Q. It is said that suicide is forbidden in Islam and that the person who commits suicide is destined to go to hell. Suppose a person is suffering from a severe case of depression, or some other mental disease. Should such a person commit suicide, will he also go to hell?
(Name and address withheld)
A. One thing which people often do is to say that such and such a person will definitely go to heaven or to hell. This is something over which none other than God has any control. So to suggest that such a person goes here or there in the hereafter is an affront to God, because it precipitates His judgment.
There are certain verses of the Qur’an and statements by the Prophet (peace be upon him) which tell us that those who perpetrate certain sins will be punished. But then it is up to God to determine what punishment fits every single case, because God judges us individually, on the basis of His perfect knowledge of our intentions and conditions.
It is true that suicide is strictly forbidden, because it is an affront to God. It is like a person saying to God: “You have given me life and I am taking it away.” This is what is meant by the sacred Hadith in which God is quoted as saying of the one who commits suicide: “My servant has precipitated My will with regard to himself! Therefore, I am forbidding him entry into heaven.” But this Hadith applies to a person in full control of his faculties, suffering no overpowering adversity and having a reasonable life. If such a person commits suicide, then may be God will not allow him in heaven.
A person who commits suicide as a result of a mental disorder like depression or some other severe form of anxiety is not in full control of his senses. We cannot say how God will judge such a person, but we trust to God’s justice, because He does not deal unfairly with anyone. We pray for the person concerned, and request God to forgive him. When a man committed suicide during the Prophet’s lifetime, the Prophet was distressed. He did not perform the janazah prayer for the deceased, but he ordered his companions to do it. When they did, they prayed for the man and requested God’s forgiveness for him. This shows that the Prophet did not exclude the possibility of his being forgiven by God.
To Wear a Beard or to Divorce
Q. An expatriate who worked for several years here felt that he should wear a beard in fulfilment of the Sunnah. His wife back home was adamant that he should not. She also refused to wear the hijab. When he insisted that a beard was important, she threatened separation and filing a case for divorce, which could be granted in his home country. This placed him in a dilemma, wanting to do what is good and beautiful, which could cause divorce. Please comment, mentioning also what is required in hijab.
A. Both man and woman are accountable for their own deeds and they bear individual responsibility for the fulfillment of their Islamic duties. Neither can prevent the other from fulfilling a duty or a Sunnah, which is a practice recommended by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, if a man decides to wear a beard in fulfillment of the Sunnah, neither his wife, parents nor anyone else can prevent him from doing so.
Having said that, I would like to emphasize that wearing a beard is a Sunnah, which means that it is strongly recommended by the Prophet. It is not a duty, which means that a person who remains clean shaven does not commit a sin by so doing. He simply does not earn the reward that God grants for the fulfillment of a Sunnah. Hence a man may decide whether to wear a beard or not on the basis of his circumstances and how this will affect him in his life.
In the case put by our reader, the answer is that the man should decide for himself, after explaining to his wife the importance of acting on the Prophet’s recommendation and that she is in fault if she tries to dissuade him. She is certainly wrong to insist on her attitude as the reader describes, threatening to break up the marriage.
Moreover, my advice in this case is that when the husband tells his wife to observe the Islamic dress code and wear the hijab, he should not link this to their dispute over the beard. A Muslim woman is required to observe this code and if she does not, she is failing in her duty, which means that she could be liable to God’s punishment in the life to come. He should remind her of her duty every now and then. If she adamantly refuses, she bears responsibility for her action. Incidentally, the dress code requirement is that a Muslim woman should cover all her body, with the exception of her face and hands, up to her wrists.
In Love With a Married Person
Q. A man who recently converted to Islam is in love with a married woman, who is prepared to obtain divorce so that they could marry. What should they do?
(Name and address withheld)
A. They should stop their contacts immediately. There can be no relation between them. The woman must stop seeing the man or talking to him on the phone or in any way. She is married and she must remain faithful to her husband.
Any relation outside marriage is forbidden in Islam. On his part, the man must also stop, because he violates Islamic law if he continues with such contacts.
The reader says that the woman wants to obtain divorce. Well, if and when she is divorced and completes her waiting period, then they can discuss marriage. Before that, they cannot even mention the possibility. How can they when the woman is already married?