Last updated on: 11/20/2009 6:15:00 AM PST
What Are Muslim Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, PhD, founder and part owner of IslamOnline, issued a fatwa that was quoted in "Living Shari'ah: Fatwah Bank" on the Islam Online website on Mar. 22, 2005:
"Euthanasia or Mercy Killing is the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, through lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.
This act is Islamically forbidden for it encompasses a positive role on the part of the physician to end the life of the patient and hasten his death via lethal injection, electric shock, a sharp weapon or any other way. This is an act of killing, and, killing is a major sin and thus forbidden in Islam, the religion of pure mercy."
Mar. 22, 2005 - Yusuf al-Qaradawi, PhD
Kiarash Aramesh, MD, Assistant Professor at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and Heydar Shadi, MA, PhD candidate in Islamic Studies at Erfurt University, wrote in a Feb. 2007 article titled "Euthanasia: An Islamic Ethical Perspective" in the Iranian Journal of Allergy Asthma and Immunology:
"Islamic jurisprudence, based on a convincing interpretation of the holy Koran, does not recognize a person’s right to die voluntarily. The Islamic arguments against euthanasia can be summarized in two main reasons: 1 - Life is sacred and euthanasia and suicide are not included among the reasons allowed for killing in Islam. And 2 - Allah decides how long each of us will live and two verses support this reason.
According to Islamic teachings, life is a divine trust and can not be terminated by any form of active or passive voluntary intervention. All the Islamic scholars regard active euthanasia as forbidden (Hiram) and there is no difference between Sunni and Shiite schools.
The moment of death, ajal, is under the control of Allah and the human has no say in this matter; the human can not and should not attempt to hasten or delay the ajal. The prohibition on life applies equally well whether for self, suicide, or others, homicide or genocide. The concepts of autonomy, freedom and individual choice does not apply here for these two reasons: a. life does not belong to the human; and b. taking life will cause harm to the family and society in general. An individual's freedom of choice is constrained by the harm it causes to others...
As a conclusion we can say that the Islamic position is that life belongs to Allah. It is He who gives and takes away life. No human can give or take it. Muslims are against euthanasia. They believe that all human life is sacred because it is given by Allah, and that Allah chooses how long each person will live. Human beings should not interfere in this."
Feb. 2007 - Kiarash Aramesh, MD
Heydar Shadi, MA
The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) wrote in a July 30, 2008 article titled "Final Statement: Eleventh Ordinary Session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research" on www.e-cfr.org:
"Having considered the different legal stances Western countries take concerning Euthanasia, both in approval or rejection, the Council decided the following:...
The prohibition of the direct active euthanasia and the prohibition of suicide and assisting in bringing it about, for according to Shari’ah killing a patient suffering from a terminal illness is not permissible for the physician, the patient’s family or the patient himself. The patient whatever his illness and however sick he (or she) is shall not be killed because of desperation and loss of hope in recovery or to prevent the transfer of the patient’s disease to others, and whoever commits the act of killing will be a deliberate killer. The Qur’anic text confirms without a shadow of a doubt that homicide is forbidden absolutely, as Allah Almighty says: 'And take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law.' (VI: 151) and as Allah Almighty also says: 'Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder or for spreading mischief in the land—it would be as if he killed all mankind.' (V: 32)...
It is unlawful for the patient to kill himself (or herself) and it is unlawful for somebody else to kill him (or her) even if he is given leave to kill him. The former case will be suicide and the latter will be aggression against the other by killing him, for his permission does not render the unlawful act lawful. The patient does not posses his own soul to permit somebody else to take it."
July 30, 2008 - European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR)
The Islamic Medical Association stated in its testimony, "Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide," submitted to the Institute of Medicine Committee on Care at the End of Life on May 13, 1996:
"The IMA [Islamic Medical Association] endorses the stand that there is no place for euthanasia in medical management, under whatever name or form (e.g., mercy killing, suicide, assisted suicide, the right to die, the duty to die, etc.). Nor does it believe in the concept of a willful and free consent in this area. The mere existence of euthanasia as a legal and legitimate option is already pressure enough on the patient, who would correctly or incorrectly, read in the eyes of his/her family the silent appeal to go...
At the same time, the IMA holds the view that when the treatment becomes futile, it ceases to be mandatory...
Under such conditions, however, the basic human rights of hydration, nutrition, nursing and pain relief cannot be withheld."
May 13, 1996 - Islamic Medical Association