Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Wise Cat of Abu al-Hajjaj

One of the early teachers of Ibn ‘Arabi:

Abu al-Hajjjaj of Shurabul (a village close to Seville) was indeed a mercy to the world. When the sultan’s men came to see him, he would say to me: “My son, these men are God’s assistants engaged in the affairs of the world. It is thus quite fitting that men should pray on their behalf that God show forth His truth by their works and assist them”....

He had a black cat which used to sleep in his lap and which no-one else was able to hold or fondle. He once told me that God had made the cat a means by which to recognise the saints. He explained that the apparent shyness in her was not an inborn trait, for God had made her very joyful in the company of God’s saints. I myself saw her rub her cheek against the leg of certain visitors and flee from others. One day our shaykh al- ‘Urvani visited this shaykh for the first time. When he arrived the cat happened to be in another room. However, before he had the chance to seat himself, the cat came in and looked at him, whereupon she opened her paws, embraced him and rubbed her face in his beard. Then Abu al-Hajjaj rose to receive him and seated him, but said nothing. Afterwards he told me that he had never seen the cat behave in this way with anyone else.
(from a memoir of Ibn ‘Arabi Ruh al-kuds trans. The Epistle of the Spirit of Holiness quoted in The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn ‘Arabi by Stephen Hirtenstein.)

No comments: