Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: Islamic rules of ritual purification are elaborate. In discussing and exploring the rituals of purifications from various impurities or defilements, scholars and jurists have addressed the question surrounding the purity and impurity of dogs. Upon a close scrutiny of their views on this issue, we can conclude that while they failed to arrive at a consensus based on the evidence presented to them, the views can be classified into three general groups as follows:

One group of scholars, who may be deemed as a minority, consider dogs as wholly impure and unclean, another considers only their saliva as impure, while a third group considers dogs as wholly pure. In spite of their differences on this issue, they all agree that if a dog licks a container of water, it should be poured out, and then the container should be washed seven times, the first of which should be with mud. Modern scholars, however, insist that using mud in washing is unnecessary as anti-bacterial soap or detergents might do the job even better. Those who consider the dog as pure consider the above cleansing as a mere ritual, and yet all scholars insist that if the dog has come into contact with feces or urine, it is then absolutely necessary to wash the spot or body it has licked with water before one is eligible to perform the ritual prayer of worship, reading the Qur’an, or performing the ritual of going around the Ka`bah while performing Hajj.

The diversity of views or opinions on the issue of purity or impurity of dogs is due to the way they have interpreted certain traditions reported from Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him). For there are explicit traditions stating that if a dog licks a pot, its water should be poured out and the pot should be washed seven times, the first of which should be with mud. Imam Malik, one of the famous jurists and the author of the earliest extant work on Prophetic traditions, while narrating the above tradition, explains this as a mere ritual, while insisting that dogs are considered as pure just as other animals are, unless one can discern tangible evidence of a dog coming in contact with major impurities such as feces or urine, etc. in which case it will be deemed as impure and a worshipper must rid himself of such impurities (he or she may have been exposed to by contact with such a dog) through proper washing before performing the prescribed rituals of prayer, etc.

Setting aside the above divergence of views regarding the issue of purity or impurity of dogs, there is almost a general consensus among the scholars and jurists, that dogs, when properly trained, can be used for beneficial services such as shepherding cattle, guarding, using them as guides for the blind, or for investigative (detective) purposes. Furthermore, when dogs are used for such purposes, the rules are to be relaxed to a certain extent because of necessity or extenuating circumstances.

The Qur’an clearly states that animals, such as dogs and falcons, can be trained by humans for hunting and thereby by analogy for other purposes.
Based on the foregoing, scholars are of the view that the use of a dog by a blind person would be an acceptable one. We read the following in the Quran, {They will ask you [Prophet Muhammad] as to what is lawful to them. Say: Lawful to you are all the good things of life. And as for those hunting animals that you train by imparting to them something of the knowledge that God has imparted to yourselves — eat of what they seize for you, but mention God’s name over it and remain c
onscious of God. Verily, God is swift in reckoning}
 (Al-Ma’idah 5:4).

Based on this, through analogical reasoning, scholars have concluded, as stated by the late Dr. Husam Ad-Din `Afanah that “It is permissible to keep dogs for purposes of hunting and guarding even as they can be used for such beneficial services such as policing, detective purposes, sniffing drugs, and tracking criminals.”

Now coming to the issue of whether a dog’s entry into a hall or vehicle may necessarily render the space as impure, we find clear evidence to indicate that it is not necessarily always the case: There are traditions reported in the well-known sources such as Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ibn `Umar, who was one of the prominent Companions of the Prophet, that “Dogs used to enter the mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him,” and yet the Companions never performed any ritual cleansing of the sacred premises on account of that. It is reasonable to assume from this that a dog’s entry into a car or vehicle cannot pose any problem with regards to its ritual purity or impurity.

Add to this, Islam’s strong emphasis on doing charitable acts such as guiding the blind or helping those in need. Such acts are not only highly recommended but even obligatory in cases where circumstances warrant it.

Perhaps, it may be apt to cite here a well-known Prophetic tradition about the compassionate treatment of God’s creatures, including dogs, in Islam. As reported in the sources, “A prostitute was forgiven because of her act of compassion toward a dog. She found a dog almost dying of thirst in a desert, so she descended into a well and scooping water in her own shoes, she offered it to the dog to drink; God forgave her sins on account of that (act of charity).”. In conclusion, I strongly believe that the taxi driver would have been faithful to the teachings of Islam by accommodating the blind person with her dog rather than turning her away. The dog would have neither polluted nor rendered his vehicle impure, as the sacred precincts of the Prophet’s mosque were not rendered impure by the frequent comings and goings of dogs as reported in the above traditions. If the dog had licked the cab driver’s clothes or body during the course of the journey, it would have been necessary for him to simply wash them with anti-bacterial soap or a detergent before performing his ritual prayer. In other words, there would have been no need for him to perform any ritual cleansing of the vehicle itself.