Did the Prophet (pbuh) say for a Companion who was martyred in a war that he was in the middle of Hell because he stole a garment that belonged to the state?

The Details of the Question

Did the Prophet (pbuh) say for a Companion who was martyred in a war that he was in the middle of Hell because he stole a garment that belonged to the state?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith regarding the issue is as follows: Hz. Umar narrates: when it was the day of Khaybar, a group of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) came there and said ‘So and so is a martyr, so and so is a martyr’ till they happened to pass by a man and said: ‘So and so is a martyr.’ However, the Prophet (pbuh) opposed this and said, ‘No. I have seen him in the Fire for the garment or cloak that he had stolen from the booty.’ Then, he said, ‘O Umar, son of Khattab! Go and announce to the people that none but the believers shall enter Paradise.’ I went out and proclaimed’ Verily none but the believers shall enter Paradise.’” (Muslim, Iman, 182; Ibn Kathir, the interpretation of Aal-i Imran, 3/161)

It is understood from the hadith that the things belonging to the state, a person or booty all involve violation of others’ rights. A person has to pay for the violation of others’ rights even if he is a martyr. Allah might forgive some people by persuading the person whose right has been violated. However, as it is stated in the hadith above, He might punish some of them. It will be useful to explain this hadith from a few aspects based on your question:

a. Since this hadith is included in Muslim, it is regarded as sound in principle.

b. Crimes related to the rights of people will definitely be questioned since they involve “violation of others’ rights”. After questioning, some people can be punished while others can be forgiven by persuading the people whose rights have been violated.

c. In the incident that the hadith mentions, the Prophet (pbuh) clearly states that the person was punished so that others would take a lesson from it. Thus, violation of others’ rights is not ignored even if the person in question is a martyr.

d. It will be wrong to deduce that this person who stole is an unbeliever acting upon the last statement of the hadith: None but the believers shall enter Paradise.” For, there are many verses and hadiths stating that a person who commits a major sin is not an unbeliever. This is also the view of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars. It is possible to deduce the following from that statement: A strong and sincere belief is necessary to enter Paradise. Since this is a style of guidance, the attraction of the addressees is drawn to the issue by forming an image that questions the belief of the man who was punished; thus, a question like the following is put forward: “Does stealing prevent belief?” This style is a wise strategy of guidance.

As a matter of fact, this issue is indicated in some sound hadiths:

According to what is reported from Abu Hurayra, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The fornicator who fornicates is not a believer so long as he commits it and no thief who steals is a believer as long as he commits theft, and no drunkard who drinks wine is a believer as long as he drinks it.”(Muslim, Iman, 100)

When the issue is viewed under the light of this hadith, it is possible to understand that a person who commits a crime is not a believer at the moment he commits that crime. This does not mean that he is an unbeliever. It is necessary to understand it as follows: “When this person commits a crime, he does not heed the voice of his belief, does not act with consciousness of belief, deactivates his believing heart and prefers to fulfill the wishes and desires of his soul despite the clamor of his heart."

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