Imam Mohamed Elsadi told a parliamentary committee discussing euthanasia that, according to Islam, all forms of suicide and assisted killing are forbidden.

“Man should not kill himself or ask anyone to kill him or to assist him to die. No person has the right to die voluntarily,” he said. “Islam teaches that life and death is in the hands of Allah. No one knows when they are going to die. Only Allah knows.”

Quoting from Holy Scripture, Mr Elsadi said suicide by any means is forbidden by Allah and it is a sin.

Islamic scholars have, however, agreed on two exceptions. “Suspension of medical treatment can be allowed if qualified doctors deem it to be useless. Also, if a person is declared brain dead the switching off of support machines is permitted.”

Government whip Godfrey Farrugia remarked that Islamic teaching on euthanasia was very similar to that of the Catholic Church. “For me euthanasia is not a human right,” he told the Imam.

Mr Elsadi said he was glad that the parliamentary committee would also be taking the Islamic views on the subject into consideration.

Last year, parliament’s family committee heard Joe Magro’s plea for the state to introduce euthanasia. Mr Magro, who suffers from ALS, told MPs he wanted to live out his remaining days in dignity. “I believe I have the right to life, nobody else. It is my life, and I alone should have a say as to what happens,” Mr Magro had told the committee members. He had also said that without euthanasia he would have to resort to suicide.  

A joint committee was then formed to debate the sensitive issue. The group, comprising members of the family, health and social affairs committees, has been told by experts that other options, such as palliative care, should come before euthanasia. Some argued that the preservation of life is a doctor’s main role. Another view was that the introduction of the right to die could lead to a situation where people feel obliged to take their own life in order not to burden their loved ones.

It has been reported that the PL is ready to include euthanasia in its electoral manifesto if no wide consensus is reached in this legislature.