Daily Trust

‘Why my dog frequents places of worship’

The owner of a Zaria dog that hangs around a mosque during five daily Muslims prayers has described its action as mysterious. Jibril Mohammed of Musan Gwarzo Street, Tudun Wada, Zaria, said that aside going to the five daily prayers, the dog also associates with other places of worship.

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Mohammed said that contrary to the postulations of experts, the dog goes to the mosque without prompting.

“The dog started going to the mosque when it was about five years old. It is now seven. Honestly, I don’t know how it started going to the mosque. This is for the fact that I travel regularly. Aside going to the daily prayers, whenever there is a funeral prayer in our neighbourhood you will see this dog standing at the back of the congregation

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 Jibril Mohammed, owner of the dog and Malam Muhammad Atiku Ahmad, the Imam  of the mosque

“I was given this dog when it was only two months old. I got it from a doctor’s house at Tukur Tukur, Zaria. When I brought it to our house, my father refused to accept it, saying that he would not live with a dog in the same home. However, I continued to take care of the dog, but it lived on our street since my father refused to allow it access to our house,” he said.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that some vigilant residents of Dandali, Tudun Wada, Zaria, where the mosque the dog visits is located, first noticed the activities of the dog. 

After months of monitoring, these residents confirmed that the dog always moved to the mosque on or before the Adhan (call to prayer) of each of the five daily prayers and would remain there until the prayer is concluded. 

According to the Imam of the mosque, Malam Muhammad Atiku Ahmad, it is strange for a dog to be going to the mosque, hence the decision of these residents to monitor it.

He said; “Some members of the congregation who usually come after the start of the prayer noticed this dog. As the imam, you know I will be inside the mosque leading prayers. They reported their observation to me and I decided to confirm it. What I saw was amazing. You know Muslims pray five times daily. At the call of every prayer, this dog would run to the mosque and lie down, facing the Qibla (direction of the Holy Ka’aba in Mecca). The dog would remain in that position until the prayer is concluded.”

Imam Ahmad said that at the conclusion of every prayer, the dog would leave the mosque premises until another prayer is called. 

Initially, some residents thought that the dog was accompanying its owner to the mosque, but it was established that it was not so, Daily Trust on Sunday learnt.

 The dog relaxing

“As you know, when such a strange thing occurs, there will be many explanations. The assumption that the dog was only accompanying its master was stepped down after it was confirmed that the master isn’t a regular worshipper in the mosque. Again, the dog always comes to the mosque alone and it would leave alone. We also tried to confirm whether there was any member of the congregation that serves food to the dog and perhaps that was the reason behind its action. It was also established that there was nothing like that,” Imam Ahmad said.

Investigation revealed that initially, the dog used to stay few metres away from the mosque any time prayer was called. But when it realised that members of the congregation were not hostile to it, the dog decided to be coming close to the worshippers.

When contacted, a biologist in the School of Science of the Federal College of Education (FCE), Zaria, Malam Najamuddeen Alhassan, said many possibilities could explain the dog’s behaviour.

He said; “In Biology and Zoology, there is what we call Fabulous Theory. To a layman, the theory is saying that there are some animals that can be conditioned to certain circumstances. Dog is one of them. Therefore, the act of going to the mosque by this dog can better be explained by looking at its history. 

“The first assumption is that the owner of the dog or any other person has been taken the dog to the mosque at the call of Adhan (call to prayer). So, the dog became used to it and this is why it moves to the mosque anytime it hears the Adhan from that particular mosque. 

“Another possibility is that the owner or any other person gives the dog food around the mosque after every Adhan; therefore, according to the Fabulous Theory, even when the food is not there, the dog would move to the mosque when it hears the Adhan because it has been conditioned to that. These are some of the possibilities in science. However, as believers we know that all creatures of Allah glorify him in accordance to the way He wishes.”

Similarly, a lecturer in the School of Education, FCE, Zaria, Malam Ibrahim Sadi Rogo, explained the dog’s behaviour by using the Thorndike Theory of learning, which postulates how animals learn certain behaviours overtime, which may be strange to human beings.

“Psychologically, this dog learnt going to the mosque by either following or seeing people close to it going there. It is something it has learnt over a long period of time and has now adopted it as a habit,” he explained.