By G.G. Siddiqui
Taking one’s own or another’s life in depression, anxiety, enmity, dispute, or otherwise has become a routine affair worldwide. Geographical, racial, sectarian, religious, marital, be it at any level, it needs to be curbed, primarily on the humane ground and value. The major factor in this connection may be lack of education or the non-practicing of what is taught in the educational programs relating to the characteristic and behavioural values on how to treat wife, daughters and the human fellows, beyond the shackle of prejudice, immorality, injustice, oppressive power and low attitude.
The lack of education, or the non-practicing behaviour, predominantly rooted in our multicultural society, is a challenging but not an impossible task ahead of us. Thereby we must work for social awareness, propagate human ethos and relevant religious teachings to eradicate this social evil, that is, taking one’s or other’s life.
For the case study of the subject, two examples can be taken. One of them is the incident of Ayesha’s (23) taking her own life by way of suicide, and the other is that of Sayed Mental’s (60) hammering to death his wife Safeela (50) and two daughters Rajia (20) and Shabana (15) while the third daughter Sultana (18) is battling for life in the hospital. In both the examples, either of the two reasons; lack of religious education or the non-practicing upon the religious information can be traced.
Ayesha is reported to have suffered torture and harassment due to dowry or her husband’s illicit affair with another girl, the case of which still needs to be properly investigated by the police, and hence we are not sure enough to describe the exact sort of harassment which compelled her to commit suicide. Our point of discussion is beyond judging the nature of harassment that compelled Ayesha to commit suicide. Not even can we call Ayesha back to life but raise a question; can her suicide be justified under any such pressing circumstances? The simple answer is: ‘No, It can’t be justified. If it can’t, then why did Ayesha commit her suicide? Had she, being a Muslim lady, a lack of religious education which definitively forbids suicide, or did she deliberately commit suicide, despite knowing the fact that it is strongly prohibited to commit suicide in Islam under all circumstances, dowry pressure or otherwise?
Another incident, which is related to Sayed Mental’s killing his wife and daughters, narrates the act of brutality inflicted not just upon his family but also upon Islam in the sense of disrespecting the divine command which forbids taking other’s life unjustly. Again the same question can be repeated here for Muslim community; can Sayed Mental’s killing his family be justified? Their answer would be in negation. But why did Sayed Mental take his step towards killing his family, due to lack of religious education or non-practicing behaviour?
These questions related to both the incidents will definitely lead to represent the shortcoming within the Muslim community in general. That shortcoming could be either lack of religious education or the act of not practicing the religious command that vehemently lays emphasis on the value of one’s or other’s life as a blessing of Allah Almighty. Both the incidents indicate that Muslims are living either with a lack of religious education or have become non-practicing. If it is reported that some Muslims are aware of Islamic teachings and that they are practicing Muslims too, then they can’t deny the fact that they have failed to curb the growing evil of taking one’s own life by suicide and another’s life by unjust killing.
Ayesha’s life was, above all, a blessing of Allah Almighty, which she should not have wasted by committing suicide. She could have intended to maintain safety for this God-gifted blessing in several possible ways. For the sake of her so-called lover, she could not seek to uphold her love to Allah Almighty Who endowed her with the blessing of life. She could have loved her life just for obeying the following commands of Allah Almighty and the sayings of the Prophet peace be upon him,
“Do not kill yourself” (4:29) “But whoever will do that through transgression and injustice, we shall soon throw him into the Fire (of Hell) and that is very easy for Allah” (4:30).
This verse denotes the value of life by declaring all types of suicide forbidden. Hence a believer is not permitted to commit suicide, whether to take one’s own or another’s life.
In another verse, Allah Almighty says,
“And do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands, and adopt righteousness. Verily, Allah loves the righteous” (2:195)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The one who commits suicide will go to Hell, and will keep falling into it and will abide there forever” (Sahih Bukhari, The book of Medicine, Chapter: Taking poison and using it for medical treatment or using what may be dangerous or Impure)
Narrated Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Allah is pleased with him) that the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever stabs himself to death will continue to stab himself in Hell. And whoever throws himself off a cliff will continue to throw himself off a cliff in Hell. And whoever hangs himself will continue to hang himself in Hell”. (Sahih Bukhari, The book of Funeral Rites, Chapter: What has come to us about someone who kills himself’?)
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah Almighty (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever. And whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon (stabbing himself), will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.” (Sahih Bukhari, The book of Medicine, Chapter: Taking poison and using it for medical treatment or using what may be dangerous or Impure)
The afore-mentioned Quranic verses and Ahadith are stern warnings (wa’eed) for those who intend for committing suicide for killing themselves or others. We seek forgiveness for Ayesha who committed a mistake by committing suicide, and indeed Allah is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful.
However, we should make the common Muslim masses aware of these verses and Ahadith related to the forbiddance of suicide, in order that they never go to take such an extreme step, whatever the case may be. Thousands of people including women are suffering from hardships in several forms; poverty, starvation, injustice, helplessness, and severe harassment. Despite that, they are living their life with patience and perseverance because they know suicide is not a solution to their problem. They are to be heartily saluted because they are facing all their difficulties with courage, and tantamount to valuing the blessing of life granted by God Almighty.
With regard to the UP’s Bulandshahr case in which Sayed Mental killed with a hammer, his wife, and two daughters whereas his third daughter is battling for life in the hospital, the police are yet to ascertain what exactly led the father to kill his family, while villagers told the police that the man often used to beat his wife and daughters without any reason. The man was reportedly and mentally unsound and therefore the villagers had added the word Mental to his name. This case can also be taken to deduce the idea that how far our common Muslim masses have gone from Islam that they have transgressed all the limits of transgression.
One of the objectives of marital relations in Islam is that love, friendship, peace, and good ties of kinship prevail between the spouses. It is for this reason that Allah Almighty ordered the husband to live with his wife lovingly and honourably. He says: “treat them (wives) honourably”. The context of the verse is about the duty of a husband towards his wife. In its broader understanding, treating a wife honourably means the prohibition of violence over a wife. So, a husband in Islam is prohibited to exercise violence over his wife.
In another verse, Allah the Almighty says, “Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good” (Quran, 4:19).
Allah Almighty also says: “Retain them (wives) in kindness or release them in kindness. But do not retain them for injury; so that you exceed the limits, and whoever does this, he indeed is unjust to his own soul” (2:231). The word “Dirar” (ضرار) has multiple meanings; such as ‘hurt’, ‘injury’ ‘harm’, ‘damage’, ‘detriment’ and ‘wound’ etc. With any of these meanings, it would be fully appropriate to derive a sense from this verse that practicing any kind of violence over wife to cause injury or harm or damage is forbidden in Islam.
In addition to the Qur’anic verses, there are many Ahadith that teach the husband to maintain good ties of kinship, love, and gentleness for his family. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The best among you are those who behave well with their women (wives) and daughters” (Al-Baihaqi). To be best for wife and daughter in the modern-day, it is binding upon a husband to keep away from the practice of violence over his wife and daughter.
Once someone asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) what the obligations of husbands towards their wives are. He replied: “Feed her when you eat and provide her clothing when you provide yourself. Neither hit her on the face nor use impolite language when addressing her” (Mishkat Shareef, the chapter on the maintenance of women).
In another Hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, the lady Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said “the prophet (peace be upon him) was in the service to his family”. (Bukhari)
The sacred texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah imply that both husband and wife are obliged to fulfil their respective duties towards each other. Obedience to each other’s responsibilities is binding upon them. The spouses ought to take care of each other’s emotions and sentiments. Their primary purpose must essentially focus on co-operating each other in joy and sorrow with patience. They should never let themselves be possessed by anger, as it is unlawful in Islam. Anger destroys the faith of a man and often breaks even good ties. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Verily anger spoils faith just as aloes spoils honey” (Al-Tabrani and al-Baihaiqi). Therefore, the husband and the wife must avoid getting angry, as it causes nothing but tension, depression, frustration, mental torture, and violence. Adhering to Islamic teachings is therefore binding upon both of them to bring prosperity and peace in their married life, and thus to save from every kind of violence.
Our Islam lays emphasis on maintaining a good relationship between the spouses and on the value of one’s and other’s life, by prohibiting the act of unjust killing. But it is the members of the Muslim community who fear neither the divine punishment on the Day of Judgment nor the law of punishment enforced by their country. Is this the result of lack of education or that of not practicing the divine guidance which strongly prohibits hurting, torturing, and hitting the wife and children? It is the responsibility of Muslim preachers to ponder over this question for hours and find out the ways to curb the growing suicide and murder in the Muslim community and come out of facing further shame.