Islam faith and cats – Arabs in the VIIth century believed that the cat was pure spirited. Before the Islam faith commenced Arabs worshiped the Golden Cat. The Prophet Mohammed was tender and kind towards cats, it seems (his name is also spelled Muhammed or Muhammad). He appreciated cats. Mohammed’s favorite cat was called Muezza. There is a well known story regarding the Prophet Mohammed and Muezza.
When call to prayers was announced Muezza was asleep on one of the sleeves of the Prophet’s robes. The Prophet wanted to wear the robe to go to prayers. Rather than disturb Muezza Mohammed cut off the sleeve to leave Muezza in peace. Mohammed then stroked the cat three times, which, legend has it, granted Muezza seven lives and the ability to land on his feet at all times. As you might know, cats have a self-righting mechanism,a righting reflex, which is a complex series of movements when a cat falls and which protects the cat from breaking her back.
Mohammed 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. He also did his ablutions from the same water that was drunk by a cat. He seemed to treat his cat in the same way as cat lovers do today but even cat lovers might think twice about drinking the same water that had been drunk by a cat for fear of transmission of disease from the cat’s saliva (but see below).
The Islam faith teaches Muslims to treat cats well and that the cat is a creature to be cherished and loved. Mistreating a cat is regarded as a severe sin in Islam.
Cats according to the Qur’an and Sunnah
An example as to how Muslims are punished for mistreating cats can be found in the Hadith (oral traditions telling the story of the Prophet Mohammed and which have been recorded in writing). When a woman kept a cat locked up and failed to feed the cat until the cat died, the woman was tortured and “put to hell”.
It is believed that you will suffer no harm if you drink from the cat’s water provided no impurities are seen in the cat’s mouth. In another story from Hadith it is stated that a when a cat ate a pudding put down during prayers, the person who was in charge of the pudding ate from the same place as the cat and Mohammed said this was alright as the cat is not unclean and is “one of those who go around amongst us”.
The Islam faith teaches Muslims that, in relation to a cat:
- the cat should not be sold for money or other traded goods
- cat’s 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 in providing the cat with enough water and food and giving “roaming time” (a degree of freedom of movement)
The al-Bukhari’s authentic (Hadith) is one of the Sunni six major Hadith collections (Wikipedia).Muslims see this Hadith as the most trusted and is the most “authentic” holy book after the Quran.
In this Hadith, the Islam faith in relation to cats is set out in Volume 3, Book 40, Number 552. The story of the women mentioned above is recited. It seems that the woman was scratched by the cat and to punish the cat she imprisoned it a failed to feed it. Her actions were frowned upon and she was duly punished.
The islam faiths teachings in relation to cats indicates a gentle approach to our fellow creatures. If the teachings are this caring towards animals then (without studying the Hadith and Quran further) it must be that Muslims are taught to treat other people with respect. This flies in the face of the terrorists claims that their actions are supported by Islamic teachings.
One final point, a question. Seeing how Islam teaches Muslims to be kind to cats and look after their welfare, does this actually happen on the ground, in practice, in reality? I have never heard anyone say that it does happen.
Addendum: 27th August 2010, the Times newspaper reported the bizarre story of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran and their edict which is based on a fatwa. The edict was made by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi who is 86 years old.
He declared that dogs are unclean under Sharia. The edict states that all advertisements for pets, pet shops, pet food and products be prohibited.
This obviously affects cats as much as any other companion animal. The rules are clearly out of step with the Prophet Mohammed’s feelings about cats and the teachings of the Quran. It is not inline with the teachings of the Islam faith.
This I feel is another example of how a dictatorship can be built on a religion, in this case the Islam faith, distorting it to their own personal advantage and to the disadvantage of the animals and people.
On a separate issue the website of the organisation concerned with the conservation of the highly vulnerable cheetah in Iran has closed down or at least moved. I wonder if this too is part of this dictatorships governance and if so I fear for the last remaining cheetahs in Iran.
Islam faith – Resources:
- Times Newspaper.