Do Cats have a next life?


As salaamu alaikum

I just wanted to know what happens to cats when they pass away. Do they have another life? Is it different for every animal? If we get to Jannah through Allah swt’s mercy can we ask to see our old pets (cats) that passed away?


Waalaykumussalam warahmatullah,

A partial yes to the title question and the first question per Surat al-Takwir {and when the beasts are regathered} (81:5) and the hadiths. It is partial because this does not necessarily mean eternal life. It only means temporary resurrection for the distribution of justice to all beings as in the hadith “the gored animal and the animal that gored it shall be resurrected and the former shall exact justice from the latter”. After that, only those beings that were addressed by the Divine Messages — i.e. rational beings — perdure forever, and the angels.

It was also said there are rare exceptions that can be counted on the fingers of the hand, namely certain very special dunya animals that will also be resurrected and granted to perdure hereafter. They include the Holy Prophet’s camel al-Ghadba’ (reserved for Fatima in Paradise as mentioned in a hadith), the Prophet Salih’s she-camel (reserved for Bilal) and her foal, the Prophet Ibrahim’s slaughtered calf, the Prophet Isma`il’s sacrificial ram, the cow of the Israelites, the Prophet `Uzayr’s donkey, and the dog of the People of the Cave. Al-Damiri in Hayat al-Hayawan al-Kubra related some of that list from the great Syrian Tabi`i Khalid b. Ma`dan. Others are sometimes added such as the Prophet Sulayman’s hoopoe and the ant whose voice he heard, and the Prophet Yunus’s whale.

However, Paradise is also populated with its own innumerable Paradisial animals created therein since the time of Adam as part of its beauty and perfection according to the reports to that effect, including the Buraq (reserved for the Prophet, upon him and his Family and Companions blessings and peace), as well as animals familiar to us. Examples of the latter in the hadith are: “Sheep are of the animals of Paradise” narrated from Ibn `Umar and “Treat goats well for they are of the animals of Paradise” narrated from Abu Hurayra, both in the Musnad, Sunan and elsewhere; horses due to their nobility; and others.

The second question (is it different for every animal?) has two answers, because from the viewpoint of life, animals and human beings are all indifferently subsumed under the Arabic term “ruh” in the generic sense of “the spirit of life” (see, e.g., Ibn `Atiyya, Tafsir Surat al-Ma`arij 70:4 and al-Haytami, Fatawa Hadithiyya pp. 5-6), in which case the answer is no. At the same time, the entire Divine address is directed at the legally-liable rational ones only — the Thaqalayn, i.e. jinn and human beings — and they are the ones being promised reward and threatened with punishment in the hereafter exclusively of all other animate life, in which case the answer is yes in the senses already clarified in the previous paragraphs.

As to the last question (can we ask to see our old pets (cats) that passed away?) it is akin to asking any particular enjoyment of the life of this world in Paradise, which is granted anyway per the verse {And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds, that for them are gardens underneath which run the rivers. Whenever they are provided thereof with fruit as a provision, they say: “This is what was provided to us in former times;” and they are supplied with it, all looking similar, and they have therein spouses immaculate; and they will be therein, perduring} (al-Baqara 2:25). There is also a hadith that states that whatever one will long for in Paradise one will immediately obtain, so the answer to the question is subsumed under that.

The issue also regards the manners of duaa and supplication in this life, which require us to ask for general goodness, not overly specific items (unless so taught in the Sunna such as duaa for a pious parent). So you may ask, for example, for “fulfillment of my longing which You know of” including lost friends. What Allah Most High graced us of pleasing company in this life, He is able to grace us with the same and better in the next, as in the Prophetic duaa for the deceased: “O Allah grant them a home better than their home,” etc. And Allah knows best.

Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, all his Companions, and all Prophets.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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