Permissibility of calling someone a Shaheed by way of hope and not assertion
Fatwa No: 46232

  • Fatwa Date:19-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 18, 1435
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Question

Lately, there are people both in the media and among the youth who claim others have achieved Paradise and Shahaadah (i.e. martyrdom). Is there anything that is established concerning that from Ahl As-Sunnah? I hope that you will present us with the opinions of the scholars, specifically Ibn Taymiyyah and his students, may Allaah have mercy upon them, as well as the evidences, so that we may confirm it. Also, regarding those about whom the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, testified of achieving Shahaadah, like the one who died from intestinal disease and otherwise, is that based on the righteousness and piety of the deceased or does it not matter whether that person was a disbeliever or an openly sinful Muslim? Thank you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.

The way of Ahl As-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa‘ah is not to declare that anyone of Ahl Al-Qiblah (i.e. those who pray toward the Ka‘bah in Makkah) are definitely going to Paradise or the Hellfire, unless there is a religious text specifying that. Rather, they hope that their good will go to Paradise and they fear that their bad will go to Hellfire. They believe that whoever died of the Muslims, while not associating any partners with Allaah The Almighty, will not dwell forever in Hellfire no matter how great their sin might be. Also, they designate Shahaadah for anyone who was killed as a Mujaahid in the cause of Allaah, according to what is apparent, as well as those killed defending themselves or defending their families and wealth.

There is clear and authentic evidence regarding the permissibility of designating Shahaadah for such people. The Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them said while the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was listening: “So and so is a Shaheed (i.e. martyr) and so and so is a Shaheed.” They then came across another man and said: “So and so is a Shaheed,” at which he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “No, for I have seen him in Hellfire wearing a cloak or robe that he stole.” [Muslim and others]

In this there is evidence for the permissibility of claiming Shahaadah (i.e. martyrdom) for whoever was apparently killed as a Shaheed, since the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not rebuke the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them for doing so. As for saying this by way of affirmation and certainty, then that is not possible except by means of revelation from Allaah The Almighty. This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to Umm Al-‘Alaa’ Al-Ansaareeyah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her when she said after the death of ‘Uthmaan ibn Math‘oon: “May the mercy of Allaah be upon you, Abus-Saa’ib, for I bear witness that Allaah has honored you,” so he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to her: “And how do you know that Allaah honored him?” She said: “May my father be ransomed for you, O Messenger of Allaah. Who, then, does Allaah honor?” He said: “As for him, then he knows for certain (now that he died). By Allaah, I truly hope the best for him. By Allaah, I do not know what will be done with me and I am the Messenger of Allaah.” She said: “Then by Allaah, I will never declare another to be purified again.” [Al-Bukhari and others]

In summary, there is nothing wrong with saying “So and so is a Shaheed,” or declaring this in general since it is ruling according to what is apparent. As for those whom the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, confirmed about having received Shahaadah, like the one who died from an intestinal disease, then it is a condition that he be a Muslim.  Also, among Muslims there are those who are tyrants to themselves, those who are mediocre and those who are righteous. As for the disbeliever, then this has nothing to do with him.

Allaah Knows best.

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