Holy Cats

The Prophet was a great cat lover. Muezza was the name of his favourite cat. Due primarily to the love Muhammad displayed for Muezza, Muslims are traditionally encouraged to cherish cats. The Hadith, which are the oral tales of the life of the Prophet, have recorded that the Muslim will be punished who mistreats a cat.  Al-Bukhari reported a Hadith regarding a woman who locked up a cat, refusing to feed it till it died. The Prophet Muhammad said that her punishment on the Day of Judgment would be torture and Hell…


holy-catsIf only I could be sure that dogs and cats would get along I would immediately bring 5 cats home from my shelter. For one thing, they would drive away the rats who have now taken their toll of my clothes and books and who seem to have made friends with my dogs. But my dogs fight so much among themselves to get close to me, that I doubt if they would let a cat survive. The colder it grows, the more I want a cat to sit on my lap and another to let me bury my toes in her fur. My thoughts turn to the most influential person on Earth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the most widespread religion on Earth, Islam.
The Prophet was a great cat lover. Muezza was the name of his favourite cat. As the legend goes, Muhammad awoke one day to the sounds of the ‘Azaan’, the Muslim daily call to prayer. Preparing to attend, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed. Another version is that the Prophet was reading from the Qur’an to a group of listeners in the desert. A sickly cat walked up to Muhammad, sat down on the hem of his very precious robe and went to sleep. The day passed and no one stirred. The cat, snuggled in the robes of the Prophet remained asleep. As evening fell, all were to return to their dwelling places. Silently, the prophet took a knife, cut off the hem of his robe on which the sick cat still lay sleeping, destroying the finest of robes, and left the cat undisturbed.
The Prophet was so attached to his cat that when he gave sermons he let Muezza rest on his lap and he also drank from water previously drunk by his cat. The Prophet of Islam was once performing ablution for prayers from a pot of water. A cat passed there and turned its eyes at the pot of water with a thirsty look. The Prophet realised at once that the cat was very thirsty, so he stopped the ablution and placed the pot before the cat. Only after the cat had fully quenched its thirst, did the Prophet resume the ablution. Legend holds that the ‘M’ marking on the forehead of the tabby was created by the prophet as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favourite cat.
Abu Hurayrah, famous as a companion of the Prophet and a major narrator of his sayings was given the affectionate nickname Abu Hurayrah (literally father of kittens) by the Prophet because he used to care for a small male cat. There is also a legend in which a cat saved the Prophet’s life from a deadly snake. The story is narrated by Annemarie Schimmel : “There are variants of the story of how Abu Hurayra’s cat, which he always carried in his bag, saved the Prophet from an obnoxious snake, whereupon the Prophet petted her so that the mark of his fingers is still visible in the four dark lines on most cats’ foreheads, and, because the Prophet’s hand had stroked her back, cats never fall on their backs”.
Due primarily to the love Muhammad displayed for Muezza, Muslims are traditionally encouraged to cherish cats. The Hadith, which are the oral tales of the life of the Prophet, have recorded that the Muslim will be punished who mistreats a cat. Al-Bukhari reported a Hadith regarding a woman who locked up a cat, refusing to feed it till it died. The Prophet Muhammad said that her punishment on the Day of Judgment would be torture and Hell.
In another story from the Hadith, Dawud ibn Salih ibn Dinar at-Tammar quoted his mother as saying that “her mistress sent her with some pudding to Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, who was offering prayer. She made a sign to me to place it down. A cat came and ate some of it, but when Aisha finished her prayer, she ate from the place where the cat had eaten. She stated: The Messenger of Allah said: It is not unclean: it is one of those who go round among you. She added: I saw the Messenger of Allah performing ablution from the water left over by the cat.”
Islam teaches Muslims, in relation to a cat, that:
The cat should not be sold or bought like traded goods.That is because of the hadeeth of Abuâl-Zubayr who said: “when asked Jaabir about the price of dogs and cats. He said, The Prophet forbade that.(Narrated by Muslim, 1569).
Cats’ saliva is harmless unless the cat has “visible impurities” in the mouth; that Muslims are free to live with cats but they must treat cats well, providing the cat with enough water and food and giving “roaming time”.
Thousands of Sufi stories include cats. Sheikh Ashraf’s Madrasa cat, who helped the teachers to bring order to the school, even sacrificed itself for the sake of the disciples, or the tale of the Sufi master from Baghdad, Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Shibli (d. 945) who was seen by one of his friends in a dream when he passed away, On being asked what Allah had done to him, he said that he had been granted admission to Paradise, but was asked by Allah if he knew the reason for this blessing. Shaikh Shibli enumerated all his religious duties but none of his acts of piety had saved him. Finally Allah asked him, ‘Do you remember the cold day in Baghdad when it was snowing and you were walking in your coat when you saw a tiny kitten on a wall shivering with cold, and you took it and put it under your warm coat? For the sake of this kitten We have forgiven you.’
If every Muslim would just take a cat and treat it well, we might see more. As it is, they are being killed in the thousands and their meat sold as chicken and their fur commercially. That is why the rats are so many. Remember this:
“Those who are kind and considerate to Allah’s creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you.” Hadith – Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi
(To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in,www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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