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Ottawa Creative Writers’ Group

April 17, 2011

Question: If it’s my life, why shouldn’t I end it when I want?

The Bahá’í position on suicide is clear: It is forbidden. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (1897-1957), the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, and its authorized interpreter, wrote the following to an individual: “Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond” (letter of August 25, 1939).

Yet God’s mercy is so great that compassion and forgiveness may be granted to those who take their own lives. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son of Bahá’u’lláh, and grandfather of Shoghi Effendi, wrote a compassionate message to a woman whose husband had committed suicide: “Thou hast written of the severe calamity that has befallen thee — the death of thy respected husband. That honourable personage has been so much subjected to the stress and pain of this world that his highest wish became deliverance from it … Thus it is seen that some, under extreme pressure of anguish, have committed suicide … As to thy husband, rest assured. He will be immersed in the ocean of pardon and forgiveness and will become the recipient of bounty and favour” (Selections, p. 200).

The suicide of the young is especially tragic — “the permanent solution to a temporary problem.” They are so consumed by their pain that they do not realize that in time their pain will pass, nor do they understand the lifelong legacy of sorrow that they bequeath to their families. If our pampered youth are protected from every hardship, how will they ever develop the moral fibre to endure it? Shoghi Effendi wrote: “ … Trials and tribulations should arise in us added vigour and greater determination and not dampen our zeal and kill our spirit” (letter of March 12, 1933). - Jack McLean

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