From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cats: Christianity and Islam

Tabby Cat    (Photo by Alvesgaspar)
Although cats have often been associated with the earth-based religions of Ancient Egypt, Nubia, Greece and Assyria – they have also been associated with Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam.  This is not surprising since Abrahamic religions have borrowed heavily from other traditions throughout the years.

In her article "The Role of Cats in Myth and Religion," Sarah Hartwell explains that what appears to be an "M" marking on the forehead of tabby cats has been interpreted to mean "Mary"("Madonna") by Christians and "Mohammad" ("Muhammad") by Muslims.

Muslims have also noted that Muhammad was quite fond of cats.  Allegedly, one saved the Prophet's life when a snake had slithered up his sleeve.  Some say that it was also he who bestowed upon cats "the ability to land on their feet."  Muhammad had also written of a "woman punished in Hell for starving her cat to death."

Although some early Christians believed that a blessed tabby had comforted Baby Jesus, cats were later thought to be the devil's consorts.  Black cats were especially feared and tortured.  Their anguished screams were "said to be the screams of Lucifer himself."

Thankfully, many Christians came back around to appreciating felines once again.  The Assyrian Sphinx eventually "became symbolic of the Biblical tetramorph."  Its lion has been said to represent the Resurrection.
The Sunday School story "Andy Rockles and the Lion" tells of a friendly feline who helped to rescue a Christian from the Romans.


Copyright October 29, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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