The Yellow Dog

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A yellow dog came to visit today. He was friendly and young and full of energy, perhaps a year old, a Labrador retriever, his nose to the ground sniffing for a familiar scent. He circled the house and my wife saw him through a window out of the corner of her eye; a lean, hungry yellow dog by the look of him, his ribs plainly visible.

Fortunately, the previous tenant had left a couple of cans of dog food, and as my wife enticed him with a piece of bread, I opened both for him, along with a big bowl of water. He ran up onto the porch without any prompting, being obviously used to people, and ate it all happily and drank most of the water. He seemed so happy to see us, and to be treated like a welcome guest. He sniffed us both and circled the house again, and then was off, following whatever scent he had picked up. I thought he was lost, or got separated from his owners, and was making his way back to them. He looked as if he had been on the road many days. I have read that lost dogs sometimes travel hundreds of miles to their old home.

We were happy to help him on his journey. My wife grew up on a farm and has an affinity with all creatures great and small. And ever since his appearance, my heart has had such a feeling of love and gratitude that I can hardly describe it.

I think it came from the yellow dog.

Even though we didn’t do anything extraordinary, this chance encounter, if chance it was, was a blessing for us. We had in a small way helped one of God’s creatures on his journey home, inshallah. There is an old Persian saying: “A guest is God’s friend.”

It may have come from this old Sufi tale:

There was a darvish who one day sought a guest from God. “O Lord of the World,” he said in his heart, “may a guest come from You tomorrow, so that I may treat him as befits one of Your friends.” The following day he made preparations for his guest. The darvish cleaned his small home and prepared a meal fit for a Friend of God.

As he was keeping a lookout in all directions while waiting outside for the guest to arrive, a thin and hungry mongrel dog wandered by and, smelling the food, begged for a morsel. The darvish chased him away, not out of meanness, but in his anxiety that nothing should spoil this occasion. And so he waited and waited, but despite all his expectations, no one came. He finally fell asleep in a heartbroken and agitated state.

“O self-absorbed one,” said God in a dream, “I sent along a dog as one of My own, so that you might make him your guest, but you heedlessly sent him away.”

Alhamdulillah! That the friend of the Friend was made welcome here, and our hearts were gladdened by his visit.

Ya Haqq!

NOTE: The Sufi tale is originally from Fariduddin Attar’s Mosibat-Nama (Book of Adversity), and can be found in Dogs from a Sufi Point of View by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. It is also told in a slightly different version, about Moses and the beggar, in the first chapter of Master of the Jinn, which you can read as an excerpt on the book’s website by clicking HERE.

19 Responses to The Yellow Dog

  1. Frieda says:

    Irving, too bad that the Muslim countries consider Dog a “dirty” animal and many dog owners in iran have been arrested because of owning a dog. Oh! how I wished the world would learn more of Sufi side of Muslim religion.

    BTW, did you hear about latest Sufi arrest in Iran. Check out my friends blog

  2. Julaybib Ayoub says:

    I’ve come across quite a few ‘pro-dog’ tales in Sufi literature. I’m glad because I grew up non-Muslim with a dog for a pet and I know dogs can be loyal friends. Khaled Abou El Fadl is said to keep dogs as pets, having researched the hadith concerning them, I gather, and concluded they are not sound. Mind you, my autistic son is scared of dogs so I’m not so friendly to them these days!

  3. Abdur Rahman says:

    Salaams Irving bhai,

    Thank you for this beautiful tale. Allah bless you and your wife always. In some strange way, it speaks to me this morning.


  4. Barbara says:

    This is a lovely story dearest Irving. I have an inclination to think Muslim herders have dogs they appreciate.


  5. Baraka says:

    Salaam dear Brother Irving,

    Your posts always break open my heart and eyes to Love.

    Bless you,

  6. almiskeenah says:

    Assalamu alaikum Dear Irving Darvish,
    A dose of Rumi seems appropriate,
    “God made Majnun love Layla so much that
    just her dog would cause confusion in him.
    There are thousands of wines
    that can take over our minds.
    Don’t think all ecstasies
    are the same!
    O People, if you proceed beyond your worship of outer form and develop contact with the Creator, who is the fountain-head of all beauty,
    Then in this world you will start enjoying the blessings of paradise and you will see a rose garden everywhere.”
    Wassalamu alaikum

  7. annie says:

    i’ve got tears in my eyes. thank you. they are tears filled with love.

  8. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Sisters and Brothers:

    Thank you all for the kind and gracious comments. Barbara, it is similar to a tale in Master of the Jinn, as the NOTE at the end says :) Frieda, I also have her blog on the blogroll as Iranian Woman. Baraka, dear Sister, may your heart and eyes see only love in this trying time. Almiskeenah, I know that poem :) Majnun would feed the dog because he may have passed by Layla’s house. Ah the madness of love. Dear sweet Annie, may your eyes always be filled with tears of love :) Thank you for the blessing, dear Abdur bhai, my wife is the true animal person here :) Julaybib, I know how difficult it is. A darvish brother and sister also have an autistic son, who is 12 now. They have a cat. I lived with them in khaniqah for four years, and know how much love and devotion they showered on their son. Bless you.

    Ya Haqq!

  9. Abdul. says:

    Thank you for posting that Irving. Nice story :-)

  10. ikramuddin says:

    Assalamualaikum dear brother,

    Jazakallah khair fro sharing that wonderful event with us!

  11. Maithri says:

    Its a pleasure to visit your site.

    Deeply moving words,

    in peace, Maithri

  12. M. Shahin says:

    What a poignant story that we can all learn from. The things we turn away are often of benefit to us, and Allah places great importance in the most humblest things. Thanks for sharing.

    Wa Salaam

  13. Shahrzad says:

    Very beautiful story. I also when help one of God creatures, animals, plants or a person, i see that something in my life changes..
    I loved your point here. Yes, Guest is God’s friend. Even it be a yellow dog.. :)

  14. Mona says:

    what a beautiful and moving story, reminds me of a story from one of my ‘islamic stories for children’ books. shows how integral generosity and kindnesss are to Islam.

  15. Ahmed says:

    Jazakallah for sharing this beautiful post and story with us, truly some valuable lessons to learn from it.

  16. Abdul. says:

    Irving you have been tagged to provide 7 weird facts about yourself. You can find details on my blog!

  17. joanne says:

    Beautiful post, and thank you for reminding me of the love and depth to be found right under my nose, many times in ordinary circumstances. Being mindful of love and gifts that are all around us, and giving gratitude for them, comes from an opening of the heart.

    Peace and many blessings to you.

  18. Safiyyah says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum Brother Irving:

    Yes, a beautiful post, Masha Allah.

    Hungry, abused dogs make me feel sad. Dogs are such social animals; they don’t do well without a human family to love, or at least other dogs to be with.

    I was in Puerto Rico once for 1 1/2 months. There (at least where I was), the people lock their gates at night and put the dogs out in the street (like some here do to cats at night). It’s so weird to see roving gangs of dogs running down the road!

  19. Jordan says:

    Assalamualaikum brother. Beautiful story, Irving. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve had many similar experiences; it’s a shame there aren’t more Muslims who understand that dogs’ (supposed or apparent) uncleanliness doesn’t mean they are to be despised and neglected.

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