Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What Do You Think Of This?

A Toronto mosque is telling Muslims not to say "Happy Thanksgiving" or invite friends into their homes for turkey dinner on the holiday weekend... Also banned, it says, are: watching sports or soap operas, walking dogs, family photos, wedding bands, Western hats, mingling and shaking hands with the opposite sex.

Is having or walking a dog is banned by Islam? And if so, what does that mean for our society if we implement laws to accommodate the Muslims in our communities? How do we reach a peaceful and respectful compromise in our Western secular societies?

In fact, the Saluki, a hunting breed, has a history tied to hunting and Islam.

According to Wikipedia: "Dogs are considered unclean according to some who study Islamic law. However, a Saluki is in some cases cherished by Muslims. Dogs are mentioned in the holy book of Islam the Quran several times e.g. in the main story of sura 18 where a dog is a companion of the dwellers of the Cave. The Quran also tells that it is permissible to eat what trained dogs catch (5:4). Nevertheless, many Islamic teachers state dogs should be considered unclean and that Muslims licked by them must perform purification. According to Hadith, anything a dog touches must be washed seven times, the final time in dust[12]. Some religious traditions hold that if a dog passes in front of someone preparing to pray, that it pollutes their purity and negates the prayer. This view is contested by many modern scholars of the Qu'ran. Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, professor of Islamic Law at UCLA, says this zealous adherence to doctrine led one religious authority to advise a Muslim that his pet dog was evil and should be driven away by cutting off its food and water.[13] Another exception appears to be made by the Bedouin in the case of the Saluki. They are allowed in the tents and considered special companions. It has been said that the Bedouin will never sell a Saluki, but will give one as a special and precious gift.[14]"

I come from a Christian background, so I have a different perspective on this. Here is what Paul taught regarding eating food (and the principle could be extended to anything that one might consider unclean, or unholy, to possess or deal with):

Romans: 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Thus, in Western nations, which have a Christian heritage, we don't see things we put in our bodies to be unclean. This goes back to Jesus' teaching:

Matthew: 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

So, can the touching of an animal cause a man to be unclean before God? And if someone else thinks what you do is unclean, should you then not do it so as to not offend them?

Here are my thoughts on all of this. In our Western culture, we have opted to separate church from state. Thus, we shouldn't have laws that ban particular practices based purely on the religious beliefs of the people involved. But, what you do on your own time, in your own home and life is your business. Regarding Jesus' and Paul's teachings, they were addressing people who were of the same faith accommodating each other, not people of different faiths. There is no way for one faith to completely agree with another, which is why the establishment of a non-religious state keeps the peace between citizens of differing faiths. To get the life you want, you have to allow others to have the life they want, and the differences should be settled at the ballot box, not in the churches or mosques. Thus, I see nothing wrong with owning, touching, or living with a dog. I don't think God cares whether I touch a dog. I think He cares if I am a good person, doing unto others as I would want them to do unto me. I think that when religion becomes a set of rules imposed upon others by force, then the resulting behaviors aren't out of faith towards God, but out of fear of men, and I think we are to fear God instead of fear men. How can God respect your good works when they are purely for the purpose of looking good in front of others instead of faith towards God? I am going to fight to pass laws that agree with my viewpoint, and work within the system we have to get that result. And if others see it differently, then they can do the same, so long as they are abiding by the law.

What do you think? What is the right thing to do in these cases? I'm open to logical persuasion.

No comments: