Focus Inquiry 112
Euthanasia: The practice of taking a life
Euthanasia is the “the act or practice of ending the life of a person either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. The literal meaning of Euthanasia is “good death or easy death”. Euthanasia is a controversial issue, questioning morals and religious views. Is it ever right for a person to take away a life of person that is terminally ill/enduring pain? How can we take away someone’s hope of living? Islam considers euthanasia “unethical”, and is Islamically forbidden to end the life of individual.
In Islamic teaching, we are taught that life is a “divine trust and can not be terminated by any form of active or passive voluntary intervention” (Al- Qaradawi, 2005). It is stated multiple times in the Holy Qur’an that it is forbidden to take a life away, He presents life being sacred “do not take life, which Allah made sacred, other than in the course of justice” (Qur’an 17:33). It is also stated in the Quran that death can only be in His hands “When their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward by a single hour… and no person can ever die by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term” (Quran 16:61). Islam has taught its followers to always have trust in God. He is the Most Merciful and has a plan for everyone.
In Meet the real Death Panels, author James Ridgeway pointed out that in 2004, a team of researchers found out that the United States spent 134 percent more than the median of the worlds most developed nations (Ridgeway, 2010). We get less for our money. It’s things like this that make us question our health care system; if we’re not using all the resources we are given how are we saving lives? We are overpaying for the amount of attention we get. There are no laws, medication associations, church denominations, or right to life groups that are against futile treatments being provided to help initiate prolong life, and recognize the right of competent patients who are terminally ill.
In 1981, the Islamic code of Medical ethics held their first international conference on Islamic medicine, in Kuwait. The conference came to a conclusion: “in his/her defense of life, however, the doctor is well advised to realize his limit and not to transgress it. If it is scientifically certain that life cannot be restored, then it is futile to diligently keep the patient in a vegetative state. It is the process of life that the doctor aims to maintain and not the process of dying. In any case, the doctor shall not take positive measure to terminate the patient’s life.” A physician should not take an active part in taking away someone’s life. It is the physicians’ responsibility to do whatever he/she can and encourage the patient, family, and friends there is “a reward of those who tolerate suffering”.
In 2001, Netherlands parliament and legalized euthanasia, in the last 8 years the rate of euthanasia in Netherlands has increased by 73 percent. Since the legalization in Netherland, the numbers have been increasing and more and more people are starting to depend on euthanasia. There are major risks that are being taken having euthanasia legalized. An Australian politician and former member of the Victorian Legislative Council, Peter Kavanagh addressed his opinion on why we should not legalize euthanasia. He says, “Legalizing euthanasia would have a wide range of profoundly detrimental effects. It would diminish the protection offered to the lives of all. It would allow the killing of people who do not genuinely volunteer to be killed” (Kavanagh, 2010).
People in the United States argue that the Due Process clause of the fourteenth amendment protects the personal choice of a mentally unstable and terminally ill individual. Under the Fourteenth Amendment declares that no State shall “deprive and person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Euthanasia is illegal in all 50 Sates and the District of Columbia prohibits euthanasia under general homicide laws. However, Physician aid in dying (PAD), or assisted suicide is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. People magazine had published an article on October 2014 about Brittany Maynard. Maynard was a 29-year-old living in Oregon who was suffering with stage 4 Gilobastoma multiforme (a malignant brain tumor). Maynard had launched a campaign with Compassion & Choices to raise awareness about Death and Dignity Laws. Maynard was able to take lethal medication prescribed by her doctor in Oregon on November 1,2014. In the article she quotes “I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not…my giloblastoma is going to kill, and that’s out of my control.” She refers to her death as “dying with dignity” (Egan,2014). Maynard finds it ‘unethical’ that people don’t have the choice to “die with dignity”. She believed that she could no longer see her family in pain and hope for a cure when she knows there isn’t one.
The Islamic Medical Association states “there is no place for euthanasia in medical management, under whatever form. Nor does it believe in the concept of willful and free consent in this area. The mere existence of euthanasia as 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” (Athar, 1996).
In Islam all human life is sacred, it’s something we have to cherish no matter what the circumstance can be. What type of practice is it if we’re giving up and taking the easy way out? The practice of medicine should be looked at ethically and with hope. Taking an ill person’s life to take away their pain shows weakness and a bit of failure. Taking away hope in the creator and in science, going back to the discussion whether this is ethical or not we can come to the conclusion that euthanasia is not ethical. Especially in the Islamic perspective, it is frowned upon and shows that there is no trust in the Creator. The Islamic position is that life belongs to God, “He who gives and takes away life, no human can give it or take it.” All human life is sacred, and human beings should not interfere in this.
What Are Muslim Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide?
Euthanasia ProCon.org. (2009, January 1). Retrieved December 2, 2014, from
Egan, N. (2014, October 17). In this week's PEOPLE: Inside Terminally Ill Brittany
Maynard's Decision to Die. Retrieved December 2, 2014, from
Peter Kavanagh. (Nov. 13, 2010). News Weekly article, "Opinion: Why We Should Not
Legalize Euthanasia," - available at www.newsweekly.com.au, stated:
Ridgeway, J. (2010, January 1). Meet the Real Death Panels. Retrieved December 2,
2014, from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/07/health-care-rationing- death-panels
Shadi, H. (2007, January 1). Euthanasia: An Islamic Ethical Perspective. Retrieved
December 2, 2014.