I visited the Haram Mosque in Mecca for my very first Umrah. I noticed a lot of cats there. They are everywhere. However, the majority of them are quite tame. I saw many cats next to the Kabaa and on all the levels. I
I was curious to find out why there are so many cats there. So, my curiosity led me to ask why. I went to speak to officials at the Haram mosque Admin office. The following is what I discovered.
So, Why Are Cats So Welcome Inside The Haram Mosque In Mecca?
Cats are considered to be clean and pure in Islam. Cats do not invalidate prayers. Even the food cats eat is permissible (Halal) and Muslims can perform ablutions (Wudhu) from the water they drink. Prophet Muhammed (SAW) owned a pet cat named ‘Muezza’.
Islam claims that cats are not impure (Najis). It is possible to eat from the vessel that a cat has eaten out of. In addition, a person can also perform ablution (Wudhu) using the same water that a cat has drunk form.
I was also surprised to learn that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) had a cat himself.
Why Islam Considers Cats Clean
Cats often lick themselves to keep their fur coats clean. They do this by distributing the natural oils all around their fur. Their tongues are designed to do this very well.
Islamic history narrates stories that depict cats as pure and clean animals.
One can pray with a cat around without being worried about their prayers being invalidated. Most cats quietly sit next to the person praying without causing any disturbance.
A Hadith narrates about a woman bringing some kind of food to Aisha (RA), the wife of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). She (RA) was performing her prayer (Salah).
She gestured to the woman to put down the food. The very moment, a cat approached the vessel and ate from it. After completing her prayer, Aisha (RA) ate from the very same vessel.
Abu Dawood narrated, “A woman poured water for a man to perform ablution (Wudhu). A cat drank water from it. He went on to perform his ablutions (Wudhu) from the same water.‘
He told the woman, ‘’The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, They (cats) are not impure (Najis), rather they are among those who go around among you (Al-Tawwaafeena ‘Alaykum).”
These Hadith indicate that Islam considers cats to be clean, pure, and permissible (Halal).
Cats In Islamic Hadiths
I read so many beautiful and heart-warming stories about cats in the Islamic Hadith. Also, the word cat appears seven times in five Hadiths of the Sahih Al Bukhari translation.
My favorite describes how Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was once getting ready for his prayers. Suddenly, he saw his favorite cat called Muezza sleeping on one of the sleeves of his robe.
Prophet Muhammed (SAW) did not disturb Muezza, but took a pair of scissors and cut the part of the sleeves the cat had been sleeping on.
Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) companion Abu Huraira was called by this name because of the love and affection he had felt towards cats.
One Hadith also narrates that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was seen giving sermons with cats on his lap.
What Do The Cats In The Haram Mosque Do?
Most cats roam freely inside the mosque. They do not bother the people unless they are troubled. I saw some children chasing a cat. My eyes followed them everywhere. Surprisingly, the cat did not attack any of them, rather it sprinted as far away as possible.
There were a lot of cats lying down next to people as they offered their prayers or read the Holy Quran.
The people also seemed to be peacefully enjoying their company. Some cats enjoyed the touch of humans while some run away as soon as they see one.
Sometimes, cats hunt for prey inside the Haram Mosque. You might even see them yourself one day.
They catch rodents and birds.
You will also see cats searching for food in rubbish bins or among the food leftovers.
If you sit to have a meal or snack in the Haram Mosque, you are sure to have some unexpected guests.
It can be said that the cats that are there inside the mosque are harmless.
How Do Muslims React And Generally Treat Them?
I saw pilgrims and mosque visitors feeding the cats. They also pet them and allow them to come close. I also saw one man cleaning a cat’s face that had black marks on it.
On cold winter nights, the workers inside the Haram Mosque provide these cats with warm blankets to sleep on.
Also, the pilgrims make their contribution by donating their old clothes to keep these cats warm.
As funny as it sounds, you will see some DIY cat shelters in some corners of the Haram Mosque that are built by the pilgrims. One kindly person built a cat fort.
However, a few Muslims believe cats are unclean (Najis). They do not seem to know about the Hadith stating that cats are pure animals.
I saw a woman chasing away a cat from her praying mat. Perhaps she was afraid or believed the cat’s presence would invalidate her prayers.
The Hadiths also stress that Muslims should be kind to all animals.
How Do Cats Pee And Poo Inside The Haram Mosque?
Of course, cats do not defecate in the mosque. It is easy for them to enter and exit. So, they find waste ground outside the mosque and do their business there.
They prefer soil, so they can cover up their mess.
In any case, there are cleaners in the Haram Mosque who can take care of any accidents.
Risk of Infection From Cat Diseases
Cat feces can cause diseases like Toxoplasmosis. However, the chances of pilgrims getting infected are slim since there is active cleaning personnel there.
If you are in the Haram Mosque and discover any cat feces, please inform the cleaning staff, and they will take care of it directly.
What To Do If A Cat Bites?
There have been a few incidents at the mosque where children have been scratched back by the cats in the Haram Mosque.
There is first aid provided at the mosque, so you need not be worried. You can get medical assistance at the Haram Emergency Center 1.
The first aid center is equipped with all the modern medical equipment and a team of doctors and nurses are on call to provide you with medical attention twenty-four hours a day.
Ask any of the mosque security guards to guide you there.
Treatment For Scratches or Cat Bites In The Haram Mosque
Most cat attacks are scratches, not bites. As such, they are not major injuries. In that case, you should clean the wound to reduce the risk of infection.
If you are scratched severely or bitten by a cat in the Haram Mosque be sure to clean the wound using soap immediately.
Next, you should apply an antiseptic cream.
I noticed that furry cats fascinate children. I recommend that you always have antiseptic cream handy. It is always better to be fully prepared!
Cats are always welcome in the Haram Mosque. Muslims love to see them as they go around the Kaaba (Tawaaf) and inside the prayer areas.
Cats are clean and pure, Islam teaches us that.
In general, Muslims adore cats. They treat them kindly because Islam instructs us to act kindly towards all living things. Prophet Mohammed (SAW) owned a cat called Muezza.
In Islam, the mistreatment of animals is a major sin. Inside the Haram Mosque, pilgrims treat cats well.
Presently, the cats continue to live inside the Haram Mosque as residents.
What other animals are permitted to be in the Haram Mosque? Other than cats, you will find a lot of birds, locusts, and houseflies.
Can you take your pet to the Haram Mosque? Except for cats, no other pet animals are permitted inside the mosque.
References And Useful Links –
- CATS IN ISLAM: THE SUNNAH & BLESSINGS OF THESE FURRY FELINES – Halal Zilla
- The Animals living inside and around the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) in Makkah Al-Mukarramah – Issuu
- Keeping cats – Islam Question & Answer – Islam Q & A
Alfia Parker & Mohammed Francis