Fatwa: Guide dog can enter British mosque

Sept. 24, 2008 at 9:44 PM

LEICESTER, England, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A blind 18-year-old became the first British Muslim to bring his guide dog to a mosque Wednesday.

In the past, Mahomed-Abraar Khatri has required a sighted person to accompany him when he wanted to pray at the mosque in Leicester, Dog Magazine reported. Now, he can get there on his own with guidance from Vargo,

The Islamic Shariah Council issued a fatwa this month allowing the dog to enter the mosque. Bilal Jamia Mosque set up a special rest area where Vargo can wait while Khatri prays.

"Since Mahomed-Abraar has had his guide dog, Vargo, he has regained his independence," Gafar Khatri, the student's father, said. "Now instead of being dependent on other people to take him places he can now go where ever he wants, when he wants."

The fatwa was required because Muslims generally regard dogs as tools for guard or hunting duty.

Mohammad Shahid Raza, who heads the council that issued the fatwa, said he hopes future mosques will be designed to be friendly to the disabled -- including facilities for guide dogs.

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