Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
When I was in highschool I remember hearing something about a woman being permitted to commit suicide when she is about to be raped. True? This came up in a recent conversation with a friend in relation to war-torn regions, and because I had heard it many years ago and don’t recall the source, I thought I’d ask.
Committing Suicide (as we are all aware) is strictly forbidden in Islam and can never be justified. No matter how miserable and depressed one becomes, one must not kill oneself.
Allah Most High says:
“Do not kill yourselves, for indeed Allah is Most Merciful to you.” (Surah al-Nisa, V. 29)
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:
“Whoever intentionally throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the fire (of Hell) falling down into it and abiding therein eternally forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the fire (of Hell) wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the fire (of Hell) wherein he will abide eternally forever.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)
Therefore, committing suicide even for fear of being raped cannot be justified in Islam. It is true that this is easier said than done and it is difficult for an outsider to judge such a situation, but in light of the evidences, it is difficult to declare committing suicide permissible in such situations.
Sayyiduna Jundub (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “There was amongst those before you a man who had a wound. He was in (such) anguish that he took a knife and made with it a cut in his hand, and the blood did not cease to flow till he died. Allah the Almighty said: “My servant has himself forestalled me; I have forbidden him Paradise.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1298 & Sahih Muslim, no. 180)
This narration clearly shows the impermissibility of killing oneself even in extreme anguish and pain, for in killing oneself, one is bringing death upon one’s self before Allah Almighty gives one death. Thus, it will not be permitted to commit suicide even if carried out in defence of one’s honour.
In such a case, a Muslim woman should resist her attacker with all means possible. If he kills her during her struggle to prevent him raping and abusing her, she will be considered a martyr (shahida), thus securing a place in heaven (jannah).
Having said that, we should not condemn those Muslim sisters of ours who committed such acts, for only Allah knows what kind of situation they were in, and what emotional and physical trauma they faced. Thus, we should pray for them and seek their forgiveness, and it is not beyond the mercy of Allah to forgive them.
And Allah knows best