Thursday, February 26, 2009

Suicide in Islam

Assalamu alaikum, below are the first part of my notes for Lesson 180 of the Commentary of Book 24 (Book of Funerals) from al Tajrid al Sarih (The Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari) by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq. In this lesson, Hadeeth 683-685 were covered. The respected Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq gave this lesson on Friday 18th January 2008.


باب: مَا جَاءَ فِي قَاتِلِ النّفْس

CHAPTER 41. – Chapter of what has been related about one who commits suicide.

683. عَنْ ثَابِتِ بْنِ الضَحّاكِ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ, عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: (مَنْ حَلَفَ بِمِلّةٍ غَيْرِ الإِسْلاَمِ, كاذِبًا مُتَعَمّدًا, فَهُوَ كما قَالَ. وَمَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسَهُ بِحَدِيدَةٍ, عُذّبَ بِهَا في نَارِ جَهَنّمَ). رواه البخاري: 1363

683. Narrated Thâbit bin Ad Dahhâk رضى الله عنه : The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, Whoever intentionally swears falsely by a religion other than Islâm, then he is what he has said, (e.g. if he says, ‘If such thing is not true then I am a Jew,’ he is really a Jew if he is a liar). And whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hellfire. (2:445O.B.)

Hadeeth 683 – the first part of this hadeeth deals with a certain type of oath and the second with suicide. This hadeeth is related to someone who makes an oath and swears by any deity other than Allah or religion other than Islam even though the person is a Muslim and does not believe in that deity or religion. Hence, they are lying e.g. if they swore in the name of one of the pagan goddesses even though they do not believe in goddess. The person does not become an apostate and the oath is meaningless. This is the meaning of ‘he is as he says’. The second form is far more serious; that is when a person says something along the lines of ‘If I don’t do such a thing, I am an apostate’, for example. According to Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) this oath is meaningless. However, according to Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) the person will become an apostate if he does not fulfil the oath.
The second part of the hadeeth is related to anyone who commits suicide with any sharp object. The Shaykh said that the word ‘حَدِيدَةٍ’ means any sharp object e.g. a knife or dagger. In Islam, there is a rule that punishment is often reflective of the crime – there is an Arabic phrase that punishment is of the category of the deed. Thus, as suicide is haraam, the person who poisons themselves will continue to poison themselves in Jahannum.

The Shaykh translated the following two hadeeth before explaining further about suicide in Islam.

684. عَنْ جُنْدَب رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ, عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ:
(كانَ بِرَجُلٍ جِرَاحٌ فَقَتَلَ نَفْسَهُ, فَقَالَ اللهُ: بَدَرَنِي عَبْدِي بِنَفْسِهِ, حَرّمْتُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنّةَ). رواه البخاري: 1364

684. Narrated Jundab رضى الله عنه : The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allâh said: My servant tried to outdo me with his soul, so I have declared Paradise forbidden for him. (2:445O.B.)

685. عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: (الّذِي يَخْنُقُ نَفْسَهُ يَخْنُقُهَا فِي النّارِ, وَالّذِي يَطْعُنُهَا يَطْعُنُهَا فِي النّارِ). رواه البخاري: 1365

685. Narrated Abu Hurairah رضى الله عنه : The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, Whoever strangles oneself will continue to strangle oneself in the Hellfire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hellfire (forever). (2:446O.B.)

Hadeeth 684 - If a believer commits suicide, is Jannah declared forbidden for them forever? The Shaykh said this is not the case. It is known from verses of the Holy Qur’an and explicit hadeeth that if a person declares the testimony of faith, they will eventually go to Jannah whatever their sins. Their sins are subjective to the Will of Allah. Once they have been purified, they will enter Jannah. Thus, based on other evidences we cannot take Hadeeth 684 literally. The wording in this hadeeth is ‘my servant tried to outdo me with his soul’. Does this mean that a person managed to take their soul before their fixed time? This wording is just that the person tried to outdo their natural lifespan, however, it is still the decree and Qadr of Allah if the person commits suicide.

Does the Qur’an speak of suicide? The respected Shaykh said that the Qur’an does not speak of suicide directly but there are two verses from which the meaning can be derived to relate to suicide. The first is a verse of Surah Baqarah where Allah says ‘Spend in the way of Allah and do not cast yourselves with own hands to destruction and do good for indeed Allah loves those who do good’. Secondly, in Surah Nisa Allah says ‘Oh believers, do not consume each others wealth in a false manner unless it is trade between yourselves with mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves, indeed Allah is most merciful and compassionate with you’. The ulema say that the primary meaning of this verse of Surah Nisa is do not kill each other and does primarily does not speak of suicide. This verse is mentioning that one’s wealth and life are both sacred; do not take someone else’s wealth or life without just cause. The secondary meaning is related to suicide; as it’s not permissible to take another’s life, it is not permissible to take another’s life.

With the verse of Surah Baqarah, some ulema have derived the second meaning of this verse to mean suicide. The primary meaning of this verse is related to those that ceased spending in the way of Allah and going out in the Way of Allah. However, the ahadeeth is categorical that suicide is haraam and whoever commits suicide will face the displeasure of Allah and punishment in the hereafter.

Should a person who commits suicide have Salat-ul-Jinazah prayed over them? According to all the major schools of fiqh, they shall be treated as a normal deceased person and after washing and bathing the body, Salat-ul-Jinazah should be performed over them. However, according to the Hanafi fiqh, the leaders and people of dignity should not perform Salat-ul-Jinazah over those that commit suicide.

During the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), a man suffered a wound and took a spearhead and killed himself. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not perform Salat-ul-Jinazah over him. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said ‘As for me I will not perform Salat-ul-Jinazah over him’. This was to set an example; although the person who commits suicide will be given a burial this action was to serve as a deterrent i.e. so that they know that the best in the community will not pray for them. In effect, the person considering suicide would be deterred that they will be outcasts in a sense.