Who Is Superior, the Truthful or the Martyr?

Question

Today the value of life is increasingly diminished, and people are more prone to saying that they want to die quickly for a cause. However, I believe that living for a cause is superior to dying as one has to overcome struggles day by day, but dying is just one brief but tough moment. In the Quran, the order of status is as follows: Prophet, Siddiq, Martyr, Righteous. So is not the Siddiq superior to the martyr in Islam? Why or why not?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah Most High alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

Thank you for this interesting question. You appear to have a solid point, and the Siddiq is superior to the martyr. It is also possible to be both. It is praiseworthy to live for a cause, and Allah blesses those who live well with good deaths. You have a valuable point about the virtue of living well and facing the trials and tribulations of life.

The virtues of living well and dying a good death are not mutually exclusive, though, and we should be cautious lest we undermine the severity of the pangs of death, which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned us about.

Who Are the Siddiqin?

Being true (sidq) is defined as, “One inward conforms to one’s outward, through being upright with Allah Most High, inwardly and outwardly, in public and private.” [Muhammad Ali al-Tahanawi, Kashshaf Istilahat al-Funun]

Being true relates directly to one’s slavehood to Allah and consciousness of Divine Oneness.

Thus, Tahanawi continues in his definition of being true (sidq):

“This uprightness is by having nothing occur to one [before] Allah Most High. Whoever has this state–their outward and inward being the same and leaving beholding creation by constant beholding of the Real (Al-Haqq, Allah)–is named veracious (Siddiq). [ibid.]

The Superiority of the Siddiq and the Martyr

As for the issue of superiority between the Siddiqin (Truthful) and the Shuhada (Martyrs). The Hanbali Scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (Allah have mercy on him) concluded that superiority is related to the realisation of the attribute of truthfulness (sidq). The scholar’s ink that flowed with truthfulness and sincerity may be superior to the martyr who failed to reach truthfulness in the spilling of his blood. Similarly, the blood of the martyr who reached truthfulness may be superior to the scholar’s ink who has not reached truthfulness. Thus their superiority is directly proportionate to their attainment of truthfulness (side). [Ibn al-Qayyim, Miftah Dar al-Saʿada]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.