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Entries in dogs (1)

Saturday
Nov102018

I Own a Dog. And, also, God is Not A "Him".

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but totally is. 

When I told many of our Muslim friends and family that we were getting a dog, there were two things that happened. One, everybody recoiled in horror and said, WHY?

And the second thing that happened is that everyone assumed it was my idea. It was not my idea. I like dogs. However. I was opposed to getting a dog for several reasons.

But back to the first thing that happened -- what I will call for the purposes of this story, "Muslim Dog Recoil (MDR)."

MDR exists because Muslims consider the saliva of dogs unhygienic. In fact, if you have completed your ablutions (ritual washing before prayer) and a dog licks you, you have to go do your ablutions again before you can pray. Orthodoxy suggests that dogs may be kept for the purposes of work. That is, a guard dog, herding dog or hunting dog is fine. There are also a couple of credible hadith (this is a collection of sayings of the Prophet - peace be upon him -- that is regarded as an auxiliary to the Quran) that are pretty discouraging of the keeping of dogs in the home. As a result of this, most Muslims don't have dogs at all.

For better or worse, I am a person who is grounded in context and history. I believe in miracles, too, but I also am accepting and cognizant of the human components that inject themselves into our cosmology as they are practiced on a daily basis. This was a fancy way of saying, I believe that God is All Powerful and has revealed Themself as the shaper of human destiny through the miracle of sacred texts, but I also believe in the power of human beings to shape those narratives and affect practice in self serving ways. (Hey, spell check, I see you with your red squiggly under themself, but I'm going to reject your political agenda and go with it). I know many of my Muslim friends will shake their heads and pray for my soul when I say this, but history matters.

The way I see it, the miracle of the Quran is that not only was it revealed, but that it exists today. As inhabitants of the ever changing Earth and members of the human race, though, our greatest jihad (struggle) is to discern the validity of what was revealed in context to the lives we live today. I will not blindly accept the narratives of the past regarding piety. I will certainly give these narratives of the past the benefit of the doubt, but I will evaluate them critically. I believe the biggest problem facing all Believers today is the ability to accept that when we critically evaluate our sacred texts, that we are able to leave space for different answers that allow us to coexist peacefully. I believe it can be done, but we are definitely failing as a species on this level. 

Regardless of what you're talking about, religion or human rights, dominant narratives are shaped by the needs of the members of a community who are dominant. This doesn't make the narrative wrong, but it does subject it to scrutiny. I think a good example of this is assigning Allah the pronoun of "Him." Y'all. God is not a "He." Yet, when we talk about God, we constantly use He. Why? Because the he-s were in charge when these words were being both invented and then subsequently written down. 

The most orthodox among my Muslim brothers and sisters will recoil and say this is nonsense talk and is such a small thing -- and, anyway, they'll say, who cares -- it' s just a word? Much the way the politically conservative among Americans will recoil when you commit to honoring someone's relationship to their pronoun as a choice.

That's cool. Recoil away. I'm still going to call someone what they WANT to be called. And I will continue to avoid using Him when I talk about God. Words matter, especially to those who have been historically divested of agency and power. The fact is saying "Him" matters when you say "All praise is due to Him" or "He is All Knowing" if you, yourself, are NOT A HE. Intrinsically, a woman saying "Praise Him" - on a subconscious or conscious level - reaffirms a false narrative created by hims that all the hims in the world have a special connection with Allah. They reaffirm that women do not have this connection because they are not hims. I reject this idea that "him" connection is stronger than the "her" or "they" connection, and, ironically, so do many of the most conservative members of my religious community who are tsking at my words this very minute.

This was a long, wordy way of explaining to you why those closest to us in our Muslim circle assumed that getting a dog was my idea. Because I have this crazy idea of questioning the established practice in the context of modernity and history.

But I DID NOT want the dog, y'all.

Because? I am so allergic. SO ALLERGIC. I have not been able to breathe through my noise without pseudo ephedrine pumping through my veins since March.

I will tell you the story of how we ended up with our beautiful dog who I love so dearly and who does indeed stay inside our house (but away from the areas where we pray and sleep). For now, know that I was completely railroaded by an alliance between my husband and daughter that was so well crafted that I still don't know how this happened.

Anyway, this is our dog just after we brought her home. She's a wire-haired Viszla. She is, in fact, the sweetest and smartest dog in all of creation. Her name is Hestia. And I ...achooo.. love...sniffle, sniffle.. her.

She's waaaaay bigger now. I'll post more photos of her soon.

 

*Friends, this is a post that discusses religion and, to an extent, politics. Be advised that while I respect freedom of speech very much, I would never permit someone to sit in my living room and disrespectfully engage with my ideas. I will not tolerate it here either. If you can be mindful, write thoughtfully, and stay in your lane -- then, feel free to disagree. If you can't... go yell in your own living room (or your own blog).