(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GOOGLE DICTIONARY)
The True Meaning of Shaheed
Many often wonder what drives one to become a martyr. There are actually many reasons. However, in light of a special type of “martyr,” we need to make a distinction between “martyr” and “Shaheed” (an Islamic term). When translators relay to us the word “Shaheed”, they usually translate it as “Martyr.” This is not quite accurate. In the English language, as well as other languages, there exists no special word to describe the exact meaning of “Shaheed.”
A martyr is one who decides to give up his life for whatever cause he serves or to uphold his principles and honour. Maybe he wishes to go down in history as a hero. Maybe he feels very passionate about his country or his philosophy that he would risk his life for it. Some martyrs do die for their religion. Some risk their lives to uphold truth and justice. A martyr has many reasons for which he may risk his life.
However, the term “Shaheed” is only applied to those who sacrifice their lives for Allah’s (God’s) cause. They have no fear; they only fear Allah and want to obey Him and to serve Him. They realize that their lives belong to Allah, the One who created them, so it is a gift and we should not be so selfish about it. To obey Allah and to implement what He has commanded (truth, justice and liberty) might mean the loss of their loves. Their lover for Allah motivates them to sacrifice the precious gift of life. They are assured of a great reward in the end for their unselfish act. Their focus is on the next life and on pleasing Allah.
In some cases, people have translate, or named, “Shaheed” as “suicide” bomber”. This is such an ugly term. A Muslim knows that suicide is prohibited and that Allah will punish them for it; it is like murder, even though one would be killing one’s self. A Shaheed has no desire to die for the sake of escaping life. He loves life. A Muslim should want to continue living and never even wish he were dead because maybe his life could serve the purpose of Allah and he could continue doing good deeds. A Shaheed decides when he goes off to fight for Allah’s cause that he is not going to fear death. His attitude is to submit to whatever Allah has chosen for him, and he will accept the outcome. He would prefer not to die and leave his family, but at the same time he almost looks forward to the sacrifice because of the great reward he’ll receive form Allah. He knows he’ll be in Paradise forever. He doesn’t even fear the pain of death because Prophet Muhammad SallalLahu Alayhi Wasallam has told the Believers that at the time a Shaheed dies, he will not feel the pain; this is the mercy of Allah. The pain will be similar to a bee’s sting.
However, in order to earn the title of Shaheed one must have the correct Niat (intention). In Islam intention is important behind every action in the religion. The only One who really knows the true intention of a person is Allah, for He sees their heart and knows their mind. Thus, the reward will rest upon the intention of the person. The Shaheed must have in his intention to risk his life only for Allah and not for anyone else. It can’t be for his own ego. It can’t be for the title of “hero”. It can’t be for revenge, for Allah will truly take care of the evildoers. It must be to serve the purpose of Allah and to uphold truth, justice, and liberty as well as to fight against all types of oppression.
Allah states in the Qur’an that “Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main,, in Allah’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: They are the people who will achieve (salvation)” (9: 20)
To die as a Shaheed is an honour. Some people desire this title if they must die because of the great reward. Other people can achieve equal reward as a Shaheed: those who die from terminal illnesses like cancer, the woman who dies as a result of childbirth or those who are murdered.
An incentive to be a Shaheed is found in the Hadeeth that states: “No one who enters Paradise will want to come back to the world and have anything on the earth except the ‘Shaheed.’. He will wish to return to the world and be killed ten times because of the honour he sees” (Bukhari and Muslim).
We can understand why a Muslim is happy to sacrifice his life. He gains great reward in Paradise as well as honour. We see so many who’ve died under the hands of occupiers, tyrants and barbarians. They fought in defence, but they also fought to uphold truth, liberty, justice and their religion. Many are honoured as a Shaheed, but only Allah knows their true intentions. Allah willing, they are in Paradise.