As Salam u Alikum wa Rehmantuallah
Ya Saydee, I once read that Rasuallah (s.a,w) had a cat named Muezah, which used to be very dear to him, and that he used to sit in his lap. And once that Rasuallah (s.a.w) was going to do imamat of the Zuhr prayers and he came back and saw that Muezah was sleeping on his juba mubarik, so he did not disturb him and tore his juba mubarik‘s arm. And that when he came back Muezah realized that Rausallah (s.a.w) had not disturbed him and felt embarrassed and prostrated his head in front of Rasuallah (s.a.w). Also that Muezah used to sit in the lap of Rasullah (s.a.w) when he used to be around the ahly e bayt.
I have also read about a cat of Hazrat Abu Huraira who jumped on and killed a snake that might have hurt Rasuallah (s.a.w). And that Rasuallah (s.a.w) was happy with that cat and stroked his fingers on the cat’s forehead many times and that is why many cats have three finger markings on their head.
I and my wife keep cats very dear to us, so please can you kindly explain that whether the above mentioned is true and what are the position or reverence of cats in Islam and tassawuf ? I would be much obliged because that would really clarify a lot of my confusions. Your Humblest follower
Wa `alaikum as-salaam,
Yes these stories are generally regarded as true – although there is no mention of them in major hadith collections. If we locate any mention of the story by a famous scholar we will post it as a follow-up. As far as the status of cats in Islam, they are regarded as clean animals as indicated by the following hadith:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Dawud ibn Salih ibn Dinar at-Tammar quoted his mother as saying that her mistress sent her with some pudding (harisah) to Aisha 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 (pbuh) said: It is not unclean: it is one of those who go round among you. She added: I saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) performing ablution from the water left over by the cat.
Sunan Abu Dawud 1#76
Also, the Prophet (pbuh) as specifically mentioned a case which proves that we must treat cats with kindness:
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A woman was punished because of a cat. She had neither provided her with food nor drink, nor set her free so that she might eat the insects of the earth.
As far as the status of cats in tasawwuf, suffice it to say that if you visit Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (qs) in Cyprus or Mawlana Shaykh Hisham(qs) in Michigan you will find plenty of cats in the dergah.
And Allah knows best.