Because of the terrible suffering and grief that the practitioners of suicide have brought on their families and loved ones, in the first instance, and because of the damage this has done to the honour of the Muslims in the second instance, and because of its being a cause of rendering some kuffar deaf to the call of Islam in the third instance, many brothers and sisters have come to us asking for clear guidance in this matter.
In the tradition of the Fuqaha of the Mother of the Madhahibs, the School of the People of Madinah, when judgments are required concerning a matter the first question to be asked is, “What is this matter, and what is its origin?” On examining this we find that the term suicide has acquired two connotations. Firstly, what it is in itself, and secondly, a conjoining of what it is with its effects. It is the transference from the legal and actual reality of what it is to this second state, which is in fact an evaluation, that has proved part of the confusion for our Muslim nation.
The act itself has no ambiguity in meaning or evaluation. Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life, that is to say it is the act of killing oneself. It is an act of murder perpetrated on oneself. Since this in itself is in the words of the great German writer Ernst Jr, “Part of the patrimony of mankind,” it follows that it is something any one of the human race can perform. Of course, in the eyes of the humanists, and therefore atheists, the body is the person’s property and thus the act of suicide is the highest spiritual confirmation of the practice of human rights. Since this is an awesome human prerogative, it therefore requires that we first look at it in the widest terms.
Firstly we note that among the people of Fitra, and by that we mean those who live in a primal, pre-industrial and non-money economy, the practice is, according to those who study such societies, basically unheard of. Thus, in the Fitra the act of suicide is virtually unthinkable to such a degree that the exception would prove the rule. In the advanced societies which have evolved a social system, and which are referred to in the Qur’an as ‘the People of the Cities’, suicide does become manifest. In so-called civilised society, as we have just defined it, the record of suicide begins to emerge. The main general group of suicides in every society is put down among the community of the insane. It follows from this that one of the categories of the suicide enactor is madness. There seem to be two types of madness which end in the act of the sick person taking their life, and they could be seen as representing two extremes. One form of suicide is the result of a state of frenzy, that is hyper-activity. The other form of suicide is its opposite, and is a result of the depressive and catatonic state of the ill person, that state representing an opposite condition of non-action. As a further category of mental disturbance one would also subsume those who commit suicide while in the throes of sexual passion, itself often categorised as, or perpetrated in the name of, love. This pathetic and tragic condition was described in detail by the great writer William Shakespeare in his famous ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
A further category of suiciders which is yet a further result of the state system, can be found in the prison suicide. While this particular syndrome goes back in time over hundreds of years, as the epochs have darkened, so the prison suicide syndrome has increased. For this reason it can be found in detail in the writing of Dostoevsky and later in the evidence of Solzhenitsyn, this latter writer discoursing on the subject at length in his study of the communist prison system, ‘The Gulag Archipelago’. It would appear that the greater number of these particular suicides stemmed from a despair arising from the nihilistic conviction that there was no escape.
Nevertheless it is important to put on record that having examined the issue in great detail we find that in the late stages of advanced capitalism, which is the dominant culture in which we now all live, there has been an increasing attraction for an indulgence in the act of suicide, to such an extent that it could be characterised as an important and significant political act of nihilism performed among the intellectual elite who have embraced the nihilist and thus atheist philosophy, politique and economique. Significantly, this act of suicide in the modern age has taken on a increasingly jewish identity. Jewish communities have experienced collective suicide, either through despair or refusal to surrender, in their history. The suicides of the jews of Masada, when surrounded by the Roman army, is famous. So too are recorded events of suicide under christian persecution in the cathedral towns of York and Norwich, and in many places in France and Germany. In the modern age a positive rash of suicides seem to have beset the jewish intellectual elite. To name but a few, the poet Mayakovski, and the novelists Italo Calvino and Stefan Zweig, in varying circumstances killed themselves. The child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, having survived the concentration camps, committed suicide by tying a plastic bag over his head. Both the philosopher, Wittgenstein, and the Marxist theorist, Althusser, killed themselves, and the philosopher Otto Weininger killed himself in Beethoven’s house. The phenomenon, however, is far from being reserved for the judentum, and many of the christian elite followed the fashion-among writers, from Virginia Woolf to Ernest Hemingway and Montherlant.
A final category would be added to the varied groupings defined by motive, and that would be those who fall into a very modern category and one which has been on a continual curve of increase since the first collapse of capitalism in 1930, and that is suicide by debt anxiety. From the spectacular leaping out of skyscrapers during the crash in the 1930s, to the unnumbered dead who have evaded the unpayable debt by having it written off on the deposit of a handful of sleeping pills, thus and thus the usury system has claimed a community of the self-destroyed.
From all of this it follows that the act of suicide, the philosophy of suicide and the clinical character of the suicider are inseparable parts of a dominant culture whose character is nihilist in every aspect-the destruction of the biosphere precedes the self-destruction of the biological entity-and who grants no value or importance to the act of suicide or the one performing it, and by that extension grants no possible significance to the rest of its surviving society. The planet is valueless, the society is valueless, the person is valueless, and human actions are valueless. The suicider makes no protest against the valueless society, but offers a confirming equation of nihilism. The distinguished psychiatrist R. D. Laing defined it as an act of defiance and insult against the loved ones in order to punish them, as if to demonstrate, “There you are! You did not love me!” Francoise Sagan, in a famous text attacking suicide, accused the suicider of throwing his corpse in one’s face, saying, “You see? Nothing you could do could stop me!”
It is inescapable from all of this that suicide represents an experience of the absence of love, and by self-definition an ultimate act of hatred of oneself as the unloved object, whether the context be political, or personal, or madness.
Our next responsibility is to examine suicide within the ethos of the Muslim Ummah. There is simply no reference to suicide for whatever motive in the social life of the Muslims, apart from those aberrational phenomena as defined above. However, suicide does emerge as a social phenomenon among one sect of Muslims whose deviation in fact does not allow us to categorise them as Muslims, but only as emerging out of Islam in a desperate attempt to reach over to the powerful community of the kuffar, and in the process subvert the Muslims into defecting from their Deen. These are the Isma’ili. It is important to recognise the position of the Isma’ili in a political sense, for their dialectic is a movement, or rather a moving, from the confines of the Fara’id of Islam into a wild and abandoned release from the moral and civilising strictures of Divine Revelation. Not insignificantly, the Isma’ili geographically were situated in that zone that is now Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. It will be seen that we can derive a direct line from historical Isma’ilism to the contemporary practice of a political Isma’ilism. The ruined castles of the Isma’ili sect can still be seen on the skyline of the now doomed Middle-East. They are the result of the deviation of a deviation. The first deviation from our point of view is Shi’ism, which in its central form still locates itself within adherence to the Five Pillars. However, what in the viewpoint of the great body of Muslims represents a vital omission, the denial of Khilafa until the end of time, opened the door for one sect of their people to extend the deviation as follows.
Having denied Sultaniyya, which by its power constricts the Muminun to obey the known Shari’at, it then activates that denial of Amr not by a refusal of Amr but by the substitute of an unappointed Amir, a kind of surrealist Amir as opposed to a real one, an Amir that nobody knows. An Amir that nobody chose. A wild man who offers a wild release from how things are. Isma’ilism begins by simply ignoring Islamic rule, governance and Amr. In its place it offers a wild resistance both to Muslim authority and kafir authority. Answerable to no Muslim leader, it pulls the ground from under the known Muslim structures while claiming its glory for apparently attacking the enemies of Islam. The christians and the Muslim leader Salahuddin were both targets of Isma’ili fury. The first significant aspect of Isma’ilism, and this has to be recognised in the modern context, is a mocking rejection of Islamic fiqh and Fuqaha, and the replacing as we have said of real Amr with a quite unreal or surreal leadership. The Old Man of the Mountains was self-appointed, and so an opposite to the way that Khilafa based itself on an appointment confirmed by a known Jama’at. Just as he hid in the Lebanese mountains, with a cohort unknown to the Muslim community, so Bin Laden hides in his mountains with his unknown cohort, a secret society without acclamation of its leader or public bayat to him. Similarly, a secret junta manages the affair in Palestine, its only public acclamation the funeral takbirs of its victims.
The leader of the Muslims can only be a leader of their community. In that sense, the Isma’ili leader is not a leader of anything or anyone. He does not rule in any sense, but he does activate the irrational dynamics of destruction and self-destruction. In that sense he is a macabre activator of the Mahdi image. He is an anti-Mahdi. This is why it can be understood that the Shi’a cast them out as kuffar. The secret doctrine of Isma’ilism was the abolition of the Shari’at and its replacement with a magical haqiqat and angelology. Thus everything is permitted-which is the nihilism of the kuffar. The assassins who were sent to murder were given drugs to prepare them for the violent acts. The perpetrators of the hijacking and destruction of the Twin Towers, on the night before their crime, were witnessed drinking vodka sours and going off with prostitutes. Drugs and permitted sex were the rewards of the suicide-assassins of the Isma’ili. Among the Isma’ili special gardens of remembrance were prepared for the corpses of the so-called martyrs. Their graves were marked with portraits and garlands of flowers. Young men were sent into these gardens to meditate on the glory that had been won by their martyrs as part of their preparation to follow in their footsteps. Identical graveyards can be seen in Palestine today.
It follows from this that a closer look must be taken at the ethos from which the modern suicide bombers have emerged. First of all the Palestinian state, or pseudo-state as presently constituted, does not have an Islamic leader. From an Islamic point of view President Arafat would be legally dead if an Islamic trial were held, since this person, at Oxford and on television, openly insulted Sayedeta ‘Aisha, a crime which the Fuqaha of the School of Madinah consider to merit capital punishment because of its affront to the blessed exonerating Ayats in the Qur’an. This is clearly stated in the Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyad.
The so-called governing councils of Palestine have over the years had less and less possibility of being identified with the Deen of Islam, either by their character or social practice. The purpose of their battle, the creation of a national state, is itself abhorrent. While fighting to restore land taken from its people has Qur’anic sanction, Jihad fisabillillah is an entirely different matter. In order that Jihad takes place the Banner of Islam has to be raised high, and that implies in turn that it is under an open and declared Amir fulfilling the significantly restrictive rules of Jihad itself.
When the Mufti of Jerusalem set out to attend an Islamic Conference in Johannesburg two years ago, three entities tried to prevent his appearance at the Conference: the Israelis, the Saudis and the PLO. This is because his message was that Al-Aqsa is not the property of the Palestinian state, but of all the Muslims. Since there is no Islamic governance in Palestine, the people there find themselves in the same position as that earlier community which soon became the prey of a deviant anti-leadership. With the collapse of the capitalist/communist dialectic it became clear that there was no power support for the kafir-nationalist doctrine of self-determination. At that point they entered into the struggle against the supremely ruthless kafir-nationalism of the jews. There then began the adoption of a political Isma’ilism clearly derived from its historical ancestor and clearly hoping to move to an end result which was one defined by the Israeli Nobel prize-winner as being “Two states but one economy!” From the analysis that we have been pursuing to allow us to reach a clear judgment, a new set of questions emerge.
1. Who orders the suiciders to act?
2. By what macabre and false ijtihad are these acts justified as being part of Islam?
3. Who are these false Fuqaha, and where have they declared themselves to the Muslim Ummah?
Let us therefore examine those men and perhaps now even women who prepare the suicider for his act of violence. Firstly, is it his own son he is sending to his death? Secondly, is he sending another’s son to his death in preference to his own? Thirdly, what sort of man, presumably of a certain maturity, would prefer to send a young man to his death rather than perform the act himself? These are questions to which the answers must have bitter and terrible resonance. The final question that must be asked is, what can the possible outcome be to a policy based on the annihilation of your own future? These young men and women are the future-after these grizzly events-that future has been annihilated.
When we look at the Book of Allah we find one reference to suicide. Surat Al Baqara, Ayat 53 in the Riwayat of Warsh:
And when Musa said to his people, ‘My people,
You wronged yourselves by adopting the Calf
so turn towards your Maker and kill yourselves.
That is the best thing for you in your Maker’s sight.’
And He turned towards you.
He is the Ever-Returning, the Most Merciful.
This is the only sanctioned permission for the human creatures to commit suicide in the Book of Allah, and it is to those jews who have turned from the authority of Allah and embarked on the worship of wealth.
The other Ayat which stands as an unarguable proof against those who destroy themselves and by that token reject the mercy and the love of Allah, glory be to Him, is in Surat Az-Zummar. In the 50th Ayat, Allah says,
Say: ‘My slaves, you who have transgressed against yourselves,
do not despair of the mercy of Allah.
Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions.
He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’
Allah has also stated in His Book that he loves those who fight in lined-up ranks. Allah sanctions battle but Allah does not sanction acts of despair which in themselves indicate an abandoning of that powerful confidence in Allah, that powerful trust in Allah, that powerful love of Allah on which the Deen is based and without which the Muslim nation cannot thrive.