Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cats in Islam

The Prophet Muhammad (s) was tender and kind towards cats. He appreciated cats. Muhammad’s (s) favorite cat was called Muezza. There is a well known story regarding the Prophet Muhammad (s) and Muezza.

When the call to prayers was heard, Muezza was asleep on one of the sleeves of the Prophet’s (s) robes. The Prophet (s) wanted to wear the robe to go to prayers. Rather than disturb Muezza, Muhammad (s) cut off the sleeve to leave Muezza in peace. Prophet (s) then stroked the cat three times, which, it is said, granted Muezza seven lives and the ability to land on his feet at all times (as you might know, cats have a self-righting mechanism,a righting reflex, which is a complex series of movements when a cat falls and which protects the cat from breaking her back).

Prophet (s) was so attached to his cat that when he gave sermons he let Muezza rest on his lap and he also drank from water previously drunk by his cat. He also did his ablutions from the same water that was drunk by a cat. He seemed to treat his cat in the same way as cat lovers do today but even cat lovers might think twice about drinking the same water that had been drunk by a cat for fear of transmission of disease from the cat’s saliva (but see below).

Islam teaches Muslims to treat cats well and that the cat is a creature to be cherished and loved. Mistreating a cat is regarded as a severe sin in Islam.

An example as to how Muslims are punished for mistreating cats can be found in the `ahadith (oral traditions telling the story of the Prophet Mohammed (s) and which have been recorded in writing). When a woman kept a cat locked up and failed to feed the cat until the cat died, the woman was tortured and "put to hell.”

It is believed that you will suffer no harm if you drink from the cat’s water provided no impurities are seen in the cat’s mouth. In another story from the `ahadith, it is stated that a when a cat ate a pudding put down during prayers, the person who was in charge of the pudding ate from the same place as the cat and Prophet (s) said this was alright as the cat is not unclean and is "one of those who go around amongst us".

Islam teaches Muslims that, in relation to a cat:

the cat should not be sold for money or other traded goods
cats saliva is harmless unless the cat has "visible impurities" in the mouth
that Muslims are free to live with cats but they must treat cats well, providing the cat with enough water and food and giving "roaming time" (a degree of freedom of movement)
Bukhari’s authentic hadith is one of the six major Sunni hadith collections (Wikipedia). Muslims see this hadith as the most trusted collection; many would say the most authoritative book after the Qur`an.

This hadith regarding cats is set out in Volume 3, Book 40, Number 552. The story of the women mentioned above is recited. It seems that the woman was scratched by the cat and to punish the cat she imprisoned it and failed to feed it. Her actions were frowned upon and she was duly punished.

Islam’s teachings in relation to cats indicates a gentle approach to our fellow creatures, including humans!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Short Story about Two Men and Zakat

Paying Zakat is the best way to purify and add substance to your money.

A fictional story written by Sameer...

There is a rich man who has £500,000 in his bank account and he realises that he must pay £12,500 Zakat (2.5% of his savings). He spends many hours thinking about what he should do, he thinks that it's not fair on him if he pays so much Zakat. He doesn't feel right giving such a big amount away in a matter of minutes. So he convinces himself that he should only give £2,500 Zakat and he feels that is sufficient.

A few months later, the man is on holiday and his bag goes missing and as a result he loses a phone worth £500 and a laptop worth £1,000. He returns from holiday and he realises that his car insurance has gone up by £500. He invested some money in shares some time ago and unfortunately share prices drop dramatically and he is forced to lose £5,000. He feels frustrated and starts to think that it is his bad luck that is causing him to lose so much money. He buys a used car for himself which lets him down a few weeks later due to a faulty engine, and he ends up selling it, at a loss of £3,000. One day, the man sits down and adds up all his losses and he realises that he has lost £10,000 due to misfortune. When the man reflects upon his loss, he remembers that £10,000 is the Zakat money that he should have given to the needy. He realises that it would have been much better for him to give the money as Zakat than to hold on to it and go through all the adversities he had to face. The man acknowledges that without the Mercy of Allah, he would never have had so much money in his bank in the first place, so by holding on to it and not paying the full amount of Zakat, he was being ungrateful.

There is another man who has just enough money to make Zakat compulsory for him. He calculates the Zakat due and pays all of it. He believes that the Zakat money is not for him, so by giving it to the poor he is not losing anything. The man feels that every penny he has, is a gift from Allah, then why should he hesitate when it comes to helping the poor, in order to earn the Pleasure of Allah. The man struggles financially later in the year, but somehow money starts to come to him, from sources that he couldn't have imagined. At work, his manager leaves the company and he gets promoted, his salary is doubled. He becomes the youngest person to become a manager in his company. In the same year, the man becomes ill and requires an expensive operation. He is worried about the cost of the operation and decides to postpone it till he has more savings. However, a new scheme is launched by a local hospital which makes him eligible to have the operation for free. The operation goes well and the man recovers after a few weeks. He starts to think about how he has been fortunate over the year, every difficult situation has been taken care of and he has come out stronger.

MORAL: Paying Zakat is the best way to purify and add substance to your money and to keep yourself protected from any form of misfortune.

Written by Sameer Hussain