Saturday, August 25, 2007 Website : Halal and Haram in handling Dogs and Pigs. The UPM Case.
This is a case which has come to my attention and one that is kind of shocking to us Muslims here in Malaysia to see pictures of this tudung clad Malay Muslim student nonchalantly handling dogs and pigs with her bare hands and posing for these pictures without any expressions of being squeamish or disgust as what would usually be the case for many of us here in Malaysia.
I received this email recently forwarded to me and took the time and trouble to translate it into English so as to enable you to read about this quite an eye-opening case.
The email is from a Malay Muslim Veterinarian based in Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
To all those who are concerned. I wish you all the best and pray that you are in the good graces of the Almighty and Most Merciful Allah.
I feel drawn to share with you what I have to say about certain pictures now being circulated in group websites and forums in the internet of a Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University Putra Malaysia Malay Muslim student who has posed for photos whilst being in a pig sty and handling both dogs and pigs!
I am writing this email in length with the hope that my explanations will be understood clearly and not misinterpreted.
NEVERTHELESS, to those who don't have much time to spare in reading this, its enough for me to state that :
• 'THERE'S NO PROBLEM WITH THOSE PICTURES!
• THOSE PICTURES AREN'T INSULTING ISLAM BUT IN TURN SHOW THAT MUSLIMS CAN IF THEY NEED TO ; TOUCH DOGS AND PIGS!
• IT'S MANKIND'S RESPONSIBILITY AS KHALIFAH'S OF ALLAH TO ENSURE THE COMFORT, SAFETY, FREEDOM AND WELLBEING OF ALL OF ALLAH'S CREATURES ON EARTH!
• There is no injunction that says that it is forbidden to touch dogs and pigs. What's forbidden is to eat the meat of swine and any animals that have fangs.
We need to be clear about what Islam's views are about these animals?
Both of them are amongst the Creation of Allah and Allah would not create anything in vain ; in fact, each creation of Allah has a significant role to play in this life.
Has Allah created the dog and pig to be viewed with disdain by His Ummah?
Before continuing with this discourse, please allow me to introduce myself.
I am a graduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, year 2006. I am now continuing my Master of Physiology, first semester studies in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UPM.
I studied at the Kuala Selangor Islamic Secondary School before this.
I might not be the best person to explain about this for there are better individuals who are Islamic scholars, who could give in depth explanations about the subject matter together with the relevant verses and their detailed translations.
Even then, I will to the best of my abilities, try to share with you with my limited Islamic knowledge and from what I have learned from my personal discussions with the learned religious teachers in seminars that we have held in our own faculty with regard to this issue.
Firstly, as a Veterinary Doctor @ ( Animal Doctor), it is just part and parcel of our duty in having to carry out treatment of dogs or pigs.
For those of us who work as Veterinary Doctors or Vets in short in Animal Clinics, most of us have to treat dogs and cats
Even then, there are those who limit their treatments to just cats.
As for pigs, usually no Muslim Vets will choose to work in those farms.
Those who work in the Department of Veterinary Services, at times have to visit the pig farms to ensure that the farms concerned practice good farming procedures and management in order to be free from contagious diseases such as the Nipah virus which wreaked havoc in 1999 that also threatened the life's of human beings.
There are also Vets working in the laboratories, who have to process samples coming from pigs or dogs such as their blood, faeces, or anything else derived from them.
Hence, in the curriculum of the Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, students will be involved in handling dogs and pigs.
Starting with practical studies of the organs of such animals in the study of the anatomy and physiology subjects to the extent of handling, treatment and carrying out postmortem examinations of such animals in depth upon entering the pre-clinical and clinical years.
In general, I agree with the term of 'desensitization' used by someone who emailed me recently. As veterinarians, this desensitization is necessary for us to not feeling disgusted when treating our animal patients for it is our responsibility and also part of our oath that we recite when we graduate.
Upon entering Year 4, a veterinary student will have to follow the introduction to clinic subject and clinical subjects in Year 5.
In both these subjects, students will be divided into small teams. These teams will take turns to carry out practical work in the prescribed activities. They have to carry out practical studies for a week on each subject.
These practical studies involve the treatment of pets such as dogs and also the pig rearing industry. They have to visit pig farms to carry out observations, diagnose diseases and carry out treatment procedures.
From what I have seen, the pictures being circulated through the internet are those of a UPM veterinary student, taken during her practical studies at the pig farms and clinical studies.
Its my opinion that the student posted such pictures publicly not to insult the Islamic Faith or anyone but to share an experience that not many in the general public might go through!
Regarding the issue of touching, holding, treating dogs and pigs that are categorized as 'Najis Mukhallazah' @ Severe Najis according to Islamic Fiqh, its not actually 'HARAM' as understood by most Malay Muslims.
According to the Fiqh of Islamic Knowledge that I studied since my Islamic primary school up to the secondary school, the touching of 'Najis Mukhallazah' is not 'haram'.
What is taught in the Fiqh Laws are when we have touched 'Najis Mukhallazah' ;
we are to purify ourselves with carrying out the 'samak procedure' which is to wash the affected areas 7 times.
Once with water mixed with pure earth and then to rinse it off 6 times with pure water .
What's haram with regard to dogs and pigs is the consumption of their meat and by products ; not touching them.
As a Malay, I understand the views of the Malay society who feel squeamish or disgusted against dogs and pigs.
This might have come into being from the traditions brought about by our forefathers who tried their level best to avoid touching of dogs and pigs for their aversion to have to cleanse and purify themselves when such a situation occurs and would affect their acts of ibadah.
I myself, even after being clear about the rules regarding the touching of dogs and pigs, felt awkward and squeamish when I held a pig's heart for the first time, what more when I had to lift a dog to be placed upon the examining table where the technique calls for me to hold the dog close to myself as it is the safest technique to avoid injury to the animal in the lifting process.
Still, we need to be clear about what is Islam's view with regard to these two animals, created by Allah the Almighty?
Did Allah create the dog and pig to be reviled and loathed as severe 'najis'?
If so, why then is there the Islamic decree in Fiqh that states any prey caught and killed by trained hunting dogs as 'halal' to be consumed provided the hunter makes the intention in his or her heart for the sake of Allah when releasing the hunting dog or dogs or bird of prey ?
What about the story of the prostitute who was forgiven by Allah of all her sins and entered into Paradise solely on the basis of her good deed in feeding a dog dying of thirst with water that she took by climbing down a well using her shoe?
Dogs and pigs are also creatures of Allah and included amongst the responsibilities of mankind who have been appointed as the Khalifah's of Allah upon this Earth.
As such, they too as humans need food when hungry, drink when thirsty, treatment when sick even though the priorities differ when the situation warrants choosing between them and humans.
Thus, I see what is being studied by the veterinarians relating to dogs and pigs including the obligations to treat them is included in Fardhu Kifayah and fulfills a part of mankind's responsibilities as the Khalifah's of Allah!
Nevertheless, it is still the responsibility of the veterinarian to know the do's and don'ts of the Islamic faith in his or her career.
Muslim veterinarians and veterinary medical students need to be careful and not be lackadaisical in their observing the cleanliness and purity of their physical selfs and attire so as not to render their ibadah null and void because they failed to avoid contamination of such severe najis upon themselves.
The best way for such veterinarians and veterinary medical students to avoid such complications is to separate their work clothes and their normal attire especially their clothings which they use for prayer.
This is to avoid damage to such clothings used in prayer for the damage that such attire will suffer if purified through the 'samak' procedures.
Civilians ought not worry because such filth is not contagious.
It means that if a vet just washes his or her hands after work but hasn't purified their hands through the 'samak' procedure, such a situation still does not promote contagion when or if you have to shake their hands.
The essence of color, smell and taste is no longer there for they have washed off their hands but still the vet needs to carry out the 'samak' process before prayer. The same situation can occur when a Muslim has to shake the hands of a Non Muslim who rears dogs at home.
What about those who have stepped on dog poo or stepped upon grounds that have been trod upon by dogs and pigs?
One doesn't have to worry and too particular especially if there is no essence of the three criteria to suggest the presence of such severe najis -color, smell and traces.
There are suggestions by several ustaz's to purify the whole body through the 'samak procedure once in a while for the civilian Muslim population and once a month for the veterinarians.
This is if the essence of the Najis Mukhallazah is worried to be present on their persons but not detectable, they can then be purified thoroughly by carrying out the 'samak' process regularly. Still, this is just an opinion of myself and not an obligation upon all those who have doubts as to the state of their purity and personal cleanliness. Actually, there has been many questions that have been raised regarding Muslim veterinarians who have to treat racehorses?
What's the Islamic law regarding it? How about the treatment fees received? Is it halal?
The same goes to the matter of a Muslim veterinarian who provides services and advice in improving the pig farming industry. What's the Islamic law regarding that?
What about the vet who has to carry out a lengthy corrective surgery on dogs and pigs to the stage that he or she misses their prayers?
Can it be considered to be the same as carrying out surgery on humans where the prayers can be shortened and carried out together in 'jamak and qasar'?
There are lots of other questions coming from civilians, between us veterinarians and the veterinary students that I can't answer due to my limited religious knowledge.
I figure that the same situation occurs or will occur in your career if you truly seek for the answers.
This is because Islam is the complete way of life and it covers all elements of living and the beauty of it is that, true Islam already has all the answers to our predicaments and situations. It is up to us to study, research and understand what Islam has to say about anything by observing the guidelines and teachings of those who are learned and knowledgeable in the faith.
Lastly, as Muslims, let's take responsibility to correct the misunderstanding of our Ummah especially those involving the Malays with regard to this very sensitive and disturbing issue.
This matter is often raised by the Non Muslims who are quite concerned about animal welfare. One of my seniors in his final year project regarding animal welfare, conducted a poll of opinions.
Among the questions were :
"If you saw a dog that had its legs trapped, would you help by freeing it?"
Give reasons for each of your answers..
As a Muslim, I felt sad and ashamed when I saw one answer stating : 'No, because I am a Muslim'.
This scenario has to change for as a Muslim, we need to take care of 3 relationships.
1.Our relationship with Almighty Allah.
2.Our relationship with our fellow human beings.
3. Our relationship with our fellow Creatures on Earth.
Verily, Islam is pure and simple. Everything relating to our existence here on Earth has already been revealed to us through the Last Testament of Allah @ The Holy Al-Qur'an Al Karim and the Hadiths and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam.
We need to delve into the Revelations, seek and find the answers to all our needs, understand, implement and put them to practice in our life's.
Verily, all Knowledge belongs to Allah, the Most Learned, Most Aware.
I welcome those who feel like sharing their views, thoughts, corrections of facts or wish to share more information with regard to this matter to email me at lapanjuta@yahoo. co.uk
May this article be beneficial to all. Ameen. Thank you.
Dr.. Mohd Dzulhamka Kamaluddin
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia .
Prof. Dr. Rasedee Abdullah
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Universiti Putra Malaysia
You may find this article even more interesting. Go to The UPM Case: Hala & Haram
is interesting. Believe it, written by a real Muslim!
Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan bin Abdul Rahman
I have been following the story of the construction of a centralized and modern pig farm in Kampung Tumbuk in Kuala Langat and how the issue of religious sensitivity and racial cards has been played by the opposition (i.e. The BN people) in Selangor.
The issue also appears to have been made worst by the lopsided reporting by the Malay newspaper which obviously is trying to incite racial sentiments. Please allow me to share my views as a Muslim on the matter.
The Babi and the narrow minded politicians who called themselves Muslims from an Islamic perspective. In Islam, the eating of swine is forbidden. This is clearly demonstrated in many verses of the Quran. Among others this includes:  5:3, 6:145, 16:114-115;  2:168-169, 3:93-94, 6:119, 10:59;  5:90-91.
My research has failed to find any evidence that suggest that the religion do not allow muslims to be standing next to or to look at or to smell a pig. Maybe some people in authority can highlight further on this issue.
First of all, I am appalled at the narrow minded politicians who made the issue of building a centralized and modern pig farming an issue. It is beyond doubt that the real issue here is economy, environmental pollution and improving quality of life in the surrounding community. The opposition (BN) are making a mockery of this just because of political mileage. I feel when something good is being done; it should be promoted by all parties.
I have travelled to St Louis , USA where it is also known as pork capital of the world. I have visited and stood 3 feet away from a pig pen. There was no smell. It was so damn clean. It is even cleaner than public toilets in Malaysia . How many of these politicians have visited such a farm and how many are involved in goat farming in Malaysia ? While goat is Halal in Malaysia , please enter many farms there is in Malaysia and you will see how dirty it is. Islam only prohibits the eating of pork. There is no prohibition of looking at it or standing next to one. In fact I have yet to find anywhere in the Quran that prevents Muslims from rearing it.
During my 15 months tour of duty with UN in Cambodia, many Malay Champa who are strong Muslims rear pigs under their house for economic reason even though they don't eat them. From an economic erspective it is better to rear pigs than cows or goat. It is simply more profitable. The pregnancy duration is about 112-115 days compared to goat which is about 150 days or a cow 290 days. At the end of each pregnancy the pig produces between 12- 15 piglets, the goat about 1-2 kids and the cow 1calf. From an environmental perspective, it is definitely better to have a central farm where small farmers join hands and run one big and clean farm... This way the cleanliness of our water way will be maintained. Waste management will become the epicentre of the operation. It is more economical to run one big farm than many small farms that are
polluting.Overall it is a win win situation for everyone.
It is insulting the way some politicians look at the issue. I believe from an Islamic perspective it is quite clear. It is the narrow minded politicians that played up the issue that makes it into a Muslim and non-Muslim issue and trying to create a bigger racial divide among Malaysians. Sometimes I wonder, which has the lower image, the babi or these politicians. For that aspect, I respect the position taken by PAS on this matter. It has shown that it has handled the issues properly. I ask all level minded Malaysian and to re look at the 'Babi' issue again. Study the real issue properly and make a proper judgment. Overall it will benefit Malaysians from the economic, environmental and quality of life perspective.
Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan bin Abdul Rahman