Monday, March 13, 2017

the Prophet Muhammad, and cats.

We're just back from seeing Kedi - aka: Nine Lives: The Cats of Istanbul, which if you haven't yet seen it, is unmissable for cat lovers, and pretty amazing for anyone.  Yes, as all the reviews say, it might be shot from a cat's visual perspective, much of the time, but it's also very much about humans, human kindness, human love of cats, the consolation and calming properties of cats ...

But what has barely been mentioned in reviews is that this is also a film about Islam.  This isn't, indeed, anything that's mentioned in the film ... although there's the faint sound of the muezzin at one point.  But nor is it ever discussed why there are so many cats in Istanbul, and why people seem to love them so much.  The Prophet Muhammad, it's worth bearing in mind, loved cats - so much so that he let a cat give birth on his robe; that when it was time to answer the call to prayer, on one occasion he let his favorite cat Muezza carry on sleeping on the sleeve of his robe, and cut it off rather than disturb her.  The Prophet had a great friend called "Abu Hurayrah" (his name means "father of kittens") - whose cat one day saved Muhammad from a poisonous snake.  In thanks, he stroked  the top of her head (ever wonder where those dark M-shaped stripes come from?  They were left by the Prophet's fingers) and the back of her neck, granting her and her descendants multiple lives, and the ability to land on one's feet (very handy when jumping from Istanbul awning to tree to roof top).  The Prophet would share his water with cats, and a cat's saliva is deemed to be pure (unless there's some visible reason why not).  Cats are not to be bought and sold by Muslims; Muslims are to be punished for ill-treating cats; Muslims are allowed to live with cats so long as they allow them some freedom.  Perhaps the closest that the film comes to suggesting that cats and Muslims have a special relationship is the water barrel labeled "If you don't want to be desperate for water in the next life, don't touch these cups."

So - why has hardly any commentator (the review by Amy Nicholson, the MTV film critic, is a notable exception) picked up on this?  

(that's a rhetorical question - although it may also speak to general lack of knowledge about Islam in the US ...).

LucyFur and Moth - exhibiting new found friendship, thank goodness - will watch it when it's available on line.

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