A religious group in Malaysia has issued an official complaint against a young girl whose photo holding a dog at an adoption drive is now making the rounds on social media.
Muslims in Malaysia are not allowed to touch dogs, “which are considered ‘haram’ [sinful] in Islam.” The picture of the girl outraged the Badan Bertindak Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang (JMPP) organization. Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin, the head of the organization, is pushing the Penang State Religious Department (JAIPP) “to take appropriate action against the young girl.”
In July 2013, The Malay Mail Online explained why a video on Facebook of a man with his three dogs ignited outrage among the nation’s Muslims:
The main sensitive issue relating to the dog is the question of purity. The four main school of laws [sic] differs on the question of purity of the dog. Some scholars mainly in Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of laws, believe that dogs are impure. Therefore, if a person touches a dog or licked by a dog, he has to wash that portion of the body or clothing before prayer.
The Maliki school of law does not consider dogs impure at all. Hanafi school of law regards the saliva of dogs to be impure. Therefore, only the part of body or clothing that the dog’s saliva touched needs to be washed and purified before prayer.
Majority of Muslims in Malaysia follow Shafi’i school of law. They may regard dog as impure or najis, which is in fact washable. At the same time, they must respect other opinions in other school of laws that consider dogs as pure.
In October 2014, Syed Azmi Alhabshi organized the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event to allow Muslims “to become familiar with the animals.” More conservative Muslims want all Muslims to completely avoid the animal, but moderate Muslims believe people should avoid touching the nose and mouth, “which are considered especially impure.” Even though over 1,000 people attended the event, Alhabshi received numerous death threats online over his event. People spread his telephone number while others claimed “he is a Christian in disguise.”
The group Perkasa claimed people indulging in vices, such as “alcohol and dog-petting festivals,” were responsible for tornadoes in the country.
“What has caused tornadoes to be interested in coming to this country when all this while it has never been interested to do so,” the group posted on Facebook. “In the past, we only hear of it hitting the South China Sea and even if it does hit, it would be to Vietnam or the Philippines. Could it have something to do with the widespread vice, such as gambling centres, prostitution, beer and dog-petting festivals which have become an attraction?”
Facebook users completely agreed with the group’s assessment about the weather.
“When vice is widespread, then Allah will unleash his wrath,” wrote Mohd Azizan Ismail. “When Islam is toyed by those who claim to be champions of the religion, then the disasters will be greater.”