Religious Studies

Islam: euthanasia

Euthanasia is not suicide but the assisted ending of someone's life who is suffering. Most religions offer teaching on euthanasia and the end of life.

Types of euthanasia

Euthanasia is illegal in the United Kingdom but it was legalised in certain circumstances in the Netherlands in 2002 and assisted suicide was legalised in the State of Oregon (USA) in 1997.

There are two principal types of euthanasia:

  • voluntary euthanasia - the person concerned asks someone to help them die, perhaps by asking for help to take an overdose of painkillers
  • involuntary euthanasia - euthanasia is carried out without the patient’s consent, for example, if they are in a persistent vegetative state and no longer able to live without a lifesupport machine, which is then switched off

Remember that a person's decision to take their own life is known as 'suicide'.

Muslim attitudes towards euthanasia

Islam is totally opposed to euthanasia [Euthanasia: Literally, 'good death'. ]. The Qur’an [Qur'an: That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Allah's final revelation to humankind. ] says that Allah [Allah: The Islamic name for God in the Arabic language ] created all life and everything belongs to him:

To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He pleases.

Surah 42:50

Because of this, Muslim people are forbidden to kill themselves:

Destroy not yourselves. Surely Allah is ever merciful to you.

Surah 4:29

Suicide

The Prophet Muhammad [Muhammad: The name of the final Prophet. ] said that suicides [Suicide: Intentionally taking one's own life. ] would go to hell:

Anyone who throws themselves down from a rock and commits suicide will be throwing themselves into Hell. A person who drinks poison and kills themselves will drink it for ever in Hell. A person who stabs themselves will stab themselves for ever in Hell.

(Hadith)

If people are suffering badly they should ask Allah for help:

O ye who believe, seek the help of Allah through steadfastness and Prayer; surely Allah is with the steadfast.... We will surely try you with somewhat of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits; then give glad tidings to the steadfast, who, when a misfortune overtakes them do not lose heart, but say: Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him we will return.

Surah 2:153-156

No one has the right to decide when they will die:

When their time... arrives they cannot tarry for a single hour nor can they go ahead.

Surah 16:61

No one can die except by Allah’s leave, that is a decree with a fixed term.

Surah 3:145

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