Dogs a Sign of Iranian Rebellion

Excellent piece in The Guardian discussing the issue of dogs in the Muslim country of Iran.
Recently a visitor from Iran assured me that her dog was staying at a five-star spa in Tehran for the duration of her trip. I had no idea she had a dog in the first place, but was struck that she had insisted in telling me such a thing. Over the past few years, dog ownership has become yet another unlikely arena for the social and political dispute within the tumultuous politics of Iran.

It is well known that dogs, along with pigs, are considered unclean in Islam. Strictly speaking, the theology doesn't ban their ownership, or petting; the Sunna prescribes that dogs are "pollutants", contact with them rendering believers ritually unclean. This means that ritual cleansing is required before one is able to perform prayers. Despite this, dogs have been kept by Muslims for centuries.

For example, salukis, an ancient breed of hunting dog, have historically been valued by the Bedouin, who breed them for both their beauty and their prowess in hunting.

However, having domesticated animals free to roam inside a house, contact with which would require ritual cleansing, would be quite tricky from a practical point of view for Muslims who are required to pray five times a day – even though there is no actual legal prohibition of dog ownership.

Read in full: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/nov/02/dogs-iran-symbol-rebellion

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