(Ottawa, Canada - Feb. 6, 2008) - The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today asked Muslim taxi drivers to accommodate blind passengers accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. There have been a number of incidents over the past months where Muslim cabbies have not allowed seeing-eye dogs into their cars.
CAIR-CAN made the call for accommodation based upon Islamic teachings that require Muslims to show compassion and understanding for handicapped persons. This would also include following any legislation that may require Muslim cabbies to allow seeing-eye dogs into their cars.
"It is important to note that there is flexibility within Islamic teachings, and we should seek to implement opinions that are most consistent with our context, in conformity with Canadian law.
"Islam allows for dogs to be used by the visually impaired. Although dogs may be considered ritually unclean by some scholars, and so creating complications for daily worship, there are also opinions that consider dogs ritually pure.
"Surely, we can not impose any particular interpretation on anyone, but we should note that opinions exist that allow for flexibility and accommodation," said Dr. Jamal Badawi, CAIR-CAN Board Member and Canadian Islamic scholar.
Dr. Badawi notes that a number of Canadian Islamic scholars, including Mr. Ahmad Kutty, Senior Lecturer at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, have addressed the question of accommodating blind passengers from a faith-based perspective.