Iran cleric says dogs "unclean" and not to be kept as pets
TEHRAN (Reuters) – A senior Iranian cleric has decreed dogs are "unclean" and should not be kept as pets -- a move aimed at discouraging Western-style dog ownership in the Islamic state, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Dogs are considered "unclean" under Islamic tradition but, while relatively rare in Iran, some people do keep them as pets.
By issuing a fatwa -- a religious ruling -- Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi has sent a clear message that this trend must stop.
"Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," he was quoted as saying in Javan daily. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."
If it wasn't for my generally failing to be religious in anyway, there would still be a big misunderstanding between myself and so much of Islam. I don't wear a lot. I'm kind of a feminist. And I would give up booze and bacon before I stopped loving dogs. And I really like booze and bacon.
But regarding the uncleanliness of dogs, I kind of understand. They are messy, nosy, humping, slobber-chopped nitwits at times. These are some of the things I like about them. For what it's worth, these messy traits I also find endearing in some people. In dogs, you'll also find qualities like empathy, loyalty, courage, not to mention affection and companionship. Those can be messy qualities, too, but I don't think I'd like people very much if we didn't have those qualities. The older I get, the more I come to the conclusion that I'm not interested in godliness, and even less so in proximity to cleanliness. But what endlessly fascinates me is the vast mess, the uncleanliness, of life.
In my canon, life formed in a veritible chaos--a primordial stew, that led to incredible variations of lifeforms worked out from just a sketchy collection of proteins. But from that warp of events that made us, one woof of a pattern emerged. The relationship of dogs and man is ancient and venerable. The assistance of hunting dogs in our history and guide dogs and police dogs today are a part of our ability to grasp that another species has intelligence, thinks, relates.
Are dogs sentient--do they have a sense of mortality, the passage of time? Do they feel sadness, regret, remember things?
I've had pet dogs. They seem to. Maybe the idea of "the unclean" is the "uncanny valley" extending out to, not just an artificial manlike construct, like an eerie robot, but the similacrum of our sentience we can sometimes see in dogs. They are unclean because they are too much like us, and living with them only makes it clearer. And that takes away from the idea that we are special, and specially made by God for a more spiritual end. (Although if you like, you might want to suppose all dogs go to Heaven. I don't, and maybe that knowledge bars me from the gates, too.)
I believe in dogs. I don't believe in Gods. And I get a little more out of petting a friendly animal than prayer.