Command to kill geckos
Fatwa No: 363838

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. The gecko used to blow on the fire when Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allah exalt his mention, was thrown into the fire. What is the best way to describe it? Is it a metaphor? Is it recommended to kill the gecko? Thank you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

A number of ahaadeeth were cited in Saheeh Al-Bukhaari and Saheeh Muslim – whose ahaadeeth were received with full acceptance and adherence by the Muslim community – wherein the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, commanded killing the gecko. ʻAamir ibn Saʻd reported from his father that the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, “commanded killing the gecko, and he called it a Fuwaysiq (a little noxious creature).” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

ʻUrwah narrated on the authority of ʻAa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her: “The Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, ‘The gecko is a Fuwaysiq,’ and I did not hear him commanding to kill it. Saʻd ibn Abi Waqqaas claimed that  the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, commanded killing it.” [Al-Bukhaari]

Saʻeed ibn Al-Musayyib narrated that Umm Shareek told him that the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, ordered her to kill the geckos. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

These narrations clearly indicate that it is recommended to kill the gecko, and the rationale is that the gecko is a harmful creature, just like the five vicious creatures (Fawaasiq) which should be killed as per the Shariah (rats, scorpions, crows, kites, and voracious dogs, as stated in the hadeeth).

An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The gecko was described as a little noxious creature. In this sense, it is similar to the five vicious creatures which should be killed even if the person is in a state of Ihraam (ritual consecration for Hajj or 'Umrah) because they exceed most insects and similar creatures in the harm and damage which they do.” [Sharh Muslim]

As for saying that the gecko blew on the fire of Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, then this was mentioned in one of the versions of the hadeeth of Umm Shareek, may Allah be pleased with her. It reads, “ʻUbaydullah ibn Moosa, or Ibn Sallaam, narrated that Ibn Jurayj reported from ʻAbd Al-Hameed ibn Jubayr from Saʻeed ibn Al-Musayyib from Umm Shareek, may Allah be pleased with her, that, ‘The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, commanded killing the gecko, and he said, 'It blew (into the fire) on Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention.'’” [Al-Bukhaari]

The most likely sound view in this regard is that this version of the hadeeth is not authentically reported as a Marfoo’ hadeeth directly attributed to the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam. In fact, the statement: “It blew (into the fire) on Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention ” was made by Ibn Jurayj, not by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayi wa sallam. Although this statement was narrated as attributed to the Prophet in Hadeeth books other than the two Saheeh books, those narrations are not authentic.

Dr. Haakim Al-Mutayri, Professor of Hadeeth at Kuwait University, underlined that in detail in his online (Arabic) research paper which was published on the religious ruling on killing the gecko.

In any case, this version of the hadeeth does not contradict reason, as some weak-minded people, who are keen on challenging the ahaadeeth with their defective opinions, may argue. The only thing that needs investigating is whether these ahaadeeth are authentic or not, and not whether they contradict reason or not. Why would it not make sense that the gecko blew into the fire? Does this mean that if it were not for the gecko, the fire would not have been lit? No, the mere attempt of the gecko to light the fire is called “blowing into it”, even if it did not affect the ignition.

As for describing the gecko’s blowing into the fire of Ibraaheem as a metaphor, this is unlikely, and we did not find any mention of that in the statements of the scholars.

Allah knows best.

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