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Try to drown yourself in the sea and you will soon discover that you are trying to stay afloat and survive. The fact is that you do not wish to die, but you want to kill something inside you.
I read this some time back, and I have always felt that it is very true. It hits the nail on the head, describing the condition of anyone who attempts suicide. Such a person wants to kill something that troubles him or her. It may be a fear of something in their past, or some future event. It may be despair generated by a personal calamity, illness or poverty; or it may be some conflict within one’s family, or a break up of a relationship, or some other problem.
Different situations may lead a person towards committing this crime against himself and his family and society. All such situations bring a person to a condition of despair in which he or she can see no hope. It is a condition in which a person forgets every beautiful thing in life and shows him that every way out of his problems is firmly closed.
Is every one liable to reach such a stage of total despair? Is there a way out when it weighs heavily on us?
Let us try to find the answer:
Man has always been preoccupied with finding the right answers to the questions: Why are we here? Where have we come from? Where do we go after we die? People have always tried to find convincing answers that give them inner peace. Their beliefs make them resort to different sources for answers. Some rely on purely human logic; others limit their investigation to the material world; and some look at different religions, philosophies or social theories. A minority of people believe in divine religions which they are convinced to have been revealed by the Creator of the universe. They find in these satisfactory answers to these questions, giving them comfort and reassurance, particularly when these answers are consistent with human logic. Today, the world knows three such divine religions, and their followers believe that their own religion is the true faith. These are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Judaism is very hard to embrace if one does not have at least one Jewish parent. As such, it is not a religion that is open to all mankind and consequently it does not provide rational answers to those problems.
Christian beliefs today include some paradoxes that are difficult to accept rationally. For example, it is very difficult to accept that the one God is three persons. The concept of the crucifixion is even more so. What sort of God should we believe in, if ordinary humans drag him and put him on the cross? If he could not defend himself, how could he help anyone?
By contrast, Islam has a simple and straightforward outlook that is consistent with human nature. It has neither complexities nor enigmatic rituals to practise without understanding. Moreover, it is a comprehensive religion that addresses spiritual aspects as well as practical questions, moral principles and general beliefs. Whatever problem or crisis a Muslim faces, a suitable solution for it is provided by Islam.
At times of serious problems, Muslims remain unperturbed. They believe that God has created them and placed them in this life for a purpose. Their role is to worship Him alone, do what pleases Him, building a happy human life in which justice prevails. Thus, they always stand against injustice, tyranny and corruption. This gives a meaning to their life on earth, and they look at life as an opportunity to have more of these qualities. Therefore, they entertain no thought of terminating their lives and killing themselves.
Muslims believe that this present life is a test to which God puts His creation and they have to prove themselves by obeying His commandments, do what pleases Him and refrain from what the evil forces want them to do. The test involves that they are exposed to some hardship in life. God promises His creatures that if they face such hardship with perseverance, seeking His help, He will be pleased with them and admit them into heaven in the life to come.
Islam tells us that all mankind will be resurrected for a second life when people’s actions will be reckoned and accountability takes place. People will be recompensed according to what they did in this first life. Those who do well in life will be in heaven, an abode of bliss, where they have a life of pure happiness, free of adversity and evil. It lasts forever. Others, who are guilty of evil in this life, are left to God’s will: He either pardons them or punishes them in hell, which is an abode of perpetual misery that is not terminated by death.
Divine justice is the outcome that is consistent with man’s nature and rational thinking. We cannot imagine that criminals, murderers and those who corrupt human life should face no retribution for what they perpetrate in this life.
Islam is a perfect faith, providing complete and satisfactory answers for the great questions about existence. It directs its followers to face their life problems squarely. It begins by giving them clear principles and teachings that spare them numerous problems.
When we consider the problem of suicide, we need to look at the following Islamic principles:
Man consists of body and soul: each has its own needs and man must endeavour to fulfil these needs properly, as his Creator has shown.
Man does not ‘own’ his life: it belongs to God, the Creator of man and the universe. Therefore, if man kills himself, he goes beyond his allowed limits. This represents an aggression which is in breach of God’s rights. He thus incurs punishment in hell, which is the abode of humans and jinn who disobey God.
Every problem in this life has a solution. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says:
‘God has not created an illness without creating a cure for it”.
Related by al-Bukhari.
Man must face his problems with courage and try hard to find solutions for them. He must never contemplate a way of escape through killing himself.
The worst offence a person ever commits is to associate partners with God. Yet, even when one is guilty of such an offence, God will accept him if he genuinely repents and mends his ways. Indeed, God will then erase all his past sins.
This applies to every offence man may commit, which is in the domain of his relationship with God. When man genuinely repents of it and resolves not to commit it again, God will accept his repentance and erase his earlier sin.
When a person commits an aggression against other people’s rights, he violates two rights: the right of God and the right of the recipient of his aggression.
Again, God forgives what is owed to Him, when man genuinely repents of his past errors.
On the other hand, God requires His servants to return other people’s rights to their owners. If the offence is against other people’s property, this should be returned to them. If it involves some physical or mental abuse, retaliation in similar measure is due. The victim may inflict on the offender a similar injury. However, the victim may pardon his offender, and God will be pleased with such pardon and reward for it. Likewise, the next of kin of a murdered person may pardon the murderer, and God encourages them to do so and rewards them for it. If the offence is something like rape, Islam puts in place certain punishments which, when implemented, atone for the offence.
Islam teaches its followers that this present life is one of test. Perfect happiness and a life that is free of adversity is attained only in heaven. This is the place that awaits believers after death. Therefore, a Muslim is not surprised when he faces hardship.
Illness, poverty, loss of loved ones and family problems are all aspects of the test a person faces during life. They must always be faced with courage, perseverance and total reliance on God.
Inner peace and reassurance are the best remedies with which a believer faces his life problems. He is certain that nothing happens in life except what God has willed. God tells His servants who believe in Him:
“Say: ‘Nothing will befall us except what God has decreed. He is our guardian. In God alone should the believers place their trust.’
A believer realises that when he meets adversity with patience and perseverance, it will bring him rich reward in the life to come. He is aware that life adversities are like water: they wash out his sins. God says:
“No calamity can ever befall anyone except by God’s leave. He will guide the heart of anyone who believes in Him. God has full knowledge of all things”.
Alqamah ibn Waqqas al-Laythi, who belonged to the tabi’een said: “This verse of the Qur’an refers to a person who is met with a calamity, realises that it is from God and accepts it with calm resignation”.
A Muslim faces his problems in the same way as a tree faces autumn. The climate will change its appearance and shows it bare and desolate, but it remains full of life. Autumn and winter will pass away and the tree will again be resplendent with vigorous life. A believer may encounter problems and calamities, but these will not affect his strength. His heart will remain reassured and his spirit continues to be optimistic. He feels that it will all be transitory and good things will soon be coming. All his problems will go away, but what remains is the rich reward God will give him in the life to come.
God is far more compassionate to His servants than their own mothers. Therefore, He warns them against committing suicide. He says to us:
“Do not kill yourselves, for God is merciful to you.
The decision is yours. You can ensure your own happiness, preserving your life, cleansing yourself through implementing the teachings of your Creator, or put yourself in peril, turning away from the road to eternal happiness by killing yourself.
- The tabi’een were the second generation of Muslims. They did not meet the Prophet but met some of his companions. Also, a person who met the Prophet but did not accept Islam until the Prophet had passed away belongs to this generation.