Princely Companion or Object of Offense? The Dog’s Ambiguous Status in Islam

In: Society & Animals
Jenny Berglund Department for Study of Religions, School of History and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University Stockholm Sweden

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Negative attitudes toward dogs are common in Muslim societies. Thus, in studying both past and present Muslim writings on dogs, a contradictory picture emerges, indicating that Muslim attitudes toward dogs have had their ambiguities. At times the dog has been presented as the lowest, filthiest, and vilest of creatures, and at times the dog appears as a perfect role model, exemplifying qualities like loyalty, devotion, and self-sacrifice. There are signs that attitudes toward dogs are changing in some Muslim societies. One such sign is that an increasing number of people in Muslim countries are now keeping dogs as companion animals. The following research will be used to highlight ambiguities as well as changes in order to not only better understand the position of the dog within Islam, but also to provide a very concrete example of how interpretations of religions are not isolated or single but are dependent on context.

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