DEALING WITH SNAKES IN AUSTRALIA - A GUIDE FOR MUSLIMS
MISUNDERSTANDING OF SNAKES
Born and raised up in Australia, with an Australian family, dealing with our native animals came naturally to me. However I noticed from my work with the Muslim community that there is a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about snakes from Muslims in general. This is because of many reasons including:
As part of the 6 pillars of faith in Islam, Muslims believe in the unseen including angels and djinns. However many Muslims incorrectly fear that all snakes are Djinn.
Snakes are mentioned in many cultures and are often misunderstood as “evil”.
Muslims who migrate to Australia come from countries where there are no or limited laws on the management of snakes. In such places, the commonplace management of snakes is to kill them on sight.
Muslims, like all humans, have a general fear for snakes.
Some Muslims misunderstand the teachings of Muhammad ﷺ relating to how to deal with snakes.
SNAKES IN THE QUR’AN
To look at how the Muslim community should deal with snakes in Australia, let us always start with the story in the Qur’an which involves snakes. In the Qur’an, Allah refers to the story of when He spoke with Moses directly. In Surah 28 Verse 31, Allah said to Moses:
“’And throw your stick!’ But when he (Moses) saw it moving as if it were a snake,
he turned in flight, and looked not back. (It was said:) ‘
O Moses! Verily I am Allah, the Lord of the Alamin’”
It is in mankind’s nature to be afraid of snakes. Even in the presence of God Himself, a prophet as brave and strong as Moses ran from a snake and did not look back until he was recalled by Allah. After the above incident in the battle between Moses and Pharaoh, initially Moses showed Pharaoh the signs of Allah as evidence to worship one God. Surah 20 Verse 56 – 57:
“And indeed We showed him (Pharaoh) all Our signs and evidences,
but he denied and refused.
He said: “Have you come to drive us out of our land with your magic O Moses?”
An arrangement was made that Pharaoh would obtain magicians to challenge Moses. The event was as follows as mentioned in the Quran Surah 20 Verse 65 – 70:
“They said, ‘O Moses’! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw?’”
“Moses said: “Nay throw you first!” Then behold! Their ropes and their sticks, by their magic appeared to him though they moved fast.”
“So Moses conceived fear in himself”
“We said “Fear not! Surely you will have the upper hand.””
“And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made.
That which they have made is only a magician’s trick, and the magician will never be successful,
to whatever amount (of skill) he may attain.”
“So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”.
We see that Moses and the people feared the snakes used by the magicians. When Moses threw his stick, it swallowed up the magic. Many Muslims incorrectly related to the above verses and associate snakes with evil and magic. A person may want to kill a snake to protect themselves from djinn or magic or because they perceive a snake as dangerous. The fact remains however that it is not magic or a djinn, it is just a snake and should not be harmed because as a Muslim, it is against your religion to do so.
DO NOT KILL SNAKES WHEN YOU SEE THEM – IT IS AGAINST ISLAM
There is often a misunderstanding of the following hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:
Sunan Abu Dawood Volume V Hadith 5258: The same is narrated on the authority of Ibn Ajlan in which he said: “Let him inform it (to leave thrice – reference to telling a snake to leave), and if it seems to him after that, let him kill it for it is a devil.
Sunan Abu Dawood Volume V Hadith 5259 – It is narrated on the authority of Abu As Sa’ib that he visited Abu Sa’id Al Khudri… and the rest is the same (as the above hadith) even though more complete in which he said: “Give it a three day warning (to leave), and if it seems to you after that, kill it for it is a devil.”
Sunan Abu Dawood Volume V Hadith: 5260 – It is narrated on the authority of Abd ArRahman Ibn Abu Laila from his father that he said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about the female snakes of houses, thereupon he said: “If you see anything of those, say: “I beseech you by the covenant taken upon you by (the Prophet) Solomon not to harm us.” If they return afterwards, then kill them.
While there are other similar hadiths on the matter, effectively it is important to read the above hadiths carefully and recognise there are specific instructions NOT to immediately kill a snake. I repeat: The CORRECT way to deal with a snake in accordance with the Sunnah of Muhammad ﷺ is DO NOT to kill a snake when you see it.
Instead, the Prophet ﷺ would warn a snake to leave the house first in accordance with the above hadiths. In Australia, you can call the Snake Hunter on 0403 875 409 to safely capture and remove the snake. As such, there is no need to kill the snake in any circumstances.
Further it is important to note the above hadiths pertain to when you have a snake in your house ONLY. When you come across a snake in the wild, and there is no reason to kill it, you should leave it alone.
Do NOT kill snakes when you see them – It is against Islam
KILLING SNAKES ALSO HARMS AUSTRALIA
I have provided a list of numerous hadiths on the importance of Muslims to be kind to animals, to be cautious of the punishment of Allah on the day of judgement for their treatment of animals, and to seek the mercy of Allah by showing mercy to animals (see article: “Kindness to Animals”).
Allah SWT mentions animals numerous times in the Qur'an and mentions their benefits. Snakes are the creation of Allah the same as a bird, bees and mammals. They have a VERY important role to play in Australia’s unique and delicate ecosystem. Snakes help manage populations of vermin such as mice and rats and play an important role in food webs.
As Muslims, we need to take very important care of our beautiful country of Australia, its people and native wildlife. This ensures a healthy biodiversity in Australia for everyone to enjoy.
Killing snakes can harm Australia’s ecosystem.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SEE A SNAKE?
So if you don’t kill a snake, what should you do? Aren’t they all poisonous?
The answer is Australia has the most venomous snakes in the entire world. These include the inland taipan, eastern brown snake, coastal taipan, tiger snake, death adder, copperhead, red bellied black snake, collet’s snake and much more.