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Ask Islam: The Punishment of committing suicide

Question 331: What do the hadiths of the Ahlulbayt (a.s) say about ‘Suicide’? What if one who kills himself doesn’t abandon the belief in all encompassing ‘Rahmah’ of الله? What’s the Punishment of committing suicide?

Answer 331: After creating man, Allah has declared some acts forbidden and mentioned that if such acts are committed, Hell will be the destiny of the sinners.

We know that some sins are like spoiled food whose long term consumption is a threat to one’s health, but others are like devastating explosions which destroy and demolish one’s spiritual life in an instant.

At the same time due to Allah’s great mercy there are many paths, which by taking them, people have the opportunity to nullify some of their heavy and severe punishments or at least reduce them to some extent.

Making up for unjust damages, asking forgiveness from those affected from the damages of certain sins, and finally, repenting to Allah are the steps of compensating for a sin.

Obviously these compensating steps and specifically repenting should be done before one’s death and while he is still alive and consequently, a repentance that is delayed to the final moments prior to death or after death will have no effect.[1]

In the light of what was explained we will return to the sin of suicide that was mentioned in your question.
In a hadith by Imam Baqir, he says: “A Mu’min (believer) may suffer from catastrophes of all kinds or die by various incidents, but he will never commit suicide.”[2]

In this regard Imam Sadiq says: “Whoever commits suicide deliberately will remain in Hell forever.”[3]

In some ways it is correct to say that committing suicide is a sin that automatically entails one to be taken to Hell, but why?

1- As we mentioned above there is an opportunity to nullify or reduce the punishment of sins through repenting to Allah and the repentance should be done before one’s death, but committing suicide is a sin that denies one the opportunity to repent. In other words, by committing this sin one has declined his last chance to nullify or reduce his punishment, thus, naturally entering Hell.

2- Life is a precious gift that Allah has granted to man. This gift is actually an opportunity with the help of which one can achieve the greatest levels of perfection. The person who commits suicide is virtually blowing his precious opportunity and being punished in Hell will be the direct consequence of declining this opportunity. The same way if someone all of a sudden throws himself into fire; his body will burn as the direct result of his inappropriate action.

Also, the same way committing suicide is an unforgivable sin, taking away others’ opportunity to live will entail an inevitable punishment.

Regarding this issue Imam Sadiq says: “A Mu’min (believer) will have the chance to make up for his behavior and conduct, unless he takes part in killing another believer unrightfully, and one who kills a Mu’min, (even though it seems that he has the chance to repent but certain events will take place that he) will not actually repent.”[4]

Despite the fact that some sins do not completely take away the chance to repent, but they reduce the possibility of repentance. Let’s examine the following hadith:

Imam Sadiq (as) was asked about an individual that consumes alcoholic beverages and what his (spiritual) situation would be like? The Imam responded: “His Salat (prayer) and also his repenting will not be accepted for 40 days and if he passes away in this period of time he will enter Hell.”[5]

The Imam (as) has also said: “Whosoever purposely commits suicide, will remain in the hellfire forever.”[6]

In closing, one can conclude that some sins do cause people to enter Hell automatically, but this should not be understood in a way that leads to belief in Jabr (Force and predetermination) and one should not take the responsibility of the sinner in regard to his sins lightly. In fact, this automatic entering is the direct result of the sinner’s actions, the same way the automatic demolishment of a person’s body who throws himself from a height does not contradict his responsibility for his act. However, according to the viewpoint which suggests the manifestation of actions or the unity of action and reward/punishment, Hell and Heaven are the manifestations of our own actions, meaning that it is the person who creates Heaven or Hell through his actions, not that he has done an act and according to an arrangement (with Allah) he will now be rewarded or punished by going to Heaven or Hell. From this point of view the term “automatically” will lose all meaning regarding sins.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index:  Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide, answer 122.

Index: Offering prayer for the dead over one’s body who committed suicide, answer 597.

[1] . Nisa: 18.

[2] . Koleini, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub, vol. 3, pg. 112, hadith 8.

[3] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 45, hadith 1.

[4] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 272, hadith 7.

[5] . Sheikh Saduq, Thawabul-A’mal, pg. 244.

[6] . Man-La Yahduruhul-Faqih, vol. 4, pg. 95.

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Offering prayer for the dead over one’s body who committed suicide

Question 597: Salaamun Alaykum, is it permissible to offer the prayer for the dead over Muslim’s body how committed suicide? What about reciting Surah Al Fatiha or Namaz e Wahshat for a those who committed suicide?

Answer 597: It is obligatory to offer prayer for every Muslim (dead person), even if he belongs to the opposite (non-Shiah) sect. However, if he is an infidel of any category whatsoever, even if he is an apostate, or one who is declared a non-Muslim even if he unduly assumes the title of Islam like Nawasib (openly hostile to Ahl-i Bayt) or Khawãrij (.i.e, those who oppose Imam Ali), it is not permissible to offer prayers on their dead[1].

Reciting Surah al-Fatiha and offering Wahshat prayer are mustahab. So, one can do these previous mentioned acts for the deceased Muslim as such people are in dire need of asking for mercy from Allah, the Almighty.[2]

As we said, it is obligatory to offer ‘the prayer for the dead’ over a deceased Muslim’s body, even though he has committed suicide. According to maraja’, saying this following phrase, which is considered as Mustahab, is not obligatory be recited. “Alla humma inna La Na’lamu Minhu (for female: Minha) Illa Khayra”.

The followings are fatawa of our maraja regarding this issue:

Ayatollah Khamenei (ha): In any case, the prayer for the dead is obligatory be offered over the deceased Muslim’s body.

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (ha): Although such persons have committed the capital sin (i.e. suicide) that he/she has to repent from, but all the rules concerning offering prayer for the dead are applying to him/her too. Considering that the word “Khayr” means the faith of being Shia, it is also permissible to be recited for the deceased Muslim who has committed suicide.

Ayatollah Noori Hademani (ha): Given the supposition made in the question, offering prayer for the dead is obligatory for the deceased Muslim. There is no problem to recite the above mentioned phrase.[3]

How to Offer the Prayer for the Dead:

Procedure for Offering Prayer for the Dea: The prayer for the dead (is performed in Arabic and) consists of five Takbirs (saying: Allah-o-Akbar, (Allah is greatest)). The first Takbir is followed by the two Testimonies, the second by sending Blessings on the Prophet and his Progeny, the third by praying for the believing men and believing women, the fourth by praying for the dead, the fifth by concluding the prayer.

Less than five Takbirs are not permissible, except by way of Taqiyyah (dissimulation of one’s faith in the face of threatening death). The prayer for the dead has no Adhãn (the Call for prayer and no iqãmat (the short Call just before beginning Prayer), no Qirã’at, no “Ruku” (Kneeling), ‘Sajdahs” (Prostrations) and no ‘Tashahhud’ (reciting the Two Testimonies) and no “Salãm” (i.e., the Three Salutations at the end of the usual Prayer). It is sufficient to name those referred to in the four Takbirs. So after the first Takbir one should say: “I bear witness to that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness to that Muhammad is (his Servant and) His Messenger; after the second Takbir: “O Allah, send Blessing on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad”; after the third Takbir: “O Allah, Forgive the Believing Men and Believing Women”, and after the fourth Takbir: “O Allah, Forgive this dead person”. Then one should (recite the fifth Takbir) saying: “Allãh-o- Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest), and (thereby) conclude (the prayer).

It is better that after the first Takbir one should say (in Arabic) “I bear witness to that Allãh is One. He has no Partner. He is One god, the Matchless, the Eternal, the Single one, the Everlasting, the Endless, the Ever- Enduring. He has no Female Companion, nor a Child. And I bear witness to that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger. ‘He has sent him with Guidance and True Faith, so that he may make it prevail over all the beliefs, even if it be undesirable for the Polytheists’ (see Sürah Al-Saff, verse No.9).”

After the second Takbir one should say (in Arabic): “O Allah, send Blessing on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and send benediction on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and have Mercy on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, even more than Thou sent Blessing and Benediction, and had Mercy on Abraham and the Progeny of Abraham. Certainly Thou art Praiseworthy and Glorified. And send Blessing on all the Prophets and Messengers.

After the third Takbir, (one should say in Arabic): “O Allah, forgive the believing men and believing women, and the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the living from among them and the dead. O Allah, let them and us be followed by Virtues. Certainly thou hast Power over every thing.

After the fourth Takbir, (one should say in Arabic): “O Allah, this shrouded man in front of us is thy servant, son of thy servant and thy maid servant. He has come down to thee and thou art the best of those to whom one may come down. O Allah, thou hast taken out his soul to thee. He needs thy Mercy, and thou art in no need to punish him. O Allah, certainly we have no knowledge about him but of virtue, and thou hast better knowledge about him than ourselves. O Allàh if he was virtuous,

then increase his good deeds. If he was an evil doer, forgive his evil deeds, and forgive us and him. O Allah judge him among those who are friendly to him and love him and keep him away from those who keep away from him and who loathe him. O Allah affiliate him with thy Prophet and introduce him to the Prophet and the Prophet to him, and have Mercy on us when we die, O Lord of the Universe. O Allah write down his name among those having the highest status with thyself, appoint as his successor behind him those who are left behind, place him among the friends of Muhammad and his purified Progeny, and Bless him and us with thy Mercy, O Most Merciful among the merciful. O Allah, (we ask) thy Pardon, Thy Pardon, Thy Pardon.”

If the dead be a female, then in the above prayer, instead of the words: “This shrouded man ….thy maid servant”, one must say: “This shrouded woman in front of us is thy maid servant, and the daughter of thy servant and maid servant”, and instead of masculine pronouns use the feminine pronouns.

If the dead were a child, in the fourth part of the prayer, one must pray for its parents and say “O Allah make him for his parent and for us an excessive reward in advance.”

The masculine pronouns can be used for both the males and females. Masculine may be used in view of the words for the dead and the person are masculine in Arabic, while the word “Janãzah” (meaning the bier or funeral procession) is a feminine noun in Arabic and so one can use feminine pronouns for it.

In case it is not known whether the dead is a male or female, it makes matters easy, and in that case there is no need of repeating the prayer and pronouns.

If a man doubts between the minimum and maximum Takbirs in prayers for the dead, according to the more cautious opinion, he shall recite both the minimum and maximum Du’ãs with the intention of hope (that it would be desirable to Allah). If, for example, he doubts between two and three, he shall decide in four of the minimum (i.e. two), and send Blessing on the Prophet and his Progeny, Blessing and Peace be upon them and pray for the believing men and women, and then recite Takbir and pray for the believing men and women, and pray the dead and recite Takbir and with the intention of hope (that it would be desirable to Allah), he shall pray for the dead and recite Takbir.[4]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answer:

Index:  Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide, answer 122.

[1] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, rules concerning Offering Prayer for the Dead.

[2] . For further information on this issue, visit: the official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Rules related to a dying person » Namaz-e-Wahshat.

[3] . A similar question has sent to the office of Grand Ayatollahs: Khamanei, Makarem Shirazi, Noori Hamedani (May Allah grant them long life) by IQ.

[4] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, rules concerning Offering Prayer for the Dead.

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Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide

Question 122: Is suicide a sin and can it be forgiven? What is the ruling on committing suicide?

Answer 122:  Some sins, due to their quality, leave no opportunity to repent and will lead their committers to the irreversible path of Hell, the same way falling from heights without employing a parachute or landing equipment will lead to the disintegration of the body or the same way falling into a deep sea without possessing the ability to swim will naturally lead to drowning and in both examples there is no way back. Of course we must realize that the term “automatically” is not precise in this regard, because we all know that such a punishment is the direct result of such a decision.

After creating man, Allah has declared some acts forbidden and mentioned that if such acts are committed, Hell will be the destiny of the sinners.

We know that some sins are like spoiled food whose long term consumption is a threat to one’s health, but others are like devastating explosions which destroy and demolish one’s spiritual life in an instant.

At the same time due to Allah’s great mercy there are many paths, which by taking them, people have the opportunity to nullify some of their heavy and severe punishments or at least reduce them to some extent.

Making up for unjust damages, asking forgiveness from those affected from the damages of certain sins, and finally, repenting to Allah are the steps of compensating for a sin.

Obviously these compensating steps and specifically repenting should be done before one’s death and while he is still alive and consequently, a repentance that is delayed to the final moments prior to death or after death will have no effect.[1]

In the light of what was explained we will return to the sin of suicide that was mentioned in your question.

In a hadith by Imam Baqir, he says: “A Mu’min (believer) may suffer from catastrophes of all kinds or die by various incidents, but he will never commit suicide.”[2]

In this regard Imam Sadiq says: “Whoever commits suicide deliberately will remain in Hell forever.”[3]

In some ways it is correct to say that committing suicide is a sin that automatically entails one to be taken to Hell, but why?

1- As we mentioned above there is an opportunity to nullify or reduce the punishment of sins through repenting to Allah and the repentance should be done before one’s death, but committing suicide is a sin that denies one the opportunity to repent. In other words, by committing this sin one has declined his last chance to nullify or reduce his punishment, thus, naturally entering Hell.

2- Life is a precious gift that Allah has granted to man. This gift is actually an opportunity with the help of which one can achieve the greatest levels of perfection. The person who commits suicide is virtually blowing his precious opportunity and being punished in Hell will be the direct consequence of declining this opportunity. The same way if someone all of a sudden throws himself into fire; his body will burn as the direct result of his inappropriate action.

Also, the same way committing suicide is an unforgivable sin, taking away others’ opportunity to live will entail an inevitable punishment.

Regarding this issue Imam Sadiq says: “A Mu’min (believer) will have the chance to make up for his behavior and conduct, unless he takes part in killing another believer unrightfully, and one who kills a Mu’min, (even though it seems that he has the chance to repent but certain events will take place that he) will not actually repent.”[4]

Despite the fact that some sins do not completely take away the chance to repent, but they reduce the possibility of repentance. Let’s examine the following hadith: Imam Sadiq was asked about an individual that consumes alcoholic beverages and what his (spiritual) situation would be like? The Imam responded: “His Salat (prayer) and also his repenting will not be accepted for 40 days and if he passes away in this period of time he will enter Hell.”[5]

In closing, one can conclude that some sins do cause people to enter Hell automatically, but this should not be understood in a way that leads to belief in Jabr (Force and predetermination) and one should not take the responsibility of the sinner in regard to his sins lightly.

In fact, this automatic entering is the direct result of the sinner’s actions, the same way the automatic demolishment of a person’s body who throws himself from a height does not contradict his responsibility for his act. However, according to the viewpoint which suggests the manifestation of actions or the unity of action and reward/punishment, Hell and Heaven are the manifestations of our own actions, meaning that it is the person who creates Heaven or Hell through his actions, not that he has done an act and according to an arrangement (with Allah) he will now be rewarded or punished by going to Heaven or Hell. From this point of view the term “automatically” will lose all meaning regarding sins.

[1] . Nisa:18.

[2] . Kuleini, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub, vol. 3, pg. 112, hadith 8.

[3] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 45, hadith 1.

[4] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 272, hadith 7.

[5] . Sheikh Saduq, Thawabul-A’mal, pg. 244.