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The Animal in Ottoman Egypt$
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Alan Mikhail

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315277

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315277.001.0001

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(p.66) (p.67) 3 In-Between
The Animal in Ottoman Egypt

Alan Mikhail

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that dogs played crucial social and economic roles in Ottoman Egypt as herders of flocks, guards, and above all consumers of urban garbage. It begins with a reading of religious, allegorical, and legal works to disprove the notion that dogs were always and only considered ritually impure in Islamic thought. Opinions about dogs were actually much more mixed, with many writers praising them for their productive roles in human communities. The chapter then connects this largely prescriptive literature to the social and economic history of canines in Ottoman Egypt. Ottoman authorities supported dog populations by providing them with food and water and punishing those who committed violence against them. Because they helped to keep cities clean by eating garbage and because of their uses in warfare, herding, hunting, and even medicine, dogs were completely enmeshed in the social and economic life of Ottoman Egypt.

Keywords:   dogs, ritual purity, hadith, hunting, herding, loyalty, cairo, garbage, ottoman egypt

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