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Last Updated: 2013/03/16
Summary of question
Has the Quran stated anything concerning impurity of dogs? If it has, why is it then permissible to eat what has been hunted by a retriever (hunting dog)?
question
Why is dog declared najas in Islamic jurisprudence when there is no mention of its najasat in the Holy Quran? Moreover, if it is najis then why is the prey of a retriever halal? Why is allowed to keep a watch dog? Detailed answer is solicited, please.
Concise answer
Islamic laws are not derived exclusively from the Holy Quran. In fact, the traditions (ahadith) of the Prophet of Islam (pbuh), the sayings  of infallible Imams (a.s.) and their lifestyles (seerah) are also another authoritative source from which Islamic laws are derived. There is no mention of dogs being najis (impure) in the Quran but there are many traditions and sayings from the Infallibles according to which dogs are ritually impure.
 
Detailed Answer
Islamic laws are not derived exclusively from the Holy Quran. In fact, the traditions (ahadith) of the Prophet of Islam (pbuh), the sayings of infallible Imams (a.s.) and their lifestyles (seerah) are also another authoritative source from which Islamic laws are derived. It should be noted that most of the Islamic laws are not mentioned with details in the Quran; they have to be sought and extracted from the sayings of the Infallibles (a.s.). For instance, the Quran does not say anything regarding the number of the units (rak’ats) of prayers but Muslims do not differ regarding the number of the units of prayers because of the sayings and tradition of the Prophet (pbuh). Hence, if the Quran has not mentioned anything about impurity of dogs, it is proven through the traditions and sayings of the Infallibles – peace be upon them.
Although dogs are impure,[1] it is permissible to use them for certain tasks such as guarding a house or a farm etc. Hunting is one of the tasks which dogs can carry out very well. That is why, Islam has not forbidden keeping dogs; rather it has allowed purchase and sale of watch dogs or retrievers (hunting dogs) because of the same rational purposes.[2] Hence, if a thing is impure, it does not mean we should overlook some of its rational benefits. Although blood and its various by-products are impure, it is sold now-a-days extensively all over the world because of its rational benefits and because it helps keep a lot of people alive. Islam also considers such a transaction as permissible.[3]
If a retriever hunts a wild animal whose meat is halal to eat, it will be halal if the following conditions are fulfilled:
1. The hunted animal should be among wild animals and its meat must be halal.
2. The dog should be trained in such a way that when commanded to catch the prey, it goes and when restrained from going, it stops. But if it does not stop after having come closer to the hunted animal and seen it, there is no harm.
3. It is necessary that it should have a habit of not eating anything of the prey till its master arrives.
4. It should have been directed by its master. If it hunts of its own accord and preys upon an animal, it is haraam to eat the meat of that animal.
5. The person who sends the dog for hunt should be a Muslim.
6. The hunter should utter the name of Allah at the time of sending the dog. If he purposely does not utter the name of Allah, the prey is haraam. But if he forgets to utter the name of Allah there is no harm in it.
7. The prey should die as a result of the wound inflicted by the dog's teeth. Therefore, if the dog suffocates the prey to death, or the prey dies because of running or fear, it is not halal.
8. The hunter who sends the dog should reach the spot when the animal is dead, or if it is alive, there should not be enough time to slaughter it. But if he reaches there when there is enough time to slaughter it, yet he does not slaughter it, allowing it to die itself, the prey is not halal.[4]
Keeping the above details into account, the hunted animal which a retriever brings for its owner is halal but since a retriever is najis, the part of the hunted animal’s body which has come in contact with the dog’s mouth or teeth must be washed so that it should be clean.[5]
 

[1] Imam Khomeini, Sayyid Rohullah, Tawzih al-Masail (with annotation), vol.1, p. 67, Islamic Publications Office, Qom, 1424 A.H.
[2] Tawzih al-Masail (with annotation), vol.2, p. 198.
[3] Imam Khomeini, Sayyid Rohullah, Tawzih al-Masail, edited by Muslim Qulipour, p. 615, 1426 A.H.
[4] Tawzih al-Masail, (with annotation), vol.2, p. 587.
[5]  Bahjat, Muhammad Taqi, Isteftaat, vol.1, p. 102, Office of His Eminence, Qom, 1428 A.H.
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