The ruling concerning treating patients with the Snake Oil and selling it | The official website of Sheikh Muhammad Ali FERKUS
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Friday 13 Rabî` Al-'Awwal 1442 H - October 30, 2020 G

Fatwa n° 941

Category: Medical Fatwas

The ruling concerning treating patients
 with the Snake Oil and selling it

Question:

A kind of oil called Zayt Al-Hayyah (snake oil) is currently being traded in the market. It is used to cure baldness or hair loss. So, what is the ruling regarding such a substance? May Allah reward you.       

Answer:

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers until the Day of Resurrection:

If the oil is actually extracted from the snake, then the latter is like the mouse and insects; they are counted among impure and reprehensible animals which are unanimously forbidden to be eaten and to treat patients therewith, pursuant to the verse in which Allah عز وجلّ says:

﴿وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡخَبَٰٓئِثَ [الأعراف: 157.[

The meaning of the verse:

He allows them as lawful At-Tayyibât (i.e. all good and lawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods), and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khabâ’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods)﴿ [Al-A‘râf: 157].

And according to the jurisprudential rule that says: “The prohibition follows that which is evil, reprehensible and harmful”. Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said: “Eating Al-Khabâ’ith (evil and reprehensible food) as well as eating snakes and scorpions is forbidden according to the unanimous agreement of the Muslims. So, whoever eats them and makes them permissible, should turn to Allah in repentance; otherwise he should be killed; and whoever believes in their prohibition but even so he eats them, then he is deemed a wicked person [religiously] and a disobedient to Allah and His Messenger”. (1)

This being said, all that which is forbidden to be touched or approached such as the impurities, it is equally forbidden to be eaten or getting a benefit thereof by using it as an ointment or a remedy; indeed: “When Allah عزّ وجلّprohibits benefitting from something, He prohibits being compensated for that benefit” (2), pursuant to the hadith of the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم: “May Allah curse the Jews, for they sold fat and ate its price after Allah had made it unlawful for them. Indeed, when Allah prohibits a people from eating something, He prohibits its price” (3).

Yet if the term Zayt (oil) is added to Al-Hayyah (the snake) from the perspective of naming not reality, i.e., the oil is extracted from At-Tayyibât (lawful substances) such as the oils extracted from plants or pure animals which do not cause any harm, then it is permissible to benefit from such oil by eating, using it as an ointment and a remedy, and by selling it, according to His Saying عزّ وجلّ:

﴿يَسۡ‍َٔلُونَكَ مَاذَآ أُحِلَّ لَهُمۡۖ قُلۡ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتُ [المائدة: 4.[

The meaning of the verse:

They ask you what is lawful for them (as food). Say: “Lawful unto you are At-Tayyibât [all kinds of Halâl (lawful – good) foods which Allah has made lawful﴿ [Al-Mâ’ida: 4].

It is also permissible to use it in performing acts of obedience not those of disobedience, according to the verse in which Allah عزّ وجلّ says:

﴿لَيۡسَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ جُنَاحٞ فِيمَا طَعِمُوٓاْ[المائدة: 93.[

The meaning of the verse:

Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate ﴿ [Al-Mâ’ida: 93].

Obviously, the believers have to thank Allah for it, according to His Saying عزّ وجلّ:

﴿ ثُمَّ لَتُسۡ‍َٔلُنَّ يَوۡمَئِذٍ عَنِ ٱلنَّعِيمِ ٨ [التكاثر: 8.[

The meaning of the verse:

Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights (you indulged in, in this world)﴿ [At-Takâthur: 8]. That is to say you shall be asked whether or not you thanked Allah for the bounties He bestowed upon you.

 

 

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ; and our last prayer is all the praises and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and prayers of Allah are to Muhammad and his Family, Companions and Brothers until the Day of Resurrection.

 

Algiers on: Ramadân the 2nd, 1429 H

Corresponding to September the 2nd, 2008 G.

 


(1) See: “Majmû‘ Al-Fatâwâ” of Ibn Taymiyyah (11/609).

(2) See: “Al-Fatâwâ Al-Kubrâ” of Ibn Taymiyyah (3/125) and “I’lâm Al-Muwaqqi‘în” of Ibn Al-Qayyim (3/146).

(3) Reported by Ahmad (4/95) and by Abu Dâwûd (3488), from the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنهما. The Hadith is judged authentic by Ahmad Shâkir in his recension of “Musnad Ahmad(4/347), and by Al-Albânî in “Ghâyat Al-Marâm” (318).