KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 ― The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has criticised a Malay woman over a video of her and her pet dog “Bubu”, calling her actions an affront to Islam.
Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha said Muslims owning dogs and their needless contact with canines were “highly disturbing” as both were against Islamic teachings.
“Jakim deeply regrets her intentional act of touching dogs without any concrete reasons, which is prohibited in Islam.
“We find her actions to be highly disturbing to Muslims here as they contravene our culture and the tenets of our school of jurisprudence,” Othman said in a statement on his Facebook account page.
He said that while Islam allows Muslims to cleanse themselves after touching dogs, this did not mean they may adopt the animals as pets.
He said the action was akin to Muslims knowingly committing sins out of the ability to repent later.
“Therefore, Jakim hopes the individual will stop her actions and repent to Allah. Her actions suggests she is trying to start a new (deviant) culture that can subject Islam to ridicule and insults,” Othman added.
Muslims traditionally shun contact with dogs that are considered “impure” as they must otherwise perform a ritual cleansing beyond the normal ablution before they may pray.
The video uploaded on the woman's Facebook page on July 1 was part of a competition by pet lovers group SmartHeart.
The video campaign features individuals sharing their experiences with their respective pets to vie for the most votes. Those with the best stories are then chosen as winners.
In the video, the Malay woman wearing a headscarf recounted how she met and eventually rescued the stray mongrel from a mass culling operation in 2015.
Throughout, she is shown affectionately stroking, walking and playing with the dog at various points.
She also urged fellow Muslims not to be harsh or judge those who rear dogs, saying the animal deserved to be treated with love and care as they too are Allah's creation.
“We shouldn't use religion as an excuse to be cruel or judgemental,” she said.
The video generated mixed responses, ranging from condemnation to support.
The discomfit that Othman alluded to was seen in the comments on his Facebook page, with users variously demanding that police investigate the woman and for her to be brought in for religious counselling.
Others also claimed that her actions could pave way for pork to one day be considered “halal”.
The video is the latest controversy involving Muslims and canines in Malaysia. In 2014, a social activist triggered uproar by organising a “Pet-A-Dog” event that was open to Muslims.
In 2013, a Muslim dog trainer was arrested after she uploaded a Hari Raya greeting that featured her pet canines.