A somewhat unusual event was held over the weekend in a park in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, called "I want to touch a dog." The idea was organized through Facebook in order to introduce Muslims to dogs, and more than 800 people attended, Asia One reports.
Many came to see and be near the dogs, and organizers encouraged a dress code to denote the attendees' interest: yellow for those who wanted to pet a dog, orange for those who just wanted to watch and red for dog owners.
Islam has a complicated relationship with dogs, notes La Stampa. While the Koran tolerates that they are kept as pets, it is forbidden to keep them at home. According to Islamic tradition, angels will not come into a house inhabited by a dog, which over time has led many Muslims to distrust the animals.
Participants in Petaling Jaya also listened to a lecture from a religious leader on dog contact, and were taught the Islamic way to cleanse their hands after touching a dog, called sertu or samak.
While the event seemed like a great success, it also raised controversy. The Department of Islamic Development in the Malaysian government (JAKIM) has opened an investigation, deeming it irresponsible.
"This event has never been held previously and it is the first time it is being exposed to the community. We are Muslims and our religion has stated clearly the penalty regarding dogs. JAKIM will investigate the matter immediately and any action will be referred to the existing provisions," director-general Othman Mustapha was quoted by Channel News Asia as saying.
All traces of the event on Facebook have now disappeared, though on Twitter and Instagram participants are still showing their pride for having overcome what many consider a taboo.
(Main photo: jolene_chan)
Great event of "I want to touch a dog" at Central Park BU on beautiful Sunday morning #iwanttotouchadog #dog #happy #centralparkbu
Eeee geram la! Correct me if I'm wrong. But this is a chowchow? I also once fell to the misconception of hating dogs. But that was when I was chased when I was small. And when people made fun of me for it. The hate came from somewhere wrong. But now that I know how to act in front of dogs, they (some/most) freaking love me.
Having said all that, I hope all Muslims realize of the rules that apply about dogs. I.E, owning one can only be for certain reasons such as hunting or as house guard. Having one as a pretty pet is not advisable. Reason? Pertaining to cleanliness. But if you want to say you'll be happy to clean everytime clarify with an uztaz pretty sure it's alright.
Sunday well spent with the loved ones yesterday at #iwanttotouchadog ðŸ¶
Do u wanna sit on Bella ? Okay ! He said, without hesitation or fear...