Who is a shaheed

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Who is classed as a shaheed? With reference and also instant death, does that come under the same category?
Stomach illness and plague are these classed as martyrs? Do we have a reason why? I am aware it’s in Hadith.  Could you give me a reference?

 In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.


The scholars have classed shaheeds in two categories. The first are those who are considered shaheed in the real sense. (They are considered a shaheed in this world as well as the hereafter) These kind of shaheehds are buried without a ritual bath. The second are those who will have the rank of a shaheed in the hereafter but the rules of a shaheed will not apply to them in this world and they are shaheed in a constructive sense.

The first type are those sane, adult Muslims who are free from major impurity (hadath e akbar) and are killed unjustly by Muslims or by a Non Muslim citizen of a country ruled by the Muslims with a sharp object. Or is killed by a belligerent disbeliever in a country ruled by disbelievers or by bandits or rebels or is found killed in a battle zone. Also in an Islamic country there is no financial compensation in punishment of this killing, instead qisas (even retaliation) is obligatory. If a person was wounded in any of the above categories and he did not gain any enjoyment of life such as eating, drinking, sleeping, medical treatment etc, he will be considered a shaheed. (Durrul Mukhtar, Vol 1, P669)

The second types of shaheed who will have the rank and honour in the hereafter but the rules of shahadah do not apply to them in this world are many and are in excess of forty. These are not mentioned in a single Hadith but have been taken from different narrations. Allama Ibn Abideen has mentioned these kinds of shaheeds in his book Raddul Muhtar, (Vol1, P672)

The word shaheed would normally be used for the first type of people, however it is permissible to call the people who fall in the second category shaheed. (Also if instant death was caused due to those situation mentioned in the Ahadith then that person will be considered a shaheed)

The reason why these are also categorised as shaheeds can be understood by the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah that Allah’s Messenger (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) asked: “Who do you consider to be a martyr?” They said: “O Allah’s Prophet, he who is killed fighting for the cause of Allah.” The Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “(If this is the definition of a martyr) then very few in my Ummah will be martyrs!” They asked: “Who else are they, O Allah’s Messenger?” He said: “He who is killed fighting for Allah’s cause is a martyr, he who dies in the cause of Allah is a martyr, he who dies in an epidemic is a martyr, he who dies from a stomach disease is a martyr, and the one who dies of drowning is (also) a martyr.”  (Muslim, no: 891)

It is a blessing of Allah that he has made possible great rewards for the people of this Ummah despite minimal effort and sacrifice. We the Ummah can only benefit from this. Mulla Ali Qari explains the above Hadith that these people will also have the rank of shaheed and will share only in some of the same blessings and bounties of the actual shaheed but not necessarily in every aspect and rank. (Mirqaat, Vol 7, P376). The greater reward, high rank and honour are reserved for those who are considered to be shaheeds both in this world as well as the hereafter.

Only Allah knows best.

Sayeedur Rahman

Darul Ifta, Birmingham

This answer was collected from, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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