There is not an animal that lives on the Earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but forms part of communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. ~~ Al-Qur’an 6:38
A conservative Iranian cleric has denounced the “moral depravity” of owning a dog, and called for the arrest of all dogs and their owners.
Dogs are considered unclean in Islamic law and the spread of dog ownership in Westernised secular circles in Iran is frowned upon by the religious establishment.
“I demand the judiciary arrest all dogs with long, medium or short legs – together with their long-legged owners,” Hojatolislam Hassani is quoted as saying in the reformist Etemad newspaper. “In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption,” he said.
Religious traditions hold that if a dog – or woman – passes in front of you as you prepare to pray, it pollutes your purity and negates your prayer. Dogs are permissible as watchdogs or for other utilitarian purposes but not simply for companionship.
Tehran journalist Mafiseh Kouhnavand told the BBC that the subject of dog ownership had been brought up many times before.
Hardline judiciary agents and police occasionally clamp down on the practice, fining owners and confiscating their pets from streets and parks. In June, police banned the sale of dogs and penalised anyone walking a dog in public. The practice is seen by conservatives as a corrupting influence of decadent Western culture. But despite the clampdowns, dog ownership has been on the rise, especially among rich Iranians in the north of Tehran.
Hojatolislam Hassani appears to be widening the scope of his anti-canine campaign. Last year, he publicly thanked police for their policy of exclusively confiscating short-legged dogs in Urumiyeh.
Image: The fifth century BC seal shows a Persian noblewoman playing a harp for her Maltese dog. The Phoenicians brought this dog from the island of Malta to Asia Minor where it became very popular with wealthy Persians.