Dealing With Thoughts of Suicide

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I have been answering questions at IslamicAnswers.com (formerly AskBilqis.com) for over ten years now. I tend to see the same types of questions asked again and again. Some are from women trapped in abusive marriages, others from young people who are in love, or heartbroken, or confused. The questions that disturb me most of all are the ones from (usually young) people considering suicide.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

I wish that our society today would not put our young Muslims in such difficult positions that their lives become cramped and hopeless. Many of our youth today are put in positions where it is almost impossible for them to marry; or they are denied marriage to the one they choose because of superficial circumstances; or they are pressured into marriage against their will; or they are raised with no guidance or teaching, so that they get into sinful lifestyles and are then burdened with sin and guilt and don’t know how to purify themselves.

Insha’Allah I will try to impart some important messages and ideas to those of you who may have contemplated suicide, for any reason.

You are unique and you are loved.
You, my brother or sister who is experiencing difficulty in your life, try to be strong and remind yourself of all the wonderful things in life. This world is so full of beauty, from the stars in the sky to the taste of a sweet apple in your mouth; from flowers blooming in spring time to the majesty of a lightning storm. There is so much to see and experience. There is so much mystery. Open your eyes to it. There are miracles all around you.

As far as your own existence, know that your life has meaning and purpose. Allah put you here on this earth for a reason. You are a unique person, the only one of your kind in the universe, and as such you are a treasure. Just as Allah created the stars, the oceans, and the majestic trees, He created you. In fact you dwarf them, because you are a creature of complexity and free will.

If it seems that those around you do not value you, it may be only that they do not know how to show it. Parents who were raised in families that do not express love freely may be uncomfortable showing affection to their own children or spouses. But that does not mean that they do not love you and care about you deeply.

Know, in any case, that Allah values you and cares about you.

In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) we are told that, “Allah is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child.”
In another saying, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, humankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.” – Saheeh Muslim, al-Tawbah, 6908
Also, please believe that I care about you as well, even without knowing you, as do others who write about these subjects and speak about them. That is why we do it, because we care.

I would like to talk about why suicide is not the Muslim way; and to suggest a way forward for those who are having these thoughts.

First, consult a professional
Untreated and undiagnosed clinical mental illness is one of the leading causes of suicide. If you are depressed, and are truly suicidal, you should consult a psychiatrist or a primary care physician as soon as possible.

The majority of people who are suicidal are clinically depressed and require medication to function normally, and stabilize themselves. They lack the ability to control these types of thoughts because their thinking is distorted. The filter through which they view the world is flawed because of a chemical imbalance.
Prayer and faith may not always be enough for people are clinically depressed. They may feel that they have failed as Muslims, or are unloved by Allah; such thoughts persist and reinforce their depression.

So the first thing you should do is see your doctor and talk about the feelings you are having. Your doctor can refer you to someone who can help you deal with these feelings in an appropriate way. If you are clinically depressed, meaning there is something wrong with your brain chemistry that is causing your depression, there may be a medication that can make a huge difference for you. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about this, any more than it would be if it were medication for a heart condition.

Suicide is not the Muslim way
Remember, we are Muslims, we do not kill ourselves! That is not our way. It is a sin, and it is NOT an answer to life’s problems.
It’s important that we turn to Allah in times of distress. He, our Creator, offers us comfort, guidance and care. He is not a vengeful God, seeking our destruction. Rather He is Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem, the Most Merciful and Mercy-Giving.

Some people seek solace in material things in times of stress. They might look to consumerism, drugs or alcohol. However, these things offer no answers.
We can find comfort in good friends, healthy hobbies, the beauty of nature, and even in a good book. More importantly, for a believer everything begins and ends with Allah. That’s where we must start our search for a way forward out of our depression and sadness.

Allah never burdens someone with more than he can bear
Whatever has befallen you, I guarantee that you are strong enough to bear it and come out stronger on the other side. How can I guarantee this? Because Allah says so in the Quran (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:286), in this beautiful verse which is also a wonderful dua’ for those who are suffering:

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Umm Muhammad translation)
Allah created you, and He knows your strengths and capabilities. No matter how tough your life circumstances seem, Allah knows that you can handle it, and that there is an important lesson in it for you, or an important test. We human beings are astonishingly resilient and we can tolerate much more than most of us realize.

At times like this, when life seems like a heavy weight driving us down, we do not ask questions like, “Why me?” Or “Why has Allah done this to me?” Or, “Is this a punishment for me?” Or, “Am I cursed?” Those are absolutely the wrong questions.
Why are they the wrong questions? Because they suppose that everyone else is having an easy time, skating through life, and we are the only ones burdened with pain and sadness. Every human being is tested. Every human being suffers. That is the nature of life. Life offers us happiness and pain; joy and suffering; peace and conflict. That is the common experience of every human being since Adam and Hawa, even the Prophets (peace be upon them all), in fact especially the Prophets and the righteous.

Allah says,
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,
Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.’
Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.”
(2:155-157)

In one verse of the Quran Allah informs humankind,
“And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat Verse 56)
Hardship is a part of life. It can be seen as a test, to see which way we will turn. So the questions we should be asking are:
* How can I respond to this situation in the best way, to show Allah that I recognize all the blessings in my life, and I am patient with my trials?
* How can I turn to Allah at this time, to seek strength and comfort from Him?
* How can I use all the faculties and gifts that Allah has given me to find a solution to this problem, even one that does not seem obvious?
* What do I have in my life that is good, that I can find happiness in, and be grateful for?
* How can I learn from this test, so that I come out of it a wiser and stronger human being and believer?

Suicide is a great sin
Suicide is one of the great sins in Islam. Allah says explicitly in the Quran,
“And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.” (Surah An-Nisa Verse 29)
In another verse of the Quaan, Allah says:

“And do not throw yourselves in destruction.” (Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 195)
In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) described the people who commit suicide as being in Hell, forced to commit their method of suicide again and again.
Actually, something occurs to me about this. In life, when we make mistakes we have the opportunity to learn from them. In the process we grow spiritually, and we find a better way. Learning from mistakes is a vital part of our earthly experience.
When you commit suicide, you cut this process short. Suicide itself is the greatest mistake, but because it ends your earthly life, there is no opportunity to learn from it, no chance to grow spiritually, no way to do better next time.

The time of our life’s ending is determined by Allah, and is part of our Qadr. It’s not up to us to end it. Doing so would be like saying to Allah, “I refuse this gift of Yours, and I deny Your right of giving and taking life.” A person who commits suicide claims for himself one of the rights of Allah, which is the ending of life.

That’s why Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi, speaking of the one who commits suicide: “My servant has precipitated My will with regard to himself! Therefore, I am forbidding him entry into heaven.”

Please note however that this applies to someone who is sane and in control of his faculties. Allah may deny him Paradise if he commits suicide.
As for someone who is mentally unstable or insane, Adil Salahi says:

“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.”

Life is short enough
Life is short enough already! The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said that he was in this world like a rider who stopped to rest in the shade of a tree, then went on and left it behind.

We are like the flowers that bloom when the spring rain falls, then die. Our lives are that short, that quickly over. How many thousands of generations have passed before us, and where are they now? Do you see any sign of them, except for some old buildings falling down? Thousands of generations, gone like dust.
With life so short, it is precious. It’s a chance to please Allah and do good deeds, and earn our spot in Jannah, Insha’Allah. No need to end our own lives and speed our way to the punishment of Hell. It’s better to do whatever we have to do in order to change our lives. Even if we have to make drastic changes, isn’t it better to live, and see another sunrise, and have hope?

Life is precious and is a trust
Every breath that you take is worth more than a precious gem. Every single moment of life, as your heart pumps and your blood flows, is worth more than all the world and everything in it, because if life is lost then what is the world? No treasury of any King, no vast estate of any Sultan, no great palace of stone and gold, is worth more than one single moment of your life.

Out of all the bounties Allah has bestowed upon human beings, the most precious is the gift of life. This precious gift is given to us in trust. It is not our personal possession or our personal property. We are trustees. Because we are trustees we should utilise each and every moment of our lives in the paths that please Allah.

Suicide hurts the people you love
People who contemplate suicide sometimes think their family members will be better off without them. “I’m only dragging them down,” you might think. “They’ll be happier when I’m gone.” Or, “They don’t love me. They won’t even miss me.”

You’re wrong. That’s just your depression talking. I guarantee you that no matter what your situation is in life, and no matter how bad your relationship with your family might be, your suicide will devastate them. Family survivors often feel depression, guilt, anger and confusion. Sometimes they feel like failures for not seeing the impending suicide and stopping it.

Worst of all, suicide can be contagious. It’s well known that family survivors of a suicide have a much greater chance of committing suicide themselves. Imagine your child one day committing suicide, or a niece or nephew, or even a friend. I know you don’t want that.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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