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Taking or Leaving Treatment that will bring More Suffering

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Moinul Abu Hamza


My father is very sick and is always in pain. Surgery to help drain his kidneys will bring more pain and suffering unto him, however, it could also extend his life for two months. Please advise me Inshallah.


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name Of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful


According to the preservation of the five aims of the sharia, the preservation of life takes importance because this is a means Allah (SWT) has given. In a Hadith it is stated: “O servants of Allah! Use medication, for Allah Almighty has not created any illness except that He has also produced its cure, besides one thing”. The Companions asked: “What is that?” He replied: “Death”.[1]

At the same time, there is a difference between rejecting life-saving treatment and treatment that in origin cannot cure the patient and actively taking something that will lead to death. To take anything that causes death is prohibited, but to refuse treatment is not prohibited.

This is based on a Hadith narrated by the Companion Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that a girl was inflicted with the disease of epilepsy, thus she came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and asked him to supplicate to Allah for her. The Messenger of Allah said to her: “If you wish you may exercise patience and receive paradise in return or if you want I can ask Allah to cure you.” She said: “I would like to remain patient on this severe illness (and receive the rewards), but the only thing is that at times due to this illness, parts of my body become exposed, so please ask Allah that it does not open up”. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) made Dua for her. (Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari & Imam Muslim in their respective Sahih collections)

This is elaborated upon by what is stated in Fatawa Hindiyyah that there are three types of means to remove harms and difficulties:

1) Those that remove potential harm for certain such as the drinking of water in order to quench thirst and eating of food in order to remove hunger.

2) Those that by using them, it is presumed health will be restored such as medical treatment.

3) Those that may cure (but less significant than the second situation) such as the using of amulets etc…

With regards to the first type, abstaining from using them is no way considered as part of reliance and trust in Allah, rather it is unlawful to refrain from using these means. If a person was to die due to not drinking water, he will be sinful.

The second type of means, using it is not contrary to the concept of Tawakkul, and abstaining from its usage is not sin also. The third type of means is not essential in that complete reliance in Allah is only achieved by abstaining from using them.[2]

In conclusion, one must not take direct action that will lead to death, but it is permissible to reject treatment to avoid what is potentially needless suffering, even if that potentially leads to an earlier death. You should try your best to garner from your father what he is willing to endure.

Only Allah knows best

Written by Maulana Moinul Abu Hamza

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham


[1] Tirmidhi 2039, Abu Dawud 3855, Ahmad 4/278 & Ibn Majah 3436

[2] al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/355

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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