Dr Maleeha Mansur, UK
‘Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity. It shall have the reward it earns, and it shall get the punishment it incurs…’ (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2: Verse 287)
Euthanasia, assisted suicide, mercy killing, call it what you may, but it has recently taken the headlines once again with France approving a sedated dying bill that allows doctors to keep terminally ill patients sedated until death. Indeed this topic is incredibly emotive and one that appears devoid of simplicity or unanimity – if seen through the lens of the physical realm, that is.
Let us instead apply the beautiful and profound lens of Islam. Describing his time in the world the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said “I am like a traveller, who takes a rest under a tree in the shade and then goes on his way.” So for a Muslim this life is but a temporary state, a drop in comparison to the oceans of the eternal life of the Hereafter. This life is a means of gaining the best standing in the blessed ever-lasting life, the delights of which “…no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no heart conceived…” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How is one’s status determined in the life to come? Certainly much is to be determined through our response and endurance of trials and tribulations in this life. Indeed, when we read of the life of the most beloved of God, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) one is left humbled by the number and extremes of trials the most perfect of men bore. The example he gave us is that of patience and fortitude in the face of every adversity.
Thus while our hearts ache and truly sympathise for our brethren whose suffering is such that they have begun considering euthanasia, at the same time we know and believe in an Almighty Lord Who is the All-Powerful and All-Merciful, Who answers the prayers of His servants and does not let any sacrifice for His cause go to waste. It is God alone Who gives and takes life. The trials which one endures are a means of forgiveness of one’s sins, they are a means of purification and the rewards of such endurance will indeed be bestowed by the Most Loving Almighty God in the Hereafter.
He burdens not any soul beyond its capacity and He is the One to give strength to His servants, all that is required is that we submit wholly and truly to Him – “…I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’ (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2: Verse 187)
What remains is the question of relieving a person’s pain, at the expense of potentially shortening their life, the “double effect”. In Islam judgement on any action requires one’s intention to be analysed; the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said “deeds are judged by intentions”. Ultimately, the matter is between man and his Maker.