Islamic Views on Euthanasia
Understanding the Islamic views on euthanasia requires a close consideration of any action that can help a person kill themselves or suicide. In Islam, all forms of murder, suicide or actions that help a person kill themselves is forbidden. For Muslims, planning or knowing via self-will time when one will die in advance is forbidden. Precedent for this forbid originates from Islamic Prophet Muhammad who declined to bless a body of an individual that committed suicide.
A person who is terminally ill is permitted to refuse resuscitation or medication. Other examples of instances when a person can refuse medication include cancer patients declining chemotherapy treatment and kidney failure patients refusing dialysis treatments.
In Islam, life is considered sacred. Euthanasia is not included as one of the reasons that allow a person to kill another. Qur’an 17:33 states that, “Do not take life, which Allah made sacred, other than in the course of justice”. Islam teachings state that only Allah can decide the duration for which every human being can live. When time for dying comes, nobody can delay it with a single hour or bring the time forward with a single hour. In addition, Qur’an notes that no person dies unless under the terms decided by Allah.
Qur’an explicitly forbids suicide. In Qur’an 4:29, the holy book of Islam notes this, “Destroy not yourselves. Surely Allah is ever merciful to you”. Islam further urges Muslims never to destroy themselves by any means.
Sahih Bukhari 4.56.669 says, “Amongst the nations before you there was a man who got a wound, and growing impatient (with its pain), he took a knife and cut his hand with is and the blood did not stop still he died. Allah said, ‘My Slave hurried to bring death upon himself so I have forbidden him (to enter) Paradise’ ”.
Due to these teachings, most devout Muslims believe that the Do Not Resuscitate orders are a representation of soft euthanasia which is forbidden. Muslims do not kill and they cannot be complicit in an act of killing another person except in the matters or interest of justice. However, Islam Medical code of ethics states that it is futile to keep a patient diligently in vegetative state through heroic means. It is in life process that a doctor aims at maintaining and not dying process. This implies that a doctor may stop attempting to prolong life if hope of cure does not exist.
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