Cats in Islam

On the occasion of the “Year of the Cat” celebrated in Vietnam, let me tell you about a frightening story, but it has an immensely important lesson.

In the year 2010, a Canadian citizen tortured two small kittens  to death by suffocating them in a plastic bag. He video taped this heinous crime and shared it online. Of course, he made sure to conceal his face, but "Internet investigators" engaged in thorough work to unveil his identity. 

They accomplished that by analysing and studying every detail that appeared in the video – from the colour of the wall paint to the shape of the electrical outlets and the type of wood used for the furniture, and so on.

He was arrested by the police. However, this was just the beginning of the story, as what was revealed upon his arrest was far more horrifying... much more. 

It's true that many Muslims might not be aware that Vietnam is celebrating the "Year of the Cat" this year. However, if you were to ask a young Muslim about what they know from the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, they might mention some Hadiths about being grateful to parents or Hadiths encouraging prayers. But for sure, they would know the following hadith:

A woman was punished in Hell because of a cat which she had confined until it died of hunger. She did not give it anything to eat or to drink, nor did she free it so that it might eat the vermin of the earth” 

This is one of the first hadiths that Muslim children learn.

Similarly, if you were to ask any Muslim about the most prominent narrator of Hadith in Islam, they would undoubtedly tell you: "It's Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him!" 

His name means "the owner of the little cat." He is one of the most important companions of the prophet in the history of Islam, and without him, a significant portion of Islamic legislation would be lost.

Muslim children are raised to be compassionate toward animals from a young age.

Just as they know the hadith about a woman being punished in Hell for a cat, they also know the hadith "A man saw a dog eating mud due to extreme thirst, so the man took off his shoe and filled it with water and gave it to the dog. Allah thanked him for his deed and allowed him into Paradise." Interestingly, this hadith is also narrated by Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him.

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, also said:

"Whoever shows mercy, even to a bird, Allah will have mercy on him on the Day of Judgment." 

Additionally, the Prophet - peace be upon him - passed by a donkey with a branded face and said: "May Allah curse the one who branded it."

Someone might say, "But the Western world also cares for animals." And that's true.The Western world might focus its cameras on a man rescuing a cat stuck in a tree, while ignoring a large number of humans dying due to wars and famines in other parts of the world!

For instance, did you know that the number one deadly disease in the world is curable? It's tuberculosis.

But, pharmaceutical companies prioritise profits over human lives. 

Western nations exploit economically disadvantaged Asian countries for cheap labour and Africa for its natural resources.

Here's the question: Why does the West's compassion for animals seem to disconnect from their compassion for humans?

The answer: Because that compassion is detached from a holistic view of life. It doesn’t  place animals and humans in their rightful positions.

The goal of Islam is the flourishing of humanity, and compassion for animals is a part of that vision.

Do you remember that deranged criminal I mentioned a few minutes ago, the one who tortured cats?

Would it shock you to learn that a person who willingly suffocated newborn kittens in a plastic bag also ended a human life? Yes, in the renowned documentary "Don't Mess with Cats" – which documented that heinous crime – it's revealed that this disturbed individual didn't stop at taking innocent animal lives. He went on to murder a Chinese student living in Canada! And also in a horrific way!

Islam prohibits such savage inclinations from surfacing by forbidding cruelty even towards the most vulnerable creatures like cats and dogs.

In China, thousands of dogs and cats are skinned alive, left to bleed to death, all for the sake of exporting fur worldwide. China stands as the largest fur supplier globally, accountable for 50% of fur products in the United States.

Such horrific acts, like skinning animals and the like-  are entirely forbidden in Islam.

According to the American Humane Association, 71% of women seeking refuge from domestic abuse reported that their abusers had also been violent and abusive towards animals. They employed this brutality as a means of instilling fear in the hearts of their victims. Additionally, 70% of individuals charged with animal cruelty annually are also charged with other crimes, including domestic violence.

Can you see the connection here?

Even before institutions and statistics existed, Allah the Almighty, the Creator of humans, knew that human nature could lean towards violence. He decreed that individuals must control these malevolent emotions.

When an innocent creature is subjected to torture, humanity itself is at risk. Islam recognizes this reality and cuts the problem at its roots.