The Funeral Prayer for One Who Committed Suicide

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following was adapted from Seeker’s Guidance: The Funeral Prayer for One Who Committed Suicide on the September 14th, 2010.  It was answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Are there any restrictions on performing janazah for one who has committed suicide?  The sounder opinion, which is chosen from a fatwa in the Hanafi school, is that the one who commits suicide is considered a sinful believer, and is washed, prayed over, and buried with the believers.

According to the Hanafi school, the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not pray over an individual who committed suicide as recorded by Imam Muslim (r.a.), Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) and others.  However, this is interpreted by the majority of scholars as being out of warning against suicide.  It did not to indicate the impermissibility of performing the janazah since it is not understood that his Companions did not pray over that individual.  This also shows the importance of fiqh, and not merely relying on the outward purport of hadits related to legal rulings.

It is mentioned in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah, which is a major fatwa reference authored by a committee of top scholars led by Nizham ad-Din al-Balkhi (r.a.) under the instructions of the righteous Mughul Sultan, Aurangzeb, “The one who kills himself intentionally is prayed over, according to Abu Hanifah (r.a.) and Muhammad (r.a.).  This is the sounder position, as mentioned in Tabyin.”  Here, “Muhammad” refers to Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (r.a.), the second most prominent student of Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.).  The Tabyin is Imam Jamal ad-Din ‘Abdullah bin Yusuf az-Zayla’i’s (r.a.) Tabyin al-Haqa’iq, a commentary on Imam al-Nasafi’s (r.a.) Kanz al-Daqa’iq, another major book of fiqh.

Imam Tumurtashi (r.a.) said in his Tanwir al-Abswar, “The one who kills himself intentionally is washed and prayed over.”

Imam Haswkafi (r.a.) explained, in his commentary, Durr al-Mukhtar: “This is the fatwa position.  This is even though it is a greater sin than killing another.”

He then explains that Kamal ibn al-Humam (r.a.) chose the position of Abu Yusuf that he is washed, but not prayed over, because of the hadits in Swahih Muslim that, “The Prophet (s.a.w.) did not pray over a man who had killed himself.”

Imam ibn ‘Abidin (r.a.) explained in his supercommentary, hashiyah, Radd al-Muhtar that ibn Nujaym (r.a.) said in his al-Bahr ar-Ra’iq that, “There is difference regarding the sounder position, though the second position [that of Abu Yusuf] is reinforced by the hadits.”

Imam ibn ‘Abidin (r.a.) objected, though, “I say: It can be said that there is no indication in the hadits about this, because all it says is that he did not pray over him.  It would appear that he did not pray over him to warn others from such actions, in the same way that he did not pray over the one in debt.  It is not entailed from this that none of the companions prayed over that individual.”  H continued, “This is also what was researched [by Imam Ibrahim al-Halabi] in Sharh al-Munya.”  He further said, “Know, too, that this [difference of opinion] is regarding one who killed himself intentionally.  As for the one who did so by mistake, there is no difference of opinion that they are prayed over, as mentioned explicitly in al-Kifayah and elsewhere.”  al-Kifayah is a major commentary on Imam Marghinani’s (r.a.) Hidayah.

This is also the position of the Shafi`i school.  Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) said in his Minhaj ath-Thalibin, “The one who kills himself is like others in being washed and being prayed over.”

Imam ibn Hajr al-Haytsami (r.a.) said in his commentary, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, that the hadits in Swahih Muslim is, “understood to be in order to warn against such actions.  Actually, ibn Hibban said in his Swahih that the hadits was abrogated.”

Imam ibn Hajr al-Haytsami (r.a.) wrote in his az-Zawajir `an Iqtiraf al-Kaba’ir, which lists and explains the major sins, kaba’ir, “The 314th Major Sin: Killing oneself.  Allah Most High Said:

… nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been, to you, Most Merciful.  If any (one) does that in rancour and injustice, ― soon shall We Cast him into the Fire: and easy it is for Allah.” (Surah an-Nisa’:29-30)

After this, he cited numerous ahadits that indicate the tremendousness of the sin of suicide.


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