Are health workers who die of an epidemic like Coronavirus regarded as martyrs?

The Details of the Question

All health workers from doctors to nurses and from health officials to ambulance drivers face great risks and dangers. In cases of epidemics like coronavirus, it is highly probable for them to be infected but they have to carry out some duties due to their jobs. Are the health workers who become infected and die due to an epidemic regarded as martyrs?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Experts and authorities often remark that we are in a state of war; the enemy is coronavirus; its target is human beings and the battlefront is the whole country and the whole world.

The disease caused by this virus spreads very quickly and kills a great number of people.  

The most important precaution is not to contact the people who have been infected and their environment.

Those who are sane do not go out unless necessary even if it is not forbidden; when they have to go out, they take measures.  

Health workers are at the top among those who have to go out and work. Health workers are the ones that face the greatest risk no matter what measures they take.

When we look at the hadiths and their interpretations, we see that there are two kinds of martyrs.

The first type is those who die in the legitimate battlefield. They are called "true martyrs". Their janazah prayers are performed and they are buried with the clothes they have on their bodies; they are not washed.

Allah gives them so many blessings that they want "to be resurrected and to be martyred again":

“Nobody who enters Paradise wants to go back to the world and own some worldly things except a martyr. He wants to return to the world and to be martyred ten times more because of the rewards he receives from Allah.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 21; Muslim, Imarah, 109-1877)

The second type is those who are regarded like martyrs. The blessings they receive in the hereafter are like those the true martyrs receive but they are washed and enshrouded in the world and buried after their janazah prayers are performed.  

If it is dangerous to wash and enshroud the dead body due to the risk of infection or if the dead bodies are not suitable for washing and enshrouding, what is possible and harmless is done and what is risky is abandoned because protecting the lives of the living people is more important than washing and enshrouding the dead people as it is done under normal circumstances.

If health workers who help the patients by taking the risk of being infected with the coronavirus catch the disease and die, they are regarded as the “martyrs of the second type” in two aspects because they die while trying to protect life. The hadiths say that "those who die while fighting the attackers to protect their lives are martyrs."

In addition, they die from an epidemic and the hadiths state that those who die like that are also martyrs.

One of the hadiths included in Bukhari and Muslim is as follows:

The Prophet states the following:

The martyrs are five kinds: those who die of plague, those who die of stomach disease, those who drown, those who die under debris, and those who die in the way of Allah.

The word “taun” mentioned in the hadith means an infectious disease like plague and cholera. The disease called “mabtun” expresses mortal infectious diseases that cause stomachache, diarrhea, etc.

Another hadith reported by hadith scholars like Malik, Abu Dawud, Nasai and Ibn Majah is as follows:  

“There are seven martyrs besides those who are killed in the way of Allah: the victim of plague is a martyr; the one who drowns is a martyr; the one who dies of chest pain (pleurisy) is a martyr; the one who dies of stomach infection is a martyr; the one who burns to death is a martyr; the one who is crushed under debris is a martyr; and the pregnant woman who dies while giving birth is a martyr.”

The common characteristic of those diseases and causes of death is helplessness; it is not possible to avoid them despite taking measures, or they cannot be intervened; even if they can be intervened, it is not possible to be saved from them.

Those who die like that are regarded to have made jihad if they preserve their belief and show patience in the face of the test when they die; they are treated as martyrs in the hereafter.

An important difference between health workers and others is as follows:

Health workers cannot stay at home in order to avoid the disease; they go to work by taking the risk; they do their best to save the lives of people. If they contract the virus despite taking measures and die, they will be martyrs inshallah. The others die as they try to escape; on other hand, health workers die while trying to save people day and night.

In the hereafter, Allah will bestow on them blessings that they cannot imagine. What we should do is to appreciate them and to pray for them; what the state should do is to reward their families.

Questions on Islam

Was this answer helpful?
In order to make a comment, please login or register