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My Son Died by Drowning. Is It True He Is a Shahid (Martyr)?

Answered by Ustadh Sharif Rosen

Question: Assalam alaykum

My son died recently by drowning. I have accepted Allah’s will with patience. Our local imam told us our son will have the reward of a martyr and that parents who endure a child’s death with patience will have a special reward in Paradise. Is this correct?

Answer: as-Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatulLah.

May Allah bless you and your entirely family with continued patience and increase your reward therein. And may Allah Most High have mercy on your son and forgive him.

I encourage you to have every confidence that your son will enjoy one of the elevated stations in the next world, insha Allahu ta’ala. This is not vain hope, but possible through approaching the promises of Allah and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, with the certitude that is the bedrock of faith. Given the circumstances that have unfolded in your life as of late, you may find solace and trust in both your son’s security and your promised reward through these prophetic teachings, the first two of which are rigorously authenticated:


عن أبي هريرة أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال :(يقول الله تعالى ما لعبدي المؤمن عندي جزاء إذا قبضت صفيَّه من أهل الدُّنيا ثمَّ احتسبه إلا الجنَّة). رواه البخاري

On the authority of Abi Hurayra, Allah be well pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“Allah Most High says, “I have no reward except Paradise for a believing servant of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away one of their favorite people from the inhabitants of the world.”” (related by al-Bukhari).


قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم:(الشهداء خمسة:المطعون، والمبطون،والغريق،وصاحب الهدم،والشهيد في سبيل الله) رواه البخاري ومسلم

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“The martyrs are five: the one [who died] from plague; intestinal illness; drowning; building collapse; and the martyr who died striving in the way of Allah.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

وعن أبي موسي الأشعري رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال :(إذا مات ولد العبد قال الله تعالي لملائكته : قبضتم ولد عبدي ؟
فيقولون : نعم ,
فيقول : قبضتم ثمرة فؤاده ؟
فيقولون : نعم ,
فيقول : فماذا قال عبدي ؟
فيقولون : حمدك واسترجع , فيقول الله تعالي : ابنوا لعبدي بيتا في الجنة وسموه بيت الحمد) رواه الترمذي وقال : حديث حسن

On the authority of Abi Musa al-Ash’ari, Allah be well pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

“When the child of one of Allah’s servants dies, Allah Most High says to His angels, ‘Have you taken back the child of one of my servants?'”

The angels reply, “Yes.”

Allah says, “Have you taken back that which was precious to my servant’s heart [i.e. their child’s soul]?”

The angels reply, “Yes.”

Allah says, “And what has my servant said?”

They say, “He has praised you and declared “Inna lil-Lahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”/”We belong to Allah and to Him we return””

At which point, Allah Most High will say, “Build for My servant a wondrous house in Paradise. Name it ‘the Abode of Praise'”” (related by al-Tirmidhi).

Our Lord does not send the events of our lives except that He is manifesting a meaning that pertains to our guidance and salvation. As Sidi Ibn ‘AtailLah said, “When He [Allah Most High] bestows upon you, He reveals to you His graciousness and when He withholds [or takes away] from you, He shows you His omnipotent power. In each condition, He is disclosing Himself to you, and drawing nearer towards you with His loving kindness” (al-Hikam al-‘Ataiyya, no. 93).

May Allah grace us all with the gift of patience and certitude in the wisdom and mercy of the Divine plan.

Please pray for us.

wa-Salam,
[Ustadh] Sharif Rosen

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sharif Rosen is the Muslim Chaplain at Williams College (in the Northeastern United States).  His formative Islamic studies in Amman, Jordan for five years, and ongoing, have been at the hands of scholars connected through unbroken transmission to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.

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