Murder and manslaughter

For any parent, the death of a child, and the aftermath that follows, is a debilitating time. To add, the sudden murder/manslaughter of their precious child is more awful than words can express. Losing a child in such horrific circumstances often leads to disbelief and an inability to accept the painful reality that lies ahead.

From shock and disbelief to guilt and bargaining, their stages of grief develop. There is no set time during which closure and acceptance will be reached. More often than not, parents think that they are on track, dealing with their emotions and pain, when unexpectedly, a trigger reopens wounds and pushes them right back to stage one.

What is murder and manslaughter?

Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human. A person who commits murder is called a murderer.

Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder.

The difference between the two is all about culpability ; often “loss of control” is what differentiates if it was murder or manslaughter.

What causes someone to do this?

The murder of a child is something parents find difficult to live with; often feeling guilty for letting it take place, for inadvertently placing their child in harms way or by not being there when their child needed them. This type of child death takes multiple guises, but sadly results in the same end point; the snatching of an innocent life. It sometimes happens so suddenly that the parents don’t even have the chance to tell their child that they love them.

It could be a simple run to the shops or playing out on the street with friends that could get the child killed in a gang related incident or someone driving too fast. The reasons for murder are numerous but they are all unforgivable with no excuse.

Parents can take solace in the following verses from the Quran:

“On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged.” (23:62)

“When Allah who is Great and Glorious loves people He afflicts them [with trials].”  (Tirmidhi)

These verses serve to comfort the grieving parents and to provide them with the hope that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows their strengths and capabilities in overcoming His tests.They also emphasise the love that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has for those whom He (glorified and exalted be He) tests, a love that is further affirmed in the following hadith:

“When asked who suffers the most the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The prophets, then those who come next to them, then those who come next to them. A man is afflicted in keeping his religion. If he is firm in his religion his trial is severe, but if there is weakness in his religion it is made light for him, and it continues like that till he walks on the earth having no sin.” (Tirmidhi)

We know that there is no achievement without hard work, or fruit without hard labour. In the same way, these tests are put in our paths to cleanse us of sin. The ultimate reward for our patience, trust and faith is being reunited with our children in Jannah.

What comes next?

Once the body is released, you will need to perform the ghusl, shrouding, Janaza and burial of your child. Ghusl of either sex may be performed by the mother or father if the child has not yet reached the age of puberty. If the child had reached puberty before passing away then the ghusl should be performed by the parent of the same sex.

You may or may not want your child “viewed” after ghusl; depending on your preference, you may choose an open or closed casket for your child.

The process of murder and manslaughter is a lengthy one: the parents will often have to go through numerous tests of patience just to be able to bury their child in keeping with the Sunnah; there will be autopsies to establish the cause of death; long drawn out court appearances and the body may take several weeks, if not months, to be released for burial.

Parents will have to face the murderer in court and will have to re-live their nightmare many times over before justice can be served. If the murderer is not caught, the parents run the risk of never experiencing closure nor having their pain assuaged by justice.

Whatever the circumstances, your faith in Allah is  once again tested. Know that a day will come when you will receive full Justice in the court of Allah (glorified and exalted be He). It is hard to simply and immediately forgive someone who has snatched away your child and the dreams you held so dear. Although you are not obligated to, forgiveness is sometimes necessary  in order to move on and live your life without hate and anger. When you forgive the perpetrator,  the mist clears and you begin to heal and, with time and patience, you are able to clearly see what lies ahead, inshaAllah.

Take comfort in what Islam says about the death of an innocent child: your child awaits you in Jannah. They don’t feel pain not from the autopsies nor of the grave. They will be there at the gates of Jannah to welcome you on a day that no one will know anyone else. Your child will know you and beg for you to be entered into eternal Jannah so that you can be reunited. Your sins will be wiped clean from the tests you suffered on this earth from the loss of your child.

Know that no matter how horrifically your child left this earth, they are now in the Gardens of Jannah. Where their every wish is granted and they are free to roam and live pain free and in peace in the beautiful care of Prophet Ibrahim AS. They are already where we you were steering them to be they were destined to go ahead so you may enter eternal union with them.

Whatever Allah takes away or gives, belongs to Him, and everything has a fixed term (in this world). (Bukhari and Muslim).