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Published On: Fri, May 9th, 2014

Islam and the sanctity of life

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Allah says:

“On that account we ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone slay a person -unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” (al-Ma’idah:32).

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All Praise is due to Allah! We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our evils and bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and final messenger to mankind. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon His last and final Apostle, his Household, his companions and all his followers till the end of time.

Today the cheapest life is the life of human beings in many parts of the world. In civilized worlds of the West and America, even the life of jungle toad is sacred. Animals which are domesticated that meant for human consumptions are treated with pitifulness and compassion whenever they are slaughtered. Unfortunately, the sacredness and sanctity which Allah has put on the lives of humans has almost completely eroded and wind-swept. In almost all developing nations of Africa, South America and Asia human beings are experiencing the highest threats to their lives. In Arab countries before and after the spring, human lives are still in their darkest era; it is suicide bombings, stray bullets, life imprisonment or death squad! People and their government have not agreed to respect the sacredness of their lives.

Islam on the hand has since time immemorial placed sanctity to human life as the bedrock of togetherness and justice. That is to say, as long as people want to live in peace, they must respect the sacredness of their God given trust; life. The Quran is filled up with legislations and decrees urging mankind to respect the lives of humankinds and eschew violence and terrorism. Allah says:

“Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: join not anything As equal with him; be good to your parents; kill not your Children on a plea of want;- we provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: Thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.”[al-An’am: 151]

“Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given His heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): so, let Him nor exceed bounds In the matter of taking life; for He is helped (by the Law).”[al-Isra’i: 33]

The emphasis was due to the inviolability of life in the sight of Allah.

In Islam, nobody has unchallenged authority or liberty to take the life of any human being without prior leave from the laws which has been sanctioned by Allah. It is a golden rule in the Islamic jurisprudence to make mistake in the non-execution of a culprit than the killing of an innocent life. In other words, it better not to kill a criminal by mistake, than kill an innocent person mistakenly.

Thus, to say the truth, anybody who does not respect the holiness of the life of his fellow human-beings, or fight against the violation of its sacredness, should not call himself or herself a Muslim! Anybody who calls himself a Muslim, and at the same time kills and maims innocent people, is not worth living as well. Similarly, those who set out to smear the religion of Islam and Muslims by have lost their right rights to live peacefully. How can a people who mercilessly and indiscriminately kill innocent people including minors, women, the aged and the sick, the clergies and the Imams ever associate themselves to this lofty and merciful deen? How can such a people dare to claim working for Allah, Islam and Muslims? Whereas, jihad as an act of worship, has been promulgated by Allah with numerous conditions and procedures; saving of human lives and protecting their dignities form part. Thus, killing in the name of God is not without decrees and legislations. It is also not at the discretion of the killers! True Islamic jihadists are prolife in their campaign and approach as well their executions.

Today, very unfortunate, you simply see, read or hear of bands of uneducated, uninformed and savage individuals with access to all types of assault rifles setting cities and villages ablaze and killing human-beings indiscriminately in the name of Allah, while Allah has nothing to do with murders!

However, the tragedy of this event has become part of a global phenomenon where we witness people failing to uphold the sanctity of human life. In fact, not only the Muslim Ummah witnesses the bloodshed of innocents on a routine basis, but, the entire world now shares such disgusting deaths particularly in mainly Muslim nations.

The killings, maiming and abduction of people especially in the north eastern part of the country, has almost over shadowed the threats and menace of corruptions to the both the economy of the country. Today, the name of Nigeria has become a household name in every corner of the world.

Not because of becoming world cup champion or laureate, but because disrespecting, desecration and defilement of human lives and dignities! And what is most painful, associating the barbarous and vicious actions with Allah and Islam! In such circumstances, when we are reflecting on these incidents, we ask ourselves: why do those who kill people today view life as so insignificant and worthless?

All Muslims must believe that Allah is the Creator and the Owner of all life. He is the only One that starts human life from conception and thus, only He has the legitimacy of ending it through death. This is because the moment of death is not for anyone to fixe; it should be left only to our Creator, Allah! Nobody has the prerogative of ending one’s life even the law, except if was His revelation. He says in the laws of retribution and vengeance, thus:

“We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” but if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for Himself and if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, They are (no better than) wrong-doers.”[al-Ma’idah: 45]

In fact, nobody has the right or liberty to end his life for whatever reason. The issue of one killing himself or giving the nod to take his or her life does not exist in Islam. Since we accepted the fact that we did not create ourselves, therefore, we do not own our bodies. We are only assigned and trusted to take of them. Allah is the Owner and Giver of life and His rights in giving and in taking are His exclusivity. Any attempt to commit suicide is a crime in Islam as well as a grave sin, let alone taking someone’s life. Allah says:

“O ye who believe! … nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for Verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!”[an-Nisa’: 29]

Similarly, the Apostle of Allah gave stern warning to anyone contemplating to take his or her life for whatever reason or under any circumstances. He (SAW) said: *”*Whoever kills himself with an iron instrument will be carrying it forever in hell. Whoever takes poison and kills himself will forever keep sipping that poison in hell. Whoever jumps off a mountain and kills himself will forever keep falling down in the depths of hell.”

The Shari’ah listed and specified the circumstances for taking the life of someone. It did not include euthanasia otherwise known as ‘mercy killing’, nor make allowance for it. Human life as it is a trust to be treasured unreservedly, notwithstanding of other situations. The notion that life is not worthy of living has no place in Islam, at all!

It happened in one the battles fought by the Prophet of Allah in which one of his companions was found dead. The companions seeing his mutilated body kept praising his chivalry and efficacy in fighting, but, to their astonishment, the Prophet (SAW) said to them, “His lot is hell.” And upon investigation and review on how he died, they found out that the he had been seriously injured and he would not survive. Therefore, he plunged his chest onto the tip of his sword and committed suicide.

Even in a state of severe pain and agony on sick bed, one should not pray to Allah to just end his life. What Islam taught us is for the very ill person to pray to Allah to take his life if death is better for him than getting cure. Or get him cured and elongate his life if living is better for him than death! In whatever situation, ask for the mercy of Allah! In fact, any justification of taking someone’s life to escape suffering is not acceptable in Islam.

Thus, we Muslims strongly oppose any extent to withdraw food and water from any patient in order to hasten his death, be he conscious or not, child or adult, disabled, sick with terminal illness or weak and old. It is also forbidden to stop any life-saving treatment in order to hasten one’s death.

Similarly, any injection, tablets or analgesic which could hasten the death of someone is at no time to be used to hasten his death!

According to the Qu’ran, if one kills an innocent person, it is like he has killed the whole of humanity. By the same token, if one saved a life, it would be like he has saved the whole of humanity. Perhaps the greatest misinterpretation about Islam today is that it is an inherently vicious religion whose followers condone all acts of terrorism. In genuineness, terrorism and indiscriminate violence completely oppose the teachings of Islam. Islam is a religion of mercy and ethics. It encourages people to beautify their relationship with God and with those around them through good character and deeds. In fact, terrorism inherently conflicts with Islam’s foundational beliefs and teachings in their entirety!

Allah says:

“If a man kills a believer intentionally, His recompense is Hell, to abide therein (for ever): and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for Him.”[an-Nisa’: 93]

Finally, all Muslims who are followers of Muhammad, peace be upon him, are averse to the barbaric and brutal killings of innocent people or their abduction for any reason. Any people or group of people who indulge in such senseless rampages are doing so in their volition, and are therefore not representatives of the 1.5 billion good Muslims the world over. We denounce the killing and abductions!


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