Prohibition of Suicides In Islam

Islamic Sources broadly fall in to two categories, the Divine and the Inspired. The Quran being the verbatim record of God’s Revelation, whilst the inspired category is made up of the Deeds, Words, Acts and Approvals of Prophet Mohammad. There is nothing in either of these sources that require Muslims to court or love death. It is useful to make a note at the beginning, of the very important Islamic notion that there is No Death in the hereafter, the Quranic Words that state this fact very emphatically are “Hum Feeha Khalidoon” – Meaning “therein you will abide for ever”1.This sense of permanence of the Life in the Hereafter can be Ameliorative or Pejorative. So, if some one kills an innocent person in this would he could very well be helping that person to live a life of permanent bliss whilst he himself will be languishing in an everlasting perdition in the hereafter. Suicides are specifically prohibited in the Quran with the words “…Do not Kill yourself…” 2 and the punishment for doing so will be a never ending roasting in the hell fire. This point of prohibition of self-induced harm is emphasised in a much wider sense in another verse of the Quran which states that “…., and Let Not your own hands be the cause of your destruction.”3 This would then mean that NOT ONLY is the extreme act of suicide forbidden but knowingly doing some thing or consuming a substance known to cause harm either instantaneously or in the long run is also not permitted. And, if a Muslim intentionally kills another Muslim, then his recompense will be the Hell Fire where he will abide forever facing a dreadful penalty, and will additionally face the wrath and curse of Allah.4 Thus, a murderer draws upon himself not only the sin of what he has done, but would in addition also be drawing upon himself the sins of his victim/s too, and with these two burdens will be residing in the hell fire.5 Forever. This is the severity of the punishment for the murder of an innocent soul.


Quran [2:25, 2:39, 2:81-82, 2:217, 2:257, 2:275]; [3:107, 3:116]; [7:36, 7: 42]; [10:26-27]; [11:23]; [13:5]; [23:11]; [58:17] 2 Quran 4:29 3 Quran 2:195 4 Quran 4:93 5 Quran 5:29


If Punishment is to match the Crime, then the pro-rata magnitude of the punishment is such that each slaying of an innocent person will be treated by God as if the entire humanity has been slain6 whilst each saving of a life will merit reward in similar ratio. There is therefore, absolutely No Permission in Islam for acts of Suicides. The matter is so crystal clear that many mosques will not allow funeral prayers over a Muslim who has died as a result of self-immolation. Some, who might relent a little bit on the matter, will do so in cases of suicides resulting from severe mental illness, but even here will only permit such funeral prayers if they are lead by an insignificant member of the congregation, but still will not allow the Imam of the mosque to lead them as this may lead to a misconstrued notion that they are condoning acts of suicides which they shouldn’t be. Thus, those who claim justification for acts of suicides must prove that “they” understand the Quran better than Prophet Mohammad through whom it was revealed who never sent out any body on any suicide mission. The protagonists of suicides as a strategy, in their haste to justify their stance, readily quote two historical incidents in their discourses whence they claim some individuals hurled themselves towards the enemy forces in the face of almost certain knowledge that they would perish. But what these protagonists fail to acknowledge is that no body would have been happier than those two individuals had they survived after achieving their objectives over the enemy. Anyhow, eventually the death of those two individuals came about as a result of enemy action rather then them having grabbed and pierced themselves with enemy arrows whilst falling upon them. Paradise is Forbidden to the Suiciders Prophet Mohammad has said that , ‘Amongst the nations before you there was a man who received a wound, and growing impatient (because of the pain), he took a knife and cut his wrist with it and the blood did not stop flowing until he died. Then, Allah said, “My Slave hurried to bring death upon himself, so I have forbidden him the Garden (Paradise).” 7 A Battlefield Casualty who was not regarded as a Martyr:8After one of the battles in history, the Muslims were collecting their Casualties and Martyrs when they came upon a corpse which they immediately recognized as being that of a soldier who had done very well during the battle inflicting many casualties on the enemy.
6 7

Quran 5:32 A Hadith (Prophetic Tradition) quoted in the collection of Hadiths known as Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 669 8 A Hadith (Prophetic Tradition) quoted in the collection of Hadiths known as Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 297



They said to one another, that this person is surely in Paradise by now, not just for laying down his life for the sake of Allah but also for having fought so bravely inflicting many casualties on the enemy before he eventually met his own death. Prophet Mohammad(Peace be upon him) who happened to pass by upon hearing the above conversations said “…No, Not Him…”, his companions said in surprise astonishment ..O! Messenger of Allah, but this man did so well during the battle, and now that he has died surely, he is a Shaheed (Martyr), Prophet Mohammad said again “…No, Not him….”. Being the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Mohammad(Peace be upon him) was inspired by Allah to know the true nature and circumstances of that soldier’s death. He informed his companions accordingly, that, whilst that soldier did very well during the battle and was very close to entering paradise on account of his braveness in battle, however, what had happened was that eventually he got injured and his injuries were so severe that momentarily he lost his Trust in Allah as the one able to relieve him from his suffering, and consequently, he thrust his own sword into his belly thereby committing suicide. Hence, whilst this soldier was very close to entering paradise because of his braveness during battle, but due to his act of suicide at the very last moment, he is going somewhere else. What is the Islamic definition of a Martyr? Islamic texts use the term Shaheed to refer to a Martyr, who is defined as one who dies in the way of Allah. However, dying in the way of Allah does not mean seeking death while “aggressively” promoting God. God does not need anyone or anything in order to promote himself. For if God wishes to Promote Himself His wish will be done without any human interface. It is true that the Shaheed, the martyr who dies in the way of Allah, will get many rewards in the hereafter, but only if his death occurs in a defense posture and due to enemy action, and not if it is brought upon oneself through self venture. Apart from dying in the way of Allah, there is a set of four other specific conditions stated in the Prophetic Traditions9 which state who will receive the status of a Martyr. These are: 1. 2. 3. 4.

The one killed by a plague, The one killed by a disease of the belly, The one who drowns, The one killed by a collapsing building,

A Hadith (Prophetic Tradition) taken from a collection known as Muwatta by the famous scholar Imam Malik Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik : 8.2.6



The Martyr in the path of Allah.”

As you can see, that in the above definition of Martyrs, there is no inclusion of those who kill themselves and who intend in their act of suicide also to kill other innocent by standers and non-combatants all of which is forbidden. A SUICIDER Will Be Punished In Hell Fire by Using The Same Method That He Used For Committing Suicide In a famous Prophetic Teaching Statement known collectively as Hadith, Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) Has said : “He who killed himself with a steel weapon will be the eternal denizen of the Hell Fire and he would have that weapon in his hands and will be thrusting that in his stomach for ever and ever….He who drank poison and killed himself would sip that in the Fire of Hell where he is doomed for ever and ever….And, He who killed himself by jumping from a high place will constantly fall in the Fire of Hell where he would live for ever and ever10 Therefore, suicide bombers will most likely be made to blow themselves up repeatedly in the Hell Fire, the difference then, will be that, then, the only victims will be THEY themselves while the victims of their atrocity on earth may well be sitting in Paradise watching them receive their punishment repeatedly in the Hell Fire where there is no death. Permission To Act In Self Defence But Not To Commit Aggression. Muslims, like any other group, are permitted by their rules to act in self-defence but are not allowed to commit AGGRESSION for the sake of Aggression or for the purposes of grabbing someone else’s land. And, if the situation reaches the threshold of active battle, then Islamic rules forbid the killing of civilians specially women and children, the aged and the infirm. Targeting of all non-combatants is also prohibited including noncombatant soldiers. These rules also forbid the harming of priests of other faiths and the desecration of places of worship of other people, these restrictions are summarised in the Instructions by Muslim Commanders to their soldiers. 10 Commandments for Muslim Commanders in Battle11. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Do not harm women and children Do not harm non-combatants Do not harm the aged or the weak and infirm Do not harm Priests of other faiths and their places of worship Do not cut down fruit bearing tress Do not slaughter animals except for food Do not burn bees

Quoted from the Collection of Hadiths known as Sahih Muslim [Ref: No. 48 :199]
Instructions given by Abu Bakr, the 1st Caliph to a Muslim Commander



8. Do not scatter them 9. Do not steal from the booty 10. Do not be cowardly Killing In Anger Is Not Permitted, Even in Battle. In Islamic History there is the example of Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad, who in the course of a battle had defeated an enemy soldier and sitting on his chest was about to bring down his sword on that enemy soldier when that person spat at him, withdrawing his sword, Ali immediately got up and allowed the man to run away. Some years later, they met in peaceful circumstances when that man queried what had happened in the battle field which appeared to him as a very strange behaviour!!, and asked Ali why didn’t he carry out the act of slaughter even after he had spat at him? Ali replied that, had he done so after being spat at then that could have been seen as an act in anger or an act of retaliation for an insult rather than a battle field manoeuvre, in which case if he (Ali) had carried out the slaughter then he would have been in error rather than the enemy soldier and would have been punished by God for killing in Anger. Principle of Retaliation (Qisas) in Islam. The principle which governs the law of retaliation in Islam is underpinned by a famous verse of The Quran that states that “….In the law of Equality there is saving of life to you, O ye men of understanding that ye may restrain yourself…”12. Saving of Life should be preferred in all cases and be the prime objective even in cases where Retaliation is permissable e.g. an eye for an eye. Hence, a Muslim who does not restrains himself in the face of Provocation and does not consider the guiding principle of “Saving of life”, will in the light of this verse be classified as a person possessing no understanding. Restraining oneself from retaliating in kind is of extreme importance in Islam. God is with those who restrain themselves says the Quran13 the flip side of this would mean that those Muslims who retaliate will loose the companionship of God. The first ‘Martyr’ for Islam was a lady who whilst being tortured had been raped with a lance. If like-for-like retaliation was an option open to Muslims it would have happened then, but it didn’t. There is a reward for enduring torment and suffering but those who retaliate in a like-forlike manner would be taking that reward pre-award ceremony ‘themselves’ in this world and as a result there would then be no reward left for them in the hereafter. Surely, the reward waiting with God in the hereafter is unimaginably superior to any compensation that one can take for ones self in this world through retaliation.

12 13

Quran 2: 179 Quran 2: 194


Islamic History is full of examples which show that even in the face of the most extreme of provocations; Muslims chose ‘not to retaliate’. Spitting in the face of a leading figure by an enemy soldier, as we saw earlier, on one occasion secured him his life. MUTILATION of the Enemy Corpses is Also Not Permitted in Islam. Prophet Mohammad’s uncle was martyred in one of the battles in which in a deranged fervour, the wife of the opposing General cutup the body of the fallen and in full view of Prophet Mohammad and the other Muslim soldiers she devoured the fallen Uncle’s liver. This incident should have caused the Muslim Army and the wider population to go on a rampage, but despite the extreme nature of such a provocation, the Muslims did not retaliate by similarly cutting up all the enemy’s corpses and eating their organs. The Two Sons of Adam. Let us also remind ourselves of the story of the two sons of Adam who quarrelled amongst themselves when one threatened to kill the other, in response, said the other, “Even if you stretch out your hand against me to kill me I shall not stretch out my hand against you to kill you, Lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds”14 Even A Divine Offer of Help For Retaliation Was once Not Taken up. When Prophet Mohammad was stoned and driven out of a valley where he had gone to preach, Arch Angel Gabriel was sent down by God with two Assisting Angels who offered to bring down surrounding mountains on top of the people of that valley. Injured, dripping blood and exhausted though he was, Prophet Mohammad even that excruciating circumstance, chose not to retaliate, politely declining the offer of divine help for retribution, asking the Angels instead to leave those people alone, perchance that someone from their future progeny may choose the Straight Path and worship God. Prayed For the Enemy during the course of A Battle. On another occasion during a battle, Prophet Mohammad was injured with his cheek punctured and blood oozing out of the wound he was scooping up his blood not allowing any of it to fall to the ground maintaining that if even a drop of his blood were to fall on the ground then divine punishment would immediately descend on the enemy and he didn’t want that to happen. People were very surprised at this attitude of his of showing concern for the enemy even in the thick of a battle and enquired from him about that, responding to their query, Prophet Mohammad said, that he had not been sent to condemn or curse anybody, rather he said that, he had been sent as an Inviter to the Straight Path, and as a Mercy, and then he prayed for the opposing fighting soldiers The Subject of Death In The Quran. There are close to 74 verses of The Quran which touch upon the subject of death to varying degrees depending on the context in which it is being discussed and ‘none’ of

Quran 5:28


these authorises a Muslim to either court it or to bring it upon oneself. A dead Muslim is of little benefit to the propagation of Islam and a Strong believer is better than a weak believer said the Prophet. Experiencing of Death is Likened to Tasting The Quran states that Every Soul shall have a taste of death15 However, just as tasting is related to the Eating of Food as a precursor, so is death related to the hereafter as a prerequisite only but not as an end in itself. If tasting of food is done at the wrong time or in the wrong way or at the wrong temperature this causes the tongue to singe thereby preventing the enjoyment of food which is the objective. In the same way, the ultimate objective i.e. the hereafter is defiled if death is brought about deliberately by self endeavour. Dominion of God In a Chapter of the Quran titled “The Dominion”, God is described as being the one who created death and life16, the reasoning behind which is explained later in that verse when it says that “…So that God can Test which one of you is better in deeds”. Little chance then of a Muslim passing this Test if he has deliberately violated an earlier command which states that do not “…do not kill yourself” see footnote 1 No Robin Hoods in Islam. For Muslims, death is not the end; but it is regarded as a means towards the final end which is the eternal hereafter. In Islam the notion of Robin Hoods does not exist. For Muslims, not only has the end got be fair, just and wholesome but the means and the road that we take to reach that end also has to be pure and just as well, the eventual goal being to have a goodly hereafter. If one robs cheats and deceives others, then one will still have a hereafter, but it won’t be a goodly one. An Army on Elephants. Quran says “Seest thou not how your Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephants…”17talking about the occasion when an Army on Elephants had come with the intention of demolishing Islam’s holiest of Places. The believers at that time were overwhelmingly outnumbered and out gunned, but they still hung on to their Trust in God, and because of this unflinching Faith in Him, God assisted the believers by sending a squadron of little birds who pelted the people with the Army of Elephants with stones of baked clay(the divine equivalent of our present day’s F16s) and made them like crops devoured by cattle18. The Trust.
15 16

Quran 3;135 Quran 67: 2 17 Quran 105: 1 18 Quran 105: 1- 5


Trust in God is one of the definitions of believers For, Believers “are those” says the Quran who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs being rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; 19 God has Chosen to Allow some People the Choice of Not Worshipping Him.! Surely, the Guarantees offered by Prophet Mohammad to the residents of the St. Catherine’s Monastery of Mount Sinai, and the terms of the “Treaty of Jerusalem”20 offered by Omar Bin Khattab the 2nd Caliph to the defeated and departing Romans, should remind the Muslims of their obligations to guarantee the ‘Freedom of Belief’ and the Security of Life and Property and Places of Worship of People of Other Faiths stationed in Muslim Countries. God in his Immense wisdom, has allowed some people the choice of ‘not worshipping him’ but still sustains and provides them with their daily bread, so who are we to contend with, alter or defy and violate this wisdom of God. Extremism, Terrorism and Jihad Does Islam espouse Extremism? Let us see what the Quran has to say about this. It is stated very clearly in there that “Have We made you into a People of the Middle Path, Justly Balanced”21 and Very Interestingly indeed, this verse which requires Muslims to adopt a Middle Path in the course of their life occurs bang in the middle of the chapter where it occurs, being verse No. 143 in a Chapter that has exactly 286 verses. Hence, it is Not mere wishful thinking but is an Ordainment and a Commandment of God to Muslims that they should take a Middle Course in whatever they do. There is therefore, no room for any extremism either of the right or of the left hue in Islam, God urging Muslims to strive in the middle path. Extremism is Not Permitted even in the Practice of Religion. (a)There was an instance when a lady had tied a rope between two pillars in the mosque with the intention of holding on to it if she got tired whilst standing in prayer. Prophet Mohammad instructed for that rope to be taken down urging that people should pray as long as they are able to and rest when they get tired. (b) Then, there was the occasion when three men had vowed Not to Marry, to Pray through the nights every night and to Fast every day through out the life. They were summoned by Prophet Mohammad who ordered them to break their vows giving his own
19 20

Quran 8 :2 The Treaty known as The Treaty of Jerusalem, that was signed by the Muslims after they defeated the occupying Romans granting the non-Muslim citizens the Freedom of Belief, and The Security of their life, possessions and places of worship. 21 Quran 2 : 143


examples of marrying women, sleeping some nights and fasting selectively stating that those who have no regard for his traditions were not considered to be from amongst his followers. Vows that violate the laws of nature such as deliberately denying oneself food, water, sleep etc are not valid, and Islam asks that such vows should be broken Immediately. Terrorism. Does Islam Foster Terrorism? The answer is plain and simple. Restraining the freedom of an animal and denying it food has landed a woman in hell fire says one Islamic story, whilst a Prostitute with all her carnal sins is forgiven and destined for Paradise simply for climbing down a well to bring water in her shoe to give to a thirsty dog holds another Islamic legend. And, as a leader, the 2nd Caliph of Islam, was found repairing an undulation in a road for fear that he as a ruler would be considered liable to God should a passing animal be hurt because of the fault in the road. Thus, with such a huge emphasis on care and condition of animals, how can then the same religion of Islam foster acts of Terrorism between human beings. Did Islam Spread by the Sword? “…History makes it clear, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping across the world forcing Islam at the point of a sword over conquered lands is the most fantastic Absurd Myth that Historians have ever repeated…”22 Over 14 Million Coptic Christians living in Arab Muslim lands are a further testimony to the fact that Islam did not spread by the sword. Furthermore, Nearly 80% non-Muslim Population of India which was once conquered and ruled by Muslims for over 1000 years disproves that claim as well. In Addition, there was an increase of 235% in the number of people adhering to the Islamic faith during the 50 years between 1934 – 1984 , but there was no war in the same period spearheaded by any Muslim Country.

Jihad Jihad does “not” mean “Holy War” as the media would like you to believe. The term “Holy War” was originally coined to refer to the campaigns of the Crusaders. It has “NO” relevance to the concept of striving for good as enshrined in the Islamic term JIHAD.

O’Leary: Islam at the Cross Roads, p8


Therefore, for the media and for some other elements of the civic society to use the term “Holy War” in such a way so as to make it appear to describe the Quranic concept of Striving for good and betterment, is a travesty of Justice. Jihad, is a generic term referring to any struggle or striving and is not an exclusively Islamic term. Jihad An-Nafs or Striving to Purify one's soul and actions in day-to-day to affairs is considered as the best form of Jihad(struggle). The Quran states that : “By The Soul and the Proportion and order given to it, And it's inspiration as to it's wrongs and rights...Truly he succeeds who purifies his soul”23 In Islam, looking After and Taking Care of One’s Parents takes priority over going to war. There is No Permission in Islam for a War of Aggression, the only scenario in which War is permissible is in self-defence when attacked, and, even then, the Limits have to be observed as stated very clearly in this verse of the Quran : “Fight in the Cause of Allah only those who attack and fight against you but do not transgress limits for Allah loveth not the transgressors.”24

23 24

Quran 91 : 7-10 Quran 2 : 190


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