Verily Allah gives succor to this community only as a result of [the presence of] the weak among them, their supplication, their prayer and their sincerity

Statement Against Euthanasia / Assisted Dying

September 12, 2015

The British government is currently discussing the Bill on Assisted Dying in Parliament. The Bill will legalise the taking of one’s own life where medical practitioners have given their professional view that the patient will not live beyond six months. Yesterday thankfully 330 MPs voted against the Bill, with 118 in favour.

World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League is saddened that we have reached a point in our society that our lawmakers are discussing the legality of taking the life of an ill person. As followers of the Prophet Muhammad and his Holy Progeny (peace be upon them), who were the most merciful and compassionate of God’s representatives on earth, we are equally driven by emotions and sympathy for those people who are suffering unimaginably or those who see their loved ones suffering in a vegetative state.

However, we must bear one fundamental point in mind: God, the loving, merciful, and just Creator, brought humankind into this world at His divine sublime will: He alone has the power to give life, and He alone has the power to take life. Life is sacred; this is precisely why we have laws against murder, to protect the vulnerable and oppressed. No matter how terrible our suffering might be, we do not have the right to decide to take our life, or assist another. Medical practitioners do not have the right to play the role of God: they are to assist in the saving of life, not in the taking of it. Further, medical decisions are merely opinions: a patient could be diagnosed with a six month life expectancy but as with many cases, s/he could live for many years. Worse still, a patient already emotionally fragile with physical illness or old age may well feel manipulated into agreeing to take his life to release his carers from the burden of care. This utilitarian approach to life, where love and care are removed, are utterly abhorrent, and must not be allowed to prevail. This is nothing short of a road to fascist thinking.

The Quran states, ‘and do not kill yourselves, indeed Allah is to you forever merciful’ (4:29). The Prophet and his Holy Progeny (his appointed successors) also stressed the sanctity of life. Murder is considered to be one of the major sins in Islam, and instigating, taking part in, assisting the taking of life is equivalent to murder. Suicide is put in the same category, therefore it is no lesser an offence. As such God prohibits suicide even in times of turmoil.

Our fear at WABIL is that the passing of such a law will open the floodgates, and the regulation and legality of ‘assisted deaths’ will be nigh on impossible to monitor or control. A vulnerable disabled person may be pressured into taking his/her life; an old person may feel a burden and want to end life to relieve others of caring duties; a sane able-bodied person may have left instructions to be assisted in dying if s/he enters a vegetative state through accident or illness. But all these situations are in fact nothing more than the test of life. The Quran states, ‘Or do you think that you would enter the garden while yet the state of those who have passed away before you [of being tested] has not come upon you? Distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Messenger and those who believed with him said: When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is nigh!’ (2:214). We are all tested in different ways, but must at all times remain humble and submissive to God.

The greatest test of suffering that we have before us is the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his followers, peace be upon them all, in Karbala, where they were ruthlessly and painfully slaughtered. The Imam and his family showed nothing but patience during their trials. Their suffering indeed brought them closer to their Lord.

Humanity has always believed in hope and miracles: to believe and hope is to be Godly. We all may face dark times in life but to despair of God’s mercy is to disbelieve in Him. Should we take even this hope in God away from those suffering? Indeed blessed are those who believe without seeing God, and whose lives might be touched by His miraculous mercies. Mind and faith over matter can help those suffering to cope with their tests. Hopelessness is the belief of an atheist, and assisting death would be sanctioning such hopelessness.

WABIL encourages humanity to bear suffering with patience, with prayers and hope in God’s Mercy for a better afterlife. Indeed our suffering may be the key to our salvation, and may wipe our sins away and redeem us, when done in the spirit of faith and belief in God. We pray that God eases the burdens of those in pain. But this issue of assisted suicide is less a test of those suffering, and more a test of us as a society: how are we caring for and sharing their pain? We must return to values of compassion and love, not dispensing with vulnerable people.

Sayed Mohammad Al-Musawi
World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League (WABIL)
London, UK
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