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Testimony to God… - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Perhaps one of the strangest peripheral battles currently taking place in a variety of different spheres concerns the identification and classification of the Gazan victims of the Israeli massacre, and more specifically the demands that they be called martyrs [shaheed]. It is by way of this “introduction” that the nastiest expressions of betrayal and takfir are used against those who employ the words “victim” or “killed” to describe those Gazan citizens who died as a result of the brutal and vicious attacks by the terrorist Israeli army.

What is strange is that every Muslim who has read the Holy Book [Quran] cannot find one verse which describes “those killed for the sake of God” as “martyrs.” However there are a number of verses that employ the word “killed” to describe those Muslims who died fighting for the sake of God Almighty, even including those who died performing Jihad against the non-believers.

In Sura Al Imran, the Quran says “And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass. And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together [Verse 157-8].” While further on in the same Sura, the Quran says “Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they have provision [Verse 169].

In Sura Al Nissa the Quran says “Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value) [Verse 74]”

While in Surah Muhammed, the Quran reveals “So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish [Verse 4].”

There are also a number of positions and views within the Prophet’s Sunnah [literally “trodden path” that describes the way and manners of the Prophet] which clarify that Prophet Muhammad PBUH did not describe anyone killed during the various clashes [during his lifetime] as martyrs, and he said: Say so-and-so was killed, do not say so-and-so was martyred.

Ibn Masood [a companion of the Prophet] also said on this issue “You must not say that so-and-so died a martyr, or that so-and-so was killed as a martyr, for a man fights for gain, or fights for fame, or fights to see his place [amongst the people]”

The famous scholar Al Qurtubi, who is renowned for his interpretation of the Quran and whose father died after being attacked by the enemy in 1230 AD [627 Hijra] asked a famous Imam [about this issue] and who declared that his judgment be that [Al Qurtubi’s father] was killed in battle. And so even Al Qurtubi did not dare to describe his father as a martyr.

There is an important counsel given by Sheik Mohamed Bin Uthman regarding this issue when he said “We do not say that those killed in Jihad are martyrs, even if it [the jihad] is between Muslims and non-believers, because the Prophet said ‘God knows those who are wounded for his sake and on the Day of Judgment his wounds will bleed, the color of blood, and the smell of musk’ this means that it is not for us to know, but we hope that he is a martyr.” He added “And so calling one killed [in battle] a martyr does not benefit him, because if he is a martyr with God then he is a martyr whether we say it or not, and he if he is not a martyr then calling him one does not benefit him.”

The meaning is clear then, this [classification of martyrdom] is a holy affair for God alone, and is not to be interfered with by humanity. The identification and classification without reference is what has implicated the Arab world until it has become like the city of Beirut with a martyr on every street, and for every sect, and for every reckless group. This is what has enabled the title of Sheik to be endowed upon a terrorist leader, and given permission and distinguishing features to reckless extremism.

The Palestinian situation is extremely delicate and important; there is no room to increase the rift between the parties or to disrupt the focus away from supporting Palestine and the Palestinian people. Rather than disrupting efforts and [creating] general confusion with peripheral battles that play with the feelings and emotions of the people, what is needed is to unify efforts to realistically change what is happening on the grounds with regards the bloodshed and death [dealt out] by the most notorious terrorist force in the world today, namely Israel.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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