In recent times in Nigeria, the rate at which young people have been committing or attempting suicide shows a serious concern that needs to be remedied. Indeed, social workers, psychologists and emotional analysts have identified depression as one of the salient factors forcing young people to attempt or even take their own lives. In this interview Umar Ajetunmobi had with Kamoru Sodiq, the Ameer of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University Branch, we discussed the position of Islaam on suicide and the anti-suicide/anti-depression nuggets Islaam recommends.

These days in our universities, students commit suicide because of depression, resulting from failure in exams, low self-esteem, personal psychological and emotional tortures, among others. Not quite long, two suicide cases occurred in your varsity. Now, what is the MSSN doing to curtail/address a future occurrence?

You are very correct. It’s a sad phenomenon that we are living with today. In my campus as you stated, we have had cases of students purportedly taking their own lives due to whatever reasons in a very suffocating and most inhuman nature. Let me go by some statistics here, in March 2014, a 400L Law student, Ige Dipo, committed suicide. In December 2016, another suicide case was recorded in which an 100L student from Faculty of Education, OYELEYE Taiwo was the victim. The same thing occurred to Miss Mercy Afolaranmi, 100L, Microbiology in October 2017. Now, the ugly incident repeated itself with our brother, Olowoporoku. It is sad. It’s pathetic. But it has become part of us.

From our own end as Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University Branch (MSSNOAU), we do make a lot of efforts on campus in trying to sensitize our members, educate them, give them both spiritual and psychological talk to handle issues of emotional instability and deficiency. We also do assist financially and with material needs to the best of our ability because I must be frank with you, majority of students’ suicide is due to social factors than any other thing. Many of them lack financial and moral support. So, they think the world is no longer for them. As MSSNOAU, we organise programmes to address issues of emotional stability to provide them moral support and entrepreneurship programmes to prepare them financially. We also give monetary/material support to the best of our ability. In shaa Allah, we have been doing all these and we will continue to intensify and improve on the campaign so that the occurrence will be drastically reduced to the barest minimum.

What is the perspective of Islaam to suicide? Will someone who commits suicide for a reason or another go scot-free in the sight of Allah?

We praise Almighty Allah, and we send salutations and blessings upon Prophet Muhammad. First and foremost, Islam is a manual of life. It relates to both worldly and heavenly affairs. It answers all questions of interest and desires, and that is why as Muslims, we must not seek salvation or way out on any matter outside Islam. Having said this, from strictly Islamic point of view, Islam/Shari’ah condemns and stringently discourages Muslims from seeing suicide as an option. It is not an option at all. In fact, there is a tradition from the Prophet which clearly establishes that “whoever kills (suicide) him/herself with something, Allah will ask him to continue to die with that same thing.” From this, it is observed that suicide as far as Islam is concerned is a no no option. Islam condemns it. Islam frowns at it. And it attaches punishment to it both in this world and hereafter.  Anyone who commits suicide will not go scot-free in the sight of Allah. And the punishment is what has been espoused or contained in the provisions of the above stated Hadith from the Prophet. Allah will punish him/her with the same thing or instrument he/she uses to kill or take his life. May Allah protect us from evil thoughts and unlawful act.

“To continue to die with that thing” in that tradition means what? Will that occur in the grave or in hell?

In the grave and in the hell

Every human has the potential of being depressed. If depression sets in for someone, what does Islaam recommend the person do?

For anyone under the attack of depression, it is recommended that such a person should move closer to Allah in terms of making *dhikri (remembrance of Allah, reading of Qur’aan, being around the pious/righteous people* and other act of worship that will enliven his/her heart with Allah. Islam also encourages taking medicinal remedy whether the conventional medicine or prophetic medicine. He/she should consult people who have technical know-how in this field. Above all, prayers, remembrance of Allah and taking practical steps are some of the measures recommended by Islam to anyone under the influence of depression or any other psychological disorder. Thanks

It is sad that many of us hardly care about any depressed person we notice. Instead, we alienate him/her and even make jest of him/her, perhaps because of our ideological, sectional and philosophical differences. As Muslims, what is our role in this stance?

Our role as Muslim is to care about them, support them, assist them, give them hope and glad tidings. A Hadith said, *Muslims are brothers to one another.* What that means in essence is that, we must be our brother’s keeper. As a Muslim, it is forbidden to make jest of anybody, let alone of people affected with one disorder or the other. We must not alienate them or being non-challant towards their wellbeing. We must care for them, associate and relate with them with love and sincerity. They are our brothers; they are our colleagues. What happened to them is a trial from Allah. And nobody is above tribulations. In the time of trial, Islam encourages us to give succor and solution and not to humiliate or frustrate the victim. All these are religious duties which we must do. May Allah save us from trials.

Many social workers believe that suicide is not a solution to depression, but a depressed individual barely cares the moment he/she concludes. What practical steps should we take when we notice the features that might likely cause suicide in people?

Pointedly, what we need to do is to move closer to him/her with open heart and mentorship spirit. It’s an established tradition from Islam that we must be our brother’s keeper. We need to watch over him/her in all circumstances, good or bad. This is a religious duty. So, as Muslims, we must know one another. Secondly, having created good rapport among ourselves, if we notice strange behaviour, we also have the responsibility to report such individual to appropriate quarters who can arrest the situation for better. Not knowing what our brothers or sisters are passing through and not reporting the case to the appropriate people to help is a clear case of negligence and societal disintegration. We must not go the way of the wicked. May Allah assist us all.

It seems MSSN in our higher institutions hardly discuss emotional problems students battle with in the spiritual development lectures. What are the ways forward?

Ways forward from my own perspectives are regular sensitization and re-orientation of members of the public on emotional intelligence and coping with mental disorder. I think knowledge comes first before any other solution. And as a body, in response to the trending suicidal cases on a daily basis, we MSSNOAU Branch partnered with Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association to organise a programme to address issues of *depression, suicidal thoughts and academic performance* just of recent.