Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bedouin Dogs' Ritual Purity

Last year, I blogged about the change in urban Middle Eastern Muslims' views of dogs, when in the early 1800's they went from valued contributors to human society to ritually and clinically unclean beasts who needed to be driven away.  In his The Arab of the Desert, Harold Dickson, the former British political agent in Kuwait, wrote that among Kuwaiti Bedouin, whether the dog was ritually pure depended on what type of dog it was.

According to Dickson, the greyhounds called in Arabic saluqis, which were widely used for hunting, were considered clean, while the watch dogs who guarded the tents and livestock were not.  Because of their ritual impurity, the watch dogs were never allowed in the tents, while the saluqis could even sleep in the women's quarters  Saluqis were also prevented from interbreeding with other dogs.

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