Cat jumps on imam leading Ramadan prayers in Algeria, video goes viral
A live broadcast of an imam in Algeria leading a nightly Ramadan prayer has gone viral because of an unexpected intrusion by a cat.
Imam Sheikh Walid Mehsas was performing the tarawih, a nightly prayer held during the month of Ramadan, at a mosque in Bordj Bou Arreridj province when the calico cat jumped on him and climbed up on his shoulders.
A 142-second video – with the caption “Even animals are humbled by the word of God” – was uploaded on Wednesday on the imam’s Facebook page, where it has been viewed close to 800,000 times.
The cat appeared about a minute into the video.
It began rubbing its body against the imam’s legs.
It sat for a brief moment beside him, looked up at him and began mewing.
It then sprang up to the imam’s chest. The imam, with his eyes still closed and reciting Quranic verses, hugged the cat. But it scaled up his shoulder, where it settled for a couple of seconds.
There, it rubbed its head and brushed its tail on the imam’s cheek and seemed to have kissed him on the lips before deciding it had enough, and jumped back to the floor.
The imam remained unperturbed throughout, unmindful of the affectionate, albeit unexpected, intrusion.
He kept singing and was throughout in deep prayer, seemingly used to the brief incursions of what apparently is his own cat.
Many found the cat’s antics “cute” and “funny”. But it was the imam’s affectionate response to the feline that moved most of those who saw the video.
“As if the cat yearns for your wonderful voice while you are reciting the Quran,” Imad BZ commented on Imam Walid Mehsas’ Facebook page.
In another response, Mima Aflatona said it seemed like the cat wanted “to thank him for the sweet voice”.
“What I liked about it is the imam’s humility and his steadfastness in his prayers,” said Nouri Nouri.
Soulef Hamadene said: “I watched the video a thousand times, and each time I praise God a thousand times.”
Cats have been revered for centuries in Muslim culture.
In his Facebook comment, Lyes Laredj said the sight of a cat on an imam’s shoulder reminded him of Abu Hurairah, one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions, known as the “Father of Kittens” for his affection for cats.
The Prophet Muhammad himself is said to have been a great cat lover, with a cat named Muezza being his favourite.
In his book, 100 Cats Who Changed Civilisation: History’s Most Influential Felines, author Sam Stall recounted a story where the Prophet, upon seeing Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe as he was preparing to attend a prayer, cut the sleeve off with a pair of scissors rather than wake the cat up.