Keeping Snake in Islamic Law

Snakes are members of the class of reptiles that have no limbs, so the snake moves by using the surface of its abdomen.

In general, there are two types of snakes, namely venomous snakes and non-venomous snakes. Both of these animals are good hunters. They can both camouflage according to their environmental conditions.

Both have sensors of prey’s presence and are highly sensitive to pressure changes due to their cold-blooded nature. If the prey is already within capture distance, then the snake will throw or bite the prey while injecting it.

Although not venomous, snakes can wrap their prey tightly until they are out of breath.

Then, what is the ruling on keeping snakes in islamic view? If the snake that just stopped had to be killed, what about the specially kept snake?

Commenting on this phenomenon, Az-Zamakhsari, a Shafi’i scholar who died in 794 said,

يَحْرُمُ عَلَى الْمُكَلَّفِ اقْتِنَاءُ أُمُورٍ: مِنْهَا: الْكَلْبُ لِمَنْ لَا يَحْتَاجُ إلَيْهِ، وَكَذَلِكَ ” بَقِيَّةُ ” الْفَوَاسِقِ الْخَمْسِ، الْحَدَأَةُ وَالْعَقْرَبُ وَالْفَأْرَةُ وَالْغُرَابُ الْأَبْقَعُ وَالْحَيَّةُ

“It is haraam for mukallaf (the one who is burdened by sharia) to keep some animals, including: dogs for those who do not need them, as well as five other bully animals, such as eagles, kala, rats, crows abqa’, and snakes”. Al-Mantsur fi al-Qawaid, 3/80

Types of Haram Food in Islamic Law

Other scholars who corroborate this opinion are:

– Ibn Hajar al-Haithami (Shafi’i) with his opinion, “It is forbidden to lock up five bully animals for treatment.” End quote from Tuhfatul Muhtaj fi Syarh Minhaj, 9/377

– Hasyiyah al-Qalyubi and Umairah (Shafi’i scholars) with the opinion, “Animals that are recommended to be killed, are forbidden to be kept. Because of the command to kill him, to drop his glory, and to keep him…” Hasyiyah al-Qalyubi wa Umairah, 16/157.

– Ibn Qudaamah (Hambali) with the opinion “Animals that must be killed, forbidden to be kept.” (al-Mughni, 9/373)

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