Asking for Death?

What is the ruling of someone asking Allah SWT for him to die, for he could not bear his illness?

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgment.

In a hadith narrated by Suhaib RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

“Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delighted, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” Sahih Muslim (7692)

Imam al-Tibi issued an explanation of which is cited by Imam al-Munawi saying: “Every situation for a mukmin is good. This behaviour can only be found in a mukmin. It is impossible to be found in the lives of a disbeliever and hypocrites. Miraculously for a mukmin, when he is blessed with health, safety, property and position, then he would be grateful to Allah SWT and he is recorded as those who are thankful. While when he is tested with a calamity, then he is patient and he will be among those who are patient.” (See Faidh al-Qadir, 4/302)

Answering the above question, it is makruh (undesirable) for someone to supplicate to Allah SWT to die because of the unbearable pain he is suffering. The Prophet PBUH said:

“None of you should wish for death because of some harm that befalls him.” Sahih Muslim (6990)

In another hadith from the Prophet PBUH:

“None amongst you should make a request for death, and do not call for it before it comes, for when anyone of you dies, he ceases (to do good) deeds and the life of a believer is not prolonged but for goodness.” Sahih Muslim (6995)

In a hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, the Prophet PBUH said:

“None of you should long for death, for if he is a good man, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil-doer, he may stop the evil deeds and repent.” Sahih al-Bukhari (7235)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar commented on the above hadith, stating that from Imam al-Nawawi, he said: “It is clear in the hadith that it is makruh to hope for death when some harm befalls him or suffering due to the actions of his enemy or others which is of the suffering of this world.” (See Fath al-Bari, 20/279)

However, there are some exceptions for asking for death. If someone fears a loss or fitnah towards his religion, then it is not makruh to hope for death. This is what can be understood from the above hadith. This has also been done by some salaf. (See Fath al-Bari, 20/279)

This is in accordance with a supplication made by Saidina Umar al-Khattab RA:

“O, Allah! I have become old and my strength has weakened. My flock is scattered. Take me to You with nothing missed out and without having neglected anything.” Imam Malik narrated in al-Muwatta’ (2405)

The same is done by Saidatina Maryam when she knew she is going to be tested with the birth of a child without a father. This is recorded by Allah SWT through His statement:

“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” Surah Maryam (23)

Ibnu Kathir said: The verse is the evidence that it is permissible to hope for death when one is faced with fitnah. The reason is, Maryam knew that she will be tested with the birth of her child without a father, where she will lose all her credibility and support of the people and the attitude of the people who will not believe her story. Where preceding this incident, she was an obedient worshipper, now, according to them, she is a liar and an adulterer. Then she said: (يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا) “Oh, I wish I had died before this” before the incident. (وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا) “and was in oblivion, forgotten”, which means I was never created in the first place. This is the opinion of Ibnu Abbas. (See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 5/323)

As a conclusion, it is makruh for someone to hope for death because he is unable to bear the pain he is suffering. There are just some exceptions for this, where one fears fitnah on his religion. This is as stated above.

A person should be patient and always ask for help and strength from Allah SWT. However, if it is so hard and painful for you, then say as the following as has been taught to us by the Prophet PBUH:

“O, Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me.” Sahih Muslim (6990)

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Author: Abu Tariq Abu Tariq Muhsin is a zakat officer for Zakat Centre of Federal Territory of Malaysia. A writer, researcher and publisher of various writing focusing on Zakat & Islamic studies.

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