Friday, January 03, 2014

The Cats of Turkey

There are lots of cats in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. It seems that cats has a special place in Islam.  There is a legend in which the shaytan (Satan) appeared as a rat and tried to attack Nuh’s (Noah’s) Ark by gnawing on the Ark’s boards. Allah then send a cat which went for the rat.  We saw these two getting intimate outside Hagia Sophia.  Perhaps they were play-fighting?  I was not sure. 

Then a third one joined in, creating a complicated triangle for a fleeting moment. There was a bit a tension, but the triangle was soon broken.  It was said that Muhammad was very fond of his cat Muezza.  Once upon a time, when the call for prayer was given, Muhammad found his cat sleeping on one of the sleeves. Rather than disturbing the cat, he cut off the sleeve and let him sleep. 

Outside the Blue Mosque, a young girl found a cat sunning itself on a fence.  She wanted to approach but was a little apprehensive.  It was a magical moment. 

Outside in the square, a curious one wanted to come over to investigate my camera. Another legend hold that marking on the forehead of the tabby cat was created by the Muhammad as his rested his hand on the brow of his favourite cat. 

The cats are well-fed. Outside a restaurant, some one left a pile of bones for the cat.  It didn’t care that I was poking my camera in its face. There was a legend in which a man was granted permission to enter paradise.  It turned out none of his religious duties or acts of piety had qualified him.  Eventually Allah told him it was one cold day in Bagdad, when the man saw a kitten shivering in the cold on a wall and he put the kitten under his warm coat. It was for the sake of the kitten that Allah had forgiven him.  

An old man, his back bent over by 90 degrees, gave a bunch of cats some sausages. While a black cat was eating, a white one watched, waiting for its turn. Another legend said a cat had saved Muhammad’s life.  A deadly snake had crawled into his sleeves.  A cat was called. The cat convinced the snake to show its head to that they can discuss the snake’s departure.  At that point the cat pounced on it and carried the snake off.

 At Ephesus, a cat tried to steal from a lady’s handbag, not far from the famous library.  

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