Do you say D for Dog or David?

Culturally, there is a plethora of differences between Americans and Arabs. Many of these are just normal differences between any two cultures like the culture of celebrating the Halloween. Few others I can’t figure out like why men take showers in front of each others TOTALLY NAKED in the Gym.

Here is one that I also couldn’t figure out; Americans LOVE of dogs. This love relationship is not just a love between a pet and his owner. In some cases, dogs are treated, or may be considered, like humans. Some dog owners pay ten of thousands of dollars to cure their dogs. A professor in my former university paid a huge sum of money for his dog psychiatrists.

Here is another example how dogs are not just pets here. Guess what was the first mission of the White House when President Obama won the presidency back in 2008? Yes, finding the president’s family a dog. I still remember the media coverage over this story until Bo is finally found. This shows how for the president to be close to the citizens he must own a dog, like any other American family.

In my 10 years in the U.S. I don’t think I have met any American who doesn’t own a dog. I have seen people here who get offended when someone says something bad about their dog, like he is loud or she misbehaves. Similar when a mother is told that her child misbehaved or something.

It is very often that dogs are referred to as a member of the family.  Many times I heard someone say “I don’t have kids but I have two dogs” or “I have two girls and a dog.”

So, for a society that has such fond of dogs you have to expect to see them everywhere you go. I have seen dogs in many private businesses as well. This is a big problem for some new comer Muslims. Dog owners expect others to pat their dogs and act like when an adult sees a baby. Dogs  here are nice and friendly. Unlike cats, dogs like to play with strangers. So, you can imagine the reaction of an Arab when he enters an office and a dog jumps and licks him.

As you may or may not know Muslims don’t have such fond for dogs. Mainly, because in Islam dogs’ saliva is considered not clean. This is an important issue since Muslims pray five times a day and they have to be clean before praying. Having a dog at home would be a problem for Muslims.

There are some different opinions about dogs. Some Muslims, mistakenly, think that touching dogs nullifies one’s Wudu’. And many Muslims also don’t like dogs thinking they are not clean. But many Muslim scholars agree that it is the dog’s saliva that is not clean not his body. And for this reason owning dogs are not haram in Islam. Can you imagine a bedouin or a shepherd  without a dog? But here is the thing that might be shocking for Americans, dogs can’t stay inside the house. There are many Muslims who love their dogs but they are not allowed inside.

Here is a funny true story told by a friend who was on the phone with a customer service rep:

American Customer Service Rep: D as in dog?
Arab Customer: NO! D AS IN David!

My friend laughed at his reaction but he was convinced that saying “D as in David” is better than saying “D as in dog.”

When an Arab calls someone a dog it is a big insult. Americans say “You dog.” But I don’t think it means what Arabs mean, it is not an obscene or a big insult.


26 thoughts on “Do you say D for Dog or David?

  1. Good cultural relativism post ;D
    My family = 2 cats/dogs … (hear it hear a loooooooooooooooooooooooot!)
    I`m not sure bwt the saliva thing Malik, I think owning a dog other than for guarding purposes has to do with the 6ahara each time u touch it, opppps I mean him/her 🙂
    not sure though.


    I hope no one gets me wrong here but I cannot swallow the idea that millions of ppl go to bed (if they have beds to start with!) hungry, starving to be more dramatic and the notion of animal/dog psychiatrists being .. THERE!

    It`s totally biased, I know, looking at it from that angel and focusing at that, but then again, that IS there, a reality.

    Where r the priorities, right? (no!)

    1. The four scholars (A’aemah) are in difference about the cleanliness or purity (tahara) of dogs. But from what I read people exaggerate a lot when it comes to dogs.
      I agree with you that human problems should be more important than dogs but then how about rich Arabs who spend 10 or 100 of thousands on falcons or on license plates?

      1. I meant where r the priorities = as in general of course 🙂
        The impurity of a dog can only be removed by washing seven times, one of which should be with earth
        “It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘Whoever keeps a dog, except a dog that is trained for hunting or a dog for herding livestock, his reward will decrease each day by two qeeraats.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5059; Muslim, 2941; according to another version narrated by them both, “one qeeraat”)” <——– again, I`m not sure if this IS in al-Bukhaari + Muslim!

  2. Yay, the dog post! Germans love dogs, too,so I’ve heard similar thoughts from you know who. In fact when we first went to Germany in late February, he met us in the airport with the words, “I just got licked by a dog!” (The Germans allow dogs in airports apparently because one greeted him with affection while he was waiting for us.) Yeah, we hadn’t seen him in 3 years yet this took his attention the most! Ha! Poor guy. 🙂

    I don’t own a dog, but my parents have one (Stella), my brother has one (Molly) and my sister has one (Bagel). My inlaws have a bulldog named Abby. I love how loyal and forgiving most dogs are. Seriously, there is a reason dogs are considered man’s best friend. They often treat you better than humans.

    1. Not here. I haven’t seen stray dogs here. By law, dog owners should always keep there dogs on leash when they are out. These dogs are not harmful at all because they are pets. I agree with you some of them are scary but most of the ones I have seen here are nice ones 🙂

  3. Leash or no leash, I can have a heart attack just seeing a dog.. I know most of people interpret my fear of their pet family member as being paranoid and from being a Muslim which is not true. I am truly afraid even of little puppies which make my life pretty difficult here as like you said, everyone owns a dog.. Anyways, I have a very close Jewish friend whose mother is very strict religiously and she wouldn’t let her take her dog inside the house for the exact same reasons we have regarding this issue.

    1. Yes, I think this would be a problem if you are terrified of dogs. Stay away from them 🙂
      I didn’t know Jews have the same thing regarding dogs. Interesting!
      p.s. Your last blog post is on October 5th. Why Noura Why? I am sure you have a lot to say, don’t you?

  4. Oh..I do stay away from them and wish I can get over my fear because I can’t even take a walk around the neighborhood because despite the leash law, most of the people don’t use it…
    As for my blog, I have more than a lot to say but am guilty of not managing my time properly.. funny you should say that because I woke today saying today is the day I do something about that and it is now almost 3pm and am still running in circles hahaha
    So, khalas.. tomorrow is a new day 🙂

    1. I am sure it is always easier to say than do. But if I am living in Florida I will go to the beach at least once a week and refresh my mind. What more motivation you need 🙂 I hope you live close to the ocean.
      Okay, I added your blog to my blog reader. I am expecting to read something tomorrow 🙂

  5. Late to the party…actually, depending on my mood I say ‘D for doofus’. 🙂

    Personally I love dogs, but I know plenty of people who don’t for one reason or another. They are a very American kind of thing, even people who live in apartments in the city find some way to have a tiny dog in their lives.

    One thing I don’t understand: why are dogs unclean (saliva or fur or what have you), but cats are okay? Someone tried to tell me once it was because dogs do ‘gross’ things, which is true, but so do cats…

    1. “actually, depending on my mood I say ‘D for doofus’”

      I’m going to have to remember that one for the next time I’m spelling something for someone over the phone. Thanks, Amber! 😀

      1. Susanne,
        ‘D for doofus’ might not work with the Arabs as well 🙂
        Remember I mentioned once we don’t write books such as ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to something’ or “something for Dummies.’ The Arabic version of the show ‘The biggest loser’ is called ‘The biggest Winner.’
        Maybe because we don’t like negative words. I don’t know.
        So, why a smart adult would walk on the street carrying a book titled ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Divorce?’
        Anyway, I bought idiot’s and dummies books while living here. No pun intended 🙂

    2. Also, addendum to my post:

      The naked thing.

      I have never experienced this! Even in my high school they had curtains around the showers so that we had privacy when showering/changing. At my gym the showers sometimes double as changing rooms for women who don’t want to change in the locker room, but even then no one gets naked.

      Well. Except for that one woman. But I try not to think about that.

      Maybe it’s a guy thing? I admit to never having seen the inside of the men’s locker room in school or at the gym. Maybe they don’t have stalls to shower/change in around here either.

      1. At the gym of the University of Missouri – Rolla, there is a very big open space or room that has shower heads installed in arrays on the four walls of the room. Also, there are some shower heads in the middle of the big room. No dividers, sections, walls, doors, curtains or anything.

        In this university, the showers have curtains but still the guys go naked in the changing room. I think it would be appropriate if they keep their towels but they don’t. This is something I don’t like at all. It is not just inappropriate but it is actually haram (forbidden) for Muslims see each others’ private parts, front or back, except for married couples of course. When God created Eve, she and Adam covered their private parts. We call it ‘Awra.’ So one is commanded to cover his Awra in front of others.

        1. I’m with you. People should not walk around naked in public. And a locker room is public. I don’t know if I could use the showers in a place like that! I’m not self conscious, really, but wow. No. Nope.

    3. Amber,
      Muslims believe that the Quran is a miracle. The words are the word of Allah. In the Quran God says “of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you.” That is why there are still many things we don’t know. So, Muslims should believe first and then seek knowledge to understand. We can make the analogy of how we teach children at school. We teach them to think and work hard.
      Muslims are not allowed to eat pork not because what some say it is dirty I don’t believe this is the reason. We are not allowed to eat many other animals as well. The question is why only pig was explicitly mentioned by name. There has to be a reason. Science will prove one day why it is haram to eat pork. One intelligent scientist friend’s theory is that because pigs one day will be used to cure many of the human diseases and replace human limbs. If this is the case according to him how come we eat something than can be used a human limb. It is his theory based on science not religion.

      Now, regarding why dogs’ saliva is not clean (known in Arabic as ‘najasa’) no ones know yet. Actually, this is a question I have tried so hard to find an answer to but didn’t yet. I think it is very scientific. My question specifically what are the chemicals in the subject that is considered Najes (not clean)? For example, dog saliva is najes also the human urine is najes. Now, what do we mean by najes it means that one’s Wudu’ is nullified and he or she needs to make wudu again before praying. What is najes and what is not is a big issue. And it would interesting to know why for example humans’ waste is najes but cows’ and sheeps’ waste are not.

      In short, if one believes in the Quran he or she should believe first then question the reason. I know this doesn’t answer your question but this is the answer 🙂

      1. One intelligent scientist friend’s theory is that because pigs one day will be used to cure many of the human diseases and replace human limbs. If this is the case according to him how come we eat something than can be used a human limb. It is his theory based on science not religion.

        Um. That…that makes an incredible amount of sense to me. It makes it almost cannibalistic.

        Well crap. I’m going to miss bacon…

        As for the rest of your comment: I understand that, I do. Unfortunately for me, I’m one of those people who thinks that there must be a solid, logical reason behind every rule or command, even the ones from God. And I want to understand those reasons. I’ve never liked the answer “Because I say so” even when I was a kid. So it makes me frustrate myself with things like this.

        1. You are right and I understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, we can’t get all the answers, at least not the ones that satisfy our curiosity.
          Our brains are built to connect things and find patterns. That is why we can read a paragraph that is missing a third of its letters. And that is why we expect that anything should have spawned or produced from another thing. We know where the books came from and we know we animals and humans came from. But our brains can’t for example contemplate the idea that God came from nothing. In Islam, we believe that He is the First and He is the last. But of course we don’t know how anything can be the First.
          The world is full of mysteries!

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