Since jinn have the ability of shape-shifting, they can take on various forms. Animals, mythical creatures, human beings, and what ever you can imagine- are all forms they can take. Sounds like a movie? Seriously there is proof in the time of Rasoolullaah (Sallalaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) that this is true.
Jinn can take the forms of snakes and appear in front of humans. It is for this reason that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) has forbidden the killing of the snakes found in the houses, out of fear that they may be jinn that have embraced Islam. It is recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Abu Saeed al-Khudri (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “A group of jinn in Madeenah have embraced Islam. So he who sees anyone of them, should warn it three times. And if it appears after that it should be killed, for it must be a devil (evil jinn).”
One of the Companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) killed one of the snakes in the house and this led to his death. Muslim has recorded it in his Sahih that Abu al-Saib (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) went to Abu Saeed’s (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) house and found him praying. Abu al-Saib was waiting for him to finish his prayer when he heard some rumbling in the bundles of wood which were lying in the corner of the house. He looked and he found it was a snake. He was about to kill it when Abu Sa’eed (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) gestured to him to sit down. After the prayer, Abu Sa’eed (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) pointed to a room and he said, “Do you see this room? “Yes,” answered al-Saib (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu).
Abu Sa’eed (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) said, “There was once a man who was a newly-wed and we went to participate with Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) in the Battle of the Trench. He used to ask the Prophet’s permission to go to his wife and the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) cautioned him to take along his weapons for he feared [an attack from behind by] the tribe Quraidha. The man took his weapons and when he returned to his family he found his wife standing between the doors of the apartment. He was enraged from jealousy and took a stab at her with his spear. She told him to keep his spear away and to enter the house to see what had made her go outside. He entered and found a big snake on the bed. He struck it with his spear and pierced it. He was bent upon taking it outside, but the snake had enough strength to bite him. No one knows who died first from that incident, the snake or the man. The people made mention of this incident to Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) asking him to ask Allah to bring that man back to life. Instead, the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “Ask forgiveness for our companion. Prophet(Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ‘Verily in Madeenah there are Jinns who have accepted Islam, so if you see any of them, ask them to leave over a period of three days, but if one appears after that, kill it for verily it is a devil.’ In another narration collected by Muslim; the Prophet(Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) is reported to have said, ‘Verily these houses have snakes, so if you see any of them, ask it to leave three times. If it leaves, fine, otherwise kill it for surely it is a disbeliever.’ Then he said, ‘Go and bury your comrade.’ “
This was due to the fact that killing a jinn without just cause is as forbidden as killing a human without just cause. Aggression is forbidden in all cases. It is not allowable to oppress anyone, even a disbeliever. ln this regard the Almighty has said: Do not Jet your dislike for a people cause you to be unjust. Be just, for it is closer to being God-fearing …) (Surah Maa-idah/05, v:8)
Since house-snakes could be Jinns, they are warned to leave three times. If they are in fact Jinn and they do not leave, they may be killed , and if they are snakes they may be killed likewise. Jinn who continue to scare humans by exposing themselves in snake form may be repelled by whatever will prevent them from doing further harm, even if it means killing them. However, killing them without just cause is not allowable in Islam. [Ibn Tayyimah’s Essay on Jinn translated by Bilal Phillips]
1. This regulation concerning the prohibition of killing such animals is with respect to snakes only and not with respect to all animals.
2. The regulation does not extend to every snake but only to those that are found in the house. Those that are found outside of the houses may be killed.
3. If one sees a snake in the house then he should warn it, in other words, order it to leave, by saying something similar to, “I adjure you by Allah to leave this house and take your evil away from us, if you do not do so we shall kill you.” If you see it after three days, you should kill it.
4. The reason that it is to be killed only after three days is a precautionary step in order to ensure that one does not kill a jinn that had become Muslim. If he was such a jinn, he would leave the house. If he does not leave, then he deserves to be killed, as it is, in that case, a rebellious non-believing jinn that deserves to be killed due to the harm that it brings to the inhabitants of the house.
5. There is one type of snake that is found in the house which we have been given special permission to kill without first requesting it to leave. In Sahih-al-Bukhari it is recorded from Abu Lubaba that the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “Do not kill the jinn, except every one with two streaks on the back, for they cause miscarriages and take away the eyesight. Therefore, kill them.”
And Allaah knows best.
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