Performing the Funeral Prayer for Someone Who Committed Suicide

Hanafi FiqhShafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Are there any restriction performing janaza for a brother who has committed suicide?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

The sounder opinion, which is chosen for fatwa in the Hanafi school is that the one who commits suicide is considered a sinful believer, and is washed, prayed over, and buried with the believers.

The Texts of the Hanafi School

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not pray over an individual who committed suicide, [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and others] but this is interpreted by the majority of scholars as being out of warning, not to indicate impermissibility; it is not understood that his Companions (Allah be pleased with them) did not pray over that individual. This also shows the importance of fiqh, and not merely relying on the outward purport of hadiths related to legal rulings.

It is mentioned in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, which is a major fatwa reference authored by a committee of top scholars led by Nidham al-Din al-Balkhi under the instructions of the righteous Moghul sultan, Aurangzeb,

“The one who kills himself intentionally is prayed over, according to Abu Hanifa and Muhammad [ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, the second major student of Abu Hanifa] (Allah have mercy on them). This is the sounder (asahh) position, as mentioned in [Imam al-Zayla`i’s] Tabyin.” [al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1.163]

Imam Tumurtashi (Allah have mercy on him) said in his Tanwir al-Absar:

“The one who kills himself intentionally is washed and prayed over.”

Imam Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) explained, in his commentary, Durr al-Mukhtar:

“This is the fatwa position. This is even though it is a greater sin than killing another.”

He then explains that,

“Kamal [ibn al-Humam] chose the position of Abu Yusuf [f: that he is washed, but not prayed over], because of the hadith in [Sahih] Muslim that, ‘The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not pray over a man who had killed himself.'”

Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explained in his supercommentary (hashiya), Radd al-Muhtar that Ibn Nujaym said in his al-Bahr al-Ra’iq that,

“There is difference regarding the sounder position, though the second position [f: that of Abu Yusuf] is reinforced by the hadith.”

Ibn Abidin objected, though,

“I say: It can be said that there is no indication in the hadith about this, because all it says is that he (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not pray over him. It would appear that he did not pray over him to warn others from such actions, in the same way that he did not pray over the one in debt. It is not entailed from this that none of the Companions prayed over that individual… this is also what was researched [by Imam Ibrahim al-Halabi] in Sharh al-Munya.

… Know, too, that this [difference of opinion] is regarding one who killed himself intentionally. As for the one who did so by mistake, there is no difference of opinion that they are prayed over, as mentioned explicitly in al-Kifaya [f: a major commentary on Imam Marghinani’s Hidaya] and elsewhere…” [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar `ala Tanwir al-Absar, 1.572, Bulaq ed.]

The Position of the Shafi`i School

This is also the position of the Shafi`i school.

Imam Nawawi said in his Minhaj al-Talibin:

“The one who kills himself is like others in being washed and being prayed over.”

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said in his commentary, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, that the hadith in Sahih Muslim is,

“…Understood to be in order to warn against such actions. Actually, Ibn Hibban [f: a great hadith expert] said in his Sahih that the hadith was abrogated.” [Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj fi Sharh al-Minhaj, 3.28]

Suicide is Not An Option

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (909-974 AH) wrote in his al-Zawajir `an Iqtiraf al-Kaba’ir, which lists and explains the major sins (kaba’ir),

“The 314th Major Sin: Killing oneself.

Allah Most High said, “Do not kill yourselves. Verily, Allah is ever Merciful unto you. Whoever does that through aggression and wrongdoing, We shall cast them into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah.” [Qur’an, 4: 29-30]…” [Haytami, al-Zawajir `an Iqtiraf al-Kaba’ir]

After this, he cites numerous hadiths that indicate the tremendousness of the sin of suicide.

May Allah give life to our hearts, minds, and souls, through true love for Him and His Beloved Messenger, Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace).

Walaikum assalam,

Faraz Rabbani.