Refusing Medical Treatment
Question asked by .
Answered by Aasil Ahmad

A friend of mine is extremely sick but refuses to seek any medical help. He uses Islam as the reason behind it: that by dying, he will be closer to God. Personally, I think that one should appreciate life, and use any means to take care of oneself. What does Islam say about life and death? Is it wrong to use medicine? Is my friend’s outlook right about life? I would love it if you had time to give me some advice on this matter.


Islam is very clear on these points; and you should try to convey these to your friend who is confusing several issues. The prevailing state you have explained to me is understandable, especially given his physical/medical condition. The Qur’ān states that every individual will meet his or her own death; this is a universal truth. However, the Book of Allah also says that no one knows of his or her own appointed time, just like the actual time of the Day of Judgment is not known to us. We, therefore, cannot claim to have knowledge of the timing of our death. There is no basis for assuming that a serious illness is necessarily a harbinger of death. Allah has power over all things; and He can bring health to a sick or dying person if He wishes to.

As to the second point concerning nearness to Allah the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws) give us the method for how to become closer to Allah in this life. There is no example in these two sources of a sick individual deciding to forgo medical treatment so as to hasten death in order to be closer to Allah.

Allah, first of all, says explicitly that He is closer to man than his own jugular vein. Allah is already very close to us in this world and it is up to us through our actions and ritual acts of worship to realize that.

Second, the Qur’ān offers examples of specific actions which can lead to closer proximity to Allah. For example, in Sūrah Baqarah:

When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close [to them]: I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me. (2:186)

 Not only does Allah speak in ‘the first person’, but the style of this verse provides ever greater emphasis to the assertion that Allah is close to the servant who calls upon him.

The point is that nearness to Allah is something which He grants us not something that we earn through our deeds. Indeed, we have to pray to Allah to grant us this exalted state in this life; and also perform our obligations to Him. Death represents passage from one stage of our soul’s existence to the next, but it is neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee of greater proximity to the Creator.


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