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We’re sorry Syed Azmi- some Malaysians are unreasonable

Bravo Malaysia! You have expertly taken a meaningful and enlightening event organised by a brave, young man and turned it on its head so that it breeds more fear, hate and distrust among the people.The event in question is called “I Want To Touch A Dog” and the said organiser, Syed Azmi Alhabshi.Wanting only to overcome his own fear of dogs, Syed Azmi also felt the event provided a wonderful opportunity to let Muslims know that if proper cleansing rituals were observed, that Islam permitted them to touch and play with dogs.

Despite the event having the blessings of MAIS (Selangor Islamic Religious Council) and attracting hundreds of dog owners, animal lovers and those genuinely wanting to overcome their fear of dogs, the event has now degenerated into an angry war of words replete with complaints, warnings and threats of punishment.

Speaking about the event yesterday to FMT, Syed Azmi said that when “haters got a whiff of it (on Facebook), they started sending me photos and WhatsApp messages that were very cruel. But that provided the fuel for me to soldier on.”

He added, “As a solo person I wanted to show that anyone can make good changes within the community.”

However Jakim’s (Islamic Development Department) director-general had a totally opposing view telling Bernama he regretted the irresponsible attitude of the organiser, who in his opinion, was not concerned with the sensitivities of the Muslims.

Apart from his harsh reprimand, he also said Jakim would investigate the case and penalise those involved.

Another who stepped forward to denounce the event was Mohd Kazim, who wrote on Facebook, ”There’s a finer agenda at play here. There is an attempt to liberalise and pluralise the religion.

Calling it “sinful”, he added, “The dog, under Islam, cannot be made a pet unlike the cat, chicken or other kinds of animals, as it will interfere with a Muslim’s prayer.”

Mohd Kazim stressed that the penalty for touching a dog was the same as that for touching a pig as touching both these animals was forbidden under Islam.

However despite these harsh views, many other Muslims took a more compassionate and liberal view of the event.

Muslim scholar Ustaz Mohd Iqbal who was present at the event Sunday, when interviewed by FMT, said there was a need for change in the perspective of our society “because there is space within Islamic teaching for Muslims to rear dogs, in particular guide dogs to assist the blind, even leading him or her to a masjid”.

Aishah Abdullah, a student who was thrilled to meet and pet dogs saw the event as a good exercise to expose the Muslim community to the joys of interacting with these animals. She saw it as highly educational since the Islamic scholars at the event gave helpful hints on how to perform “sertu and samak” after touching dogs.

“I believe this event will open up narrow minds, urging the public to treat dogs lovingly like any other of God’s creatures,” said Aishah.
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Another animal lover, Azleen Ibrahim said this should be a regular event “so that everyone will have an opportunity to play with dogs every other week”.

Pet owner Moses Sin Voon Lon was of the opinion the event was a great way to bring the community together and for everyone to discover the joys of petting a dog.

“I think the phobia of Muslims over dogs can be put to rest now because most dogs are well trained and friendlier, not wild like the kampung days. The Muslims should be aware of that and this is what the event has achieved,” said Moses.

Syed Azmi himself was pleased with the turnout saying, “this shows the relevance of the issue to the general public.”

Be that as it may, the Facebook page set up to promote the “I Want To Touch A Dog” event has been pulled down and efforts by FMT to contact Syed Azmi today have been in vain.

The “I Want To Touch A Dog” event was held yesterday at Central Park from 8-10am.