Prophet Muhammad's love of cats transformed a Muslim cat hater to a cat lover

Qais Hussain's mother had an irrational fear of cats. She suffered from ailurophobia. Her son, Qais Hussain, in complete contrast, is a confirmed ailurophile; a cat lover. He has written a very interesting article for The Guardian. During the coronavirus lockdowns he wanted to adopt a kitten like many other people in the UK. As he lives with his mother it was impossible to introduce a kitten into the household.

Muslims with cat at mosque. Photo in public domain.
Muslims with cat at mosque. Photo in public domain. Not all Muslims are this kind towards cats however.

He believes that her irrational fear of cats may have started when she watched a scary video about a cat in her childhood. She remembers seeing a black cat with green eyes jumping into a man's mouth and suffocating him. He also says that his mother actually hates all animals believing that "Cats are Satan incarnate, who use their cuteness and their adorability to bewitch and do the devil's work."

It seems to me that his mother had also been indoctrinated by many stories of mediaeval Europe when black cats were the familiars of witches and persecuted for hundreds of years. During that black era of humankind's relationship with animals, the black cat was seen as the devil incarnate, which is exactly what his mother believed.

He was desperate to adopt a cat and had the idea of reminding his mother of the stories of the Prophet Muhammad's love of domestic cats. There are many hadiths about how domestic cats and indeed stray cats should be treated by Muslims. Hadiths are believed to be a record of the words, actions of the Prophet Muhammad. They are reports of what Muhammad said and did. And therefore, they carry great weight.

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Once Qais Hussain's mother had been reminded of hadiths it flicked a switch in her brain it seems to me. She fully accepted cats and embraced their company. Her change in attitude allowed him to adopt a kitten who she adores. They named him Milo and she treats Milo as her fifth child.

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Initially she was fearful and unsure around him but gradually got to know him. One day Qais returned from college to see Milo sitting on her lap while she watched TV. She now looks after him and in his words "she runs down the stairs to kiss him in the morning."

It's a good story. I'm not sure why his mother didn't already know the stories of the Prophet Muhammad and his love of cats but that's neither here nor there. She now loves them which is the right attitude!

I just hope that now she can learn to love other animals as well. As a postscript, Qais admits that Muslims treat dogs unfairly. Dogs are treated incredibly unfairly as they are regarded as unclean. Cats are regarded as clean. This is speciesism and I would hope that the senior clerics in the Muslim faith clear up this false anomaly.

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