By Ammar Awais – Hiba’s team writer
Violent crimes, extrajudicial killings and high profiled assassinations that are politically motivated, are becoming increasingly common around the world.
Factors such as deteriorating mental health and increased consumption of alcohol and drugs have contributed to high rates of homicide in many countries. In fact, in the United States, over 40 percent of violent crime is linked with the alcohol consumption, according to America’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
While greed , domestic disputes, and personal enmity are often the motivation behind murders, violent crime is also committed in the name of defending one’s ethnic race, religion, or so-called honour. In a Hadith recorded by Bukhari, the Prophet (sa) has described an increase in killings as one of the signs of the Day of Judgement.
Moreover, we are today witnessing a sharp increase in “casual killings”, where human life is taken for no apparent reason. Neither the victims nor the perpetrators fully understand what the bloodshed is all about.
Again, such a situation was predicted by the Prophet (sa) when he said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, a time would come when the murderer would not know why he has committed the murder, and the victim would not know why he has been killed.” (Muslim) This is particularly true for the suicide attacks, mob violence, and mass shootings that have come to characterize the “modern” age.
In Islam, human life is held sacred. There are only three instances where killing another human is allowed:
- A person who is attacked and forced to kill in self-defence while defending one’s life, family, honour or property.
- As penalty for killing another person, which is exceuted by the court of law.
- A person may be punished by death for committing certain crimes of the most serious nature, such as rape, which are collectively included under the category of “spreading corruption in the land” again executed by the court of law.
Let us now explore in detail what the Quran and Sunnah say about unlawful killings. Allah (swt) has specifically warned us in the Quran: “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by (legal) right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (Al-Anam 6 :151)
As this Ayah indicates, it is not only evil but also senseless to illegally take a human life because it only perpetrates further bloodshed and anarchy in society. In addition, the Quran has described killing one innocent person as equivalent to killing all humankind, and saving one person’s life as equivalent to saving all humankind. The Prophet (sa), in a Hadith of Bukhari, has included unlawful killing among the “seven great destructive sins” in Islam.
While a murderer might evade death penalty through trickery, bribery, and undue influence in this world, there is no escape in the hereafter. The Quran makes no secret of the final destiny of a murderer: “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” (Al-Nisa 4:93)
The following Hadith describes the deliberate murder of a believer as the greatest sin alongside Shirk – one that is extremely unlikely to be forgiven by Allah (swt): “Any sin might be forgiven by Allah (swt), except for one who dies as an idolater or a believer who kills another believer on purpose.” (Abu Dawud – Sahih)
It is not just the illegal killing of Muslims that is considered a serious crime in Islam. Killing any non-Muslim unlawfully is also a major sin which destines the murderer to Hell. In Islam, a Mu’ahid is a non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state. In modern terms, that includes all non-Muslim residents and visitors to a Muslim country. The Prophet (sa)ﷺ has described the consequence of killing these non-Muslims in no uncertain terms: “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelled at a distance of forty years (of traveling).” (Bukhari)
In another profound Hadith, it has been narrated that on the Day of Judgement, the slain person will grab their killer by the hair, and ask Allah (swt): “O Lord, ask this one, why did he kill me?” (Ibn Majah – Sahih) Thus, the victim will be thirsty for revenge and in no mood to forgive the murderer, which is why the murderer is destined for Hell. The Prophet (sa) ﷺ further informed us: “The cases which will be decided first (on the Day of Judgement) will be those of bloodshed.” (Bukhari)
It is thus unfortunate that our society, despite professing an Islamic identity, has failed to curb the menace of extrajudicial killings. Yet, it is true that the vast majority of us are neither murderers, nor do we condone such behaviour – how do we then play a meaningful role in restraining this evil? There are three steps that each one of us can take in this regard:
- Understand Allah’s (swt) true status as Al Haseeb (The Reckoner) and Al Aziz (The Mighty) Whose silence and allowance of happenings should not be falsely percieved as His weakness or approval. The concept of Tauheed must be built in our society all across, via Allah’s (swt) Asma ul Husna (His beautiful names) and the Noble Quran to fear His Wrath, act in His love and remember the day of judgment.
- We must create awareness regarding the gravity of taking a human life, and in particular, the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah on the consequences of unlawful murder. It is very important to develop a sense of high regard for human life that Islam upholds, in our children from a young age in order to prevent them from being influenced by false ideologies later on in life.
- Thirdly, we must be vocal against unjust murders and crimes inciting them. We are aware of how individuals have been brutally murdered based on unfounded allegations of immorality, blasphemy in our society or upon petty crimes as mobile phone snatching. Similarly, it is becoming common practice in our society to conveniently murder someone, and pressure their relatives into accepting the blood money and pardoning the killer, making a mockery of the Islamic law of Diyat in the process.
Today, it is not enough to condemn such incidents only within our hearts- we must openly and actively condemn such brutality, not just on social media, but also in our Masajid, social circles, through educational institutions, and through any other available forums. We must demand the rulers to provide safety to the citizens who pay them taxes.
May Allah (swt) enable muslims to establish justice on their lands, at least. Ameen