Generally, a person is considered Shaheed (martyr) when martyred in the way of Allah. There is no doubt that a person who gives his life in the way of Allah attains the status of Shaheed. Allah, the Most High, opens the doors of paradise for him. But the term Shaheed comprises more than that. Its meanings are vast. It also has other meaning, therefore, today, I will say some things in this respect in the light of the sayings of the Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, and the sayings of the Holy prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Students here in these countries pose this question; probably a girl in a class in Hamburg asked this question, that when you mention martyrs, in their stories mostly there is a mention that they requested their family members to pray for them that may they be martyred in the way of Allah, or, that, may I attain the status of Shaheed, or, that, martyrdom is attained by fortunate ones. Rather than wishing martyrdom, who do these people not pray for victory over the adversaries?
No doubt the prayer to gain supremacy over the adversary is the preferred prayer. It also is a promise of Allah to the godly people that they are the ones who are going to be victorious. Victories are theirs. Allah, the Most High, numerous times informed the Promised Messiah of triumphs and victories, and gave him the news of supremacy. We have firm faith that the Ahmadiyya Community will see clear and obvious signs of this promise. With the Grace of Allah, we are seeing the signs of its appearance. Every year, despite opposition, hundreds of thousands of people are entering our Community, and even in the countries where opposition is at its peak. All these things point to progress and success, and we are seeing their manifestations. Similarly, there are other programs, which the Community is conducting, and is clearing the doubts from the minds of the non-Muslim world. These are the steps of the Ahmadiyya Community advancing towards success and triumph which, at their time, will bring about an extraordinary revolution in the world. Every Ahmadi should make an effort and pray in this respect.
For the attainment of great objectives, sacrifices need to be presented. At times, sacrifice of life needs to be presented. The members of the Community do present all kinds of sacrifices wherever they are needed, and are always ready for to present them. Sacrifice of life is a part of it, which bestows the status of Shahaadat on the ones who present it, Such people are entering the heavens of the pleasure of Allah, the Most High. But Shahaadat is not limited to martyrdom. The meaning of Shaheed is not limited to martyrdom. The youth who raised the question, as well as the elders, need to know the deeper meaning so that everyone may try to attain the status of Shahaadat and understand the soul of such prayer, and enter the paradise of the pleasure of Allah.
Once, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to Abu Huraira that if only the ones martyred in the way of Allah are going to considered Shaheed then there will not be many Shaheeds among my followers.
In another saying, the Holy Prophet said, a person who desires martyrdom with a sincere heart, Allah, the Most High, will include him in the category of Shaheeds even if he dies on his bed.
We also see at the time of Badr, that the Holy Prophet, referring to His promise, asked for victory and asked for the life of his companions who were with him in the battle of Badr. He did not ask for their attaining the status of Shaheed by sacrificing their lives. He had beseeched that if the Muslims were annihilated then no one would be left to worship Allah.
Allah has mentioned worship as the very purpose of mankind. Therefore, the real purpose of the creation of man and the true believer is not to present his life once, rather it is the continuous effort to attain the pleasure of the Almighty, and to be prepared for any sacrifice at any moment.
This also is mentioned in the sayings of the Holy Prophet that a believer should not desire confrontation but if he is forced into a confrontation then he should not step back due to fear and should offer the sacrifice of his life and not pull back at all. During the periods of wars, a believer attained to the status of Shaheed while confronting the enemy or gained victory without any fear or apprehension.
There is no war in present circumstances. Our enemies attack us covertly. Even if he attacks overtly we are not directed to engage in war. Sometimes warnings are received in mail that either quit Ahmadiyyat or get ready to die. At such occasion, the manliness of a believer is that – and the Ahmadis of Pakistan demonstrate it – that life may be taken away but the faith and the pleasure of God cannot be sacrificed. This is a characteristic of a believer that is upheld through different condition and varying circumstances.
Allah has taught the believer a prayer to beseech to be included among the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous (4:70). What does this mean? What is the philosophy behind it? What is its exegesis? To make us understand it, Allah, the Most High, showing His grace to us, provided us the opportunity to accept the Promised Messiah, the Imam of the age, who made us understand its nature clearly and in detailed manner. I will not go into the characteristics of each of the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. I will at this time only concentrate on the topic of Shaheed which has been raised and which is being discussed, and will go into some detail.
The Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, at many instances has written about the nature of the Shaheed and has written about his standing and rank. I will present some excerpts which show why it is necessary to pray to become a Shaheed, and what kind of a Shaheed one should beseech to become, and why a believer should desire so.
The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, says, General public understands the meaning of Shahaeed just to be the one who is killed in a battle, or the one who drowns in a river, or the one who dies in a pestilence, etc. Rather, I say that to restrain the meaning only to these conditions and to limit the meaning to these situations, is beyond the status of a believer. Shaheed actually is the person who attains the power of steadfastness and resolve from God, and no upheaval or shock can shake him or move him from his stand. He bravely faces adversities and difficulties to the point that if, just for the sake of God, he has to give his life, he is given extraordinary resolve, and he presents his head without any sorrow or disappointment. He wishes that he is given life again and again and that may he present it in the way of Allah again and again. He feels such pleasure that every sword which falls on his body and every strike which may crush him, gives him a new life, a new pleasure and a rejuvenation. These are the meaning of Shaheed.
This word Shaheed also originates from Shahd (honey, honeycomb). The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, said, This word is extracted from Shahd too as such people bear intense worship and bear every inconvenience and impropriety in the way of God and become ready to encounter them. They experience a sweetness and pleasantness. As the honey is a simile of “Therein is cure for men” (16:70), they also are an antidote. Ones who join their company, are cured of many ailments.
If this status can only be attained through death then how can a person benefit from their company? This also is a status of the Shaheed that ones in his company are able to rid of various improprieties.
The Promised Messiah continues to say, Shaheed also is the name of that state and status where man in all his chores sees Allah, the Most High, or at least considers God seeing him. This state is also named Ihsan (goodness, graciousness).
When the Promised Messiah said that the status of the Shaheed is this also that he sees Allah, the Most High, during all his actions, and is sure that God is watching his activity. In the presence of such demeanor attention stays towards good works and a person cannot engage in wrong activity. What is Ihsan in relation to Allah, the Most High? When a person is in this condition then Ihsan takes place. What is Ihsan; explaining this, the Promised Messiah says at one instance, It is a directive of God to you to treat Him and his creatures with ‘Adl (justice).
‘Adl (justice) is a state before Ihsan (graciousness).
Then the Promised Messiah continued, That means that engage in fulfilling the rights of God and the rights of man, and if you can do more then carry out not only ‘Adl but engage in Ihsan, that is, do more than your obligation and with such sincerity engage in the obedience of God as though you see Him.
The obligations which have been specified are to be carried out anyhow, but beyond obligation is the performing of Nawafil, to fulfill the right of the worship of Allah, the Most High, to establish a relation with Allah, the Most High. If you will carry these out beyond obligation then these actions take to the states which are states of Shahaadat.
The Promised Messiah further said, Treat people well beyond their rights. Just to fulfill the rights is not enough, rather, to attain to its higher states, to be included among the people who attain to the status of Shaheed, in conjunction with delivering the rights of people, treat them with love, affection, leniency and graciousness.
Then mentioning that establish such relationship with Allah that there is a conviction that there is none other worthy of worship and obeisance, none other is worthy of love, none is worthy of depending upon. No one can be depended upon except for Him, because he is the Creator, and is the one who supports this life and its favors. He also is the nourisher who nourishes, and bestows his favors.
The Promised Messiah said that for a believer this much is not enough that he would just believe in these matters or just understood that only Allah is the possessor of all powers, rather there should be progress beyond this point and steps should move forward, and that progress is this that you become so convinced of the greatness of Allah, the Most High, and become so respectful before Him in your worship, you have such respect for Him and you have such humility before Him, you are a worshipper with such heart felt longing which rises from the heart. This should be the condition.
The Promised Messiah said, You should be lost in His love in a manner that as though you have seen His greatness, might and eternal beauty. When a person sees limitless and eternal beauty of Allah, is convinced of His attributes, his attention is towards His worship, then no such act can emanate from him which is counter to the pleasure of Allah, and when this is the condition, then he is at the status of a Shaheed.
The Promised Messiah also explained this concerning Shaheed that when such relation is established with Allah, then the strength of steadfastness develops. Then a person becomes ready for any sacrifice to attain the pleasure of Allah. All this is not due to any compulsion, rather there is comfort realized in the difficulties in its way and they become a source of solace. The believer stands up bravely in front of every difficulty. There is no fear, sorrow or disappointment in the heart, that may I had not done this, or, if I had accepted the proposal of so and so adversary of Ahmadiyyat, or, that I should have severed ties with Ahmadiyyat due to their warnings so that I could have saved myself from the difficulties I am passing through. A believer can never think like this if he really believes. Rather the strength of faith, and conviction of the existence of God, even in these difficulties, provides him comfort, pleasure and joy. This is the status of Shaheed.
The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, further said, A person attains to the status of Shaheed, when he worships God while bearing hardship, and when he sacrifices all worldly comfort in the way of His pleasure and worship. Not only that he sacrifices, but rather reaches the state that he receives such solace from Allah for this action that he experiences such enjoyment from it as he does from the sweetness of honey.
Similarly if a person abandons a weakness realizing that it will attract displeasure of Allah, then his action will also lead his attention towards good works.
The Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has mentioned five persons as Shaheed: one who dies in a pestilence, one who dies with stomach ailment, one who dies of drowning, one who is buried under a falling roof of a building, and the one who gives his life in the way of Allah.
The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, explains that these are just the states of Shaheed with respect to apparent physical death. There are additional states as explained earlier.
The Promised Messiah further said, The reality of Shaheed also relates to the heart. Siddiq (Truthful) has affinity with Prophet and is second in status to him. Shaheed is the neighbor of Siddiq (Truthful). Prophet carries all the superior attributes, that is, he is Siddiq and Shaheed and Salih, but Siddiq and Shaaeed are two separates states. There is no need for the discussion whether Siddiq is also Shaheed or not, that state which is extraordinary is distinct for both states. That is why Allah provides him such power that good morals and good actions emanate from him in their sublime state and take place without effort. No fear or hope is the cause of those good actions. They become a part of his nature and personality. His power and personality in this respect continues to increase and his apprehensions continue to decrease and he does not feel any burden.
The Shaheed carries out the service of the Community without effort as it has become a part of their personality and they feel uncomfortable when they are not assigned a task.
The Promised Messiah has given the example of a begger that when he visits a rich person, the rich person usually gives the beggar something but mostly for show but a Shaheed carries out such act due to his good nature and this power of natural good continues to increase with time. He does not expect any appreciation for his action.
The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, said, From the Status of Shaheed such status is meant that when a person from his power of faith develops such conviction of God and the Judgment Day that as if he is seeing God with his eye. Then due to the blessing of the conviction, the difficulty and inconvenience in the performance of goodness is wiped away. Every destined outcome from God, due to this concordance, descends in the heart like honey and fills the courtyard of bosom with sweetness. Every sorrow appears in the form of a favor. That person is called Shaheed who sees God due to the power of faith, and enjoys all that falls him like sweet honey, and is called Shaheed in this meaning, and this status is as a sign for a perfect believer.
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih, may Allah be his support, gave the example of Ahmadis living in Muslim countries who protect the truth of their faith against extreme persecution and difficulties. He said that some seek asylum to safeguard the truth of Ahmadiyyat. If they base their cases on falsehood, they will waste all the truthfulness of their faith. Some have strong cases as they have seen physical persecution. Others can relate their situation that the oppressive conditions have become beyond their capacity to bear as everyone has a different threshold to bear persecution. People of these countries understand such situations. There is great value for truth in these countries. If a lie is told, it will lead to many additional lies. We should always keep the pleasure of Allah before us.
According to one saying of the Holy prophet, persons migrating to safeguard truth are Shaheed, rather Siddiq. It is narrated in Abu Dawud that the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, If a person fearing trouble concerning his faith goes from one place to another, he is a Siddiq (Truthful) in the eyes of God. If he dies in this condition, he is Shaheed.
The Holy prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also said, The people who migrate from one land to another due to their faith will be with Jesus at the same level of Paradise.
The Promised Messiah said, The greatness of Shaheed is this that difficulties, inconveniences and trials elicit such power of faith, moral power, and steadfastness that they becomes a sign due to their being extraordinary . The power of faith gives power to actions so much so that when this power of faith develops to its fullest, the believer attains the status of Shaheed as no obstacle hinders him. He will not hesitate or pull back even in giving his life.
Standards for the faith of a believer are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as belief in the unseen, observance of Prayer, spending in the way of Allah, belief in the previous prophets, in the Holy prophet and in the Promised Messiah (believe in that which has been revealed to thee, and that which was revealed before thee and they have firm faith in what is yet to come (2:4))
Strengthen your faith. A true believer loves Allah above all. Belief comprises belief in Allah, his angels, books, and messengers. Belief also comprises a regard for the might of Allah, Jihad in his way, Jihad of personal reformation and Jihad of propagation, migration for his sake, spirit of hearing and obeying, love of the Holy prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Progress in these categories of faith will lead to the status of Shaheed. These characteristics lead to Shahadat even when a person is dying of natural causes. We should all try to attain them with prayers and effort.
At the end, the Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V provided details of a martyrdom in Pakistan. Maqsood Ahmad, who was 31, son of Nawab Khan, was martyred on 7 December in Quetta. A lady from their family from a village Nangal near Qadian first entered Ahmadiyyat. The family moved to Pakistan after partition. His elder brother, Manzoor Ahmad, was martyred in November. He was fired upon by two persons riding a motorcycle. He sustained five bullets and expired on his way to hospital. He was also kidnapped in 2009 and was released after the payment of a large ransom. He supported medical camps and propagation activity by loaning his vehicle. He left behind a wife and two young children. Both sons of the father have been martyred.