بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The position of Ahlus Sunnah with regards to the Muslim who commits major sins is that the committer is under Allah’s will. If He wills He’ll forgive him or if He wills He’ll punish him. As a result of this Ahlus Sunnah does not state that the committer of major sins will abide in Hell forever as the Khawaarij and Mutazilah claim. This is applicable to all major sins including suicide, and anyone who has briefly studied the foundations of Ahlus Sunnah are well aware of this. Unfortunately there are some Muslims who do not have concern for learning these aspects of Islam and give importance to trivial matters (outside the religion), yet some of these types of individuals have placed themselves in positions of conveying Islamic knowledge by way of Friday sermons, classes, and lectures but are not equipped for such.
As a result mistakes are made like the claim that whoever commits suicide will abide in Hell forever. A statement that opposes the methodology of Ahlus Sunnah that occurs due to ignorance. Suicide is a major sin as is found in the text of the Quran and Sunnah. Allah says:
و لا تقتلوا أنفسَكم إنَّ الله بكم رحيمًا
“…and do not kill yourselves, surely Allah is most merciful with you.” [An-Nisaa: 29]
و لا تلقوا بأيدِيكم إلى التَّهْلُكة
“…and do not throw yourselves into destruction with your own hands…” [Al-Baqarah: 195]
Thabit Ibn Dhahak narrated that the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa salaam said: “Whoever takes an oath on another religion deceivingly (lying), he is as he has said. Whoever kills himself with an object will be punished with it in the Fire. Whoever curses a believer it is as if he killed him and whoever accuses a believer of disbelief it is as if he killed him.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa salaam said: “Among those who came before you was a man inflicted with a wound and as a result grew impatient (due to the pain). Thus he took a knife and cut his hand and bled out until he died. Allah said, My servant was hasty with regards to himself so I have made paradise forbidden for him.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Abu Huraira also narrated the statement of Allah’s Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam: “Whoever kills himself by suffocation will be suffocating in the Fire. Whoever stabs himself will be stabbing himself in the Fire.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
These textual evidence indicate the prohibition of suicide and it being deemed from the major sins. Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool states: “Upon the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr who narrates that the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- said, ‘The major sins are associating partners in worship with Allah, disobedience to parents, taking a life, and false oath.‘ Taking a life in this narration includes a man’s own life and the life of other than him. Therefore it is not permissible for a Muslim to take a life that Allah has prohibited except in due right. His own life is foremost to be included in the life in which Allah has prohibited for him to kill.” Sheikh Bazmool made this statement in the chapter entitled “Taking a life is from the major sins.”(1)
The Source of Confusion
Abu Huraira narrates that Allah’s Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- said: “Whoever kills himself by using iron, then it will be in his hand as he strikes himself in the stomach with it, (while) in the Hell Fire eternally abiding therein forever. Whoever drinks poison purposely killing himself, he will be drinking it in the Hell Fire eternally abiding therein forever. Whoever jumps off a cliff (of a mountain) purposely killing himself, he will be jumping into the Hell Fire eternally abiding therein forever.” [Muslim]
This narration is a source of confusion for some due to the lack of examining all the evidence with regards to this subject and the lack of seeking clarity from those entrusted with conveying such (the scholars). Imam An Nawawi said about the statement “in the Hell Fire eternally abiding therein forever” ‘It is mentioned that there are several statements concerning it. The first statement is that it is attributed to whomever does this declaring it to be permissible whilst having knowledge that it is prohibited, as this individual is a disbeliever and this is his punishment. The second statement is that the intent of eternity is for a very long and extended duration and not true endlessness.’ (2)
The first statement mentioned is true and applicable to a specific circumstances that is not the subject of discussion here. As the declaring of anything Allah has prohibited as lawful is disbelief and no one doubts this. Allah says:
إنِ الحكمُ إلَّا لله
“…The judgement is for none but Allah…” [Yusuf: 40]
أَفَحكمَ الجاهلية يبغون و من أحْسَنُ من الله حكمًا لقومٍ يوقِنون
“Is it the judgement of ignorance that they desire? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people with certainty.” [Al-Maa’idah: 50]
و من لمْ يَحْكُمْ بما أَنْزَلَ اللهُ فَأُولَئِك هم الكافرون
“And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the disbelievers.” [Al-Maa’idah: 44]
Thus from the traits of the believer is that he submits to Allah and to His judgments along with enactment of His Legislation, a subject no Muslim differs in. The subject of discussion here pertains to one who acknowledges the unlawfulness of suicide, yet he falls into it. This is where the second statement that Imam An Nawawi mentioned applies. The clearest proof that indicates the validity of this statements is the following:
Jabir narrated that Tufail ibn Amr Ad-Dausi came to the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- and said,”do you have fortified structures and preventive measures (for protection)? -The tribe of Daus had a fortress during the era of ignorance.- The Prophet rejected that since Allah reserved this duty for the Ansar. When the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- migrated to Medina, Tufail and a man from his tribe subsequently migrated as well. Unfortunately Medina’s climate was unsuitable for them, and the man (who migrated with Tufail) became sick and uneasy, as a result he took the sharp tip of his arrow and cut the joints of his fingers. Consequently blood poured forth from his hands until he died, afterwards Tufail saw him in a dream. He saw that his appearance was good but his hands were wrapped. So Tufail said to him, “how did your lord treat you?” He replied; He forgave me on account of me migrating to His Prophet. Tufail then asked, “What is the reason that I see your hands wrapped?” He replied, “I was told (by Allah) We (Allah) will not correct what you have corrupted.” So Tufail narrated this to Allah’s Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- in consequence he said: “O Allah forgive even his hands.”
Imam An Nawawi said, “As for the rulings of this narration, in it is proof for the tremendous principle of Ahlis Sunnah that being: Whoever commits suicide or some other major sin and dies without repenting is not a disbeliever, let alone hold the opinion of being in Hell (eternally). On the contrary the ruling is that he is under the will (of Allah). Indeed the elucidation of this principle has preceded. This narration is an explanation of several misunderstood narrations before it wherein it appears as if the killer and other than him from the committers of major sins will eternally abide in the Hell Fire.” (3)
This is the ruling we find the scholars conveying with regards to suicide. As Sheikh Bin Baz said, “So suicide is from the most repugnant of major sins, however Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah do not hold the opinion that the committer is a disbeliever. If he was a Muslim who prayed and was well known for Islam, he worshiped Allah alone and believed in Him and what He revealed, even though he committed suicide for whatever reason such as a severe sickness, or wounds and whatever else that resembles such excuses that are evil and a sin from the major sins, despite this he does not exit Islam if he was a Muslim before committing this act.
Suicide does not expel one from Islam. On the contrary he is under the will of Allah like the other sins. If Allah wills He will pardon him and enter him into paradise due to his Islam, tawheed, and faith. Or perhaps our Lord will punish him in the Fire on account of his sin that he died upon, and it is the sin of killing. After being purified Allah will remove him from the Fire and place him in Paradise.” (4)
The Standing Committee for Knowledge Based Research and Verdicts issued a statement subsequent to being asked the following:
Q: What is the ruling concerning the one who commits suicide, is he a Muslim or disbeliever?
A: Whoever kills himself accidentally is excused and does not fall into sin as a result of that. Moreover the one who does so intentionally, due to whatever circumstance surrounding him, while not being displeased with Allah’s decree is not a disbeliever. Nonetheless he commits a major sin and is threatened with the Fire. Thus his affair is with Allah, if He wills He’ll pardoned him and if He wills He’ll punish him. And with Allah is success. (5)
This is the methodology of the Salaf with regards to the issue that no one differs in except the Khawaarij and Mutazilah, and Allah’s refuge is sought from straying after being guided.
Compiled by Abu Abdil Waahid Najeeb Al Anjelesi
1: إيذاء النفس و الانتحار
2: شرح صحيح مسلم للإمام النووي
3: شرح صحيح مسلم للإمام النووي
4: Link to full verdict: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/noor/3054
Portion of verdict translated here: فالانتحار من أقبح الكبائر، لكن عند أهل السنة والجماعة لا يكون كافراً، إذا كان مسلماً يصلي معروف بالإسلام موحداً لله -عز وجل- ومؤمناً به -سبحانه- وبما أخبر به، ولكنه انتحر لأسباب إما مرض شديد وإلا جراحات شديدة، وإلا أشبه ذلك من الأعذار، فهذا الانتحار منكر، وكبيرة من كبائر الذنوب، ولكنه لا يخرج به من الإسلام إذا كان مسلماً قبل ذلك، لا يخرج به الانتحار من الإسلام، بل يكون تحت مشيئة الله -سبحانه وتعالى- كسائر المعاصي، إن شاء الله عفا عنه وأدخله الجنة بإسلامه وتوحيده وإيمانه، وإن شاء ربنا عذبه في النار على قدر الجريمة التي مات عليها، وهي جريمة القتل. ثم بعد التطهير والتمحيص يخرجه الله من النار إلى الجنة
5: Link to verdict here: http://www.ajurry.com/vb/showthread.php?t=34267
The verdict: ما حكم من قتل نفسه هل هو مسلم أو كافر؟
ج 3: من قتل نفسه من المسلمين خطأ فهو معذور ولا يأثم بذلك، ومن قتل نفسه من المسلمين عمدًا؛ لظروف أحاطت به غير ساخط على قضاء الله وقدره فليس بكافر، لكنه مرتكب لكبيرة ومتوعد بالنار، وأمره إلى الله إن شاء عفا عنه وغفر له وإن شاء عذبه.
وبالله التوفيق، وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم.