Blind Muslims, attending Islamic events with guide dogs

There was this “Islamic” event that was advertised on Facebook. I indicated that I was interested and got in touch with the organisers.

I made it clear that I had a guide dog and woops! Just like that, I was no longer welcome to attend.

I just had to respond, especially since others might get the wrong idea. And so I did.

Below is my response; editede to protect the identity of the person in question.

Dear *

I will not be attending but, I could not help but, to read your quotation on dogs. I am blind and using a guide dog.
Shall I count myself, according to your opinion, as a munaafiq?

If so, do you then support the isolation and oppression of blind and other disabled people in our communities by denying them opportunities to live independent and fruitful lives?

“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.” Terry Pratchett

For me, it touches on people’s obliviousness to life, the beauty of our Deen, the creation of Allah (GOD) and the possibilities and opportunities that we cconstantly miss or intentionally ignore.

Some people really go out of their way to live according to the philosophy that says: “ignorance is bliss.”

Where am I going with this, you must be wondering.

I have a guide dog. Her name is Orli.

She’s been working with me for nine years now.
She is turning eleven in August and I have realised some time back, that she is really becoming old. I also realised how much she meanss to me and how much she have sacrificed just to be my guide dog.

I then thought some more and had second thoughts that told my first thoughts that it was indeed an honour to have had this unique blessing bestowed upon me by the Almighty to have been given this experience of …. well, I can’t really put it in the way that I am feeling but, what I want to say is that I will miss her if she is no longer with me.

What also inspires me about her character and behaviour, is that she doesn’t mind that many people do not like her. She is sad but, she never holds that against anyone. She just keeps on loving, regardless.

In theory, it would be ideal to be like her but, we are so human and full of ourselves, that we can only try to be like that. She doesn’t even have to try. It is just in her nature. Just like that.

She has gone older in such a short time that it is hard to accept how much she has changed in the last three months.

She have served me so well and I could not have asked for a better guide dog and animal companion.

God has given dogs qualities that make perfect companions and helpmates for humans. The fact that dogs like to be around people and like to please them makes them easy to breed for specific
characteristics and to train for a variety of wonderful jobs. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes from the 12 cm tall, 2 kg Chihuahua to the Mastiff and St. Bernard which may reach 90 kg.
Some dogs are meant to simply be a companion to man, small enough to carry around and sit on your lap. Scientific studies have shown that just petting a dog can lower a person’s blood pressure. So their simple companionship is a gift from God.

Beyond that, dogs perform a vast array of wonderful skills. Dogs are excellent herders and guards of sheep and cattle. Some dogs have a natural desire to protect. Police and the military frequently make use of this attribute, using German Shepherds , Dobermans and Rottweilers in their work. Dogs are wonderful in search and rescue. This has gone on for hundreds of years, from the famous St. Bernard of Switzerland finding people lost in the snow and laying down with them to keep them warm to modern times, finding survivors in the rubble of earthquakes.

Dogs have always participated in the sporting world, as the Quran attests in

“They consult you concerning what is lawful for them; say, Lawful for you are all good things, including what trained dogs and falcons catch for you. You train them according to God’s teachings. You may eat what they catch for you, and mention God’s name thereupon. You shall observe God. God is most efficient in reckoning.” Qur’an,5:4

Yet according to Hadith, anything a dog touches must be washed seven times, the final time in dust. That seems inconsistent with the Quran saying you may eat what they catch for you. The beautiful bird brought back proudly in the Retriever’s mouth would have to be washed seven times, finally in dust. It does not sound very appetizing to me.

Recently man has come to rely on the dog more for companionship and affection than anything else. And out of that has come the use of dogs as eyes, ears, arms and legs for persons with disabilities.

To have the ability to be guided by my guide dog down a busy street or through a crowded mall is a blessing and something that many people do not have access to and some form of independence that I would not have had otherwise.

For a deaf person, a hearing-ear dog allows him or her to live alone without fear. The dog can be taught to alert his owner to the doorbell, telephone, alarm clock, and smoke alarm. A deaf couple can respond to their baby crying, for the dog will alert them. The world is not so frightening and they do not feel so alone, with a dog to hear for them.

For someone in a wheelchair, or someone whose arthritis won’t allow them to bend or lift, a service dog can provide so much help and comfort. The simple act of picking up a dropped object is something people take for granted. But to a person with a disability, it might mean the humiliation of always having to ask for help. With a service dog by their side, that same person achieve independence and self-esteem. The dog is happy to get the pen or the keys or the pill bottle, even if it rolls under a table.

The positive qualities of the dog-loyalty, dependability, tolerance- have been recognized throughout history. Mark Twain said “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” And Lord Byron’s epitaph for his dog says “[He] possessed beauty without vanity, strength without insolence; courage without ferocity; and all the virtues of man without his vices.”

And of course the most important trait of all, which many people miss, is complete and total submission to Allah (God) for all his/her life. I think we’d be well served to share our lives more with these wonderful creatures, and learn more from them.

“The heavens and the earth are full of proofs for the believers. Also in your creation, and the creation of all the animals, there are proofs for people who are certain.” Qur’an, (45:3-4)

“Among His proofs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the creatures He spreads in them. He is able to summon them, when He wills.” Qur’an, (42:29)

The Prophet (PBUH), said, “the worst Muslim criminal amongst other Muslims, is the one who asks questions about something that was not made prohibited on the people, then it becomes prohibited as a result of his questioning”. Bukhaari and Muslim.

That which is lawful (halal) is manifest and that which is unlawful (haram) is manifest; between the two of them are doubtful matters (shubuhat) about which many people do not know. Thus, he who avoids doubtful matters, frees and protects himself regarding his religion (deen) and his honour. But he who falls into (and subscribes to) the doubtful matters, falls into the unlawful (i.e. the haram). Bukhaari and Muslim.

So, to all those ignorant Muslims; yes you; I have no issue with you having a differing view from me but, perhaps, you might want to do further research on the issue around dogs and the fact that they are part of the creation of Allah and not evil and that using them cannot nneceesarily be classified as haraam.

Assalaamu alaykum.

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