Is It Haram for Cats to Lick You? The Islamic Ruling on Cat Saliva

Introduction

The question of whether cat saliva is considered clean or not in Islam is an important one for Muslim cat owners. Cats express affection and playfulness by licking, and their saliva inevitably comes into contact with their owners. For Muslims who adhere to ritual purity rules and make ablutions before prayers, it is necessary to determine if contact with cat saliva invalidates ablution or not. This article will examine Islamic principles, hadiths, and scholarly opinions on the matter in order to provide clear guidance from an Islamic legal perspective.

Islamic Principles on Cleanliness

Cleanliness and purity are central concepts in Islam. The Quran emphasizes spiritual purification as well as physical cleanliness. In Islam, ritual purity is linked to prayer and worship. Muslims are required to be in a ritually pure state in order to perform prayers and certain religious rituals. This state of purity is known as taharah.

To achieve taharah, Muslims must wash themselves before prayers according to specific rules. This ablution is known as wudu and involves washing the hands, arms, face and feet, as well as other parts of the body. Full-body purification baths called ghusl are also required in certain cases, such as after sexual intercourse, menstruation or childbirth. These ritual purification traditions are based on teachings from the Quran and Hadith.

Beyond ritual cleanliness, Islam also encourages general hygiene and living in a state of purity. Impure substances in Islam include pork, alcohol, blood and excretions. Avoiding impure foods and maintaining cleanliness of the body and environment are seen as ways to please God and live a wholesome lifestyle according to Islamic principles.

(Sources: https://medium.com/@mohammad-shajalal/the-forbidden-swine-unraveling-the-scientific-basis-behind-the-prohibition-of-pork-in-islam-1197ba8f9b4e, https://medium.com/@walkersipes1943/halal-personal-care-products-market-size-cagr-trends-2024-2030-ef4c718852c2)

Islamic Perspective on Cats

Cats have a special place in Islamic tradition. According to some hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad had a favorite cat named Muezza that he would often pet and play with. There are several narrations that show the Prophet’s fondness for cats:

“A cat passed by and the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: ‘She kept her claws clean and concealed them in her toes. He thus hinted that people should not declare their secrets except when necessary'” (Source).

The Prophet also said that a woman who locked up a cat, denying it food or water, would go to Hell for this cruelty. However, a prostitute of Bani Israil was forgiven all her sins for one good deed of giving water to a dog dying of thirst. This shows the reward for kindness to animals in Islam.

There are also hadiths that state that cats can bring blessings to a home. One hadith says that angels do not enter homes with dogs but that homes with cats invite divine blessings (Source). Overall, cats have a special significance in Islamic culture and caring for them is seen as a meritorious act.

Rules on Saliva in Islam

Generally, in Islam, saliva is considered ritually pure. According to Islamic rulings, swallowing one’s own saliva does not nullify the fast during Ramadan. This is based on the hadith where the Prophet Muhammad said: “The fast belongs to Allah, so do not be obscene or shout out. If somebody insults you or tries to pick a fight with you, say ‘I am fasting! I am fasting!'” (https://islamqa.info/en/answers/12597/does-swallowing-saliva-break-fast).

This indicates that reflex actions like swallowing saliva do not break the fast. Scholars also cite the example of the Prophet sleeping while fasting and swallowing saliva during sleep as evidence that it does not invalidate fasting (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44107850).

However, there are some differences of opinion on whether swallowing someone else’s saliva breaks the fast. Some scholars view saliva as ritually pure and allowed to swallow while fasting. Others view it as prohibited, analogous to swallowing vomit, blood or mucus from the nose which would break the fast.

Overall, Islamic rulings take a pragmatic approach – actions that are unavoidable and difficult to prevent like swallowing one’s own saliva are permitted during fasting. But if it is avoidable, like swallowing someone else’s saliva, opinions differ on whether it is allowed or prohibited during fasting.

Scholarly Opinions

There are differences of opinion among Islamic scholars regarding the purity of cat saliva. According to the Hanafi school of thought, cat saliva is considered pure and does not make one ritually impure. This view is based on the hadith that the Prophet Muhammad allowed cats in the masjid and did not consider them impure. Hanafis argue that if cat saliva was impure, the Prophet would not have permitted cats in the holy mosque.

However, the Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali schools of thought regard cat saliva as impure. Their view is based on the general principle that the saliva of any animal whose meat is forbidden for consumption is ritually impure. Since cat meat is haram in Islam, these scholars contend that cat saliva must also be ritually impure. They make an exception only for specific animals mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah as being pure.

There is also a minority view, held by some contemporary scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, that cat saliva is pure unless there are impurities visible in the saliva. This opinion attempts to bridge the differences between the scholarly views on this issue.

In summary, opinions are divided on the purity of cat saliva along the lines of traditional schools of Islamic law. There are reasonable arguments on both sides, derived from textual evidence and principles of jurisprudence. Most scholars acknowledge some basis for the opposing view, even if they ultimately disagree with it.

Hadith References

The primary hadith regarding cats and impurity states that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said cats are not impure. This is referenced in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim:

“The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Cats are not impure. They intermingle with you.'” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5758, Sahih Muslim 2228)

Another relevant hadith mentions that cats can walk around vessels without making their contents impure. This is referenced in Sunan Abi Dawud:

“The cat came and drank from the vessel of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while he was making wudhu. He did not rinse it nor did he order it to be rinsed.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 164)

These hadiths clearly indicate that cats themselves and their saliva are not considered impure in Islam. Scholars have relied on these hadiths to state that cats can be touched and interacted with without transmitting impurity.

Rules of Purification

According to the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, saliva is generally considered ritually pure (1). However, there are some exceptions if the saliva becomes contaminated with something impure. The main purification rules regarding impure saliva are:

– If saliva comes into contact with an area of clothing less than the size of a dirham (an old Arabian coin, similar to a quarter in size), then it is sufficient to sprinkle water over the area once to purify it. This removes any impurity.

– For larger contaminated areas, the object must be washed thoroughly until the impurity is removed. This applies to clothing, dishes, floors etc. The washing can be done with pure water alone.

– If the saliva comes into contact with a human body part, then it must be washed off with water at least three times. This full washing removes impurity according to Islamic law.

– Swallowing one’s own saliva automatically purifies the mouth according to the majority of scholars, as long as no impure substance was recently consumed (2).

Thus, Islamic jurisprudence provides comprehensive rules on purification in the event of contamination by impure saliva. The key is thorough washing with water to remove any ritual impurity.

Precedents and Practices

Accounts from early Islamic history provide insight into how Muslims viewed cats and their saliva in the past. According to one account, the Prophet Muhammad allowed a cat to drink from a vessel he used for ablutions, indicating he did not consider cat saliva to be impure.1 There are also reports of companions of the Prophet letting their cats lick their hands and even lick food off their plates without considering it problematic.2

According to the Hanafi school of Islamic law, cat saliva is considered pure, while other schools dissented. However, historical accounts indicate that early Hanafi scholars did not view owning cats or contact with their saliva as impure, following precedents from the Prophet and companions.3 These early practices suggest cats held a special place in Muslim households and their saliva was not considered inherently impure or dangerous.

Advice for Pet Owners

Islam encourages kindness and mercy towards cats as a part of God’s creation. The care and welfare of pets is commended, while overburdening them is discouraged. Practically speaking, here are some tips for cat owners to uphold cleanliness:

  • Wash your hands after touching cat saliva or wet areas.
  • Clean litter boxes and food bowls regularly.
  • Keep cats outdoors or restricted to non-ritual areas.
  • Use pet furniture covers and restrict access before prayer.
  • Bathe and groom cats regularly to control shedding and saliva.
  • Control licking and train cats not to climb on or above people.
  • Clean any contaminated clothes according to purity laws.

With proper habits, cat owners can maintain ritual purity and enjoy their pets in line with Islamic principles. The emphasis should be on cleanliness and respectful treatment of creation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are some differing opinions among Islamic scholars about whether cat saliva is considered ritually clean or unclean. The majority view seems to be that cat saliva is generally considered ritually clean, based on an understanding that only the saliva of dogs and pigs is deemed impure. However, some scholars argue that all non-human saliva should be considered ritually unclean as a precaution.

Overall, most scholars permit contact with cat saliva during daily life, as long as purification rituals are performed before prayer. But there are also valid scholarly views that argue for avoiding cat saliva altogether, in order to maintain purity at all times. For cat owners, it is recommended to wash hands after contact with cat saliva before prayer, and to keep cats away from prayer spaces, clothing, and food. With proper precautions for cleanliness and purity, cats can be kept in Islamic households in accordance with principles of the faith.

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