Despair and suicide in Islam

Updated 25 October 2013
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Despair and suicide in Islam

INSTANCES of suicide or self-killing have been known throughout recorded history. It was known and discussed in the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations; it has been noted in the Jewish and Christian faiths and is mentioned in the classical Hindu books. Suicide or hara kiri is part of the ancient Japanese honor code and is noted in Asian cultures. It is not something confined to Western civilization and is even found in Muslim majority countries even though it is well known that it is something clearly prohibited in Islam. In the Qur’an there are sanctions against suicide. “And do not kill yourselves. Surely, God is Most Merciful to you.” (Qur’an, 4:29)
“And do not throw yourselves in destruction.” (Qur’an, 2:195)
The Qur’an makes it clear that human life is sacred. Life cannot be taken without justification and the right to life is inherent in the tenants of Islam. Life itself is a gift from the Creator that we are obliged to care for. Suicide out of despair of God’s mercy or worldly problems is strictly forbidden.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: Whoever kills himself with something in this world will be punished with it on the Day of Resurrection. [1] It is a major sin and its punishment is subject to the will of God. If He wills, He will forgive it, and if He wills He will punish for it.[2]
Life is an unending succession of moments. At the two extremes there are joyful moments that make our hearts soar and dark moments that plunge us into sadness and worry or even despair. Gladness and its opposite sadness are part of the human condition, however when we lose control over our emotions we can easily fall into despair. Despair is the feeling that we get when all hope has disappeared and it is a very dangerous situation. God tells us not to despair and particularly not to despair of His mercy. God has not abandoned us in face of the temptations and trials we face in this world; He is ever merciful and has equipped us with potent weapons. God, the Most Merciful, gives us clear guidelines, and promises two things: If we worship Him and follow His guidance we will be rewarded with Paradise and that after hardship we will find ease.
“But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to the Gardens under which rivers flow (i.e., in Paradise), to dwell therein forever. [It is] the promise of God, [which is] truth, and whose words can be truer than those of God.” (Qur’an, 4:122)
“So verily, with hardship, there is ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5) When Prophet Jacob was grieved and sad, he turned to God, and the Qur’an tells us that he beseeched God for relief. “He said: ‘I only complain of my grief and sorrow to God...” (Qur’an, 12:86) Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also said, “No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but God will expiate for some of his sins because of that.”[3]
The religion of Islam is primarily concerned with making and keeping a connection with the One God.
One of the biggest mistakes that people can make is to separate their worldly life from their religious life.
The stressful situations that cause us to despair and feel unconnected to God always originate in the affairs of this world, such as emotional issues, financial stress, substance abuse or health issues.
Especially in this new century one of the most common reasons for despair is a sense of isolation or detachment from others.
God has promised us that He is well aware of the situations that we face and He has given us weapons with which to face them. In a series of articles on this site we discuss the weapons of patience, gratitude and trust.[4] However when it comes to despair, the condition that could in some situations lead a person to contemplate taking his or her own life, we need to dig a little deeper, we need to remind ourselves first and foremost that God is Merciful and that no matter what situation we find ourselves in He is ready to forgive and help.
God the most merciful, compassionate, and beneficent has instructed us to inculcate these attributes and treat each other with respect and fairness. This includes leaving nobody alone with their problems and worries.
A little bit of support and care might help someone avoid the sin of ending their own life. God also tells us not to mock, scorn, insult, abuse or put down one another. “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an, 49:11)
Both God and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminds us that He will punish those of us who commit injustices or oppress others.
“And whoever oppresses (commits injustice) among you, We will make him taste a great punishment.” (Qur’an 25:19)
The Prophet said: “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.”[5]
Thus there is certainly a benefit in treating others well, especially in coming to the aid of friends or family members who are overwhelmed by life’s cruelties and injustices. However what of the people who feel alone, crushed by circumstance and teetering on the edge of despair. How can a person suffering from suicidal thoughts bring themselves back from the brink?
This can be achieved in many ways; firstly by strengthening their relationship with God. Reading the Qur’an, remembering God and making lots of dua (supplication) to God will build a solid base. Next a person would do well to recognize Satan’s hand in this matter. He whispers frightening scenarios of poverty and helplessness. They are not true; God’s mercy conquers all. Cling to Him and to Islam even in the darkest hour and the longest night. Along with the weapons mentioned earlier God also gave us Prophet Muhammad, a mercy to all the worlds, to all the people. Trying to emulate him, this will make a despairing person calmer and closer to God.
If we are mindful that God has control over all things and that He ultimately wants us to live forever in Paradise, we can begin to leave our sadness and worry behind. If we face our fears and anxieties with complete trust in God, and if we show patience and gratitude with all our circumstances sadness and worry will disappear or at least feel lighter. Prophet Muhammad said: Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. nd if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him. [6]

Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[2] As described by many noted Islamic scholars.
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[4] http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/3516/viewall/
[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[6] Saheeh Muslim

n Courtesy of islamreligion.com


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.