A quote, which I believe is from QuestionsOnIslam.com, popped up on the Islam Means Peace Facebook page. It included the following snippet:

Committing suicide is a grave sin which is forbidden by Islam. A Muslim’s killing himself/herself is a bigger murder and sin than killing another person. Thus, Islamic scholars have disputed whether the funeral prayer of a person who has committed suicide is performed or not. This discussion is not made for a murderer who killed someone. A murderer’s funeral prayer is performed.

This took me by surprise. Hence my question:

Question: Is suicide a worse sin than murder?

Essentially I'm asking for this claim to be confirmed (or refuted), and either way, identify who is making this claim. It is possible that the answer to this question varies from sect to sect (so please acknowledge it if your answer is limited to some school of thought). It's also possible this claim is limited to a small number of scholars.

Google yielded this:

For Islam, suicide is always forbidden; some regard it as worse than murder. -- Abdal-Hakim Murad, Bombing Without Moonlight, 2004

This webpage references: 'Abdallah ibn Qutayba, 'Uyun al-akhbar (Cairo, 1348/1930), iii, 217. I don't believe I have access to this book, but it would be a good place to start.

Just to indicate this is not a "once off" claim; similar claims are made in e.g.: (a) Benedict Auer, Jessy A. Ang, Torment of the Soul: Suicidal Depression and Spirituality, 2007, p. 38, (b) John L. Esposito, The Future of Islam, 2010, p. 99, and (c) Nils Retterstøl, Suicide: A European Perspective, 1993, p. 13.

  • 1
    I suppose this is clear if you look at the consequences; the murderer goes to hell for a finite time, the suicide goes to hell forever -afaik those are pretty undisputed views. There are sahih ahadith stating that the suicide will be tortured in hell forever with the thing he killed himself with. I have seen this explained as "if you had any trust in god, you wouldn't kill yourself, and a complete lack of trust in god is disbelief". I can't find a reference for that line of thought at the moment.
    – G. Bach
    Oct 8, 2016 at 12:57
  • As for the specific statement which sin is worse than another, I don't know any references, so not sure this qualifies as an answer.
    – G. Bach
    Oct 8, 2016 at 12:57

1 Answer 1

  1. There are ahadith which indicate that one who commits suicide will be punished eternally.

    Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be in the Fire of Hell, throwing himself down therein for ever and ever. Whoever takes poison and kills himself, his poison will be in his hand and he will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron, that piece of iron will be in his hand and he will be stabbing himself in the stomach with it in the Fire of Hell, for ever and ever.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5442; Muslim, 109.

    In contrast, for the one who murders, his murder can be forgiven. So the punishment for suicide is more severe due to its eternal nature.

  2. It could be due to the reason that a suicidal person has lost complete faith in Allah, and has lost all hope, which is considered one of worst sin in Islam. One of the core bases of Islam is to have Hope in Allah, no matter what. The one who does commits sucide does it losing all hope, expecting nothing from Allah, as opposed to the one who murders any soul (in which case, such hopelessness is not there).

  • its not about being common. it is part of islam. let me update the answer with the hadith. so every single muslim believe in Hadith like they believe in Quran. so its part of islam. please check it, i have added hadith
    – user12159
    Oct 8, 2016 at 15:23
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones For what it's worth, apart from listing a number of opinions, that fatwa seems misleading to me. They explicitly mention the opinion (which is the one I have encountered most often) that muslim suicides will be punished with eternal suffering in hell, yet end it with "well actually that's not what muslims believe". Seems like a pretty clear way of contradicting themselves to me.
    – G. Bach
    Oct 8, 2016 at 15:45
  • Indeed. The ahadith seem fairly unambiguous. I'll have to read about this some more (although it's not the most pleasant topic). Oct 8, 2016 at 15:59
  • A very tough question to answer. We do not know the level of a sin unless declared through Qur'an (e.g., 2:191 "for persecution is worse than slaughter"), or through hadith (e.g., as narrated by ibn Mas'ood that the worst sins are to have rivals to Allah, then to kill one's offspring ...). Any comparison of level without a proof is a personal opinion or speculation. The hadith in the answer above is about punishment, not level of sin. It can be argued, though, that one may have a chance to repent from committing murder, but not from committing suicide, as suicide will have sealed one's fate.
    – III-AK-III
    Oct 8, 2016 at 18:10
  • @user39732 If punishment is not proportional to the level of sin, then what would "level of sin" mean? I have always had the impression that islam says - along with every other system of justice I'm aware of - that the worse offense being punished more harshly is part of justice; if that is the case, then the notion that god is the most just implies that worse punishment means worse offense.
    – G. Bach
    Oct 8, 2016 at 18:53

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