“Do not kill any person whom Allah has forbidden to kill, except with right. We have granted the heir of him who has been wrongly killed the authority to (claim retribution); so let him not exceed in slaying. He shall be helped.”
(Al-Qur’an – 17:33)
God has declared human life to be sacrosanct, and thus killing a person is strictly prohibited. However, the command: ‘Do not kill any person’ does not merely signify killing someone else, but also includes oneself.
God has placed us in this world in order to test us. He has the right to test us as He wishes. As for us, we are duty-bound to face the test and persist in it until the very end regardless of the conditions imposed. To flee from the test is bad enough, but to do so by recourse to suicide is not only monstrous but has been categorically forbidden. Such a flight simply means that the man concerned runs from the trivial discomforts, slights and affronts which he encounters in the present world, only to end up facing the greater and unending torment and humiliation which awaits those who commit suicide.
There are many ways in which one can overstep the legitimate bounds of ‘slaying’; all of which are prohibited. For instance, swayed by vengefulness, a wronged person may kill others than the actual culprit, or subject the culprit to torture, mutilate his corpse, or even kill him after he has taken blood-money from him.
As the Islamic state had not been established when this verse was revealed, who will ‘help’ the heir is not specified. However, after the Islamic state was established, it was made clear that ‘helping’ the legal heir was neither the responsibility of the slain person’s tribe nor of that tribe’s allies. Instead, the responsibility of helping the heir fell upon the Islamic state and its judicial system. Individuals or groups were not entitled to seek retribution for murder on their own; rather, they were required to approach the Islamic state for the redress of such grievances.