Hannah Smith has an undergraduate degree in Geophysics from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, and a Masters degree in Geology from the University
of Michigan

The Assisted
Dying Bill was debated for the second time on 15th July 2014. After ten hours
of emotive debate, the motion championed by Lord Falconer passed on to the next
stage of the parliamentary process with a narrow margin of 65 peers in favor of
the bill and 62 against. Hannah Smith argues that assisted dying defies the
Islamic approach to life whose essence is dignity and compassion for all.

as a follower
of the Islamic tradition, which shares much of its principles and tenets with
Christianity, its close relative in monotheism, I shocked to hear about the
huge support that

the Assisted
Dying Bill has gained from religious people in Britain, including some of the
most prominent Church of England s leaders such as former archbishops Lord
Carey and Desmond Tutu. Amongst the British public there is overwhelming
support for the bill, including religious people whom are 71% for the bill, and
of those considered more religious due to monthly attendance at a place of
worship, support is even higher at 78%.

Just like
former archbishops Lord Carey and Desmond Tutu, I vehemently believe that
compassion is a central value and universal norm of humanity that Christians
and Muslims take very seriously. I also believe, like Christians, that the
human creature was created in the image or likeness of God, and that compassion
is one of God s attributes, or names. In fact, compassion is such an important
virtue of God and his relationship with his creation that every single chapter
of the Qur an begins with the phrase, In the name of God, the Most Compassionate,
the Most Merciful and thankfully for us humans we have been told that God s
Mercy over-rules His Wrath!

However, on
matters of death, the Islamic revelation makes it very clear where the line
should be drawn. Unlike humans, God is known as al-Muhyi, The Giver of Life and
al-Mumit, The Taker of Life, and the Qur an gives clear guidelines about the
taking and preserving of any life, for example saying, Do not kill yourselves
as God has been to you very merciful 4:29 and Anyone who has saved a life,
it is as if he has saved the life of whole mankind 5:32 . The integral values
of compassion and sanctity of life pervade the Islamic tradition, with human
beings commanded to minimise pain and suffering to animals whether in laborious
work or slaughter, and to maintain plant life wherever possible. However all
such guidance always comes with the key understanding that only God can take
life, hence the most important aspect of lawful halal Islamic slaughter is
the recognition through blessing that only God has the right to take life and
it is God alone that has bestowed this right upon man.

In the Islamic
tradition, it is always desirable to ease the suffering of one s fellow human
being, but where unpreventable pain is endured by the ill, disabled, dying, or
even expectant mother, it is known to bring spiritual growth whether perceived
such as through increased patience and strength of character or the expiation
of unjust actions one has previously committed. Thus, the dignity of person is
actually increased by their suffering. Desmond Tutu has complained of the
undignified state of Nelson Mandela at a press conference before he died,

but wasn t the
indignity a product of his own perception? Islamically, a person s dignity and
value is linked to his ethics when they are fit and mentally mature, such that
neither a child nor insane person is held accountable for their actions and a
disabled person is only judged according to their capacity. To think that a
person s dignity is reduced by a physical condition over which they have no
control is abhorrent and extremely shallow. We can t just put people down
like animals just because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Whether Mandela
courted the press in such a frail condition was either his or his carers
choice and the presses call as to whether they felt it appropriate or

In such serious
matters of life and death, we must make sure we have developed well-considered
opinions as a duty of care to ourselves and to our fellow citizens. Many arguments
have been put forward for and against the Assisted Dying Bill, and as Muslims
living in a democratic society we have a duty to get to grips with such
debates, form an opinion and lobby our political representative appropriately.
If we do not, we are not fulfilling our duty as responsible British citizens. He
Assisted DyingBill: The Facts

The proposed
bill would give terminally ill patients, whom doctors have predicted less than
six months to live, the option of ending their own life. A patient s doctor
would be able to prescribe a lethal concoction of pills, which, if the patient
is unable to administer themselves, can be administered by a healthcare
assistant Under proposed legislation, any person assisting in the process would
not be liable for criminal prosecution.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment