Abuherrira’s Cat

Abuherrira’s Cat was a legendary pet and a companion of the prophet Mohammed who featured in a poem by a celebrated German writer and statesman; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His poem is entitled ‘The Favoured Beast‘ in The Book of Paradise.

Goethe writes about Abuherrira’s Cat as one of four favoured beasts, the other three are the ass (donkey), wolf and dog. The word ‘Abuherrira’ means ‘father of the cats’.

In accordance with Islamic folktale Abuherrira’s Cat was a favorite of the prophet Mohammed. The cat had no merits (unlike for the other three animals) other than to please the prophet who stroked him.

The cat is the fourth privileged animal. Goethe knew that cats were pets in the Islamic world and that the prophet Mohammed loved cats and that they would enter paradise.

Here is an English version of the poem (there appears to be more than one version because it is translated from German):

Or beasts there have been chosen four
To come to Paradise,
And there with saints for evermore
They dwell in happy wise.

Amongst them all the Ass stands first;
He comes with joyous stride,
For to the Prophet-City erst
Did Jesus on him ride.

Half timid next a Wolf doth creep,
To whom Mahomet spake
‘Spoil not the poor man of his sheep,
The rich man’s thou mayst take.’

And then the brave and faithful Hound,
Who by his master kept,
And slept with him the slumbers sound
The seven sleepers slept.

Abuherrira’s Cat, too, here,
Purrs round his master blest,
For holy must the beast appear
The Prophet hath caress’d.

An alternative version of the last four lines is as follows:

Abuherrira’s cat appears
Purrs round the lord and flatters:
For since the Prophet stroked his ears
He’s holy where it matters.

Note: the prophet’s name is spelt in different ways. In the poem it is spelt: Mahomet. The usual way is Mohammed or Mohammad.

2 thoughts on “Abuherrira’s Cat”

    • Unclean they say. It is all a bit mad. Actually it is totally mad. Dogs are not unclean but it goes back to the 6th century or whatever. Cats are known to be clean which separates them from dogs in that regard.


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