November 2021 : Rabiul Aakhir 1443

Wouldn't you be outraged if you witnessed a handicapped person denied entry into a public space for using a wheelchair, crutches, a white cane or a motorised conveyance. To exacerbate the situation the "victim" may also face verbal abuse. Your indignation would be justified, for the persons afflicted with a disability are reliant on these aids as essential tools for their independence and safe mobility. Refusing entry to a person relying on a trained guide dog serving as their eyes is no different.

Dogs have been working alongside humans since time immemorial in a multitude of roles such as search and rescue in disasters, earthquakes, tornadoes, drownings, explosive drug detection, policing, medical alerts etc. Whilst keeping dogs as pets is not permitted by the Shariah, there is consensus of the Ulama on the permissibility of using dogs for the specific purposes of hunting, protection and services dictated by necessity. These would include disability assistance dogs, which are highly trained for the specific purpose.

It seems that the repugnance of guide dogs by some individuals is driven by ignorance and misunderstanding of the jurisprudence related to dogs in Islam. The stance and differentiation between dogs in general and those used for specific permissible purposes is clear. Keep in mind that Islam in no way advocates hatred and ill-treatment of animals. On the contrary, it strongly promotes kindness and compassion to all life forms.

Recently a Muslim sister took to social media exasperated on the intolerant attitude and harsh comments meted out to her visually impaired daughter by some outlets and their patrons on her guide dog accompanying her. Allowing entry to the blind with their guide dog to an eatery is not a "privilege". They are not asking for pity or favour as they face their own test and resultant reward from Allah. It is the civil and human right of the visually impaired, regarding whom our Prophet (peace be upon him) stated "Allah said: If I afflict My servant in his two dear eyes and he remains patient, he will be compensated for them with Paradise." (Sahih al-Bukhārī 5653).

You too are offered the opportunity to earn Divine reward for our Noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has also promised, Whoever relieves the hardship of a Believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease one in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and the Hereafter….”  (Sahih Muslim – 2699)

SANHA roundly condemns such conduct, which is discriminatory, unlawful in terms of our constitution and unIslamic. Now in its 25th year of service to the community SANHA certifies over 600 eateries who support the rights of the disabled. Click here to see an example of the protocols in place by a leading Franchisor of our certified fraternity: Guide Dog Policy. Serving a patron accompanied by a guide dog has no negative bearing on the Halaal status of the premises. None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

Let's reach out and help - True vision does not require eyes

Related reading: BBC NEWS | UK | England | Leicestershire | Ruling allows guide dog in mosque

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