Mercy killing or Euthanasia is not a phenomenon that is new to the world. It used to exist among the earlier societies. It is known that certain tribes order old people to climb a tree. A group of strong men used to shake the tree vigorously. If the person falls down; he/she would be killed otherwise they let him/her live. A group of diehard Jewish religious zealots also killed themselves after they were defeated and besieged by the Roman army inorder to escape from the Roman oppression, suppression and slow death torture. In older times, this phenomenon was extremely limited and it was very rare to see societies practicing it. Now, it is popular in many countries. Scandinavian countries already accepted and adapted it into their constitution.
Due to the advancement of technology and the availability of dedicated healthcare systems, a person’s life can be artificially prolonged to extreme limits. A patient suffering from heart failure can have an artificial machine to stay alive as long as he/she can. Sometimes, a person lapses into a comma due to excessive brain damage; to the extent, we are not expecting the individual’s eventual recovery. So in this context, do we have the right to terminate the life of this person with official acceptance of his family? The ex-Israeli prime minister Aerial Sharron is still in a life support system after a very dangerous brain stroke, all the vital parts of his brain controlling his body and organs failed. This led to the subsequent failure of his internal organs, one by one in a short period of time. So, what the Israeli scientists did is to exploit technology to replace each and every failed organ with an artificial organ or machine except the brain.
Secular societies allow the mercy killing of a person if that person is in extreme pain and suffering and decides the assisted ending of his life. Then, he/she has the right to do so since the disease is an irrevocable one. The secularists are using personal freedom of choice as the basis for their argument. Since, they don’t believe the day of judgement, life after death, resurrection and ultimate reward form God (paradise or hell), they argue that the ultimate rest of humanity is death so let the patient rest in peace. They claim that their main goal is to alleviate suffering of humanity.
By further complicating the situation, an issue of great concern have been expressed in instances where a minor illness can be declared as irrevocable by groups interested in the dissection of vital organs for transplantation. These groups feel that they can escape any legal consequences by claiming that their action was a legal one (mercy killing). Euthanasia of mentally ill people was something common for many centuries among certain societies. During, the Second World War, a mass Euthanasia campaign was carried out by the Nazi regime to systematically eliminate the mentally ill people. However, the Christians are strongly divided in this issue. While Catholics are against it; some Protestants are supporting it.
Coming down on to the Islamic theological point of view, Islam neither approved nor approves the mercy killing (Qatlul Marhamah) by any means. The logical reasoning that Islam gives is that we should not be directly responsible the killing of an innocent human being. According to the Islamic Sharia, the following three reasons can be killed for the person: murder involvement, apostasy and adultery of a married person. As far as the incurable illnesses are concerned, Islam looks a merciful eye on those people. The fundamental doctrine of Islam is mercy, kindness and care for the weak and the sick. These sick people are really in need of our care. The Qur’an and the Sunnah emphasize the eternal maintenance of high moral and not lose hope in the Almighty Creator under any circumstance. If the individual is suffering from a mental illness, there is always a room for recovery. It had been practically seen by many people who were suffering from irrevocable illnesses, being treated or naturally recovered with help of ALLAH. Islam teaches its followers that the severity of a sickness is a direct test to our faith by the Creator (SHT). If we preserve and show patience paradise will be our reward.
At last, there is still a tough debate raging on in many politically secular countries, on whether to allow it or to ban it completely. Many countries already banned this practice outright. While, Muslim countries strictly prohibited it and anybody caught in this action will be charged in committing an act of murder. In my own impression, I do not agree on mercy killing because I personally see the human life as sacred and inviolable. It has to be protected, guarded, nurtured and cherished.