ARE THEY MARTYRS?
For the first time in my life, I have come across the word `Martyr’, in audio-visual forms used for those killed during the Jihadi firing in Mumbai. Since childhood when words came into my knowledge, I have known the word Shaheed used for many leaders of the movement of Indian Independence and thereafter the soldiers killed in the conflicts with China- Pakistan. Therefore the word Martyr came to be acknowledged as the English translation of Shaheed in my conscious as those armed security personnel who while leading the nation in the war with enemy loose their lives.
There have been countless killings in our country since long at the hands of the people called terrorists, but never the words Martyr or Shaheed were discussed for the massacred persons. Mumbai terrorist violence has also been not the first Jihadi attack. Only in Mumbai, more than 200 people were killed just 2 years back in serial bomb blasts. Never in the past the people killed in terrorist violence were labeled Martyrs, therefore the word `Martyr’ used again and again perturbed me and forced me to scan the word and its meaning to access the justification of its usage.
Before sharing my search of these words, let me remind you that the one person who is being labeled as the greatest and bravest Martyr is none else than Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief who came into prominence because of the Implication of some Hindu figures in the Malegaon Blasts investigation by the ATS. This may be his greatness to have alleged Hindu Terrorism with some untenable evidence, but what else great goes to his credit is not known to common Indians like me. As for his killing- He was killed in the indiscriminate firing along with his colleagues before they could retaliate. He was wearing the bullet proof jacket, even then he and others were killed, describes the intensity if firing. He died on his duty also does not make any difference between the others killed by the Jehadis, who were also at work according to their profile.
I hope you get my point. Now let’s discuss Martyr.
Martyr is a person who voluntarily suffers death rather than deny his or her religion.
Readiness for martyrdom was a collective ideal in ancient Judaism, notably in the era of the Maccabees, and its importance has continued into modern times. Roman Catholicism sees the suffering of martyrs as a test of their faith. Manysaints of the early church underwent martyrdom during the persecutions of the Roman emperors. Martyrs need not perform miracles to be canonized. In Islam, martyrs are thought to comprise two groups of the faithful: those killed in jihad and those killed unjustly. In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is regarded as a martyr because he voluntarily postpones enlightenment to alleviate the suffering of others.
Martyr (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)
1mar·tyr \'mär-tər\ n [ME, fr. OE, fr. LL, fr. Gk martyr-, martyswitness] (bef. 12c)1 : a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion2 : a person who sacrifices something of great value and esp. life itself for the sake of principle
1 : to put to death for adhering to a belief, faith, or profession2 : to inflict agonizing pain on : torture
The term martyr (Greek μάρτυς martys "witness") is most commonly used today to describe an individual who sacrifices his or her life (or personal freedom) in order to further a cause or belief for many. Long ago, it initially signified a witness in the forensic sense, a person called to bear witness in legal proceedings. With this meaning it was used in the secular sphere as well as in both the Old Testamentand the New Testament of the Bible. The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers (e.g. Josephus) that witnesses, especially of the lower classes, were tortured routinely before being interrogated as a means of forcing them to disclose the truth. During the early Christian centuries the term acquired the extended meaning of a believer who is called to witness for his or her religious belief and on account of this witness endures suffering and death. In the English language, the term is a loanword, and often used with the extended meaning of someone who has been killed for his religious belief. The death of a martyr or the value attributed to it is called martyrdom.
In the context of church history, from the time of the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire, being a martyr indicates a person who is killed for maintaining his or her religious belief, knowing that this will almost certainly result in imminent death (though without intentionally seeking death). Christian martyrs sometimes declined to defend themselves at all, in what they see as a reflection of Jesus' willing sacrifice. However, the definition of martyrdom is not specifically restricted to the Christian faith.Usage of "martyr" is also common among Arab Christians (i.e. anyone killed in relation to Christianity or a Christian community, indicating that the English word "martyr" may not actually be a proper equivalent of its commonly ascribed Arabic translation.
PLEASE CORRELATETHE ABOVE DESCRIPTION WITH MUMBAI KILLINGS.
In Arabic, a martyr is termed "shaheed" (literally, "witness"). The concept of the shaheed is discussed in the Hadith, the sayings ofMuhammad; the term does not appear in the Qur'an in the technical sense, but the later exegetical tradition has read it to mean martyr in the few passages that it does appear in. The first martyr in Islam was the old woman Sumayyah bint Khabbab, the first Muslim to die at the hands of the polytheists of Mecca (specifically, Abu Jahl). A famous person widely regarded as a martyr - indeed, an archetypal martyr for theShia - is Husayn bin Ali, who died at the hands of the forces of the second Umayyad caliph Yazid I at Karbala. The Shia commemorate this event each year at Aashurah. Muslims who die in a legitimate jihad bis saif (struggle with the sword, or Islamic holy war) are considered shaheed. This usage became controversial due to the Islamic strictures against suicide in the late 20th century when it was sometimes applied to suicide bombers by various groups. There is much controversy about the meaning of jihad in Islam, since Muhammad never claimed that suicide is equal to jihad; Jihad is an act of fighting for the Dar al Islam, either to defend it against an aggressor or to bring about its expansion. Muhammad(alahi salam) explained, in hadith (sayings or reports about or by Muhammad), that those who commit suicide are forbidden to even smell heaven. Many contend that suicidal murders are contrary to the spirit of Islam, and are not justifiable because as the Qu'ran forbids such acts. One hadith narrated by Abu Bakr "To fight against the infidels is Jihad; but to fight against your evil self is greater Jihad" is explicit evidence, of the Western worlds misunderstanding of the concept of jihad.
According to Richard Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia University, mass murder committed in the name of Islam, such at the September 11 attacks or the November 2008 Mumbai attacks “is not incompatible with the notion of martyrdom," in Islam.
Martyr seems essentially a Christian term and Shaheed- Islamic. India tradition and culture has no such thought and thus no words. The words in Indian languages and literature are बलिदान, वीरगति, त्याग, निधन etc., which are nowhere near Martyr or Shaheed.
So should they be called Martyrs? Rather I am sure that the Jihadis who braved the killing of about 200 kafirs are SHAHEED.
Dr. Jai Prakash Gupta. Ambala.