Islamic decree in Fiqh that states any prey caught and killed by trained hunting dogs as 'halal' to be consumed provided the hunter makes the intention in his or her heart for the sake of Allah when releasing the hunting dog or dogs or bird of prey ?
What about the story of the prostitute who was forgiven by Allah of all her sins and entered into Paradise solely on the basis of her good deed in feeding a dog dying of thirst with water that she took by climbing down a well using her shoe?
Dogs and pigs are also creatures of Allah and included amongst the responsibilities of mankind who have been appointed as the Khalifah's of Allah upon this Earth.
As such, they too as humans need food when hungry, drink when thirsty, treatment when sick even though the priorities differ when the situation warrants choosing between them and humans.
Thus, I see what is being studied by the veterinarians relating to dogs and pigs including the obligations to treat them is included in Fardhu Kifayah and fulfills a part of mankind's responsibilities as the Khalifah's of Allah!
Nevertheless, it is still the responsibility of the veterinarian to know the do's and don'ts of the Islamic faith in his or her career.
Muslim veterinarians and veterinary medical students need to be careful and not be lackadaisical in their observing the cleanliness and purity of their physical selfs and attire so as not to render their ibadah null and void because they failed to avoid contamination of such severe najis upon themselves.The best way for such veterinarians and veterinary medical students to avoid such complications is to separate their work clothes and their normal attire especially their clothings which they use for prayer.
This is to avoid damage to such clothings used in prayer for the damage that such attire will suffer if purified through the 'samak' procedures.Civilians ought not worry because such filth is not contagious.
It means that if a vet just washes his or her hands after work but hasn't purified their hands through the 'samak' procedure, such a situation still does not promote contagion when or if you have to shake their hands.
The essence of color, smell and taste is no longer there for they have washed off their hands but still the vet needs to carry out the 'samak' process before prayer.
The same situation can occur when a Muslim has to shake the hands of a Non Muslim who rears dogs at home.
What about those who have stepped on dog poo or stepped upon grounds that have been trod upon by dogs and pigs?One doesn't have to worry and too particular especially if there is no essence of the three criteria to suggest the presence of such severe najis -color, smell and traces.
There are suggestions by several ustaz's to purify the whole body through the 'samak procedure once in a while for the civilian Muslim population and once a month for the veterinarians.
This is if the essence of the Najis Mukhallazah is worried to be present on their persons but not detectable, they can then be purified thoroughly by carrying out the 'samak' process regularly.
Still, this is just an opinion of myself and not an obligation upon all those who have doubts as to the state of their purity and personal cleanliness.Actually, there has been many questions that have been raised regarding Muslim veterinarians who have to treat racehorses?
What's the Islamic law regarding it? How about the treatment fees received? Is it halal?
The same goes to the matter of a Muslim veterinarian who provides services and advice in improving the pig farming industry. What's the Islamic law regarding that?
What about the vet who has to carry out a lengthy corrective surgery on dogs and pigs to the stage that he or she misses their prayers?
Can it be considered to be the same as carrying out surgery on humans where the prayers can be shortened and carried out together in 'jamak and qasar'?
There are lots of other questions coming from civilians, between us veterinarians and the veterinary students that I can't answer due to my limited religious knowledge.
I figure that the same situation occurs or will occur in your career if you truly seek for the answers.
This is because Islam is the complete way of life and it covers all elements of living and the beauty of it is that, true Islam already has all the answers to our predicaments and situations.
It is up to us to study, research and understand what Islam has to say about anything by observing the guidelines and teachings of those who are learned and knowledgeable in the faith.
Lastly, as Muslims, let's take responsibility to correct the misunderstanding of our Ummah especially those involving the Malays with regard to this very sensitive and disturbing issue.
This matter is often raised by the Non Muslims who are quite concerned about animal welfare.
One of my seniors in his final year project regarding animal welfare, conducted a poll of opinions.
Among the questions were :
- "If you saw a dog that had its legs trapped, would you help by freeing it?"
- Give reasons for each of your answers.
This scenario has to change for as a Muslim, we need to take care of 3 relationships.
- Our relationship with Almighty Allah.
- Our relationship with our fellow human beings.
- Our relationship with our fellow Creatures on Earth.
We need to delve into the Revelations, seek and find the answers to all our needs, understand, implement and put them to practice in our life's.
Verily, all Knowledge belongs to Allah, the Most Learned, Most Aware.
I welcome those who feel like sharing their views, thoughts, corrections of facts or wish to share more information with regard to this matter to email me at email@example.com
May this article be beneficial to all. Ameen.
Dr. Mohd Dzulhamka Kamaluddin
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Prof. Dr. Rasedee Abdullah
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Universiti Putra Malaysia
Al-Qur'an Surah Al-Ma'ida Chapter 5 Verse 3.
3. Hurrimat AAalaykumu almaytatu waalddamu walahmu alkhinzeeri wama ohilla lighayri Allahi bihi waalmunkhaniqatu waalmawqoothatu waalmutaraddiyatu waalnnateehatu wama akala alssabuAAu illa ma thakkaytum wama thubiha AAala alnnusubi waan tastaqsimoo bial-azlami thalikum fisqun alyawma ya-isa allatheena kafaroo min deenikum fala takhshawhum waikhshawni alyawma akmaltu lakum deenakum waatmamtu AAalaykum niAAmatee waradeetu lakumu al-islama deenan famani idturra fee makhmasatin ghayra mutajanifin li-ithmin fa-inna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun
3. Forbidden to you (for food) are:
- dead meat,
- the flesh of swine,
- and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than God;
- that which hath been killed by strangling,
- or by a violent blow,
- or by a headlong fall,
- or by being gored to death;
- that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal;
- unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form);
- that which is sacrificed on stone (altars);
- (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.
- This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me.
- This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.
- But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, God is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
Related article here.
Also read this Question & Answer session regarding the touching of dogs and pigs by Muslim veterinarians.
Touching Dogs and Pigs by Veterinarians By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 26 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1422, 16 August 2001
Q.) Please tell me whether touching of dogs or pigs by veterinarians is haram or not?
If it is permissible in Islam, should they wash their hands 7 times ; out of which one should be with sand or earth?
Jazakallahu Khairan. [Hafsa Suhail]
A.) It is permissible for veterinarians to touch dogs and pigs or any other animal.
Latex gloves, etc. may be used in order that a person avoids direct contact with these animals.
If any impurity from the animal soils a person's hands, he should remove the impurity by washing the hands via the samak procedure. And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.
For detailed explanations on Halal and Haram in Islam but in Malay, please visit this site.
Well, that sort of wraps up this article but still I consider it important that Muslims study Islam thoroughly and acquire the true knowledge of what Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala has revealed to us in the Holy Al-Qur'an and also do our research of the numerous Hadiths of the Prophet Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam.
Only by coming to know of what's enjoined and what's forbidden in our faith, will we be able to live our lives according to what Allah SWT commands us.
As we all know, there are good, bad and evil in most things and beings that we come across here on Earth. We can avoid getting harmed or falling into danger by learning about such things or beings by studying about them and learning to be able to differentiate between all such matters.
True Muslims will find this world that we live in to be a source of goodness and happiness only by becoming wise and learned about all things.
The ignorants fall into misguidance and commit khurafat and syirik when they mix and match misguidance and superstition in their daily life's as a result of their being misled into committing sin and acts that render their faith and deeds null and void through such ignorance.
The very first word of revelation of the Holy Last Testament @ Al-Qur'an Al-Karim of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala to His Final and Greatest Messenger and Prophet to Mankind, the Blessed Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam was 'I'qra!' @ 'Read!'
Thus it is incumbent upon each of us to read about everything and acquire all relevant skills and knowledge here on Earth in order to be amongst the successful ones amongst the entire Mankind.
Another good site I recommend you to visit and read up is this. Very straight forward article.
It is important to read a lot and compare notes with one or the other. Do remember that in the field of studying about Islam through the ages, one has to be absolutely sure about the source of all the thoughts and viewpoints being shared by many of the authors.
Always go back to the root source of all relevant information and facts about Islam.
May Allah the Almighty bless us all with more of His Guidance and Wisdom to help us out with our life's. Ameen.
I end this article with just that. Do read about all things revealed to us by Allah SWT and His Messenger and be the best that we can be. Insya Allah.