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  • By Kara Newcastle

Why the Cat Always Lands on Its Feet (Islamic Legend)

Why The Cat Always Lands on Its Feet

Panning of a cat by Takashi Hososhima

Many years ago in the Middle East, a stray cat heard Mohammed the Prophet preaching. She was fascinated by his words, and as Mohammed traveled from city to city, village to village, caravan to caravan spreading the word of Allah, the cat followed, wanting to learn more.

After one of his visits, Mohammed decided that it was time that he went into the desert for a time to fast and pray. The cat heard this and thought, “Surely such a great man must converse with angels. The things they would tell him! I will follow the Prophet into the desert and learn more from him.”

So, Mohammed went into the desert, unaware that the little cat trailed him into the wilderness. The cat sat nearby and watched as Mohammed prayed and fasted, waiting patiently for new teachings and enlightenment.

Unfortunately, the cat wasn’t the only creature that followed Mohammed into the desert; Satan was determined to keep the Prophet from teaching, and so he sent a venomous black snake to follow Mohammed and strike him dead. Mohammed had no idea that he was being pursued by such a hideous force of evil.

One day as Mohammed prayed aloud, the cat sat on a nearby rock and listened, entranced by his words. As she watched, she heard a strange sound—a vile hiss. Startled, she looked down from her perch and saw a monstrous cobra slithering its way past her, heading straight for the meditating Prophet. Knowing that this was a monster sent by Satan, that its intent was to kill Mohammed, the cat screamed and leapt from the rock, landing on top of the cobra just as it lifted its head and spread its hood. The cat’s scream alerted Mohammed and he sprang to his feet, reeling around in time to see the cat nimbly darting around the writhing, enraged serpent. He watched in shock as the cat batted and clawed at the snake, slapping its head down so she could lunge and sink her teeth into its neck. The cat shook the cobra furiously, beating it against the ground until it hung limp and lifeless from her jaws.

Realizing what had happened, Mohammed broke into a grin and knelt down beside the cat as she dropped the dead cobra. “Wonderful cat! You have saved my life and in doing so have committed a great feat in the name of Allah. So that all will know what you have done, I give you the gift of my mark.”

Awed, the little cat sat still as Mohammed reached down and traced the first letter of his name—“M”—onto her forehead. She purred in delight as the smiling Prophet stroked her back and said, “As well, from this day forward, no man will be able to throw you or your noble descendants onto your backs. No matter from what height you fall, you will always land on your feet. You shall ever stand as the noblest of Allah’s creatures.”

And that is why cats always land on their feet.

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