Iranian cleric issues fatwa against keeping pet dogs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2010:


TEHRAN–Acknowledging that the Koran does not explicitly
prohibit contact with dogs, the Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem
Shirazi, 86, nonetheless decreed in a June 19, 2010 fatwa
published by the Iranian newspaper Javan Daily that dogs are
“unclean” and should not be kept as pets.
“We have lots of narrations in Islam that say dogs are
unclean,” Shirazi said in his fatwa, or religious opinion,
disregarding that most mentions of dogs attributed to the Prophet
Mohammed himself are favorable and that some of his inner circle kept

“Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West,”
Shirazi declared, according to Robin Pomeroy of Reuter. “There are
lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives
and children.”
Now retired from government and living in Qom, Shirazi is
among the last of the senior clerics who ruled Iran after the 1979
ouster of the U.S.-backed Shah. In a previous fatwa he argued that
“In certain circumstances, death by stoning [as punishment for
adultery] can be replaced by other methods of punishment.” Hadith
4:538, among the sayings attributed to Mohammed, describes a
circumstance in which Allah chose not to punish an adulteress at all.
Recites the hadith, narrated by the disciple Abu Huraira, “Allah’s
Apostle said, ‘A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because,
passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was
about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her
head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her
because of that.”
Iranian senior clerics and other authorities have tried to
prohibit or limit pet-keeping before. In October 2002 the hardline
prayer leader Gholamreza Hassani, of the northwestern city of
Urumiyeh, reportedly declared “I call on the judiciary to arrest all
long-legged, medium-legged and short-legged dogs along with their
long-legged owners. Otherwise I’ll do it myself.” A few weeks later
Tehran authorities ordered that all cats in the city should be killed.
Tehran head of security Ahmad Reza Radan in August 2007
forbade walking dogs in public, according to Radio Free Europe. “In
the past,” Radio Free Europe recounted, “dog owners have received
warnings or were forced to pay fines for having a pet dog. Despite
such harassment, dog ownership has increased, especially among
young people in Tehran.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE has received numerous reports since Radan’s
edict of Tehran residents being accosted by police for walking dogs
or searching for lost dogs. Most have been briefly detained and
their dogs impounded but in 2008 Fox News reported that a
70-year-old man received 30 lashes and was jailed for four months for
walking a dog.

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