Did you hear the one about the editor, two dogs, and 25 Muslim girls?

I came to dog ownership late in life, and like many a religious convert, I have become fervent, a lover of canines for the faithful companionship, the unceasing excitement they show when I return from even a brief absence, and from their utter devotion to guarding the house, our family, and me from any menace (especially the deer that roam our neighborhood consuming landscaped vegetation).

I walk our dog Scotty twice a day, early morning and late afternoon, and for the last ten days we have been joined by Mochi, whom we are caring for while his master (my son) vacations in Florida.

It so happens that there is a place on our daily walk that attracts visitors from overseas on a regular basis. It must be featured in a guidebook to the Bay Area that is used by foreign visitors, for I have never encountered groups of Americans hiking up the same pathway that attracts foreign visitors. It requires climbing several hundred feet from the main part of Berkeley -- campus and downtown -- to get to this spot, so the various Swedish, French, Austrian, Australian, and other visitors that I have encountered are all rather fit specimens.  Nearly all of them are carrying smartphones, and following Google Maps or some other online real-time guide to their location. The spot where my walk intersects this attraction is one where a change in course is needed, and the reason I find out where the visitors are from is that they often ask me for directions, and I inquire back where they are from.

A couple of days ago, I intersected a group of about 25 young Muslim women, hiking up this path, and obviously lost, with their apparent leader staring at her iPhone and looking puzzled. I could tell they were Muslims, because every last one of them was wearing a head-covering garb showing only their faces, though their other clothes were normal outfits (not burkas).

As we approached, I heard a number of the girls saying, “Oh cute!” and “Look!”quite spontaneously. Now, I am prejudiced, but I think both dogs are somewhere on the scale of cuteness pretty close to the adorable end of the spectrum, but that is just me. Judge for yourself:



Rather tenuously, the young woman holding the iPhone asked me, “Excuse me, sir! Do you know where ________ is?” Of course, I did, I was headed over there myself.

But as I paused to answer and tell them to follow me, Mochi ran over to one of the girls hoping to be petted and adored.

She recoiled in horror!

Of course, Mohammed did not like dogs.  The Hadith and other sources record his distaste at their “filth” and even the notion that a dog walking in front of a Muslim praying negates the effect of those prayers. He even called for killing them. For example (and there is much more):

From Bukhari Vol. 4, #540

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: Allah's Apostle ordered that the dogs should be killed.

From Abu Dawud #2839

Abd Allah B. Mughaffal reported the apostle of Allah as saying: Were dogs not a species of creature I should command that they all be killed; but kill every pure black one.

The Hadith's note for #2839 says, "The prophet did not order the killing of all the dogs, for some are to be retained for hunting and watching. He ordered to kill the jet black ones. They might be more mischievous among them.

From Muslim #3814

Ibn Mughaffal reported: Allah's messenger ordered the killing of dogs and then said, "what is the trouble with them (the people of Medina? How dogs are nuisances to them (the citizens of Medina)? He then permitted keeping of dogs for hunting and (the protection of) herds. ...[and for] for the protection of cultivated land.

From Muslim #Number 055

Ibn Mughaffal reported: The Messenger of Allah ordered killing of the dogs, and then said: What about them, i. e. about other dogs? and then granted concession (to keep) the dog for hunting and the dog for (the security) of the herd, and said: When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time.

From Muslim #3813

Abu Zubair heard Jabir Abdullah saying: Allah's messenger ordered us to kill dogs and we carried out this order so much so that we also killed the dog roaming with a women from the desert. Then Allah's apostle forbade their killing. He said: "It is your duty to kill the jet-black (dog) having two spots (on the eyes) for it is a devil.

None of the sources I found in a cursory bit of research mentioned what seemed to me to be another reason why Mohammed didn’t like dogs: he had been a caravan raider, and dogs have always (and still do) act as guardians against thieves.

We walked together for a quarter of mile, during which I asked them where they were from. They were all from Malaysia, and it looked to me as if they might have been members of a Malay student association at Cal Berkeley, spending Christmas vacation in town and finding activities (sex segregated, of course) to keep themselves busy. When I told them I had visited their country and particularly enjoyed Penang, the reception was not favorable. Then I realized that Penang, an old British colonial free port located on an island off the coast, is predominantly Chinese in population.

When I mentioned to the girls that Scotty was a male and Mochi a female, a voice from behind asked, “Are they married?” I told them that no, Mochi was just visiting us.

During the walk, some of the girls kept exclaiming on various cute things the dogs did, but the majority remained silent and kept their distance. When we got to their destination, they very politely thanked me, and several girls called out, Good-bye, Scotty” and “Good-bye, Mochi.”

I felt in retrospect that it is a shame that such a basic human instinct as love of furry, cuddly animals is forbidden by a major religion. I wonder if any of the girls will face ostracism for their expressions of affection and liking?

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