The Content of Good Character

Presentation of the Deeds of the Living to the Deceased and Martyrs and their Ranks

Answered by Ustadh Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Question: Assalamu alaykum,
1) Can a person somehow watch over other people? Can they actually “be proud” of their children, for example? Is it permissible to act according to what they would have wanted?
2) Often times, after a martyr dies it is said about them that they are in Paradise. But is it not the case that a person cannot really experience Paradise or Hellfire until after Judgement Day?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad, his Family, Companions and those who follow their noble way.
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barkatuh,
May Allah (Most High) increase you in sincerity, beneficial knowledge and acceptable actions. These are wonderful and important questions and we ask Allah (The Exalted) to grant us ease and facilitation in understanding His (Most High) Deen.

Deeds are presented to the deceased

Regarding the first question; Imam Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) authored a book related to the states of the deceased and the grave. Therein is a chapter entitled, “Presentation of the deeds of the living to the deceased” [Suyuti, Sharh as-Sudur].
He relates: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Certainly your actions are presented to your close relatives and kinsfolk from amongst the deceased. So, if your actions were good, they are delighted by it and if they are other than that – they say, “Our Lord, do not cause them to die until You guide then like You guided us.” [Imam Ahmad: Musnad from Anas with some weakness in the chain or narration]
He also relates: Abu Ayyub (Allah be pleased with him) said: “Your actions are presented to the deceased. If they see good they are happy and delighted and they say this if from Your immense favor upon your servant so complete it. If they see evil they say,” Our Lord reject it!”. [Ibn Mubarak: az-Zuhd with a sound chain, Ibn Ibi Dunya: al-Munamat]
He relates from an-Nʿumān bin Basheer, who said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say, “Fear Allah regarding your brothers from the inhabitants of the grave for certainly your actions are presented to them”.[al-Bayhaqi: Shuab al-Iman, Ibn Ibi Dunya: al-Munamat]
These narrations are just some of what Imam Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) has related in his book. From this we can understand that our actions are seen by our loved ones after death and they are pleased by our good actions and repudiate our foul actions.

Excellence to Parents and Relatives

Regarding doing what will please our parents and loved ones, then, this is encouraged by Allah (The Exalted) and His Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) clearly in the Quran and may Prophetic narrations.
Allah (Most High) says, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.”[Nisa :36]
This verse is general in its implications and applies the same during their lives and after their death. In fact, it is clearly established in the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that we are encouraged to do good to the friends of our parents even after our parents have died.
Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them both) relates: “I heard Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, “The finest act of goodness is the kind treatment of a person to the loved ones of his father after his death” [Imam Nawawi: Riyadh as-Saliheen from the collection of Muslim]
This is not exclusive to our parents (although greater in excellence) but is application to our other loved ones insha’a Allah.

Martyrs and their Rank

The scholars mention that there are three categories of martyrs:
1.) The martyr of this life and the hereafter: This refers to one who dies in a legitimate battle fighting for the sole purpose of establishing the word of Allah (The Most High). The burial for them entails specific rulings and as such they are regarded as a martyr in this life and the next.
2.) The martyr of this life only: Refers to one who dies in battle, but fought seeking the spoils of war or out of bravery. His reward is deficient though he is buried similar to the aforementioned since his affair is only know to Allah (Most High).
3.) The martyr of the hereafter only: This category refers to the like of those who are stricken by a plague or who die of a stomach ailment . The rulings of their burial are the same as other Muslims while they are considered martyrs with Allah (Most High). [Imam Bajuri: Tuhfah al-Murid, Imam Sawi: Sharh ala Jawharah at-Tawheed]
Imam Bajūri (Allah have mercy on him) mentions that it is an obligation for a Muslim to believe the martyr who died in battle is completely alive even if the particular circumstances is not known to us. The first category of martyr of is considered the highest ranking and actually do enjoy the food, drink and clothing of the hereafter.
Allah (Most High) says, “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.” [Al Imran: 169]
As for the third category, they are lesser in rank than the first and as such only witness paradise without enjoying its provisions.
The upshot is there would be nothing wrong, in any case, in referring to the status of martyrs in the present-tense. Either literally or by way of honoring them as Allah (The Exalted) has honored them.
Allah (The Exalted) knows best
Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Checked and Approved by Faraz Rabbani