Friday Khutbah (Sermons) : Suicide

Friday Khutbah (Sermons) : Suicide

– by Imam Al-Madinah Al-Munawarrah ‘Abdul-Bari ibn ‘Awad ath-Thubayti
from the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, on 15 Dhul-Qa‘dah (February 9, 2001)

The Transcript:

All praise is due to Allah, the Owner of sovereignty. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah Alone and I testify that Muhammad (SAW) is His Servant and Messenger.

Dear Brothers! I enjoin you and myself on fear of Allah. For, fear of Allah is the only means to salvation in this world and the next. Allah says:

“O you who believe fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam.” (Surah Al ‘Imraan 3:102)

Dear Brothers in faith! Western societies these days live in social and physical diseases as a result of a negative effect of its material civilization. Alcohol and drugs are widely taken in an attempt to escape from the bitter psychological condition and in search of happiness. Suicide as a matter of fact, is regarded the ultimate means of permanent escape from the hell and woes of this life. This phenomenon is indisputably caused by the breakdown of family structure in these societies and harmful craving for the material hence making an average westerner feel confused, lost and dejected thereby wishing to get out of these problems by ending his or her life. Statistics from these societies are enough an evidence to testify to this.

It is not strange that a kaafir commits suicide, because, he does not have any fortress of faith that could protect him, neither a strong family structure nor a loving community.

Indeed, frequency of suicidal cases all over the world most especially in the western countries is a vivid indication that, despite all this huge advancement that the modern civilization boasts of, it has failed woe-fully in providing the primary needs of man.

Suicide is not a new phenomenon. Al-Bukhaaree reported in his Saheeh on the authority of Sahl Ibn Sa‘d As-Saa‘idee (RA) that:

“The Prophet (SAW) looked at a man who was fighting the unbelievers and he was of the wealthy Muslims who are in the least in need of idolators. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Who ever wishes to know a man among the dwellers of Hell-fire should look at this man.’ So, a man followed him. The man kept on fighting until he was injured. He could not wait to die of that wound so he took the tip of his sword, put it in between his breasts and press his body against it until it pierced through his shoulders. Then, the Prophet (SAW) said: “A man may be doing what people might perceive as a deed of people of Paradise while he is indeed, among the dwellers of Hell. And he may be doing what will seem in people’s perception a deed of dwellers of Hell, while in actual sense, he is among the dwellers of Paradise. Verily, all deeds are judged according to its ending.””

This was what happened in the first generation of Islam, though it was very rare.

However, when cases of suicide become frequent in any given Muslim society, alarm has to be raised so that the situation may be adequately studied, analyzed and given solutions.

Fellow Muslims! Life is a gift from Allah the Creator. It is a right that should be protected. Man has no hand in its creation. It is rather a trust put in his hand. Therefore, committing aggression against it is an offence that has as its consequence the severest sin and a great punishement in the hereafter. The Prophet (SAW) said:

“It is sacred for every Muslim, the life, property and honour of every Muslim.” (Muslim)

It is also because of preserving the life that Islam forbids fighting and war among Muslims. Abu Bakr (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said:

“‘If two Muslims were to face each other with their words; the killer and the killed would be in Hell.’ He (Abu Bakr) said: This is the killer, what about the killed? He said: “Because he was eager to kill his companion.”” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

Brothers in Faith! No matter how a disease or poverty affects man, he has no right to kill himself. If he however does that, he becomes a dweller of Hell. Allah says:

“And do not kill yourselves. 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.” (Surah An-Nisaa 4:29-30)

‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas used this verse as an evidence for his abstention from taking bath with cold water when he became impure during the battle of Dhaatus-Salaasil because he was afraid of dying of cold, and the Prophet approved his deed, smiled at him and said nothing. Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah also said:

“He who strangles himself to death, shall keep on strangling himself in the Hell and He who stabs himself to death shall keep on stabing himself in Hell.” (Al-Bukhari)

He (SAW) also said:

“There was among those who were before you, a man who had a wound. The man could not bear the pain of that wound, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it and as a result, bled to death. Allah then said: “My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly and for this, I have made Paradise forbidden for him.” (Al-Bukhari)

The person who killed himself has no excuse, however his distress may be, for, what he resorted to is more severe than what he escaped from and what he losses would be greater than whatever he might have gained by killing himself. There is no argument in the fact that the distress and grief of this world that is caused by illness, poverty, disgrace and misery are great and successive but all that by no means should not drive the affected person into destroying his own life. If we are to accept the excuse of the person who kills himself, this world would have remained without inhabitants and Allah’s Law on this worldly life would have changed.

Let us ask the person who killed himself, what did he want to gain from perpetrating this act? Did he want – by drinking a deadly poison, burning himself or hanging himself – to escape into a world that is free from all problems? If that was his intention he has done a great mistake because, he would be treated according to Divine Justice with what contradicts his intention and wish by preparing for him a reward that is of the same kind of what he did in order to make his punishment perpetual.

It is weakness of faith that makes a person – when he fails at an undertaking or is affected by a pain or losses in a business deal or suffers family problems – unable to bear what befalls him. He therefore, sees the whole world as full of darkness and as a bitter torment, thereby losing hope and attempting killing himself to escape from that torment.

Dear Brothers! It is of the law of Allah to test his servants with different kinds of tribulations. The Almighty says:

“And certainly We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who when afflicted with calamity say: Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

Allah tests His slaves by making them different from one another in terms of talents and wealth and that is in accordance with His law. He says:

“And it is He who has made you generations coming after generations, replacing each other on earth. And He has raised you in ranks some above others that He may try you in that which He has bestowed on you.” (Surah Al-An‘aam 6:165)

If you ponder over Quranic verses, Sunnah texts and stories of true believers, you will see many who have been afflicted with various kinds of huge tribulations, but these people rather persevered, stood firm and were pleased with what Allah had decreed for them.

It should also be noted that this affliction might be a prevention of a reprehensible incidence or remedy for a sin or for elevation in position. If one then accepts it wholeheartedly, he would get the desired result. The Prophet (SAW) says:

“A Muslim will never be afflicted with hardship, suffering, distress, sorrow, harm or sadness even prickled by a thorn except that Allah erases by that his sins.” (Al-Bukhari)

Dear brethren! Some people invite affliction to themselves through permanent anxiety and sorrow by saying that: “Why should I live a destitute life while others are rich? Why should I be overpowered by illness while others are healthy? These type of questions actually means protesting against Allah. This makes one lose his faith and imposes despair over ones life. Allah says:

“Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord? It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world and We raised some of them above others in ranks..” (Surah Zukhruf 43:32)

If every member of the society is given a sound religious education, nobody will gamble with his eternal felicity because of what he losses in this mundane world. The belief in predestination in both its good and bad aspects makes one give good interpretations to misfortunes of this life thereby regarding poverty as abstinence from worldly luxuries, illness as a sort of Jihaad, regarding a failure as a way to patience and a sorrow as an aspect of hope. The Messenger of Allah says:

“The affair of the believer is wonderful! All affairs of his are good and that is for none except the believer. If he is blessed with prosperity he thanks (Allah) and that is good for him. And when he is afflicted with an adversity he perseveres and that is also good for him.” (Muslim)

In order to alleviate the pain of affliction on the soul; the afflicted person should console himself by looking at those who are also afflicted with one calamity or another. Let him look at the Prophets – peace be on them – who are the most afflicted. Prophet Yousuf was jailed;

“…So he stayed in prison a few more years.” (Surah Yousuf 12:42)

Muhammad (SAW) was driven out of his birthplace and wounded during the battle of Uhud. Prophet Ayoub was afflicted with tribulations for good eighteen years and the tribulations claimed all his properties and children. Allah says:

“And (remember) Job (Prophet Ayoub) when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the most merciful of all those who show mercy.” So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family (that he had lost) to him, and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.” (Surah Al-Anbiyaa 21:83-84)

Brother in Faith! Whenever you find your self in fear, sorrow or grief, just rise up and pray; you will get relief and peace of mind.

The Prophet (SAW) when an issue gave him concern used to say: “O Bilaal, make a call to prayer and relieve us with it.” (Abu Daawood)

When you have little money, much debts and meager income just say: “Hasbuna llahu wani‘mal-wakeel.” [i.e. Allah Alone is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposser of affairs].

Also keep the company of good people because being in solitude and keeping away from righteous company make one succumb to the whims of Satan. Have patience and perseverance however big the calamity may be, for, victory comes through perseverance.

Fellow Muslims! There is no doubt in the fact that, the person who committed suicide would bear the consequences of his act, but the society should also bear a part of it. That is because, if the victim of suicide had found considerate and sympathetic people in the society… If only he had found sincere guides and counselors… If only he had found a student of knowledge who could drive away his insinuations… If only he had found a society that is cohesive and united in solidarity, the problem of suicide would not have occurred.

Brethren in Islam! Some films present suicide as means of escaping from problems and adversities and impressing that on the psyche of the growing generations of this time as it also increase tension and worriness and stimulate love of aggression, alcohol and drugs. In order to protect our youths from these evils, we should inculcate in them through our educational institutions how to understand trials, Islamic perspective of this mundane life and how to bear hardships with patience right from childhood. We should also implant the faith in Allah in their hearts and make them understand the true concept of Imaan in Predestination and Allah’s Decree and prevent them from watching films that may destroy these concepts in their minds. The community should also strengthen social and brotherly relationship among individuals. The Imaams and Scholars have a major role to play in this regard.

Brothers in Faith! Let us close this sermon with a saying of the Prophet (SAW) that goes thus:

“Whoever throws himself down from the top of a mountain, and killed himself shall be in the Hell-fire throwing himself down forever. Whoever drinks a poison and kills himself thereby shall be holding the poison in his hand in the Hell-fire drinking it forever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron shall be holding his piece of iron in his hand in the Hell-fire and stabbing himself with in the stomach forever.”

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