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Who Is Considered A Martyr?  

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He died in Eastern Europe either due to kidnapping or an avalanche. I have heard that those who die due to natural disasters are considered martyrs (shahid). Is this true? Can death by kidnapping also make someone a martyr?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Wa `alaykum as-Salam,

An unconditional yes to the first question and a conditional yes to the second, respectively:

[1] (a) because avalanche is caused by a kind of earthquake and there is a hadith that states the Muslim who dies because of an earthquake is a martyr (shahid). Ibn `Asakir narrated it. Several hadiths also specify that earthquakes are a bane against the disbeliever and a mercy and blessing upon the Believer.

(b) Another hadith states that whoever dies because the roof his house fell in, is a martyr. Ibn Hibban narrated it in his Sahih.


[2] (a) In the four Sunan from Sa`id ibn Zayd – Allah be well-pleased with both of them – the Prophet said, upon him and his Family blessings and peace:

“Whoever is killed trying to keep his property, he is a witness-martyr; whoever is killed trying to defend his life, he is a witness-martyr….”

(b) The same is narrated also from Abu Hurayra and from `Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As in Muslim, al-Nasa’i, and al-Tirmidhi.

(c) Also a martyr is he who is killed because of an injustice as narrated from `Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As by Ahmad and al-Nasa’i, and by the latter from Suwayd ibn Muqrin.

(d) Also a martyr is he who is killed in a strange land far away from his hearth and kin as narrated from Ibn `Abbas by Ibn Majah, and from Abu Hurayra and Anas by al-Khara’iti.

Someone killed in a kidnapping may well meet one or more of the above criteria.

Note, however, that there are some sins that martyrdom (shahada) does not expiate but only repentance (tawba), such as disbelief and hypocrisy, impiety to parents, and betrayal of trusts; and deficient states that martyrdom does not compensate but only repayment or pardon, such as debts.

Sources: Al-Suyuti, _Kashf al-Salsala `an Wasf al-Zalzala_ and `Abd Allah al-Ghumari, _Ithaf al-Nubala’ bi-Fadl al-Shahadati wa-Anwa` al-Shuhada’_.

May Allah grant you and us Shahada for His sake.

Hajj Gibril


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