Dear Dr. Khaled,
Peace be upon you and your family. I hope this e-mail finds you and your family in the best of health and the height of faith. I have very recently discovered your writings about Islam and particularly about animals.
I have raised my children alone and by the grace of God for almost two decades. The untimely passing of their dad had compelled me to take on the raising of my children alone since they were all very young.
Recently, my children have gifted me a puppy for my birthday. All of my children have now all grown and have moved away and my youngest attends University. I live alone and work as an educator but I still support my youngest daughter in college.
I was surprised that they had given me a puppy, however they had been concerned about me and had thought that this companion would not only help as a watch dog but would keep me company. I have a sincere affinity towards my puppy and he is so compassionate and loyal towards me and keeps me from feeling lonely.
Nonetheless, I am concerned about my prayers and if they will be accepted from me given the discourse that I have come across upon about keeping a dog in one's house and/or owning one.
I also respect the writings that you had included in your viewpoints that to be kind to a creation of God is encouraged and it also means that you are being kind to yourself. Please let me know your thoughts about my particular circumstance.
[Name withheld for privacy]
I am including the link to an article I have written on the question of dogs in Shari‘ah (Dogs in the Islamic Tradition and Nature) and also a link to my fatwa on dogs from my book The Search for Beauty in Islam (The Lord of the Essence: A Fatwa on Dogs). I am happy to tell you that I own dogs and they are beloved companions. The best juristic opinion on this matter is that the saliva of dogs is not najis (impure), as long as you feed them and control what they consume. The opinion as to the impurity of dog saliva referred primarily to feral dogs or dogs who ate from the wild. But even if you do not accept this opinion, you can simply perform your wudu‘ before each prayer and pray in an area reserved for salat, an area which you can cordon off away from the dog. Sister, love your dog, for our Prophet (pbuh) has taught us that a man who saved the life of a thirsty dog obtained God’s grace. Perhaps your kindness towards this puppy and the mercy and compassion you convey towards this creature of God will be your path to heaven. Our attitude towards all of God’s creatures must be that they are but vehicles of God’s compassion and mercy and an opportunity for us to gain favor with our Lord. If you have any other questions, please write me. Al-salamu ‘alaykum.
Shaykh Abou El Fadl