What does Islam say about suicide?
Islam’s philosophy of life and the values that it wants to promote are all based on a particular point of view regarding the life of this world. Islam holds the life of this world as a temporary testing time for humans. For as long as one lives he/she is being tested. The end of this temporary life is not the extinction of man. He shall then open his eyes in another world. That world shall be place of reward and/or punishment for the deeds done in this life. The second life shall not be temporary in nature. The pleasures and pains of the second life shall last forever. In the life of this world, man is being tested with different kinds of situations – good times as well as bad times. The good times that come our way are not necessarily a reward and the hard times that we have to face are not necessarily a punishment. These are all primarily a part of the test. The Qur’an says:
We test you with good and bad, to judge you. Finally, you shall all be returned to Us. (Al-Anbiya 21: 35)
For all the blessings that one enjoys in the life of this world, he is expected to be grateful to his Creator and to rejoice and proclaim His beneficence and providence. While during all the hard times that come his way, he is expected to be remain steadfast in His obedience, never losing faith in His wisdom and mercy.
The beginning (i.e. the birth) and the end (i.e. the death) of this test for an individual is controlled by the Almighty Himself. He gives life and death to an individual according to His own absolute knowledge and wisdom.
Keeping the above explanation in mind, it should be easy to understand that Islam holds suicide to be haraam (i.e. prohibited). Suicide implies lack of trust in God and a lack of faith in His benevolence, mercy, love, wisdom and knowledge. In effect, suicide implies an overall lack of faith in God. When a person commits suicide, he practically declares that he does not believe that God knows about his sufferings, and even if God has knowledge of his sufferings, He does not care enough to relieve him of these sufferings. He practically declares that God has unjustly inflicted pain upon him, which he is not willing to bear. He practically declares that he does not have faith, confidence and trust in the mercy and wisdom of God, as he does not have confidence that God will end his pain in time, and therefore he has to end his sufferings himself (by taking his own life). Thus, in effect, suicide – in most of the cases – is a clear sign of negation of the faith of a person in his Merciful, Omniscient and Wise Creator and is therefore prohibited in Islam.
24th September 1999