If the Prophet, his companions and Muslims since the beginning of Islam loved cats, it should come as no surprise that another group loves them too: yup, ISIS fighters. I absolutely detest what these people do to the entire human race, they are not the face of Islam and a true Muslim would never engage in acts of terrorism, this post isn’t about the condemnation of violence, it’s about the love of cats. So what the hell, terrorists love cats too. They even have a Twitter account about their love of cats too!
Contrary to terrorists and their epic failure when it comes to human rights, Islam both emphasizes human rights and animal rights. Even unclean animals like pigs are to be treated with kindness and in a humane way. Whether it’s a beloved cat or an unclean creature, Islam is irrefutably against animal cruelty in all forms and circumstances.
The Ancient Egyptians, Muslims and terrorists aren’t the only ones who are crazy about cats though. Japanese people have had a long relationship with cats. More than 1000 years ago, people in the upper class were already living with cats. Common people also started having pet cats at home several hundred years ago and Japanese people have been involved with cats in a variety of ways since then. There are shrines that worship cats as gods (sounds familiar?) across Japan and cats have also played a part in folk beliefs through the ages.
The extent to which Japanese people have been involved with cats is evident from the volume of artworks that depict cats as the main subject. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Ukiyoe virtuosos Hiroshige Utagawa and Kuniyoshi Utagawa painted cats, and in the Meiji period (1868-1912）, the great novelist Soseki Natsume wrote the novel “I Am a Cat”, which became a famous masterpiece of Japanese literature. Even nowadays you can find examples, such as the famous character “Hello Kitty” the cute anthropomorphic cat, and “Krocchi” a stray cat character that has recently started to become popular. Cats have been loved by Japanese people through the ages.
Aoshima Island in Shikoku area is also known as a cat island. The catch-phrase of this island is “15 residents and 100 cats, the cat paradise”. They say that 10 years ago when the population of the island went below 50, the number of cats started to increase. The biggest appeal of Aoshima Island is that you can have an extremely close contact with cats. The island has recently become increasingly popular as a tourist spot, especially among cat lovers. Of course, you can also see cats in the city. In Yanaka, a cat town in Tokyo reasonably close to Ueno Park, you can see cats living freely in the city. If you get some spare time during your trip, why not experience a “Cat Café”? Cat Cafés are cafés where you can spend time playing with a variety of cats.
Look at a slideshow of Japan’s obsession with cats. In Islam it’s also believed that animals can hear the voices of those in the grave. Others go as far as saying that animals can also see spirits such as angels or jinn but this account is disputed. Considering they can hear the voices of the departed, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were in tune with other spiritual beings too considering that animals are often said to have that “sixth sense” that lets them in on things that we humans cannot see or perceive.
We can also agree that the entire internet is in love with cats. According to Wikipedia, the cultural love of cats has been around for more than 9500 years and has transcended all cultures and eras. In Catholicism, Saint Gertrude is said to be quite the cat lady. In light of the fact that Catholics believe that saints can intercede for them, this is a cute and funny little prayer to Saint Gertrude about cats:
St. Gertrude of Nivelles, ask you I pray
Safeguard my kitties this and each day.
Defend them from those who might wish them harm.
Keep them at home safe from danger and storm.
Instill in me wisdom to care for them well.
Pray, fill me with strength never to yell.
And Gertrude, a last thing I beseech from thee,
Protect my sofa from claws and my carpets from pee.
Some modern day famous internet cats include, among many others, Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat, but also the beloved animated Pusheen. I have four Pusheen plush toys with me in my bed, a classic grey one, a white one, a black one and a pink one. AliExpress will show you in a rainbow of other colors too. It’s obvious that no matter who you are or which religion or culture you’re a part of, cats are sweet and adorable little creatures that unite us in love (heck, even the terrorists have a soft spot for them) and joy for God’s beautiful creation and a faithful companion. I know from personal experience that sharing your house with a cat is a great blessing.
I hope that you have all enjoyed my mini series on cats not only in Islam, but in cultures around the globe and through the ages. Please do share your love of cats and your stories of sharing your life with them! 🙂