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Islamic Sharia Laws ( 15 Aug 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Growing Trend of Suicides: How and Why Islam Totally Prohibits Suicides

Anything that a Muslim religious scholar or even a journalist writes in the Urdu Press, must reek of Islam-supremacism and contempt for other religions based on both lack of knowledge and understanding of our own as well as that of other religions. Our so-called Ulema come from kafir-manufacturing factories where they are not taught any respect for other points of view within or without Islam. Well, they are simply not trained into any system of thought other than the limited one of their own. Question of respect for others simply does not arise. Knowledge comes first.

Why does New Age Islam then continue to post articles by Ulema and journalists from Urdu Press and even take the effort and expense of getting these articles translated in English and other languages? Some readers have rightly wondered. One, exposing Islam-supremacism and contempt for other Ahl-e-Kitab who are part of the Muslim ummah, as per Meesaq-e-Madina, Prophet Mohammad’s constitution in Medina, is an essential part of our job by itself. Islam-supremacist tendencies are so well-ingrained in the psyche of virtually every Aalim and Talib and Urdu journalist (with a few exceptions) that no matter which passage from wherever and on whichever subject you pick up you can smell it strongly. Two, since they are dealing with issues of Islamic ideology – in this case Islam being totally against suicides of all sorts – and it is important for us to apprise ourselves of these fine points of our theology, we can read this literature discounting the ingrained supremacist teachings that go with them. – Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam


By Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi,

(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

Suicide is on top among the social problems of this age. Not only in India but in the entire world people are committing suicides, thereby wasting a precious gift like life with their own hands. As for India, the problem has assumed rather menacing proportions. However, the authorities have not paid any attention to it yet. In near future, this problem will emerge with greater intensity and the government will have to take some stern action. The government has, however, been spurred by the growing number of suicides caused by the non-repayment of debts and the government has earmarked some funds for the repayment of the debts of the farmers committing suicide in Vidarbha in Maharashtra. But it cannot be said with conviction that the funds are reaching the affected persons as the bureaucratic systmen here is known for its ‘efficacy’ in not allowing the money to reach the real beneficiaries. Therefore it can be assumed that the government has not been able to help the indebted and hapless farmers despite its announcement. There are more causes, factors and motives behind the suicides in India than other countries. Among them some causes and factors are typical of India alone. The problem of suicides cannot be rooted out totally as long as the problems leading to suicides are not pinpointed and addressed.

The new economic system has not been implemented in India as yet. Even today, the poor in the rural areas in India are in the clutches of the century old feudal system. This system is running into the veins of this country. Even today, one is compelled to borrow money at steep interest rates from the money lenders for the marriage of his daughter, the treatment of his parents or for the construction of a shelter on his ancestral land. The rate of interest is so high that the married daughter becomes a mother, the body of his deceased parents turn into ashes and the house becomes dilapidated and finally collapses under the impact of weathering but even the interest is not paid, leave aside the principal amount. As a result, the borrower either loses his land or leaves the legacy of his debt to posterity.

Now the government has opened rural gramin banks that give loans at low rates and people are encouraged to take loans from these banks. But firstly, all the people in need of money can’t get the loan and, secondly, the formal procedures for the loan are so time-consuming that the applicants give up hope and abandon the idea of taking a loan. And even if he succeeds in getting the loan approved, he has to lose a considerable amount of the sanctioned amount as bribe to the officials concerned.

The loans are given for doing business or agriculture rather for personal purposes. But the most of the time, people fail to invest the money in the propped project. As a result, they fail to repay the debt. A good number of persons committing suicides in our country are those who cannot repay their loans taken from banks or the money lenders.

The caste system in India prevails over everything. That’s why, when a boy and a girl of different castes fall in love and decide to spend the life together after marrying, the parents, the headman of the village and the elders of the society do not approve of it. If they have the resources or the courage, they elope and marry; otherwise they consume poison in frustration, end their lives by lying on the rail tracks or put the noose around them and hang from the ceiling or the branch of a tree.

One major cause among many causes of suicides is the domestic issues. Generally, the women have been victimized in the name of dowry and their parents are exploited. Sometimes, they become so helpless that they see no other way than committing suicide. The harassment of women in the name of dowry has become a blot in the Indian culture. Pages of newspapers are swamped with the news of dowry torture. Despite the increase in literacy rate, the Indian society is sunk in the darkness of ignorance.

The standard of education is getting higher and the standard of living is getting all the higher by the day. To prosper, the family needs wealth which can be accumulated through a decent job or a big business. This stiff competition in the rat race of life has weaned away childhood from children. The parents expect excellent performance from them in the field of education. Most of the time, the children do not fulfill their expectations. Some of them cope with the circumstances while the others lose hope and end their lives. This trend is new and growing. There are some other factors as well that lead to suicide. Due to the economic and financial progress, prosperity has come but it is not that every individual has become prosperous. A big section of the population is still as deprived as it was sixty years ago at the time of independence. The people who are poor or belong to the middle class look for their future in the razzmatazz of development and when they are faced with disappointment, they prefer to embrace death instead of facing the circumstances.

The domestic problems of people are on the rise. There is no distinction between the rich and the poor in this regard. The nature of the problems with the rich is different whereas the issues before the poor are of different nature. Domestic issues are behind ten percent of cases of suicides. Now people have started committing suicides even to express their love or devotion. A new trend has also emerged. Now people immolate themselves to protest against the inefficiency or injustices of the government officials. On the whole, the purview of suicides is expanding in India. According to a survey, the number of people dying of suicide is increasing and is 700,000 annually and it includes men, women and children. The number is increasing and there is no sign of a slowdown in the trend in near future. It is, therefore, necessary in the given circumstances to ascertain the factors leading to suicides and take steps to stop this evil.

It is evident from the study of newspaper reports that the incidence is higher among Hindu as compared to Muslims.(The issues of suicide attacks is not discussed here as it is a different topic altogether ). It seems that our fellow countrymen are not aware of the value of life. They do not even know that life is an asset handed over to man by God and so we have no right to end it. They are also not aware of the fact that there is a life after death that is infinite and permanent and every human being will get the reward for his deeds. They do not know the fact that disappointment and despair are the greatest weaknesses of man. A real man is one who is not overtaken by despair. He does not give up hope and patience in the face of adverse circumstances. Apparently, Islam is the only religion that teaches human beings to live with courage, stoicism, patience and endurance. It is, therefore, our duty to enlighten our fellow countrymen with the teachings of Islam.

God created man and endowed him with superior status. The Quran says,

“And we gave the son of Adam respect and gave him means of transportation in forests and rivers and gave him food from pure things and gave him superiority over many creatures.” (Bani Israel: 70)

In this verse, God mentions the superiority of man over other creatures of the planet. This superiority is by dint of virtues that are found in human beings only. For instance, he was endowed with beauty of form, a balanced physique and a balanced temperament. And above all, he was endowed with intellect and intelligence with the help of which he makes use of other living beings. He uses some of them for transportation, some for food and some others for making his clothing. Along with intellect, he was endowed with the tongue and voice to enable him to express his feelings and understand the views of others easily. These are the qualities that no other being has other than the human beings. Would it be, therefore, wise to end such a valuable body and existence handing over to death?

It is true that death is a reality and every living being has to embrace death one day. But this right is with God only. He has given life and only he will give us death. Man has only got the right to live and not to die. That is the reason Islam has declared suicide haram and the religious scholars have included it in major sins (gunah-e-kabirah).Different definitions of major sins have been presented and the most accepted definition is that it is a sin that has a curse or warning against it or that is equal to a sin that has been warned or cursed against. Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas says that a sin for which God has warned of hell or expressed his anger or wrath against it is a gunah-e-kabirah. Allama Ibn-e-Qayyim is of the opinion that the sins that are warned against because they give way to other sins are gunah-e-saghirah (minor sins).However, there are very strong warnings agisnt major sins and its perpetrators are warned of severe torments. God is Omnipotent and can forgive the biggest sins of a man if he so wishes and can round up someone on the smallest sin. But according to the Quran and sunnah, Kabair (major sins) are forgiven through kaffarah (penance --- hud or qasas meaning punishment or similar punishment to the sinner by the victim) or tauba meaning sincere repentance. In this light, suicide is such a major sin whose sinner cannot be brought under any hud nor can he attain forgiveness (through tauba) because after committing suicide he is not in a position for any penal action nor can he seek forgiveness of God. The following two verses of the Quran shed light on the impermissibility of suicide.

“O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah.” (Al Nisa:29-30)

All the exegetes agree that the verses also include suicide. Islam has forbidden killings of every kind be it killing oneself or others and also fixed the punishment that we will put him to torment of the hellfire. In another verse, the Quran says,

“And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (AL Baqra: 195)

The exegetes are of the opinion that all the arbitrary conditions that lead to destruction and ruin are inappropriate, that is, unnecessary expenses,jumping on to the battle field without weapons, suicide by drowning, immolating, by committing suicide by consuming poison, slashing oneself with knife or adopting other methods of suicide or going to the areas where infectious diseases are spreading etc. The Quran forbids man to kill oneself. And this restriction is supported by hadiths. The holy companions of the holy Prophet (PBUH) took the same meaning of the verse mentioned earlier (La taqtulu anfusakum) Hadhrat Amro bin Al Aas says,” During the battle of Zaatas Salasal, I had the need to bathe in a very cold night but I did not have the courage to bathe due to the coldness as I had the fear that I would die if I bathed. So, I performed tayammum (ablution with soil) and joined the Morning Prayer with my companions. Later, I told the Prophet (PBUH) about the incident. He (PBUH) asked me if I had offered namaz while unclean. I replied that I performed tayammum instead of having a bath because the Quran says ‘La taqtulu anfusakum’. Hearing this, the holy Prophet (PBUH) smiled and said nothing.” Hafiz Shamsudding Zahbi has written in his book ‘kitab al kabair’ (Book of major sins) that the incident shows that Hadhrat Amro bin Al Aas meant suicide from ‘qatl-e-nafs’ and He (BPUH) did not negate it. In his book, Allama Zahbi has quoted numerous traditions in condemnation of suicide. Some of them are as follows:

Hadhrat Jundab bin Abdullah narrates that the holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “A man from bani Israil had a wound. He was so tormented by the wound that he took a knife and slashed the arm that had the wound. The profuse bleeding from the amputated hand caused his death. God said, ‘my slave committed haste with regard to his life. Heaven is haram on him.’ Another hadith says that a man killed himself with a sword as he could not bear the pain of his wounds. The holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “He is jahannami (doomed to hell). Another hadith says, “To curse a mumin is synonymous with actually killing him. If someone commits suicide, he will be given punishment with the same weapon he had used for killing himself, on the Day of Judgment. Another hadith on the same subject says that if a person kills oneself with a sword, he will be given a sword on the Day of Judgment and will be asked to strike the sword in his abdomen continuously. Person who commits suicide by consuming poison will be given poison in the hell so that he continues to consume poison and the person who jumps off from a mountain will be thrown from a mountain in the hell continuously.

Why a man does commit suicide? The answer is he loses courage in the face of circumstances and takes an escapist route, unnerved by hardships and challenges. On the one hand, by forbidding from suicide Islam taught people that life was worth living and not for wasting or terminating and on the other; it says that the world is venue of examination and a workshop. Place of examination in the sense that every one of us passes through tests and tribulations. If he passes through this phase successfully, he makes his life successful otherwise remains unsuccessful. Darul Amal or place of work in the sense that the life is only for doing deeds . Rewards and punishments will be given in the hereafter that will come after death. If the deeds are good, you will get rewards and bad deeds will invite punishments. For rewards, man should lead his life according to the wishes of God. As for trials and hardships, God inflicts hardships on some of his slaves to test his devotion as part of his scheme. So man should not get unnerved and lose hope and, therefore, take the escape route embracing death. The Quran preaches patience in the time of hardships. Patience is a truth that enables man to overcome the biggest obstacles and hardships. It says,

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)”. (Al Baqra 155-56)

The Quran has mentioned patience and restraint on ninety occasions and has preached patience in sixteen different ways. It tells a lot about the significance of patience and endurance. The verse you read above reveals two truths about tests and patience. On the one hand, Allah says that he will test men in various ways by putting them in hardships and troubles. He will put someone in fear or panic while some other with loss of life and wealth or reduction in production. On the other hand, He says that only those who pass the test with patience and endurance will be successful in His eyes and they will be blessed and rewarded duly. Patience has been declared the key to success. Without it man cannot succeed in life. It renders hardships light. According to a hadith, patience is half the faith. A hadith of Bukhari Sharif says, “Someone asked the holy Prophet (PBUH), ‘what is faith?’ He (PBUH) replied,’ patience and generosity’. The truth of faith has been stated very laconically in this hadith. There can be only two limitations on a person. One, he should present what he is asked for and restrains himself from what he is forbidden.

However, patience and endurance is a weapon that can help confront the biggest challenges in life. Ulama have opined that three things can assist in observing patience in times of hardships: One, man’s belief in better rewards in hereafter. The greater this belief, the easier it will be to endure the hardships. Two, he should have the courage that he could wait for the better times to come after the hardships are over. The longer the wait, the greater the pleasure in observing patience. Three, he should realize the bounties God has endowed upon him. He is grateful to God that alongside the hardships, God has also blessed him with many bounties and comforts. It was possible that he would have only hardships and problems with no comforts and solace.

If man observes patience and adopts the above-mentioned strategies, it can be said with conviction that he will prefer enjoying the beauty of life rather than committing suicide.