What Are the Rules regarding the Purity of Pets?

Answered By Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib


What are the rules regarding the Purity of pets?


In the name of Allah, all praise be to Allah, and prayers and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family, companions, and those who follow him.

The Role of Animals in the Life of Human Beings

As for your question, humans have needed animals since ancient times. They have been used to carry their belongings and needs and as a means of transport during travels, as Allah says: “And (He is the One) Who created all (things in) pairs, and made for you ships and animals to ride” [Quran, 43:12]. The need for animals continued until the era of modernization when vehicles such as cars appeared, leading people to abandon riding animals for these new modes of transport.

Birds as Pets

In the early Islamic era, it was common to keep birds as pets and for children to play with them. Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Anas (Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The Prophet  (Allah bless him and give him peace) had the best character among people. I had a brother named Abu Umayr, I think he was newly weaned. When he came, he would say: ‘O Abu Umayr, how is your little bird?’”

Cats as Pets

Cats were also commonly kept as pets. This is supported by a hadith reported by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasaʾi, Ibn Maja, and others from Kabsha bint Kaʿb ibn Malik, who narrated that Abu Qatada entered her house, so she poured water for him to perform ablution. A cat came to drink, so he tilted the container to let it drink. Kabsha said she saw him doing this and was surprised. He said: “Are you surprised, my niece?” She said yes. He said: “Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘It is not impure; it is one of those who walk around among you.’” Tirmidhi said this hadith is hasan sahih.

However, some people have expanded to keeping other animals, like dogs, in their homes for various psychological and social reasons. This practice has spread to Muslim societies due to interactions and living in non-Muslim environments. It is now common to see pets, especially dogs, being raised, and there are even pet shops selling them in Muslim countries. This necessitates discussing these animals and their rulings.

We say, and with Allah is all success:

Types of Domesticated Animals

Domesticated or tamed animals are of two types:

Animals Considered Pure Whose Meat is Not Edible

The first type includes domesticated animals whose meat is eaten, like sheep, birds, and the like. Their excrement is impure according to the relied-upon position of the School. Rafi‘i said: “The second category, like blood, urine, and feces, is impure from humans and all animals, whether their meat is eaten or not. As for animals whose meat is not eaten, this is by consensus, and for those whose meat is eaten, it is by analogy.” [Al-Aziz Sharh al-Wajiz]

Al-Nawawi said: “As for the urine and feces of animals whose meat is eaten, they are impure according to us and Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf, and others.” [al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab]

Pure Animals Whose Meat is Not Edible

The second type includes domesticated animals whose meat is not eaten but are considered pure. The previous hadith indicates that touching and playing with cats does not nullify ablution and does not require washing the hand or anything else. Cats are considered pure animals.

Impure Animals

The third type includes domesticated animals whose meat is not eaten and are considered impure, like dogs. Permission is granted for keeping hunting dogs that are trained for those who hunt with them. However, keeping them for those who do not hunt with them is prohibited. [Nawawi, al-Rawda; Isnawi, al-Muhimmat]

The Evidence for the Permissibility of Using Dogs to Hunt

The basis for this is the verse Say, “Say, ‘What is good and lawful. Also, what is caught by your hunting animals and birds of prey, which you have trained as instructed by Allah. So eat what they catch for you, but mention the Name of Allah over it (first).’” [Quran, 5:4] The jurists agreed that hunting with a trained dog is permissible, and its prey is lawful with specified conditions detailed in the books of jurisprudence.

The Impurity of Dogs

Regardless of its type or description, a dog is considered impure, according to the Shafi’i School. Its fur, saliva, and everything it excretes are major impurities, requiring washing seven times to purify. Even a hunting dog should not be touched directly by hand; rather, a barrier should be used, and one should pray in clothes other than those that touched or came in contact with the dog. The Shafi’i jurists even debated the purity of the wound area bitten by the dog on the prey. One opinion states that it is negligible, while the other requires seven washings and dusting with soil. [Rafi’i, al-Aziz; Baghawi, al-Tahdhib; al-Izz ibn Abdul-Salam, al-Ghaya fi Ikhtisar al-Nihaya]

A Severe Threat against Keeping Dogs as Pets

These Islamic rulings clearly state that keeping pets is governed by the Sacred Law. A Muslim must know and understand these laws and not fall prey to blind imitation. Where possible, restraint must be exercised over desires, especially concerning keeping dogs.

A severe warning and threat are associated with this, as reported by Ibn Umar, who reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever keeps a dog, except a dog for herding livestock or for hunting, two qira’ats of reward will be deducted from his good deeds every day.” [Muslim] Why should a Muslim lose their reward for a whim that neither advances nor delays anything? The wise person is the one who controls their soul and acts for what comes after death, while the incapable is the one who follows their desires and wishes upon Allah.

Allah is the ultimate Grantor of success and the Guide to the right path.

[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib is a prominent Islamic scholar from Yemen. He was born in Shibam, Hadhramaut, in 1976. He received his degree in Shari‘a from Al-Ahqaf University, a master’s degree from the Islamic University of Beirut, and a PhD in Usul al-Din from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

He studied under great scholars such as Shaykh al-Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, Shaykh Fadl Ba‘ fadl, Habib Salim al-Shatiri, Habib Ali Mashhur bin Hafeez, and others. He has served as the Director of Publications at Dar al-Fiqh, the former Deputy Director of Cultural Relations at Al-Ahqaf University, a former Assistant for Employee Affairs at Atiyah Iron Company, a researcher at the Sunna Center affiliated with the Dallah al-Baraka Foundation, and a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch.

Currently, he is a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch, teaches traditionally through the Ijaza system at Dar al-Fuqaha in Turkey, supervises the Arabic department at Nur al-Huda International Institute (SeekersGuidance), and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Manuscript House in Istanbul.

His works include “The Efforts of Hadhramaut Jurists in Serving the Shafi‘i School,” “Contributions of Hadhramaut Scholars in Spreading Islam and its Sciences in India,” and “Hada’iq al-Na‘im in Shafi‘i Fiqh.” He has also verified several books in Fiqh, history, the art of biographies, and Asanid (chains of narration).