Excellent Reasons Why Pet Snakes Are Not Haram
Islam is a religion that does not forbid having pets and the famous companion of prophet Muhammad(Sal), Abu Hurayrah (Rali) was simply known as "Abu Hurayrah"(Father of kitten) because of his fondness towards kittens. Keeping and and been fond to animals is completely allowed in Islam and an excellent reason is in the below hadith.
"The Prophet (Sal) was the best of people in attitude. I had a brother who was called Abu ‘Umayr. He (the narrator) said: I think he said: He was a weanling. When the Messenger of Allah (Sal) came and saw him, he said: “Abu ‘Umayr, what happened to the nughayr (nightingale)?” He used to play with it."
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The above hadith shows that keeping pets is allowed in Islam. There are plenty of hadiths mentioning that showing kindness to animals will lead you to been forgiven by Allah(Swt) and will make you enter paradise. Abu Hurayrah(Rali) narrated,The Prophet (Sal) said, "A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, "O Allah's Messenger (Sal)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He replied: "Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being)."
Suraqa ibn Ju’shum(Rali) narrated,I asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, about a lost camel who comes to drink from my cisterns that I have prepared for my own camels, “Will I be rewarded if I give it some water to drink?” The Prophet said, “Yes, in every living being with a warm liver is a reward for charity.”
(Ibn Majah-Graded Sahih by Sheikh Albani)
In one hadith, Allah(Swt) forgave a prostitute for giving water to a thirsty dog and another hadith mentions that a woman was sent to hell for not feeding a cat. The two hadiths are as follows.
Abu Huraira(Rali) narrated,The Prophet (Sal), said, “A prostitute had once been forgiven. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Thirst had nearly killed him, so she took off her sock, tied it to her veil, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
Ibn Umar (Rali) narrated,The Prophet (Sal) said,“A woman entered Hell because of a cat which she tied up and did not feed, nor did she let it loose to feed upon the vermin of the earth.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The above hadiths emphasizes the importance of showing love and kindness to animals. Now the question is, does Islam allow keeping snakes as pets? First of all, there are two kinds of snakes. One is the venomous or harmful snakes such as cobras,black mamba,king cobras, vipers etc and the second category of snakes are the many harmless snakes such as the nothern water snakes,four lined snakes,rough green snakes etc. Now let me explain these two categories separately so that the reader can get a good understanding on what Islam actually says about snakes and whether keeping snakes as pets is halal in Islam.
1). Venomous and harmful snakes
In Islam, to understand the right perspective,there are six main categories on which everything that is thought falls to. To easily identify to which category an issue falls, explained are the below six categories.
2. Sunnah-customary but not obligatory
3. Makruh-Desliked but not forbidden
4. Halal-allowed in Islam
5. Haram-forbidden in Islam
6. Jaiz-Islam is silent and no thing clear is mentioned meaning that it is allowed
We should understand that no authentic source in Islam specifically mentions anything about keeping pet snakes. With regards to venomous snakes,, the prophet(Sal) ordered the Muslims to kill snakes which are harmful.Aisha(Rali) narrated,The prophet(Sal) said, “Five animals are harmful and are lawful to kill while in a state of pilgrimage or otherwise: a snake, a speckled crow, a rat, a biting dog, and a kite.”
Abdullah (Rali) narrated while we were in the company of the Prophet (Sal) in a cave at Mina, when Surat-wal-Mursalat were revealed and he recited it and I heard it (directly) from his mouth as soon as he recited its revelation. Suddenly a snake sprang at us and the Prophet (Sal) said (ordered us): "Kill it." We ran to kill it but it escaped quickly. The Prophet (Sal) said, "It has escaped your evil and you too have escaped its evil."
In the above two hadiths it is clear that the prophet(Sal) ordered to kill harmful snakes that could do harm or even kill human beings. The killing of snakes is mentioned in other hadiths as well.Aisha(Rali) narrated,The prophet(Sal) said, "Kill the snake with two white lines on its back, for it blinds the on-looker and causes abortion."
Ibn Masud(Rali) narrated,The prophet(Sal) said, “Kill all the snakes, and whoever fears their revenge does not belong to me.”
(Abu Dawud-Graded Sahih by Albani in Sahih Abu Dawud)
Naafi‘ said: One day ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar was was at a ruin of his, when he saw the flash of a small snake. He said: Find this snake and kill it. Abu Lubaabah al-Ansaari said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sal) forbid killing the small snakes that live in houses, except the short-tailed snake and the one with two stripes, for they are the ones that cause blindness and miscarriages.
Abu Saaib said: We entered upon Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri, and whilst we were sitting there, we heard a movement beneath the bed. We looked and saw a snake… and he quoted the hadith, in which it says: The Messenger of Allah (Sal) said: “These houses have inhabitants. If you see any of them, ask them to leave for three days. If it goes (all well and good), otherwise kill it, for it is a kaafir.”
Abu Hurayrah(Rali) narrated,The prophet(Sal) said,'Kill the two black things during prayer, the snake and scorpion."
(Abu Dawud-Graded Sahih by Albani)
In all of these hadiths it is clear that killing harmful snakes is a must but an exception could be taken if these venomous snakes are made harmless by taking off the fangs or if it is use to create anti venom or for any other good purpose. Anti venom of a snake is made by taking out the venom of the particular snake and then injecting the venom on to a domestic animal such as horses or cattle and then the antibodies are formed in the body of the domestic animal which is then from it's blood and then purified. This anti venom is used to treat patients who have been stung by venomous snakes. Using the above hadiths, some scholars are of the view that keeping snakes is haram in Islam and they base their arguments using the above mentioned hadiths. What is mentioned in the hadiths are about harmful snakes and even a harmful snake will become harmless once it is subdued by taking off it's fangs and taming it and this will make the snake harmless by default. For us to clearly understand something , we will need to analyze both sides of the story and for this let me explain what Islam says about harmless snake or in other words, non venomous snakes.
2). Non Venomous snakes
Most of us would have come across saying from Muslims and non Muslims alike on how important it is to kill snakes no matter what snake it is. This misunderstanding is a result of not understanding the whole story of what Islam actually says about killing snakes. Some people use the below hadith to argue that you should kill any snake whether it is harmless or not.
Abdullah Ibn Umar(Rali)narrated that he heard the prophet(Sal) address the people from the minbar, saying "kill snakes"‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said: After that, I would not leave any snake that I saw but I would kill it.
(Bukhari and Muslim)
Abdullah Ibn Umar(Rali) was a companion who at first started killing all snakes irrespective of whether they are harmful or not and later he was corrected by another companion. Now, let me quote the full hadith.
Ibn Umar (Rali) narrated that heard the prophet(Sal) delivering a sermon on the monbar and saying, "Kill snakes and kill Dhu-at- Tufyatain (i.e. a snake with two white lines on its back) and ALBATROSS (i.e. a snake with short or mutilated tail) for they destroy the sight of one's eyes and bring about abortion." (`Abdullah bin `Umar further added): Once while I was chasing a snake in order, to kill it, Abu Lubaba called me saying: "Don't kill it," I said. "Allah's Messenger (Sal) ordered us to kill snakes." He said, "But later on he prohibited the killing of snakes living in the houses." (Az-Zuhri said. "Such snakes are called Al-Awamir.")
In this hadith it is clear that Ibn Umar (Rali) had misunderstood the killing of snakes and Abu Lubaba(Rali) corrected him by saying that the prophet(Sal) forbade killing house snakes. This proves that innocent and harmless snakes should be left with out been killed and such harmless snakes can be kept as pets.
Nafi narrated: Ibn `Umar used to kill all kinds of snakes until Abu Lubaba Al-Badri told him that the Prophet (Sal) had forbidden the killing of harmless snakes living in houses and called Jinan. So Ibn `Umar gave up killing them.
Killing house snakes was forbidden by the prophet(Sal) except for two types of snakes. Abu Lubaba(Rali) said,"I heard Allah's Messenger (Sal). He forbade the killing of snakes found in the houses except the short-tailed snakes and those having streaks upon them, for both of them obliterate eyesight and affect that which is in the wombs of (pregnant) women."
Evil jinn can also appear in the form of snakes. A young man was killed in Madina during the time of the prophet(Sal).The full story is narrated in many form of hadiths and below is one.
Abu al-Sa’ib said I went to visit Abu Sa’ld al-Khudri, and while I was sitting I heard a movement under under his couch. When I looked and found a snake there, I got up. Abu Sa’ld said:
"what is with you? I said : Here is a snake. He said : what do you want ? I said : I shall kill it. He then pointed to a room in his house in front of his room and said : My cousin (son of my uncle) was in this room. He asked his permission to go to his wife on the occasion of the battle of Troops (Ahzab), as he was recently married. The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) gave him permission and ordered him to take his weapon with him. He came to his house and found his wife standing at the door of the house. When he pointed to her with the lance, she said; do not make haste till you see what has brought me out. He entered the house and found an ugly snake there. He pierced in the lance while it was quivering. He said : I do not know which of them died first, the man or the snake. His people then came to the Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) and said: supplicate Allah to restore our companion to life for us. He said : Ask forgiveness for your Companion. Then he said : In Medina a group of Jinn have embraced Islam, so when you see one of them, pronounce a waring to it three times and if it appears to you after that, kill it after three days."
(Abu Dawud-Graded Hasan by Albani)
It is clear that Islam forbids it's followers from killing harmless and innocent snakes and only orders to kill snakes that could be harmful due to the apparent danger. As for keeping snakes as pets, It is clear form all the available evidence, you can indeed keep snakes as pets in general and only harmful snakes are to be killed and even in this scenario, harmful snakes such as corbras and other types of snakes can be kept as pets if they are made harmless through taking away their fangs and venom.
The above hadith evidences are excellent reasons to prove why keeping pet snakes is not haram in Islam and in conclusion what needs to be understood is that Islam there is no direct evidence forbidding keeping snakes as pets and and what is ordered in Islam is to kill snakes which are harmful and keeping any type of pet snake which is not harmful or has been made harmless is completely halal in Islam