These are brilliant photographs of Imam Mustafa Efe interacting with the community cats which he allows into his mosque; the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Mosque in Istanbul’s historical Uskudar district.
He is quite clear about it; the mosque should be a home for stray cats if they need it. Imam Mustafa Efe clearly loves animals. There are photographs of him with dogs as well. However, his love for cats radiates from these photographs.
And he says that the worshippers who come to his mosque are perfectly happy with the cats mingling with them, even during prayers. I would like to suggest that they actually add to the ambience of the mosque. And I think this is because they probably remind worshippers of Prophet Muhammad’s love of cats.
Cats in the mosque seem to bridge the distance of time between the present and the creation of the Islamic faith. The photograph of the Imam with the grey tabby cat peeking out of his gown is very reminiscent of the story of the Prophet cutting off the sleeve of his gown because he didn’t want to disturb Muezza, his favourite cat.
I get the impression that Turkish people are quite tender towards the street cats. The domestic cat has a long history in Turkey. They have the famous Turkish Angora and the Turkish Van although I think they are the same cat. It’s just that the cat fancy turned one cat into two. But that’s another story.
Imam Mustafa Efe said:
Cats have been with us during prayers and sermons. They do not spoil the peace inside the mosque. Worshippers love them as well.
Well said. As mentioned, I think they enhance the ambience. He said that their numbers vary and they are free to come and go. He also said that cats have always been part of the mosque community. When a cat goes another one replaces them.
The Imam also said that the food bank for people is also used to feed the cats (I hope they have some high-quality cat food too!). Also, the worshippers have helped to take care of them. The Imam particularly welcomes the cats during the winter and that “It is something any Muslim should do”. Well said again.
He wrote: “Our mosque’s Friday guests; a surprise awaits us at the sermon today. The kitty has found the heart of compassion and mercy…”
When a person is kind to animals it is kind of behaviour that the Prophet Muhammad would praise.
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