By Spahic Omer
During the battle of Uhud there was a person whose name was Qazman. He participated in the combat and was found among the wounded. He fought heroically, killing seven or eight idolaters. “He was weakened by the wounds he had sustained, they carried him to the habitation of Bani Zufr. The Muslims gave him glad tidings of the Paradise. But he said: ‘By Allah, I have fought out of a zeal to my people. Had it not been for that, I would have never fought.’ When his wounds worsened he committed suicide. The Messenger of Allah had already said whenever he was mentioned to him: ‘He is an inhabitant of Fire’” (Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar).
In his award-winning biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) entitled “the Sealed Nectar”, Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri commented on this incident: “This is the end of those who fight for a national cause or in a way other than that of raising up the Word of Allah, though they fought under the banner of Islam or even in the army of the Messenger of Allah or of his Companions.”
The incident likewise indicates that such seemingly innocent and admirable concepts as patriotism, heroism, defence of and sacrifice for a country, nationhood, kinsfolk and ideals, either personal or collective, cannot be left unbridled and practiced unilaterally. They too must be saturated with and regulated by the life-force of one’s submission to his Creator.
One’s loyalty to the kingdom of heaven ought to preponderate over one’s loyalty to any kingdom on earth; one’s obedience to his Master ought to eclipse earthly forms of obedience; and one’s conforming to the standards of the Islamic faith ought to put into the shade one’s subscription to and following of man-made systems and moral codes.
Last but not least, one’s obsession with satisfying the criteria of the spiritual sphere and with impressing the residents of heaven should be so momentous that one will not have time to even think about impressing the residents of earth. The significance of the former is immense, to the point that the latter should not be allowed to even come close to upsetting it.
This conception of the world and life in it is truly empowering, making man a genuine hero and “superman”, whose valour knows no bounds. Hamza (the Prince of the Uhud martyrs), together with the rest of martyrs, exemplified the trend. It is true that Muslims lost the battle then and there, but that was part of their winning the war eventually, and was also part of many people’s winning of personal ontological both battles and wars.
The person mentioned in the above report killed himself because he adhered to the artificial standards of nationalism and self-righteousness, which could take him only so far. Disingenuousness in him could only lead to more disingenuousness in and around him. His trials were so severe that he did not have what it takes to overcome them and get to the top. He did not want the truth of Islam when he was in a position to choose it for himself, so the truth of Islam did not want him when he was in distress and faced by death.
Consistent with a maxim, “man, faced by death, acts (rises) or perishes (falls)”, the mentioned individual was a coward; he lived like one and died like one. His case not only pales in comparison with the cases of Muslim martyrs at Uhud, but also sinks into oblivion. Nobody remembers him today. His life is given as a metaphor for insolvency and failure.
Undeniably, life is too short and too precious to be given cheaply. It is often said that life should be lived to the fullest, which is true, but not in the sense that one should abuse or squander it as the only opportunity one has gotten. Rather, life is to be lived in such a way that it will be optimized as a launching pad for a far greater and more consequential realm. Short as it is, life is to be taken seriously and made the most of, in order for a soul to experience a happy ending not only here, but as well in the Hereafter.
If someone commits suicide – irrespective of circumstances – that means that he failed to comprehend the significance, intensity and beauty of life, that he failed to experience and live it appropriately, and that he, ultimately, let himself down, his life mission and his Creator and Master. In short, it means he failed in every respect and was ready to leave as a failure. He lived for something other than the Almighty Allah, fought for it, and was ready to die for it. He did not recognize his true God in this world, so neither did God recognize him thenceforward.
As Jesus once said: “All who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) – which has an equivalent in the ancient Greek culture: “He killed her by falsehoods, by falsehoods he dies as well” – which implies that he who leads a particularly wrong lifestyle is likely to become a victim of the same wrongness. He will become its embodiment. He will become it.
Put another way, how a person lives that is how he is going to die. When it comes to suicide, the action is not a one-off occurrence. Rather, it signifies the crown of a suicidal standard of living. For that reason is it rightly said that death is a bringer, yet the moment, of the truth. What was hidden before, more often than not, becomes apparent at the instant of death. Even the Qur’an says in this regard: “And the intoxication (agony and stupor, sakrah al-mawt) of death will bring the truth” (Qaf, 19).
And in the end, how a person lives and dies that is how he will continue to “live” in the Hereafter. The Prophet said on this: “He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell-Fire (forever), and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell-Fire (forever) (Sahih al-Bukhari).
The Prophet also revealed: “Whoever commits suicide with piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell-Fire (forever)…A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: ‘My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him’” (Sahih al-Bukhari).
The Prophet’s companion Abu Hurayrah furthermore reported: “We witnessed (the battle of) Khaybar. Allah’s Messenger said about one of those who were with him and who claimed to be a Muslim: ‘This (man) is from the dwellers of the Hell-Fire.’ When the battle started, that fellow fought so violently and bravely that he received plenty of wounds. Some of the people were about to doubt (the Prophet’s statement), but the man, feeling the pain of his wounds, put his hand into his quiver and took out of it some arrows with which he slaughtered himself (i.e. committed suicide). Then some men amongst the Muslims came hurriedly and said: ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Allah has made your statement true so-and-so has committed suicide.’ The Prophet said: ‘O so-and-so! Get up and make an announcement that none but a believer will enter Paradise and that Allah may support the religion with an unchaste (evil) wicked man” (Sahih al-Bukhari ).
In yet another tradition of his, the Prophet explained that a person can keep doing something that may appear to people as something else – be that part of a good or wicked mode of life. However, in its capacity as a supplier and discloser of the truth, death often does not allow that truth to go unnoticed. It takes care of making known, not who people appeared or pretended to be, but who, in reality, they were.
It has been narrated that the Prophet watched a man fighting against the pagans and he was one of the most competent persons fighting on behalf of the Muslims. The Prophet said: “Let him who wants to look at a man from the dwellers of the Hell-Fire, look at this (man).” Another man followed him and kept on following him till he (the fighter) was injured and, seeking to die quickly, he placed the blade tip of his sword between his breasts and leaned over it till it passed through his shoulders (i.e., he committed suicide). The Prophet then added (lest some people should be confused): “A person may do deeds that seem to the people as the deeds of the people of Paradise while in fact he is from the dwellers of the Hell-Fire; and similarly a person may do deeds that seem to the people as the deeds of the people of the Hell-Fire while in fact he is from the dwellers of Paradise. Verily, the (results of) deeds done, depend upon the last actions” (Sahih al-Bukhari). This hadith or tradition of the Prophet could be a different version of the one quoted above. ***
(Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer is an academic in Department of History and Civilisation, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences. The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of IIUMToday.)
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