THE LOSS OF A FRIEND
Islam is a way of life that encourages kindness, tolerance and
acceptance. It is not always practiced that way but that is clearly
the emphasis of the Quran. Tradition has changed the focus somewhat
over the centuries but if you go to the source—the Quran—and
look there for answers, it’s quite clear.
Many of us share our homes and our hearts with dogs or cats. They
become an important part of our lives. Too soon, it seems, they
age and die. We feel the loss as we would for any friend. The blessing
is that we can be assured that our pets are guaranteed Heaven.
Animals—all animals—are submitters to the will of God,
which makes them “Muslims.” God doesn’t prohibit
us from keeping pets. In fact, in 5:4, He talks about training them
according to His teachings. And in the story of the cave in Sura
18, the young men flee persecution and hide in the cave for over
300 years with their faithful dog by their side. So having dogs
and cats in our homes and enjoying them and loving them is clearly
approved of by God. The dogs and cats (and all the other creatures
of God) come to this earth for a period of time, determined by God,
and then they return to Him for eternity (6:38, 42:29). The Quran
makes it clear that all the animals will go to Heaven.
That’s not necessarily true for all humans, but all the animals,
because they submit, will go back to God. So, if as a human, you
lead a righteous life and worship God ALONE and submit to the will
of God, you will be reunited with your pets in Heaven. It’s
generally thought of the other way around.
In traditional Islam, it is not considered
clean to have a dog; they prohibit something that God has made lawful.
American society encourages the keeping of pets, but there are some
Christian sects that say that dogs won’t go to heaven, and
this is very upsetting to people who love their pets. But they’re
all worrying about the wrong thing. They need to take care of their
own souls, forsake the practice of idol worship, and turn to God
wholeheartedly. Then they will find their pets waiting for them
There are no references in the Quran to grieving for your pet.
I think that’s because, since we know they are going to Heaven,
there’s no need to grieve. How we cope with the loss in our
own lives is a personal matter. Counseling and spiritual guidance
can come from friends within the community, helping friends to cope.
We would remind each other of the comforting fact that while we
will miss the companionship of our dog, the dog itself is in total
happiness forever. We make our own mental image—I’ve
always had the soothing picture of my dog chasing rabbits and eating
steak. This was especially helpful with a dog that I’d had
for over 18 years. At the end she was quite frail and slow. When
she died, my friends in the community were able to make me smile
with this image of the younger, healthier, happier dog. Knowing
that she, and all the other dogs I have lost, are romping joyously
gives me peace. My goal is to be worthy
to join them in the end.
Finally, I would like to quote some verses from the Quran. Traditional
Islam relies heavily on books called Hadith, written centuries after
the Prophet Muhammad’s death, but true Islam takes all its
guidance and knowledge from the Quran itself, the proven word of
They consult you concerning what is lawful for them;
say, "Lawful for you are all good things, including what trained
dogs and falcons catch for you." You train them according to
God’s teachings. You may eat what they catch for you, and
men-tion God’s name thereupon. You shall observe God. God
is most efficient in reckoning. [5:4]
All the creatures on earth, and all the birds that
fly with wings, are communities like you. We did not leave anything
out of this book. To their Lord, all these creatures will be summoned.
Among His proofs is the creation of the heavens and
the earth, and the creatures He spreads in them. He is able to summon
them, when He wills. [42:29]
The heavens and the earth are full of proofs for
the believers. Also in your creation, and the creation of all the
animals, there are proofs for people who are certain. [45:3-4]
Do you not realize that to God prostrates everyone
in the heavens and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the
stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and the animals, and many