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Hadith explanation “Kill the snake with two white lines on its back, for it blinds

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question:
Narrated `Aisha:

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Kill the snake with two white lines on its back, for it blinds the on-looker and causes abortion.” Sahih al-Bukhari 3308, Book 59, Hadith 116

Can you please explain this? How can it blind, how can we prove with science, how can it blind onlooker?

Answer:

Wa Alaykum al-Salam

Thank you for your question.

Allah described the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the noble Qur’an, saying, “Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination.
It is not but a revelation revealed” (Qur’an, 53:3-4).

The Qur’an and authentic Sunnah of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) are the primary references for Muslims. Since science tends to change with intellectual development and discoveries, we do not subject our beliefs to science. Nonetheless, we believe that definitive science will generally not contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The scholars have put forward three possible meanings of the hadith you quoted above.

First: Allah placed within the gaze of this snake a peculiar meaning that causes blindness and abortion. This interpretation of the narration is favored by Qadi Iyad, Imam Nawawi, and others.

In his famous Zad al-Ma’ad,
Ibn Qayyim explained this phenomenon in a similar way to the evil eye. The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “the evil eye is true”  (Bukhari). He said that when a creature filled with hatred and jealousy gazes upon another, the hatred and jealousy harm the other. Thus, the evil in this snake affects human beings, so that it causes blindness and abortion. The harmful effects of gazing are well known and evidenced and do not contradict science to the best of my knowledge.

Second: The snake mentioned in the hadith is poisonous. When it bites a human being, its poison causes blindness and abortion. A minority of the scholars hold this view.

Third: The fright and horror one experiences when gazing upon this snake causes blindness and abortion. Many scholars do not support this view, even though Imam Nawawi may have lent support to the belief that fear and horror may be a reason why a woman loses her child.

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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