Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: Would a Muslim who was murdered by another be considered a martyr? This is an incident which did not occur in a state of warfare, but rather out of rivalry between two Muslims. What condolence could be offered to the relatives of the one who was murdered?
Answer: Wa ‘alaikum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I am very sorry to hear about this incident. The taking of an innocent human life which Allah Most High has made sacred and inviolable (regardless of the person’s religion) is, in His own eternal words, like killing all of humanity put together. It’s a compounded shame then that someone who calls himself a Muslim could do that to a fellow Muslim, whether for personal, worldly or sectarian reasons.
According to Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him), a Muslim who is killed for unjust and illegal reasons with a lethal weapon (such as a knife or gun), then the victim will be considered a martyr (shaheed). They will not be washed with the ritual bathing, and will be buried in their clothes and prayed over. The victim could not have died as a militant rebel, a bandit, or a similar illegal security threat. [Sadr al-Shari`ah, Sharh al-Wiqayah]
Other scholars ruled that someone who died defending their lives from a murderer is not a martyr in the worldly sense, so they are washed and prayed over, but they could take the ruling of a martyr in the Hereafter since they were unjustly killed.
You mentioned that the person was killed as a result of a rivalry. If it was reaching a level of mutual threats, or based upon some sort of illegal/immoral conflict that involved both parties, such as family feuds, abuse, gang, or drug-related violence, then they most likely should not be considered a martyr. Hence, in Islam, it is never considered martyrdom nor honorable, rather it is heinous and despicable, to die as a militant rebel or terrorist, or as a gangster, thief, or in a blood feud.
The family of the victim in such cases should not be mislead in this case to believe the victim is a martyr if the victim was in a morally questionable position in the conflict. Rather, they should be encouraged to work against violence within the community to prevent others from falling into this. If the victim was completely innocent, then if he died upon faith, then insha Allah one day he will enter Paradise.
Stern Warnings about Shedding Blood
Allah Most High says:
“… Whosoever kills a soul who took no innocent life nor caused havoc in the land, then it as if he has killed all of mankind put together…” [al-Quran, 5:32]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“The verbal disparagement of a Muslim is a moral outrage, and fighting him is disbelief.” [al-Bukhari, Sahih]
He (peace be upon him) also said:
“Hopefully, Allah may forgive every sin – except the one who dies a polytheist, or the believer who sheds the blood of a believer intentionally.” [Abu Dawud, Sunan]
Regarding two Muslims fighting, he (peace be upon him) said:
“When two Muslims draw their swords at each other, the killer and the killed will both be in the Hellfire.” Abu Bakrah (the narrator) asked, “I or someone else asked, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, that is the [fate of the] killer, but why the one killed?” So he (peace be upon him) replied, “Indeed, he too intended to kill his companion.” [Muslim, Sahih]
This is in addition to the Qur’anic warning of taking any innocent life. And the words of Allah Most High and His Messenger (peace be upon him) are enough of a warning for everyone.
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani
Sidi Abdullah Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He converted to Islam in 2001 and completed a degree in Business Administration. In 2005, he left Canada to pursue Islamic studies. He now lives in Amman, Jordan with his wife and two daughters, where he studies various Islamic sciences and concurrently serves as the Study Abroad Director at the Qasid Institute.