Suicide and Wishing for Death

(Keywords: Killing oneself, Self-immolation, Self destruction, Self-murder, Suicide, hopelessness, Total Desperation, Depression, loss of hope, loss of trust, ending one’s life, wishing to end life, committing suicide)

     قال الله عز وجل:{ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا } النساء 29. ـ

       God the Almighty says: { And do not kill yourselves. Verily, God is Most Merciful to you} (Surah 4, verse 29).

    عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لا يَتَمَنَّ أَحَدُكُمُ المَوْتَ، إِمَّا مُحْسِناً فَلَعَلَّهُ يَزْدَادُ، وَإِمَّا مُسِيئاً فَلَعَلَّهُ يَسْتَعْتِبُ» .  رواه البخاري ومسلم. ـ

     Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: None of you should wish for death: if he is righteous, he may increase his good deeds; and if he is an evil-doer, he may abandon the evil deeds and repent.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

    وعن سهل بن عبد الله التستري، قال: ( لا يتمنى الموت إلا ثلاث: رجل جاهل بما بعد الموت، أو رجل يفر من أقدار الله تعالى عليه، أو مشتاق محب للقاء الله عز وجل). ـ

   Sahl Ibn Abdul-Allah Al-Tusturi said: “No one longs for death except three persons: A man who is ignorant of what comes after death, a man who runs away from fate, or a man who loves and wishes to meet God -the Exalted.”

———–

God the Exalted has pre-determined and pre-set the creatures’ times of birth and death 500 years before He created them, and recorded it in Al-Law Al-Mahfooth (the Preserved Slate).  Thus, the believer has faith in that and submits to God’s Judgment.

    God -the Creator- is the Most Knowledgeable, the Most Just and the Most Wise, and He does things with the Utmost degree of knowledge, wisdom, and mercy.  While the son of Adam is hasty (ajool), ignorant (jahool) and ungrateful (kanood).  As soon a problem afflicts him, then the son of Adam wishes for death.  As soon as a calamity befalls him, man wishes he were dead.  And as soon as a major problem or death occurs to one of his loved ones, then he wishes to die.

      But the human must stop thinking of death as a quick way to get rid of worldly problems, or escape the inevitable or fate.  Indeed, death itself is not easy.  Starting with the agonies of death (sakarat Al-moat), then the ascent or descent of the soul to heaven or downward to the pit, then the questioning of the two angels Munkar and Nakeer, then the questioning of every single deed in the grave, then the opening of a window either to Paradise or to Hell, and finally the most horrific day, the Day of Judgment.  May God save us.

     A) Suicide or Killing oneself:

       The soul of the human is Not owned by him, rather it belongs to God Who created it.  The soul is not a personal property of the person with which he does what he wishes, rather the soul is from God and Only He controls it.  Thus, the son of Adam is Not allowed to kill himself or cause it harm.  Killing the self is considered a transgression and violation of the limits of God.

The son of Adam is instructed to worship God and do all that bring benefit to himself while avoiding everything that harm him in anyway, including killing himself.

Suicide in religion is considered a major sin for which severe punishment is promised.  Suicide signals the distrust of the slave toward his God.  Suicide shows the loss of hope in God’s Mercy.  Suicide indicates the lack of belief in God’s forgiveness. Thus, suicide represents the weakest level of faith.

       In the verse above, God draws our attention and urges the human to remember the Great Mercy of God and His boundless Forgiveness when s/he starts thinking of suicide.  Indeed, the problems of the whole world pale beside the Great Mercy of God and His limitless Forgiveness.  But attempting suicide signals the loss of hope in such great mercy and forgiveness, and that in itself is a great sin, for those are the Divine characteristics of God by which He described Himself.  Denying those characteristics or disbelieving them is a great sin.  Acting upon that denial, and attempting suicide is even a greater sin and is therefore promised great punishment, as the following hadith shows:

    عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، عن النَّبِي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « مَنْ تَرَدَّى مِنْ جَبَلٍ فَقَتَلَ نَفْسَهُ، فَهْوَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ يَتَرَدَّى فِيهِ خَالِدًا مُخَلَّدًا فِيهَا أَبَدًا.  وَمَنْ تَحَسَّى سَمًّا فَقَتَلَ نَفْسَهُ، فَسَمُّهُ فِي يَدِهِ يَتَحَسَّاهُ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدًا مُخَلَّدًا فِيهَا أَبَدًا.  وَمَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسَهُ بِحَدِيدَةٍ، فَحَدِيدَتُهُ فِي يَدِهِ يَجَأُ بِهَا فِي بَطْنِهِ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدًا مُخَلَّدًا فِيهَا أَبَدًا» .  رواه البخاري ومسلم. ـ

   Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said:

Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in Hell-Fire falling down in it and abiding therein perpetually forever.

Whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in Hell-fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.

And whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in Hell-fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Thus, the person who kills himself is promised punishment in the same manner he killed himself, but it will be in Hell-Fire.  Then how ironic and what a greater damage and harm can suicide be!  While the person thinks he will get rid of problems, s/he is putting himself in a lot greater peril.  Hell-Fire is not a simple problem of this world, rather its heat is greater and its horrors are numerous.  Thus, the wise must think before attempting such an act, trying to escape one’s troubles to fall into greater trouble is not worth it.  It is like moving out of the frying pan into the fire.

However,  the scholars said that the believer will eventually be forgiven and will go to Paradise.  Thus, the great mercy of God will encompass all believers eventually, but he may be punished in Hell first.  Rather than go through all of that, the believer must have trust in God’s Great Mercy and Forgiveness from the beginning.

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   B) Wishing for Death:

Not only is the believer instructed to avoid killing himself or committing suicide, but he is also instructed to avoid wishing for death.

It is the nature of the human to like ease and enjoy blessings, thus when problems and troubles afflict him, he longs for death.  But as explained above, death is not as easy escape from the trials and tribulations of the world, rather there is a life after death.  Indeed, the real life only starts after death and then everyone will get the reward or punishment of his/her actions, as stated in the following verse:

     قال الله عز وجل:{ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ * وَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ غُرَفًا تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا نِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ * الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ} العنكبوت 57-59. ـ

قال ابن كثير رحمه الله: ( أي أينما كنتم يدرككم الموت، فكونوا في طاعة الله وحيث أمركم الله، فهو خير لكم، فإن الموت لا بد منه ولا محيد عنه، ثم إلى الله المرجع والمآب، فَمَنْ كان مطيعا له جازاه أفضل الجزاء ووافاه أتمَّ الثواب). ـ

       God -the Exalted- says: { Everyone shall taste death, then unto Us you shall be returned.

  1. And those who believe and do righteous good deeds, to them We shall surely give lofty dwellings in Paradise, beneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Excellent is the reward for the workers.

  2. Those who are patient, and put their trust in their Lord} (Surah 29, verses 57-59).

Ibn Katheer -may God have mercy on him- said: “The verse means that wherever you are, death will come to you, so always obey God and follow His command, for this is better for you. Death is inevitable and there is no escape from it, and then the return will be to God.  So whoever obeyed Him, God will recompense him with the best reward.”

The Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- also instructed us Not to wish for death, as stated in the following hadith:

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “None of you should wish for death: if he is righteous, he may increase his good deeds; and if he is an evil-doer, he may abandon the evil deeds and repent.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

The scholars mentioned five reasons for the prohibition to wish for death:

First, as mentioned in the hadith longer life can give the Muslim a chance and opportunity to repent of his sins and do more good deeds.

Second, the time of death is pre-determined and set in Al-Loah Al-Mahfooz.  That time never changes, so wishing for death is not going to affect it.

Third, death is a distressful event and a horrifying experience.  It is the hardest experience in this life.  The Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Do not wish for death, for the horror of the experience of death is severe.” (Ahmad).  Thus, the believer should not wish for it when he may not be ready.

Fourth, wishing for death due to a problem or a calamity is a sign of impatience and displeasure with destiny or Qadr.  The believer should show patience and ask God to solve the problem for him instead of asking for death.

And Fifth, the believer accepts and is pleased with God’s Judgment.  So the believer doesn’t question his time of death, nor wants to change it.  Rather the believer likes and prefers what God has written and chosen for him.


The scholars mentioned three exceptions when a person can wish for death: First, when he fears for his religion that he may lose faith or be tested in his faith. Second, during fighting. And third, to wish to die in a holy place like Omar Ibn Al-Khattab wished to die in Al-Medinah. But even then, he should not ask for death directly, as explained in the following hadith:

عَنْ أَنَسٍ رضى الله عنه قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: « لاَ يَتَمَنَّيَنَّ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمُ الْمَوْتَ لِضُرٍّ نَزَلَ بِهِ، فَإِنْ كَانَ لاَ بُدَّ مُتَمَنِّيًا لِلْمَوْتِ فَلْيَقُلِ: اللَّهُمَّ أَحْيِنِي مَا كَانَتِ الْحَيَاةُ خَيْرًا لِي، وَتَوَفَّنِي إِذَا كَانَتِ الْوَفَاةُ خَيْرًا لِي» .‏ مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيْهِ. ـ

Narrated Anas -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “None of you should wish for death because of some harm that befalls him.  If he cannot help but wish for it, then he let him say: ‘O God, let me live as long as life is better for me, and take my life if death is better for me.’ ” Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.


The Wise believer rather prepares for death and hopes and asks God’s forgiveness and mercy.  Some righteous Muslim was seen after his death, and he was asked about death. So he said: it was full of horrors but God had mercy on me.

The wise believer prepares for the questioning of the two angels Munkar and Nakeer, for those who do sins start to become doubtful then.

The wise believer prepares answers for the questioning in the grave, for he will be asked to account for all of his deed in the grave.  The Muslim would be asked about the obligatory deeds; did he perform them, and he would be asked about sins; why he did them.

The wise believer fears the punishment in the grave.  There are many hadiths that mention the punishment of the grave for those who miss any of the five daily prayers, for those who don’t clean themselves well after bathroom, for those who backbite or spread slander, for those who miss fasting, for those who don’t pay Zakah, for those who harm others and for those who do major sins.  The wise Muslim prepares for this great event with fear of his sin, repentance and hope in God’s forgiveness and mercy.

The believer accepts destiny and shows patience when a problem befalls him.  The true believer doesn’t show impatience and displeasure by wishing for death; rather he is patient and asks God to solve the problem for him.  Moreover, the true believer is always pleased with God’s Judgment and decision; he submits and surrenders to God, the Most Knowledgeable and Wise, in everything including the time of death.

The worldly life is a test, it is a Not a place of bliss and permanence.  Rather this life is a temporary place where you take your test, and then move on to get your results.

Death is nothing but the time of your results.  So before you get your results, try to do well on your test.  Before wishing your results too soon, first try to work hard to get an excellent result.  Before rushing to see your result, try to be patient and prepare for the test.  And finally, before you get your result, be ready to meet God in the best form and condition.  Then death would not be feared any more, rather welcomed whenever it is destined to come.

Finally, Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- related that two men (sahabah) died at the time of the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him.  One of them died as a martyr (shaheed), while the second died a natural death one year later. Talhah saw both men in a dream and saw the second man who died a year later has entered Paradise before the martyr!  Talhah mentioned that to the Prophet, so he said: did he not fast one more Ramadan, did he not pray one year more. (Imam Ahmad)  And in another narration, he said: The difference between them is like the distance between the heaven and earth!


 

Conditioning or Learned Response:

Suicide attempt is usually the result of many previous suicide ideations.  These suicide ideations are usually a case of conditioning where the person accompanies any big problem he has or any unbearable stress he experiences with wishing for death.  Thus, a vicious cycle starts where the more and bigger the problems he has, the more he wishes for death and finally does attempts suicide.

But as mentioned above, suicide is Not the solution of problems but a cause for greater problems and torment.

         The believer must stop himself from wishing for death every time a problem or a difficulty afflicts him;  he should overcome that defeated train of thought and instead try to find other means to cope with the problem. 

Instead of feeling despair and hopelessness, the believer should have hope in God and trust Him. 

 Instead of giving up and surrendering to hard circumstances, the believer should actively seek practical solutions for his problem and ask for advice.

  Instead of feeling isolated and abandoned, s/he should seek advice and support from family and friends. 

And finally, if nothing else works then the s/he should move to another place and start afresh, for new starts may prove successful. 

 

God the Almighty says:

     قال الله عز وجل: { وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً ۚ وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا} سورة النساء، 100. ـ

       God the Exalted says: { He who emigrates (from his home) for the sake of God, will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by.  And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to God and His Messenger and then death overtakes him – his reward has
already become incumbent upon God.  And God is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful
} Surah 4, verse 100.

    Then the wise believer must take this opportunity to work harder.  The wise believer endures problems patiently and asks God to solve them instead of hoping for death.  The true believer accepts pre-destiny (qada’) and doesn’t ask for death, rather he knows that his moment of death is pre-determined and decided, and he just prepares for that moment rather than wishing for it.

Know that this world is an opportunity to get supplies for the Hereafter.  This world is an opportunity to get higher degrees in Paradise.  This world is an opportunity to get close to God and gain His Pleasure and reward.  It is only in this world that deeds are done, after death all deeds are stopped except by others. Indeed, dead Muslims wish to pray even one prayer or say even one glorification (tasbeeh), while the live believer still can perform many good deeds.  Thus, wishing to meet God -the Exalted- is good and noble, but wishing to stop one’s good deeds through death is not.  Rather, the Muslim who loves meeting God should strive harder to present many good deeds before meeting his Lord.  And God knows best.

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