What is martyrdom? Will you give information about the levels of martyrdom? Who are martyrs? Is a person who is burnt and who is drowned a martyr?

The Details of the Question

- A person who dies on Friday becomes a martyr and a person who dies in a war also becomes a martyr. Is there a difference between the two? – The levels of martyrdom that I know are *world martyrdom *hereafter martyrdom * world and hereafter martyrdom... – Does a Muslim who believes but does not worship and dies in the war become a martyr?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. Who is a martyr?

A Muslim who sacrifices his life in the way of Allah is called a martyr.  

Martyrdom is the highest degree in Islam. The value of martyrs are very high in the eye of Allah. It is stated that the highest rank after prophethood in the hereafter is martyrdom. Therefore, all of the sins and mistakes of martyrs are forgiven by Allah.

One of the most important principles that make Muslims superior to their enemies is the belief, "I will be a martyr if I die and a ghazi (veteran) if I survive." This state is expressed as "one of two glorious things" in the verse. (at-Tawba, 9/52) That is, there is one of the two nice results for the believer in the war: He will either be victorious or become a martyr. (Ibn Kathir, IV/102; Nasafi, II/130)

The following words that Khalid b. Walid said to the commander of Iran is a good example showing what the concept of martyrdom gains Muslims:  

"I came to you with an army that loves death as much as you love life and wine." (Abdurabbih, p. 387)

The life of martyrs is a spiritual life, or rather, a real life.(Yazır, I/547) "A martyr thinks he is alive." (Nursi, Hutbe-i Şamiye, p. 122) He finds himself in a better realm without feeling the pain of death.

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) stated the following about the seventy martyrs who died at the Battle of Uhud:

"When your brothers were smitten at the battle of Uhud, Allah put their spirits in the crops of green birds which go down to the rivers of Paradise, eat its fruit and nestle in lamps of gold in the shade of the Throne. Then when they experienced the sweetness of their food, drink and rest, they asked:

Who will tell our brothers about us that we are alive in Paradise provided with provision, in order that they might not be disinterested in jihad and recoil in war? Allah Almighty said,

“I shall tell them about you.” Then Allah sent down the following verses:"(Abu Dawud, Jihad, 25)

"Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. They rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah: and with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve. They glory in the Grace and the Bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).” (Aal-i Imran, 3/169-171)

2. Who is called a perfect martyr (shahid kamil)?

The people who are regarded as martyrs in both the world and the hereafter are called perfect martyrs. They are the people who are killed at the battle, who are killed by rebels, anarchists or by thieves in his house as a victim or through oppression. 

Six conditions are necessary for a Muslim to be regarded as a perfect martyr:

1. To be a Muslim.

2. To be sane.

3. To have reached the age of puberty.

4. Not to be junub, in menstruation or puerperium.

5. To die immediately after being shot. If a person eats, drinks, is treated, is taken somewhere else after being shot or if he lives long enough for a period of time for a prayer to pass, he is not regarded as a perfect martyr. He is regarded as a hereafter martyr.  

6. Qisas (retaliation) to become necessary for the killer, That is, he needs to be killed deliberately. If a person is killed by mistake, and if qisas is not necessary for the killer, the person who dies is not regarded as a perfect martyr.

Perfect martyrs are buried without being washed with their bloody clothes. The dead bodies of Hz. Umar and Hz. Ali were washed because one of those conditions was missing. Hz. Uthman was buried without being washed.  

3. Who is called a hereafter martyr?

A person who is not regarded as a martyr in the world, that is, who is buried after being washed but who is treated like a martyr in the hereafter is called a hereafter martyr. Those who lose one of the conditions of being a perfect martyr are included in this group.

In addition, the following people are also regarded as hereafter martyrs:

* Those who are drowned in water.

* Those who burn in fire.(Ibn Majah, Jihad, 17)

* Those who areburied in the wreckage.

* Those who die of an epidemic like plague.

* Those who die of an inflammatory disease like malaria.

* Those who die in the way of learning.

* Those who die of lung diseases.

* The women who die during birth or in puerperium.

* Those who die of headache.

* Those who die of abdominal pain.

* Those who die in a work accident while trying to earn money legitimately for the sustenance of their family.

* Those who die on Friday night (actually Thursday night).

* Those who die in another city or abroad.

* Those who die due to scorpion or snake bites....

(For the hadiths about martyrs other than those who die in wars, see Bukhari, Adhan, 32, Jihad, 30; Muslim, Imarah, 164; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 65, Fadailul-Jihad, 14; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I/22, 23, II/323, 325).

4. Who is called a worldly martyr?

They are munafiqs. They are regarded as martyrs in the world because only Allah Almighty knows the sign of hypocrisy in their hearts. For, they are Muslims in appearance but they are unbelievers in their hearts...

5. Some hadiths about martyrs:

"A person who is killed while defending his property is a martyr; a person who is killed while defending his/her honor is a martyr; a person who is killed while defending himself is a martyr..."

"Enshroud martyrs with their blood. For, when a wound received in the way of Allah comes to the Gathering Place in the hereafter, it will bleed in blood color but with a scent of musk..."

"Martyrs are at the gate of Paradise, bright ornament of the river and in the green tent. Their sustenance comes from Paradise in the morning and evening."

"A person who is killed due to enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is a martyr."

"A person who dies on Friday is a martyr." 

"A person who dies by falling off his animal is a martyr."

"A person who is drowned in water is a martyr, who dies by being burnt is a martyr, who dies alone in another city or abroad is a martyr, who dies of abdominal pain is a martyr, who isburied in the wreckage is a martyr, who dies by falling off a house and by breaking his neck is a martyr, who dies when a rock falls on him and hits him is a martyr..."

"A person who dies while defending his believing brother and his innocent neighbor is a martyr..."

"All of the sins of a martyr except his debt are forgiven." (Muslim)

“If a Muslim dies during the day on Friday or Friday night (Thursday night), Allah Almighty will save him from the questioning and torture of the grave.”(Tirmidhi, Janaiz: 73; Musnad, II/176)

Some scholars put forward that being martyred in the sea will be atonement even for violation of others’ rights.

"A martyr will intercede for seventy people from his family and relatives and his intercession will be accepted." (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

"Three groups of people will intercede on the Day of Judgment: first, prophets, then, scholars and after that, martyrs..." (Taj)

All of the sins of martyrs except violation of others’ rights are forgiven. To be a martyr is an honor that cannot be attained by everybody; it is a perfect boon for believers. To live in a nice way and to die in the way of Allah for His sake is a bliss that every believer dreams to have. A believing person who lives with such a consciousness and thought is praised by the Prophet Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) in a very nice way:

"If a person asks Allah to be a martyr sincerely, Allah will elevate him to the level of martyrs even if he dies in his bed."(Muslim, Imarah, 156, 157; Abu Dawud, Istighfar, 26; Nasai, Jihad, 36; Ibn Majah, Jihad, 15)

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