In the special language of Islam a person who meets his death in the path of faith either as a result of obeying its injunctions and carrying out its commands as a staunch and devoted follower or in the course of struggle for its defence is called a martyr. For such a man there is a place of unparalleled honour and distinction in the Hereafter. His lot is truly divine. About the martyrs it is said in the Quran that they should not be thought of as dead: they are alive, a very special existence is conferred on them and they are the recipients of boundless favours and blessings from their Lord.
Think not of those who are slain in God’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. (III: 169)
How marvelous is the fate of these true and noble sons of Islam, how mightily beloved of God they are and what glorious rewards are showered upon them by Him can be visualized from the Tradition we are going now to reproduce. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said:
“No one among the dwellers of the Paradise will ever want to be sent back to the world, although all the worldly joys and riches may be his if he is sent back, except one who had been killed in the way of God; such a man will want to be returned to the earth and killed in the cause of God ten times over because of the high honor and splendid ceremony with which he will be received in the Heaven on account of dying a martyr’s death.”
The sacred Prophet himself was so enthusiastic about attaining martyrdom that he used often to say:“By the Holy Being in whose power lies my life, I wish I was killed in God’s way and brought back to life and killed once more and brought back to life and that this happened to me over and over again.”
Another of the Prophet’s Traditions reads:
“Six rewards are conferred on a martyr by God: one, he is forgiven immediately and his abode in the Paradise is shown to him; two, he is spared the punishment of the grave; third, he is granted freedom from the acute fear and anxiety of the Day of Requital that will grip the heart of every one (‘Except of those on whom there will be the favour of the Lord’); four, a crown of honour will be placed on his head, a single ruby of which will be more valuable than the whole world; five, seventy-two celestial brides will be given to him in marriage; and, six, his intercession will be accepted on behalf of seventy kinsmen.”
“To fall a martyr in the cause of God atones for everything except a debt”.
And, it should be remembered that the Divine reward and other wonderful favours promised on martyrdom are not dependent only a death occurring in the way of God. It is not that when a person is killed in the cause of God only then does he become entitled to them. Every loss or injury suffered, every pain and suffering undergone, in the service of the faith carries a bounteous reward. Any believer who may be persecuted, punished, beaten, insulted or tortured for the sake of Islam will be rewarded most lavishly in the Hereafter. God will raise him so high in honour that the most exalted of saints and divines will envy his fate. Just as soldiers, in this world, who serve their motherland gallantly and care nothing for their own safety when the call of duty comes are honoured with awards and decorations by their governments in the same way the servants of God who suffer loss or humiliation for the sake of faith occupy a special place of glory in the celestial scheme of things. On the Day of Recompense when these blessed children of Islam will receive their awards and decorations and God Al-mighty will honour them with His exquisite favours and bounties, all the rest of men will regretfully wish that they, too, had undergone a similar experience in the world, that they, too, had been punished, tortured and humiliated for the sake of faith so that they would also get those magnificent favours and rewards on that Day.
Should a trial of this kind be destined for us as well, O God, at that fateful hour, keep us brave and steadfast and withhold not from us Thy grace!