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Rules for Keeping Cats in Apartments

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
Horrible odors come from the apartment below mine because the neighbors, there, are keeping more than twenty cats. I can`t tolerate this situation any more. What is the ruling of Sharia on this?

Answer:
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Islam adopts a balanced methodology in all matters, and gives rights to whomsoever-man or animal-they belong. This methodology rests on general rules, which achieve that balance. One of them is "Warding off harm." It was narrated from Ibn 'Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.”{Ibn Majah}.

In principle, raising cats is an act of kindness, but it shouldn`t be at the expense of other`s peace of mind. Therefore, it is prohibited to harm neighbors or others with the horrible odors coming from those cats and the left overs tossed to them. This is particularly since the Prophet (PBUH) kept recommending treating the neighbors in kind and polite manner. He(PBUH) said, Gabriel kept on recommending me about treating the neighbors in a kind and polite manner, so much so that I thought that he would order (me) to make them (my) heirs." {Related by Bukhari}. He (PBUH) added: "By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer." It was asked, "Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil".{Related by Bukhari}.

In conclusion, it is prohibited to harm neighbors or make it hard for them to live due to raising this large number of cats. One`s behavior should be governed by the rules of Sharia, and they confirm that it is impermissible to harm others. Moreover, people should adhere to state regulations pertaining to keeping pets. And Allah knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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