Assalamualaikum Mufti, is it possible for me to see my beloved cat who died again in the hereafter?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
As Muslims we are commanded to do good to all creations of Allah SWT. This includes doing good to other people, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims as well as treating animals with compassion. This is as narrated by Syaddad bin Aus RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ الإِحْسَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ
“Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things.”
Sahih Muslim (1955)
This hadith clearly states the obligation of ihsan towards every living creature. Syeikh Abd al-Rahman bin Nasir al-Sa’di said: “It includes ihsan for all categories of humans and animals. Even when one is slaughtering animals, he is commanded to practise ihsan.” Refer Bahjah Qulub Al-Abrar, Al-Sa’di (1/127).
According to fiqh, the word كَتَبَ refers to an obligation ruling of it. This is as stated by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali: “Al-Kitabah words bring about the obligation ruling according to jurists and usuliyyun, some scholars have differing opinions on it (this opinion). Indeed, it is known that the usage of al-Kitabah in the Quran means an obligation that must be done.” Refer Tafsir Ibn Rajab (1/617).
Thus, we would like to state that it is wajib to have ihsan towards animals, thus, oppressing or being cruel towards them is prohibited by syarak and it is haram. Furthermore, negligence in taking care of them could lead to a person being thrown into hell. This is in accordance with the narration from Abdullah bin ‘Umar RA where the Prophet PBUH said:
عُذِّبَتِ امْرَأَةٌ فِي هِرَّةٍ حَبَسَتْهَا، حَتَّى مَاتَتْ جُوعًا، فَدَخَلَتْ فِيهَا النَّارَ
"A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger." Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) further said, (Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman),
لاَ أَنْتِ أَطْعَمْتِهَا وَلاَ سَقَيْتِهَا حِينَ حَبَسْتِيهَا، وَلاَ أَنْتِ أَرْسَلْتِيهَا فَأَكَلَتْ مِنْ خَشَاشِ الأَرْضِ
'You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth."
Sahih al-Bukhari (2365)
Coming back to the question presented, regarding whether it is possible for a person to meet with his beloved pet again in the hereafter. The following we share a narration from Abu Hurairah RA where he said:
إن الله يحشر الخلق كلهم، كل دابة وطائر وإنسان، يقول للبهائم والطيركونوا ترابًا
“Indeed, Allah will assemble all of creations (on the day of Judgement). (Of which includes) every animal, bird and human. Then, Allah will say to the animals and birds: “Change to soil.”
See Tafsir Al-Thabari (24/181)
This proves that, the situation of animals and humans in the hereafter is different from each other. From the aspect of their deeds, they are not judged for their good or bad deeds, as well as they are not placed in paradise like pious people do. Consequently, all animals will turn to dust and soil in the hereafter.
However, as we know, all the residents of paradise are promised countless blessings and rewards. This is stated in numerous evidences, among them is a statement of Allah SWT:
لَهُم مَّا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ
“They will have whatever they wish therein, and with Us is more.”
Surah Qaf (35)
Imam Ibn Jarir al-Thabari in his commentary on the above verse states: “For the pious, whatever they want will be granted in paradise. Where whatever their hearts’ desires are prepared for them and beauty for everything that they see.” Refer Al-Jami’ al-Bayan, Ibn Jarir al-Thabari (22/367).
Allah SWT also states:
لَهُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَلَهُم مَّا يَدَّعُونَ
“For them therein is fruit, and for them is whatever they request [or wish],”
Surah Yasin (57)
Imam al-Baghawi said: “For them (the people of paradise) is anything that they desire and they wish for.” Refer Tafsir al-Baghawi (7/22).
As a conclusion, we would like to state that every person should prioritize and strive to ensure that he is placed by Allah SWT in paradise by doing good deeds in this world. As we all know, taking care of the welfare of pets and animals is included as good deeds that could lead a person to paradise.
Thus, when a person has succeeded in attaining paradise, then surely, all his desires and wishes will be granted by Allah SWT as his reward. This is the promise of Allah SWT:
وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ
“And therein is whatever the souls desire and [what] delights the eyes,”
Surah al-Zukhruf (71)
Imam al-Thabari when commenting on the verse included a narration where a Bedouin asked the Prophet PBUH:
يا رسول الله إني أحبّ الإبلَ فهل في الجنة إبل فقال يا أعرابيّ إنْ يُدْخِلْكَ اللهُ الجَنَّةَ إنْ شاءَ اللهُ فَفِيها ما اشْتَهَتْ نَفْسُكَ وَلَذَّتْ عَيْنَاك
“O Rasullullah, I love camels. Is there going to be camels in Paradise?” Then, the Prophet PBUH answered: “O Bedouin, if Allah places you in paradise Insha Allah, then you will find everything that you wanted and everything that delight your eyes.”
Refer Tafsir al-Thabari, Ibn Jarir (2/641)
Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the correct understanding in religion. Amin.