The Islamic perspective on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia

Med Sci Law. 2020 Oct;60(4):278-286. doi: 10.1177/0025802420934241. Epub 2020 Jul 5.

Abstract

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia can be debated from ethical and legal perspectives, and there are a variety of views regarding their acceptability and usefulness. Religion is considered an important factor in determining attitudes towards such practices. This narrative review aims to provide an overview of the Islamic perspective on PAS and euthanasia and explore the Islamic approach in addressing the related issues. The PubMed database was searched to retrieve relevant articles, then the references listed in the selected articles were checked for additional relevant publications. Additionally, religious books (Quran and hadith) and legal codes of selected countries were also consulted from appropriate websites. The Islamic code of law discusses many issues regarding life and death, as it considers any act of taking one's life to be forbidden. Islam sanctifies life and depicts it as a gift from God (Allah). It consistently emphasises the importance of preserving life and well-being. Therefore Muslims, the followers of Islam, have no right to end their life. All Islamic doctrines consider PAS and euthanasia to be forbidden. However, if the patient has an imminently fatal illness, withholding or withdrawing a futile medical treatment is considered permissible. From a legal perspective, Islamic countries have not legalised PAS and euthanasia. Such practices are therefore considered suicides when patients consent to the procedure, and homicides when physicians execute the procedure.

Keywords: Islamic jurisprudence; Islamic perspective; Physician-assisted suicide; euthanasia; medical ethics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Euthanasia / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Islam*
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Withholding Treatment / legislation & jurisprudence*