Mythic Felines
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Islamic cats

     Throughout the Middle East, big cats - especially lions - are associated with the sun and power.  Domestic cats also have the role of protector and were valued for disposing of venomous creatures and for killing vermin.
     In Islam, cats have a special place:

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Meuzza and the cats of Islam

     Moslems are traditionally taught to regard cats as lovable and cherished creatures.  Abusing or neglecting cats is considered a sin in Islam.

     One of the holiest cats in history was Meuzza, which belonged to Mohammed. According to legend, the prophet was called to prayer by the bell. Rather than wake the sleeping cat on his arm, Mohammed cut the sleeve from his robe and set it down with the dozing cat. The blessed cat resides in paradise.

     One of the reasons Mohammed was so fond of his cat may be because the feline saved his life by killing a snake that had crawled into his sleeve.  The prophet blessed the cat with the ability to land on its feet. 

     One of Mohammed's writings states that the prophet had a vision of a woman suffering the agonies of the damned because she tied her cat to starve and did not let it loose to feed upon the vermin of the earth.

     According to the Koran, the cat is the essence of purity. Unlike dogs which eat their own feces and are unclean, cats bury their waste.  In Bab-el-Nasz, A cat hospital was built.  It was considered a blessing to bring food to the patients. Furthermore, it is unlawful to chase cats from Mosques. 

     While it is permissible to keep cats, it is not permissible to buy or sell them; they may be given as gifts or given away.  Scholars treasured their cats because they ate mice that would have damaged precious books and scrolls.  Cats were used as lessons in morality by the sufis.

     In one tale, the grammarian Ibn Babshad was sitting on a mosque rooftop having a meal with his friends.  When a cat came by, they fed her scraps and she ran away.  The cat returned again and again for the scraps only to carry them off.  Intrigued, the scholars followed the cat.  She led them to an adjacent rooftop and placed the scraps before a blind cat.  Babshad was so moved by this compassionate act that he gave up all his possessions and lived in poverty until his death in 1067.

     One of Mohammed's followers, Sahaabi Abu Hurayrah (literally “Father of the Kitten”) was so called because he used to love cats and keep them. He became well known by this name and people forgot his real name!

 

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