Today, I read an article about Scarlett. Scarlett braved a raging fire five times to rescue each and every one of her kittens. The fire was so scorching hot that even her eyes were blistered shut. After checking that her babies were alright, she finally collapsed. Subhanallah. How universal is a mother’s love?
Mama has always been an animal lover. When my siblings and I were young, there was an Aunty with the kindest eyes who would lovingly feed all the cats in my neighbourhood. Mama lead by example – she brought us to meet Aunty after school. She helped Aunty distribute food to the cats. Upon seeing Mama, it came naturally to all of us to follow suit. Whenever she saw dogs who came up to her, she would stroke them kindly. From her action, we understood that we didn’t need to fear dogs or worse, be cruel to them. They were ritually unclean; we simply had to make sure that we washed ourselves as required.
One day, I was walking home from school when I stumbled upon a beautiful tortoiseshell cat sitting quietly beside a black, shiny motorcycle. 8-year-old me was ecstatic! I ran to the nearest mamak shop, dug into my bag to get as many coins as I could and bought one sachet of cats’ food. I skipped back to the spot where I had seen the cat. As soon as I tore the sachet open, she rushed towards me, purring. I grinned from ear to ear. While she ate, I stroke her back softly. Suddenly, she spun around and scratched me! I retracted my hand in shock. Before I knew it, I was crying all the way home.
I didn’t tell anyone about what happened. But from that day on, I was different. Once, I saw a cat sauntering innocently into the coffee shop where we were. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I jumped up and stood on my chair. My family was horrified. I felt utterly embarrassed, but I couldn’t help it. I was terrified.
When I was 12, something strange happened. I walked into a pet shop and saw posters showing kittens who were up for adoption. Ahh, but they are just animals. It doesn’t matter. As much as I didn’t like cats anymore, I felt a peculiar sense of pity.
‘If I were a kitten and no one wanted me, how would I feel?’
I did the unimaginable – I called the number on the poster and told the lady on the line that I wanted a kitten.
I can’t claim to know Allah well. I’m only imperfect me. But sometimes I think that Allah moved me to do that because of Mama. Things worked themselves out because Mama has always taught us to be gracious. Allah had used Mama to plant that seed in my heart. “Animals are just like us,” she said. “They deserve love.”
So how should we be when we cross paths with creatures of Allah?
I read that our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was once performing wudhu with water from a pot. Alas! A cat walked pass. It turned its eyes towards the pot. It dawned on our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that the cat must be dehydrated.
What do you think he did? He was in the middle of wudhu; he was preparing to have an intimate conversation with Allah.
Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stopped wudhu and placed the pot before the cat. He only resumed wudhu after he was sure that the cat had fully quenched its thirst. Ma shaʼAllah!
My fellow seeker, everything you come into contact with is a blessing. Every meeting is an opportunity to be a true Khalifah of Allah. When our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked if Allah rewarded acts of charity to animals, he said, “Yes, there is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive.” This was elucidated further in a story that has been stuck in the crevices of my mind. One blistering hot day, a prostitute saw a dog whose tongue was hanging out because it was too thirsty. She drew some water from a well with her shoe and gave water to the dog. Allah forgave her.
No, I am not implying that we should do things just because we want rewards from Allah. We know our station in this life. But we also know that we are equal in the eyes of Allah and we are accountable for all our actions. Deep inside, we pray that we will be good enough to enter Paradise. So we strive and strive and strive. That’s one of the reasons why Islam is so beautiful – hope.
When you are striving, ask yourself – which deed of mine will bring me closer to Allah today? Then…
Just forget about it.
Every moment is a chance to make every effort to be the best version of yourself, in shaa Allah.