The Muslim vet in S’pore has helped hundreds of dogs in 4 years: “It is my responsibility to treat them” – Mothership.SG

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PERSPECTIVE: A common misconception is that Muslims are prohibited from touching dogs.

As the Singapore Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) explains, touching dogs is not against Islamic law and is not a sin. However, any area that comes in contact with a dog’s saliva must be cleaned seven times – once with water mixed with soil (soil) and six times with clean water. This cleaning method is called. designated sertu.

Ahmat Sharezza Ahmat Ja’affar, 28, is a Malaysian who lives and works in Singapore. He has been a Veterinary Nurse at Brighton Vet Care for the past four years. As a veterinary assistant, he has to look after and help treat pets, including dogs.

Speak with Mothership, Ahmat shares how to pursue his passion for animals while maintaining his religious beliefs and obligations as a Muslim.


As Syahindah Ishak was told

Why do animals mean so much to you?

When I was growing up, my mother brought home stray cats and took care of them. When a cat dies, it will adopt a new one. Our house would be full of cats.

I guess my love for animals started from there … I just really love animals, lah. I find them easier to work with than humans. * laughs *

What is your favorite animal?

I love all animals, but I have to say cats laugh

Image courtesy of Ahmat Sharezza.

How did you become a veterinary assistant? What did you study in school?

As I got older, I took my passion for animals seriously. I studied agricultural and animal sciences at Universiti Putra Malaysia and did my bachelor’s degree.

After that, I went to Singapore and jumped straight into work as a vet nurse. I’ve been with Brighton Vet Care for almost four years now.

Okay, let’s stop talking around the bush. As a Muslim, how do you deal with dogs in everyday life?

* laughs * I’ve probably been asked this question a thousand times.

Okay, first of all, I think people need to understand that as Muslims we can touch dogs. Only certain parts of a dog, such as its saliva, are considered impure in Islam. Then we have to wash the area that touched the dog’s saliva seven times – once with water and earth and six times with clean water.

In fact, these days there are soaps made specifically for what makes washing easier. You can find it online or in stores.

Screenshot from google.

I have some of these soaps with me. I have one in my clinic and one at home. It’s basically like regular soap, but it’s made from clay.

So after I’ve dealt with the dogs, I wash my hands with the soap. When I go home, I will also shower with the soap to be on the safe side, as some parts of my body may have accidentally come into contact with the dog’s saliva.

When I was studying in Malaysia we also had a topic devoted to that subject – what is? halal (permitted) or haram (not allowed) in relation to animals. We were taught how to handle dogs or pigs and how to perform the Islamic cleansing ritual.

And as a veterinary assistant, I am responsible for these animals, including dogs. It is my responsibility to treat them, serve them well, and care for them.

Image courtesy of Ahmat Sharezza.

So being a Muslim never stopped you from indulging your passion?

Not at all.

There are people who come to me and ask: “Ah Ahmat, are you serious about working with dogs? “

I’ll just answer, “Why not?”

I mean, I don’t do anything bad. I help these animals. These animals also have feelings, they also feel pain like we do. So why not

Has your family ever questioned your career choice?

No.

I am very happy. You supported me from the start. You know my passion is for animals. They never had any doubts about what I was doing.

I know that there are some parents or family members in the Muslim community who do not allow their children to work with dogs. But it was never a problem for my family.

And being a vet nurse is a good job. I am doing something good. I believe Islam teaches us to do good and care for other beings.

Why do you think some Muslims still feel very suspicious of dogs?

In my opinion, this is more often the case with the older generation who immediately thinks that dogs are haram or that they are unclean without fully understanding Islamic law.

It is important to educate yourself and know what is right and wrong without jumping to conclusions.

I mean, if you are a Muslim and you handle a dog, just wash yourself.

I understand that some people want to avoid touching dogs because having to wash seven times is quite a hassle. But if a dog comes up to you and licks you or something, that’s not the end of the world.

Actually, during my research, I went through every single veterinary clinic in Singapore and it was crazy because I could barely find any Muslims in the veterinary industry.

Yes, there aren’t many Muslims.

Is it because most Muslims are still suspicious of dog handling? Why do you think there aren’t many Muslims in this field?

I don’t think they are afraid or afraid of handling dogs. I think they are scared of people’s perspective, especially from the Malay / Muslim community. I think so personally laugh

What would you say to young Muslims pursuing careers in the veterinary industry?

Don’t be afraid of what others are saying. Don’t worry about all of the negativity because if your passion is about animals then just do it.

As Muslims, we must also educate ourselves appropriately about our religion. Know what is right and wrong and how to handle dogs properly. Know how to wash afterwards.

And remember that as Muslims we must be good to all animals. Islam taught us that.

Do you remember your first contact with a dog as a veterinarian’s assistant? How was it?

Yes, I remember it exactly. I’ve dealt with a big dog.

My boss had already warned me that it was a big dog. She told me to get in touch if I was not familiar with something.

I wanted to try, do you understand? During my studies, I only had the ability to handle small dogs and hold them back.

But at work I had to do all sorts of things, like draw blood from the dog. It was a good learning experience for me. I always learn on the job.

How did you feel when you first saw the dog?

Actually I was a little scared laugh It was a very big dog and I didn’t have a lot of experience. But it turned out okay.

Over the years I have noticed that some dogs may appear aggressive and tall, but end up being very affectionate and manja (spoiled), it’s very cute.

How do pet owners, especially non-Muslims, react when they see you? What do you say?

There are so many customers – not Muslims – who come to me and ask if I’m a Muslim. After I tell them it’s me, they’ll ask if I can touch dogs. That’s when I raise them and they will eventually understand.

There are also some customers who get a bit shy and awkward when they see me. It’s like they want to ask me a few questions, but they don’t mean to offend me either, you see? I’ll just act as usual and do my job. When you see how I treat your dogs, I can see them calm down. Some of them will also ask me questions at the end and I’ll just explain it to them.

What about Muslim customers? What do they tell you when they see you

So far they have been very understanding. There is no judgment or anything like that. I am very lucky, I have good relationships with my customers, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

I think Singaporeans are generally more open these days.

How many dogs have you dealt with in total in your four years as a veterinary assistant?

* laughs * So many, laugh Probably hundreds. A work day is about 12 hours, so I deal with dogs, cats, hamsters, and all sorts of pets.

So at least a hundred dogs.

What are some of your most memorable moments as a vet nurse?

I have been bitten by dogs and cats a lot, which is normal for this job. I think my colleagues are worse off. One of my colleagues was bitten in the buttocks by a large dog. * laughs *

Is it difficult to deal with dogs?

Of course, I mean, if I have to hold the dog to get blood it can be difficult because these animals don’t know what is happening and they could be shocked to be suddenly arrested. But for me it has been fine so far. Like i said i got bitten here and there but it’s all normal laugh

In fact, dogs are easier to handle than cats.

What? Really?

Yes, cats are just something else. I feel stupid fighting cats. They have more personality than dogs, you know?

So if you’re trying to approach or hold back cats, especially those who are already in a bad mood, it’s insane, I tell you. They run around so fast and their bite is actually much more painful than a dog’s bite.

If I have to choose between handcuffing a dog or a cat, I would rather handcuff the dog. Dogs are still okay, more manageable.

Do you have a favorite breed of dog?

Sure. My favorite breed is the Pomeranian. They are very small and cute. They can get aggressive at times, but they are very small and so there is not much they can do.

Do you think that you will still be in this industry in 10 years? What will your future look like?

I really like this job. I seriously can’t imagine myself working in an office and interacting with people, no offense to you laugh * laughs *

No, it’s fine, I totally understand.

Yes this is my passion. I can never let go

No matter what, I will always work with animals. I just love them.


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Top images courtesy of Ahmat Sharezza. Quotations have been edited for the sake of clarity.


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