57. Abu Thabit from Sahl bin Hunaif said: The Prophet said: ”He who truthfully asks Allāh for martyrdom (Shahadah), Allāh will raise him to the high status of the martyrs, even if he dies on his bed.” [Muslim]
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen [ra] says in his explanation of Allāh this hadith:
This hadith was mentioned by the author, may Allāh have mercy on him, in the chapter about Truthfulness, and the relevant (part) of it is his statement: “He who truthfully asks Allāh for Shahadah.” And Shahadah is a high status (which comes) after Siddeeqiyyah (being a siddeeq or speaker of truth), as Allāh had said:
And whoso obeys Allāh and the Messenger (Muḥammad ), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allāh has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets, the Siddiqun, the martyrs, and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are! [Surah An-Nisa', 69]
And Shahadah is of many types:
From them: Shahadah (bearing witness) on the laws of Allāh over the slaves of Allāh, and this is the Shahadah of the scholars which Allāh has said about it:
Allāh bears witness that La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. La ilah illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. [Surah , Aal-'Imran, 18]
And many of the scholars have explained His statement: (And the martyrs) that they are the scholars, and no doubt that the scholars are witnesses (Shuhadaa'), they bear witness that Allāh has sent His Messenger Muḥammad with the guidance and true religion. And they (the scholars) bear witness over the Ummah that it delivered the Shari'ah of Allāh, and they bear witness regarding the laws of Allāh: This is Halal, and this is Haram, and this is obligatory, and this is recommended, and this is disliked. And no one knows this except the people of knowledge, and that is why they were witnesses.
And also from among the Shuhadaa' are: The one who dies of plague, the one who dies of a stomach disease, the one who dies of a fire, the one who drowns, and their likes.
And from the Shuhadaa': Those who die in the path of Allāh.
And from the Shuhadaa': Those who are killed defending their wealth and selves, as the Prophet said when a man asked him: “O Prophet of Allāh, what about if a man came to me asking for my money (meaning to take it by force).” The Prophet said: “Don't give him your money.” So the man said: “What if he fights me?” The Prophet said: “Fight him (back).” The man asked: “What if he kills me?” The Prophet peace be upon him said: “Then you are a martyr.” The man asked: “What if I kill him?” The Prophet said: “(Then) he is in the hell-fire.” (Because he is a transgressing oppressor). [Narrated by Muslim]
And the Prophet said: “Whoever is killed defending himself is a shaheed (martyr), whoever is killed defending his family is a shaheed, whoever is killed defending his property is a shaheed, [and whoever is killed defending his religion is a shaheed].” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Nisa'i. Classed as Sahih by Sheikh Al-Albani rahimahullah]
And also from among the Shuhadaa' is: The one who is killed unjustly, such as if a person transgresses upon him and kills him unjustly, then he is a shaheed.
But the highest Shuhadaa' are the ones who are killed in the path of Allāh, as Allāh said:
Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allāh as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision. They rejoice in what Allāh has bestowed upon them of His Bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a Grace and a Bounty from Allāh, and that Allāh will not waste the reward of the believers. [Surah , Aal-'Imran, , 169-171]
Those Shuhadaa' (who are) mentioned in this verse are: Those who fought so that the word of Allāh is the highest, and they did not fight for personal gains, and they did not fight for their personal wealth, but rather they fought so that the word of Allāh is the highest, as the Prophet said when he was asked about the man who fights to be courageous and the one who fights out of zeal and the one who fights so that his status is seen (by others), which one of those is in the path of Allāh? The Prophet peace be upon him said: “Whoever fights so that the word of Allāh is the highest, then he is (fighting) in the path of Allāh.” [Narrated by Bukhāri and Muslim]
This scale is a scale of justice, a scale which the Prophet has placed (for the) person to weigh his deeds in is not vulnerable to corruption.
So whoever fights for this word then he is in the path of Allāh, if you are killed then you are a martyr, and if you gain (something) then you are happy, as Allāh said:
Say: “Do you wait for us (anything) except one of the two best things (martyrdom or victory); while we await for you either that Allāh will afflict you with a punishment from Himself or at our hands. So wait, we too are waiting with you.” Surah At-Taubah, 52]
Meaning either Allāh will punish you and protect us from your evil, as Allāh did with the parties which gathered upon Madīnah wanting to fight the Prophet , so Allāh sent upon them wind and soldiers and he casted fear in their hearts, (Or by our hands) as what happened in (the battle of) Badr, where Allāh punished the polytheists at the hands of the Messenger and (the hands of) his companions , then that is the one who fights so that the word of Allāh is the highest, he is a Shaheed.
So if the person asks his Lord and says: O Allāh, I ask you for martyrdom in your path- and martyrdom is not (achieved) except by fighting so that the word of Allāh is the highest- then if Allāh knows from that person sincerity in (his) statement and intention, He will grant him the status of martyrs, even if he dies on his own bed.
One thing that is left upon us (to discuss) is the one who fights defending his country: Is he in the path of Allāh or not?
We say: If you were fighting on behalf of your country because it is an Islamic country so you want to protect it because it is an Islamic country then that is in the path of Allāh, because you have fought so that the word of Allāh is the highest.
As for if you fought only because it is your home country then that is not in the path of Allāh, because the criteria which the Prophet has set does not apply to it- whoever fights so that the word of Allāh is the highest then he is in the path of Allāh, and everything besides that then it is not in the path of Allāh- and that is why we should correct for the person his intention in fighting to defend his country, whereby he intends by it that he fights in defense of this country because it is an Islamic country so he wants to protect the Islam which is in it, and by that he will be- if he is killed- a martyr who gets the reward of martyrs, and if he gains (something) then he will become happy and wins, either he will win the dunyah (world) or he will win the akhirah (hereafter), and this issue has already been discussed earlier. And Allāh (is the One who) gives Tawfeeq (Guidance).