Praise be to Allaah.
One of the things that should be understood is that Islam
means submitting to the command of Allah, adhering to His laws and accepting
His wisdom, because the essence of Islam is based on showing true servitude
(‘uboodiyyah) to Allah, the One, the Subduer. The more a person submits in
servitude to Allah, the more Allah will raise him in status and guide him
and accept his deeds.
So the heart of the matter is love of Allah and love of His
Messengers and Prophets (blessings and peace be upon them), as Allah, may He
be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad SAW to
mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allâh then follow me (i.e. accept Islâmic
Monotheism, follow the Qur'ân and the Sunnah), Allâh will love you and
forgive you your sins. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:31].
The whole of the heavens and the earth is based on the
concept of this love; with it the heart of the Muslim comes alive as he
seeks the pleasure of Allah. Indeed it is what differentiates between the
Muslim and non-Muslim, because the Muslim submits to the law and decree of
Allah out of love, respect and veneration of Allah, may He be exalted,
whereas the non-Muslim thinks that “servitude to Allah” means being forced
to follow the letter of the law, devoid of spirit and meaning, even though
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the
“There is no compulsion in
religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path”
Once the Muslim understands that love of Allah must take
precedence over love of anyone else, and that obedience to Him must take
precedence over all whims and desires of the self or any wish that goes
against seeking the pleasure of Allah and loving Him, and that the sign of
true love is obedience to Allah and following His command in all matters
both great and small, then it will be easy for him to go against his own
whims and desires and to give up all worldly matters, if by doing so he may
attain the pleasure of the Lord of the Worlds. It will be easy for him to
sacrifice himself and his wealth for the sake of Allah, may He be glorified
and exalted, so long as that sacrifice is beloved by Allah and brings him
closer to attaining His pleasure. Allah, may He be exalted, says
(interpretation of the meaning):
Allâh has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for
(the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allâh's Cause,
so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is
binding on Him in the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Qur'ân.
And who is truer to his covenant than Allâh? Then rejoice in the bargain
which you have concluded. That is the supreme success”
Keeping a dog for no reason is haraam for the Muslim and
detracts from his reward. Although it does not invalidate his good deeds
altogether, and his prayers and good deeds will not be rejected because of
that, the reward for his good deeds is reduced by a large amount that the
Muslim loses every day because of it.
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with
him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)
said: “Whoever keeps a dog, one qiraat (i.e., a certain amount) will be
deducted from his good deeds every day, except a dog for watching the fields
or herding livestock.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3324: Muslim, 1575
See also the answer to question no.
To sum up:
The long time that you have had the dog is not a
justification for keeping it when the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah
be upon him) has forbidden us to do so and warned us of this great reduction
in a person’s reward for good deeds because of that, even if it does not
render one’s prayers invalid.
With regard to what is past, if you did not know of the
prohibition on keeping dogs at that time, there is no blame on you in sha
Allah and there will be no reduction in the reward for your good deeds
because of that.
And Allah knows best.