Q. According to some reported ahadith, angels do not enter homes with dogs and statues. Also, there are ahadith which state that Muslim men are not permitted to wear gold and silk. What are the reasons for these restrictions?

A. Regarding the dog, the ahadith are all of Jewish inspired halakha, which is contradictory on the subject of dogs. The Qur'an mentions that the Ashab al Kahf (People of the Cave) had a dog with them (Q18:18 and 22). The regulation on any ruling is that it must have clear proof, which is the Qur'an. Dogs are clean, so the problem started from the time we imported Jewish and Christian lore. According to them, the dog was created from Satan's spit. You may remember the hadith about black dogs being jinn. Now jinns can be Muslim too, so I guess that puts the traditionalists in a funny position.

Statues are allowed. The rule is that actions are judged by intention. Images of Jesus and any other religious personalities are to be avoided. Generally, these are not made for artistic merit, but for worshipping, which means that they are not statues, but icons or idols. Islam does not prohibit statues, but idols.

The ahadith on gold and silk are debatable. The gold and silk were all symbols of pomp in the Prophet's time, so it is possible that he could have said that. The fact that there is a hadith showing that the Prophet ordered a companion who lost his nose in battle to wear a gold nose, and permitted another companion who had a skin disorder to wear silk, are indicative that the ahadith are to be interpreted in a social setting. Therefore, if pomp and splendor are not involved, there is no problem.

Posted January 28, 1999