Combating harmful insects

Fatwa no. 20484 Our organization works in the field of combating insect-transmitted diseases; and this involves dealing with several kinds of insects in agricultural and domestic settings; warehouse and farm pests; reptiles, scorpions, snakes, mice, ferocious cats and dogs, in addition to other numerous pests which serve as causative agents of human diseases. It is known that insects cause and transmit many diseases, such as malaria, typhoid, dysentery, gastroenteritis, cholera, typhus, and different kinds of fever, tapeworm, plague, hepatitis, meningitis, in addition to transmitting parasites, leprosy, and many other diseases. Death can be caused by the sting of scorpions and snakes and the bite of ferocious dogs. Cats, on the other hand, can transmit diseases, fleas, and ticks; and it has recently been found that they carry a virus which causes miscarriages to pregnant women. Foods, warehouses, woods, clothes and other stored materials can be damaged by different kinds of moths, (Part No. 26; Page No. 207) bugs, and termites which cause great damage to buildings. Because we are keen to consider the issue in terms of Shari`ah (Islamic law), we would like to receive a written answer about the permissibility of killing these insects and animals in Makkah, especially during the sacred months, to present it to whom it may concern.

A: It is permissible to kill snakes, scorpions, ferocious dogs, and harmful insects to protect the people from their harms. On the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) who reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the precincts of Ka`bah or in the state of Ihram: They are the mouse, the scorpion, the serpent, the ferocious dog, and the crow. (Related by Ahmad.) On the authority of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said, The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered the killing of five harmful things both in the state of Ihram or otherwise: crows, kites, scorpions, mice, and ferocious dogs. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.) The same permissibility applies to killing harmful insects. However, they should not be killed by fire because the Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden this. It is not permissible to kill non-harmful insects and animals, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, A woman entered the Fire because of a cat which she had kept locked up, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.