Perhaps everyone will agree that dogs are man’s best four-legged friends and it is difficult to find a more loyal animal. However, from a religious point of view, everything is not so simple. What place do these animals occupy in different beliefs?
Dogs in Orthodoxy
According to Christian, including Orthodox, views, all are the creatures of God. A cruel, derogatory attitude towards any living creature is a great sin. The indignation of believers against the negative attitude of the church towards dogs and their presence in human dwellings is quite justified.
But even more terrible sins than cruelty include the highest reverence for someone other than God. However, dogs often, with their devotion, ability to provide help and other positive qualities, deserve a person’s love, stronger than he feels for his neighbors. Because of such fears, the church ranked dogs as unclean animals. Many believe that this is due to people’s excessive sympathy for these pets.
Opinions differ as to whether or not dogs can be kept in the house. Indeed, many clergymen do not just live in their dwellings, but are kept in bedrooms. They believe that Orthodox Christians can live with dogs in the same house, but putting them on a level with children and parents is a real sin.
Despite the ban on the presence of dogs within the walls of the temple, more associated with their unpredictable behavior, the modern church considers dogs useful and necessary pets. Today you can often hear about shelters for stray dogs established on the territory of Orthodox churches. Priests teach children to respect all animals, including dogs.
However, dogs, like other animals, after death cannot go to heaven, because only a person possesses the Spirit, a particle of God. Orthodox Christians cannot pray for their pet, but can only ask for a person who can help in difficult times. Also, you cannot ask God to take care of the soul of a sick or departed pet, since immortality concerns only the human Spirit.
It will be interesting: the lifespan of dogs.
Dogs in Islam
In this religion, dogs are classified as “unclean” creatures. However, such an attitude was not laid down in the origins of the belief, but developed gradually until it became fundamental. In modern Islam, these animals are treated negatively, and sometimes even hostile. It is necessary to clarify that the opinions of the two Islamic movements about the uncleanness of dogs differ. Shiites support this point of view, while Sunnis do not.
It is believed that the attitude towards these animals began to change against the background of the conflict of religions – Zoroastrianism and Islam, which took place in antiquity. Then the Muslims seized the territories of the Zoroastrians and began to convert the inhabitants to their faith, naturally, destroying the existing cults, including the cult concerning dogs. Due to the thriving tolerance of faith, the idea that dogs are ritual unclean animals emerged. Subsequently, this view of the canine became an ingrained tradition.
In the holy Quran, dogs are mentioned three times, and each time only in a positive way, but respect for them was eradicated by all methods and over time it became only a formality. Moreover, this contradicts many hadiths indicating that all living creatures created by the Almighty deserve mercy and compassion. In one of the legends of Solomon, it is said that for their merits, the dog and the horse turned out to be worthy of special mercy – to act as an eternal companion of man, taking the second place before the Almighty deity after people.
According to the rules of Sharia, the sale and purchase of any dogs fell under the ban (an exception is made only for greyhounds), but giving them is allowed. The use of these pets is possible only for practical purposes – in hunting, as guards, watchmen, shepherds, as well as guides for the blind. Keeping pets for fun – aesthetics or dog fighting is strictly prohibited, otherwise the offenders will face a significant reduction in the mercy of Allah.
Kindness towards four-legged pets is frowned upon, so often animals do not receive proper care from their owners. And those, in turn, explain this by the requirements of faith. A person who touches a dog will not be allowed to pray until a complete cleansing ritual has been completed. The Koran clearly indicates a respectful attitude towards these animals, however, most followers of Islam have a different opinion on this matter.
Dogs in Buddhism
In Buddhism, there is no concept of “supreme god”, and the followers of this religious movement worship Buddha and believe in the transmigration of the souls of all beings. Man himself, by doing good or bad deeds, determines his own karma. After death, a person is reborn, and into any creature, or the interruption of rebirths is possible.
Buddhists do not exclude the likelihood of further rebirth into an animal, therefore, they consider cruel treatment to them unacceptable, and the offender will significantly spoil his karma and may be reborn into this animal.
The Buddha is often depicted surrounded by various beasts, and it is believed that even the most ferocious predators cannot harm him. According to Buddhist belief, animals have the worst karma, but having improved it, they get a chance to undergo rebirth and become human. This view leads many Buddhists to become vegetarians.
But theory is theory, but in fact in states with this religion there are a lot of homeless dogs, since people often show indifference. They do not offend animals, but they are in no hurry to help them, believing that they themselves are to blame for their bad karma.
Dogs in Zoroastrianism
Probably, this is the only world religion in which dogs are treated extremely respectfully and only positively. The dog was called “amiable creature” and was placed practically on the same level with a person, it was considered the second holiest living being, after a person. And besides, the Zoroastrians believed that dogs have a soul.
The Zoroastrians of the Antiquity period left a rich documentary heritage reflecting how religion treated dogs and what role they played in the life of the ancient peoples of Iran. These pets were associated with the world of the dead, higher powers, progenitors. And such their qualities as courage and vigilance allowed the dogs to become real companions of the followers of Zoroastrianism.
The process of feeding dogs is a ritual action, because Zoroastrians believe that the souls of dead people move into the body of dogs. Therefore, the food that is given to them is actually meant for the ancestors. Of course, pets are given all the most delicious and high quality, in tribute to the souls of departed people.
In one of the religious works, it is written what should be given to dogs and at what time. Another describes the torments of hell that await those who do not feed the dogs and offend them. Dogs receive food first from the hands of the oldest member of the family, and after that the whole family begins to eat.
According to the belief, dogs not only go through life with a person, but also accompany him after leaving. Dogs are entrusted with an important mission – to stand guard, driving away otherworldly dark forces. They are expected to be especially vigilant in the hours of grief, when demons can steal a soul at the time of his death. Therefore, during the funeral ritual, the four-eyed dog (with white hair, having black spots under the eyes) must constantly be near the body of the deceased, performing a special rite – to look and drive away a special demon – the deva of corpse filth.
If death overtakes a woman in labor and a child, then they lead two dogs, endowed with four eyes, so that they can observe two souls. Often a puppy is extended to a person on his deathbed so that the soul can pass into him. In addition, leaving a pet is equated with leaving a person and requires not only attention, but also the same rituals that are used for burying people.
For harming a four-legged pet, a person is severely punished. Even feeding the dog inappropriate food deserves reproach. If a dog is injured in the process of activity, then the damage is compensated for by punishment, and for the death of the animal, the owner is severely beaten with a whip used for horses. If a person kills a dog, then his entire family is subjected to a curse up to the ninth generation, and the killer himself after death is awaited by crowds of hellish demons, but no one will come to his aid, since the light forces have turned away from him.
But equality with humans imposes certain requirements on dogs. A dog is also judged and punished if it attacks a person. One bite costs the dog an ear, for the second the dog loses its second ear, after that comes the tail, limbs … If the dog does not improve, it will face the death penalty.
A different attitude towards our four-legged friends largely depends on religious beliefs, however, helping a neighbor and supporting the weak is not condemned by any religion and is more related to human qualities.