Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Time and customs have an undeniable consideration in the view of jurists in their endeavor to apply the Shariah rulings. Therefore, there are issues that were covered by early Muslim jurists that have, due to the change of circumstances, taken different dimensions and this consequently affects the juridical perspective.
2- Buying, selling and breeding dogs that can help in criminal investigations and in other matters that bring benefit for people is permissible.
3- However, breeding dogs as a matter of extravagance or blind imitation is in no way accepted.
Answering your question, Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh, Professor of Islamic Studies at Kolej Universiti Insaniah, states:
The earlier jurists disagreed over buying selling and breeding dogs. Some of them forbade these actions completely. Others permitted them in general. And some held a compromise and permitted buying and selling of dogs that are [religiously] allowed to be bred, such as hunting and watchdogs, and forbade the other kinds.
However, at the present time, this issue needs a new fatwa (legal verdict), as fatwas may change according to the change of time, place and people. First, I will look at the opinions of the early jurists, then I will state my opinion regarding this issue.
The Shafi`is, the Hanbalis and the majority of Malikis held the view that it is not permitted to sell dogs, even if they are specifically trained for hunting. They sustained their opinion by the following authentic Hadith: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed the lady who practices tattooing and the one who gets herself tattooed, and one who takes Riba (usury) and the one who gives it. He also prohibited taking money for dogs and the money earned by prostitution, and cursed the image-maker.?” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
However, some Malikis differentiated between dogs that are allowed to be bred and those that are not. They permitted buying the first and differed about the latter.
As for the Hanafis, they permitted selling all kinds of dogs, including vicious dogs that bite people.
In his famous book Al-Mughni, Ibn Qudamah stated:
“Selling dogs is not permitted, even if they are trained for hunting. The scholars of the [Hanbali] madh-hab [school of Fiqh] agreed that selling dogs, regardless their kinds, is unacceptable. This opinion is held by Al-Hasan, Rabi`ah, Hammad, Al-Awza`i, Ash-Shafi`i and Dawud.
Abu Hurairah disliked taking money for selling dogs, while Jabir ibn Abdullah, Ata’ and An-Nakhi permitted taking money for that.
According to one of Abu Hanifah’s narrations, it is permissible to sell all kinds of dogs and take money for selling them, except vicious dogs that bite people. The Malikis disagreed on this matter; some of them said that it is not permissible, while others stated: dogs which are allowed to be bred are permitted to be sold, but this is not desirable.”
In Bada’i` As-Sana’i`, Al-Kassani said:
“For us, dogs have a monetary value; hence, it is lawful to sell them the same way we sell falcons and hawks. The evidence that they have a monetary value is that they can be really used [for different purposes] and it is religiously allowed to benefit from them in general. There is no doubt that they are useful.
The evidence that selling dogs is religiously allowed to make use of them refers to the fact that they can be used for guarding and hunting unconditionally.
Hence, as there is a need to permit the selling of things that are religiously allowed to be used, it is permissible to sell dogs [for these purposes].
This is because permission is regarded as reason enough, as well as a means of jurisdiction, to put an end to the dispute.
The need to end the dispute is related to things that are religiously allowed to be used, and not to things that are simply able to be used.
As for the Hadith, it seems that it was stated in the early days of Islam, when it was not uncommon for people to own dogs. Hence, he (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered that dogs should be killed, and forbade selling them as a deterrent punishment. Moreover, some say that dogs are essentially impure, but we believe that this is false, as it is religiously allowed to use them for guarding and hunting unconditionally, while the essentially impure animals; like pigs, are not permitted to use except if there is a necessity.”
As for my opinion on this issue, I believe that the opinions of the early jurists are to be highly respected, whether those who permitted the selling of dogs or those who prohibited this action.
However, circumstances have changed and the trade of dogs is no longer limited to buying a dog for guarding cattle, farms or homes. These days, many people in both the East and the West pay as much – and sometimes more – attention to the care, nutrition and cleanliness of their dogs as they do to human beings.
These days, many dogs are sold at unbelievably high prices, depending on their breed and the country of birth. Moreover, we often see dogs sharing luxurious cars and houses with their masters, to the extent that some people feel jealous of these dogs!
Such treatment of dogs did not occur during the times of the early jurists. Otherwise, they would not have hesitated to prohibit buying, selling and breeding dogs. This is because such actions, which reflect extravagance and squandering, are in opposition to the priorities of the sane Muslim and stand against the higher Islamic objectives.
Accordingly, I do not hesitate to prohibit all such actions, except for circumstances where it is necessary to keep a watchdog. The amount of money that is spent on buying, breeding and maintaining a watchdog is enough to hire a dozen of guards who depend on this job to support their families.
I also permit the breeding and buying of some breeds that can help in criminal investigations and in other matters that bring benefit for people. However, breeding dogs as a matter of extravagance or blind imitation is in no way accepted.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.