Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia: Breakthrough allows guide dog into mosque

A BLIND student can now take his guide dog with him to his local mosque under a breakthrough Muslim religious ruling.

The Muslim Law Council (Sharia) UK issued a fatwa allowing Mahomed-Abraar Khatri, 18, to take his labrador, Vargo, to the Bilal Jamia Mosque in Leicester, about 160km north of London.

“I hope it will open up some doors and let other people . . . get a dog and not be worried of any religious aspects behind it,” Mr Khatri told the BBC yesterday.

Observant Muslims generally regard dogs as unclean and they are not allowed in mosques.

Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the US Council on American Islamic Relations, said he had never heard of a guide dog being allowed into or turned away from a mosque in the United States.

“I suspect that most people with dogs will self-police and won’t go to the mosque with a dog,” he said.

Mr Khatri’s dog cannot go into the prayer hall but will stay in a gated area in the entry near where the shoes are kept.

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the ruling.

“The scholars who have deliberated this ruling have explored the issue from all angles and we are delighted with their fatwa,” MCB assistant secretary-general Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra said.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association called the decision “a massive step forward for other blind and partially sighted Muslims”.

Copyright © 2008, Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia