Classifications of Martyrs

Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Many types of death have been described as martyrdom (shahada) by the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) in his hadiths, which were gathered in a monograph by Shaykh `Abd Allah al-Ghumari entitled Ithaf al-Nubala’ bi-Fadl al-Shahada wa-Anwa` al-Shuhada’ from which I gathered most of the following:

1. Abu Hurayra (Allah be well-pleased with him) reported that the Prophet said: “Who do you reckon to be martyr (shaheed) among you?” They replied: “The one who is killed in the way of Allah.” He said: “In that case the martyrs among my people would be few!” They asked: “Messenger of Allah! Then who are the martyrs?” He said: “He who is killed in the way of  Allah is a martyr; he who dies naturally in the Cause of Allah is a martyr; he who dies of plague is a martyr; he who dies of a stomach disease is a martyr; and he who is drowned is a martyr.” [Sahih Muslim].

When he was asked why plague is considered as martyrdom, he replied: “It used to be a form of punishment that Allah would send on people, but He made it a mercy for the believers. Any believer who perseveres through it will get the reward of a martyr.”

2. “There are five kinds of martyrs: One who dies of plague; one who dies of a disease of the stomach or intestines; one who drowns; one who is crushed in a collapsing building; and one who is martyred in the way of Allah.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik]

3. “He who is killed in the way of Allah is a martyr; he who dies of plague is a martyr; a woman who dies due to pregnancy and a woman who dies during delivery, her baby will drag her into Paradise with the umbilical cord.” Musnad Ahmad.

4. “The one who dies of Dhaatul-Janb is a martyr.” Ibn Hibban and others. Dhatul-Janb is a disease in which a swelling happens in a membrane under the rib bones that could lead to death. From the contemporary diseases to which this

also applies is death due to cancer.

5. “Dying due to the plague is martyrdom.” al-Bukhari and Muslim.

6. “Whoever is killed defending his property is a martyr.” al-Bukhari and Muslim

7. “He who dies defending his property is a martyr; he who dies in defense of his own life is a martyr; he who dies in defense of his faith is a martyr; and he who dies in defense of his family is a martyr.” Al-Tabarani.

8. “Dying in fire is a martyrdom.” Al-Tabarani and Ibn Hibban.

9. “The keeper of my Sunna at the time my Community has lapsed into corruption will receive the reward of a martyr.”

Al-Tabarani.

10. “Anyone who asks for shahada truthfully shall be given it even if it does not happen to him” i.e. even if he dies peacefully in his bed.  Narrated in the Four Sunan.

11. “Whoever leaves his house in the way of Allah then dies or is killed is a shaheed, whether his horse or camel tramples him, or a venomous animal stings him, or he dies in his bed, or in any kind of death Allah wills, truly he is a shaheed and shall have Paradise.” Sunan Abi Dawud and al-Hakim.

12. “There are seven kinds of martyrdom other then being killed in the way of Allah: the victim of a stomach disease (al-mabtun) is a shaheed; the victim of fire is a shaheed; the drowned person is a shaheed; the victim of cancer is a shaheed; the victim of plague is a shaheed; the victim of debris is a shaheed; a woman who dies from complications of

pregnancy is a shaheed.” Ahmad, the Sunan, al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, Sahih.

13. “Whoever dies as a stranger or in a strange land dies a shaheed.” Narrated by Ibn Majah and declared sound by al-Daraqutni.

14. “Whoever recites the Divine Names in the last three verses of Surat al-Hashr after the dawn or after Maghrib then dies that day or that night, dies a shaheed.” Al-Tirmidhi (hasan).

15. From Anas: the Messenger of Allah (upon him blessings and peace) told me: “My son, if you are able to always be on wudu‘ then do so, for the angel of death when he seizes the servant’s soul while the latter is in wudu‘, he records martyrdom for him.” Al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman and al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi in Nawadir al-Usul.

16. “Whoever prays duha; fasts three days of the month; and never omits witr, shall receive the reward of a martyr.” Al-Tabarani in al-Kabir.

17. “If death comes to the student of knowledge while he is thus engaged, he dies as a martyr.” Al-Bazzar with a very weak chain.

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