In Malaysia, the issue of whether Muslims can touch dogs is controversial. When the \u201cI Want to Touch A Dog\u201d event was held in KL back in 2014, there were some who supported this event, and there were some who were outraged by it. With the topic of dogs being so controversial among Malaysians, especially among Muslims, there are also some who decided to own dogs for various reasons. Here are their stories. Hallijah and Coco Hallijah used to own a golden retriever named Coco 5 to 6 years ago. She said it was her late grandfather\u2019s decision to have Coco. \u201cWhen we found Coco, he was wounded so my late grandfather took him to a vet.\u201d \u201cWe planned to let him free after he got better, but he never left our house. So we kept him, and he returned the favour by guarding the house for us.\u201d Coco was a very sweet dog, gentle and calm. Her family felt safe with him around. He also accompanied her grandfather when all of them went to work or to school. Coco was not allowed to go to the spaces that they perform their solat, so they had a house that was specially built for him. \u201cIn Islam, dogs only become haram when we go solat after touching them.\u201d Golden Retrievers shed a lot, so Hallijah would have to send him to a pet shop for groomings frequently. \u201cWe do groom him but after that we have to clean ourselves according to the Islamic rules. This cleaning ritual is called sertu or samak.\u201d Hallijah said that she would often get stares from other people when she walked Coco. \u201cI would just ignore them. People, especially Muslims, still treat them like they are the biggest sin, but it was never mentioned in the Al Quran that it\u2019s haram to have dogs as pets.\u201d Danial and Moo Moo It\u2019s never easy having a big dog, but with Danial, she has become his best friend. \u201cI\u2019ve had Moo Moo since she was a puppy. She\u2019s 10 this year.\u201d Upon looking at the picture he showed us, we understood why Moo Moo was given that name. Moo Moo \u201cMoo Moo is a Great Dane. She\u2019s a gentle giant. She\u2019s amazing with kids, which is evident when she hangs out with my niece. She\u2019s quite mellow but too smart for her own good.\u201d His family decided to keep Moo Moo after she was given to them by a friend. \u201cDespite her size, Moo Moo was not a good guard dog at all. She was too sweet! She even nursed my cat when she was still a kitten.\u201d It was not that difficult to take care of Moo Moo albeit her large size. According to Danial, dogs are amazing running partners. Since he enjoys light jogs and walks, he would bring her along with him on a leash. Nowadays they don\u2019t really go for walks anymore because Moo Moo is getting old. He gave some advice for those who are afraid of dogs: \u201cI think it\u2019s important to read their body language. I would never touch or pet a dog unless I get permission from the owner.\u201d \u201cAs long as you don\u2019t taunt them and keep your distance when you see one that\u2019s baring its teeth to you, then you should be fine.\u201d \u201cIf you were to teach your child with the right mentality, dogs can be your friends and not something that you have to avoid.\u201d Danial maintains that dogs are intelligent creatures that would go above and beyond for you if you treat them well. \u201cThere are no bad dogs, only bad owners,\u201d he says. Farah*, Nom-nom, and Pipi. (*Owner\u2019s name changed for privacy) After having 6 cats, most people would choose not to have any more animals. However, after a break-in at her home, Farah* decided to bring in two dogs for protection. She has two dogs named Nom-nom and Pipi. Nom-nom is a 2-year-old female Belgium Shepherd mix Golden Retriever while Pipi is a 4-year-old male Rottweiler. \u201cNom-nom is very hyperactive and sweet. She likes everyone but because of her size, people would be afraid of her.\u201d \u201cShe\u2019s so playful that she loves jumping on people. So if you\u2019re not familiar with her, you would think that she\u2019s going to attack you.\u201d Farah says she can tell through Nom-nom\u2019s body language since her barks would sound different when she wants to play and when she\u2019s feeling aggressive. \u201cPipi is more stable. He knows how to guard the house and understand people\u2019s gestures. He is very protective of us too.\u201d \u201cWe were afraid that Pipi would get lonely, that\u2019s why we got Nom-nom to be his friend.\u201d Pipi Farah thinks of her dogs as a part of her family. She feels secure having dogs since they make great companions when she is home alone. They would alert her with their barks when a stranger approaches her house. Farah explained that she has a special samak or sertu soap called taharah that she uses after touching Pipi and Nom-nom. \u201cWhen I run out of soap, I\u2019ll just use the traditional way, which is using sand.\u201d Some Muslims or even her neighbours would be skeptical about her when they first saw her with dogs. \u201cAfter a while, they got used to it. Not only would my dogs alert me when there is an unfamiliar face outside my house, they would also bark when there\u2019s a stranger outside my neighbour\u2019s house.\u201d \u201cThey are amazing in scaring away unwanted people.\u201d When Nom-nom and Pipi were small, she would walk them. But now she doesn\u2019t anymore so as not to alarm her neighbours. Most of her neighbours are Muslims so she does not want to make them feel insecure with Pipi and Nom-nom being out and about. They would roam around the premise of the house because it\u2019s big enough for both of them. \u201cPlus, I am just trying to avoid those unwanted comments from random passersby.\u201d Are dogs Haram? Traditionally, dogs are not considered haram. However, touching their fur when it is wet is considered najis (ritually unclean). Contact with najis things brings a Muslim into a state of ritual impurity. Ritual purification (Sertu or samak) is then required before religious duties can be performed. However, while the conservatives chose to avoid dogs completely, moderates believe it\u2019s okay to touch dogs.\u00a0 They just avoid their nose or mouth as those are considered impure. There\u2019s still a long way to go when it comes to the acceptance of dogs. Hallijah thinks the best way to change Malaysian\u2019s perception towards dogs is through a sharing session, where Muslims share information on dogs and how to treat dogs according to the Islamic teachings. \u201cIf I were given a platform, I would definitely tell the people who are against dogs that in Islam, we are told to be compassionate towards all walks of life including animals.\u201d \u201cThe guidelines are all there in the Al-Quran and Hadith. We just have to read and understand it.\u201d Farah says: \u201cI think people are against dogs because of the cultural, environmental and religious influence. If we were to educate them since they are young, then I think people would be more open-minded about this issue.\u201d Do you think it is okay for Muslims to touch dogs? Let us know in the comments! For more stories about pets, read: 6 Things You Should Know Before Adopting Cat(s) For The First Time.