Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Assisted dying—time for a full and fair debate

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4517 (Published 20 August 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4517

Rapid Response:

Muslim medical reasons against assisted suicide

In Britain, there are about three million British Muslims and about 20 000 Muslim doctors and thousands of Muslim nurses. All Muslims share the same belief in the SANCTITY of human life and that our all GOD, the Creator is the real Owner of all life. No one has the right to end his/her life directly (as in suicide) or indirectly (as in Assisted suicide). Suicide, Assisted suicide and Euthanasia are all prohibited in Islam on every Muslim believer man or woman.

As the latest issue of the BMJ (22 August) has published many articles on Assisted dying, including the Editor's Choice by Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, we feel it is appropriate to put the Islamic point of view of British Muslims, Muslim doctors and Muslim nurses and patients.

Our opposition to Assisted dying is based on:
-Religious/Islamic reasons
-Medical humane ethical reasons

FIRST: RELIGIOUS/ISLAMIC REASONS:
All British Muslims and all Muslims believe in the SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE and that the end of any human's life is FIXED in advance only by our Almighty GOD, the Creator and the Owner of all life.
Death should end naturally as ordained by GOD and without any interference/decision from the person's himself or herself and without the assistance of a doctor or a court or any body else.
This is why: ASSISTED SUICIDE, SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA ARE ALL FORBIDDEN IN ISLAM.
No one should have the intention to kill himself or herself, even with the assistance of somebody else.
There are many verses in the final Holy Book: AL QUR'AN which emphasize these basic Pro-life Islamic beliefs. If I can quote one verse:

In the Name of GOD, the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful
"DO NOT KILL YOURSELVES, FOR VERILY ALLAH/GOD HAS BEEN TO YOU MOST MERCIFUL"
(chapter 4,verse 29)

There is also a clear saying of the final prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which has PROHIBITED all types/methods of suicide like taking a poison/overdose, jumping from a mountain/high building or by using an iron instrument (gun/knife)

All types of Assisted suicide and Euthanasia (voluntary or non-voluntary, direct or indirect, active or passive are all prohibited in Islam (as stated by the European Council for Ifta and Research).
It is forbidden to end deliberately (by intention) one's life or to hasten the death of any person.
Food and fluid are basic human rights and should be provided for every human being whether one is sick or healthy.
Muslims believe in accepting any hardship suffering or illness and to be patient and tolerant, and this will take away all the previous sins (purification)/ to become SAINT-LIKE.
One should use the best and strongest ANALGESIC.
KILL THE PAIN ...NOT THE PATIENT!

Palliative care/Hospices are recommended in Islam, and the best hospice for the Muslim is to die at home naturally with family members around (HOME HOSPICE).
This is the best dignified death/best death.
Muslim doctors/any doctor should have the HUMAN RIGHT: CONSCIENCIOUS/RELIGIOUS RIGHT AND THE RIGHT TO OBJECTION (Conscience clause) to avoid any step which will hasten the death or end the life of any patient or to assist in the death of any patient.
DO NO HARM!

Muslim doctors, Muslim nurses and Muslim patients all share this basic belief and attitude to human life: FULL RESPECT AND FULL PROTECTION OF ANY HUMAN LIFE (PRO-LIFE), and to avoid being involved in any case of assisted suicide.

SECOND:MEDICAL HUMANE ETHICAL REASONS:
One thing we need to clarify in the beginning: the patients in many cases are not DYING?
This is misnomer and it should be corrected as Assisted suicide and not Assisted dying.
In fact it should be called: Assisted KILLING?
We all know that the sacred duty of every doctor is to PROTECT/TREAT AND SAVE THE LIFE of any patient.
A doctor cannot be a KILLER. This is contradictory to the Hippocratic Oath.
The trust between the doctor and the patient is LOST when the doctor is found to be involved in the killing of patients.
Generally we all should deal with the causes of anyone feeling suicidal.
We badly need too to address the feeling of being a burden on the family or the NHS.
Every member of the family should feel LOVED and WANTED.

If Assisted suicide is made legal, there will be a lot of pressure on many vulnerable old, lonely, disabled and chronically sick people to ask for Assisted suicide, especially with the present difficult climate of recession and financial difficulty (SLIPPERY SLOPE).

Already when Assisted suicide was made legal as in Oregon in the US, the number of cases have risen hugely by 450%?
It is a fact that hard cases (very small in number) will always make bad laws for all.
Unfortunately the British media do always bring hard and rare cases in order to push to legalise Assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is un-Christian too.

All British Muslims/Muslim doctors and the majority of doctors and Christian believers and people with other faiths or with no faith would like to keep the law as it is now;
ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA SHOULD BE KEPT ILLEGAL for the safety of all of us.

WE MUSLIM DOCTORS MUSLIM NURSES AND MUSLIM PATIENTS FULLY OPPOSE ASSISTED SUICIDE AND MARRIS BILL ON ASSISTED SUICIDE!

WE ALL SHOULD SUPPORT ASSISTED LIVING....AND NOT ASSISTED KILLING.

We APPEAL finally to all Muslim doctors/nurses and patients and to all Muslims to contact their MP and ask him/her to OPPOSE the Marris bill in the coming debate in Parliament on 11th September.

Dr A.Majid Katme(MBBCH,DPM)
Ex-President Islamic Medical Association/UK
Weekly TV Presenter of a Health show

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 August 2015
Majid Katme
Retired medical doctor
Member of BMA
London