Calling somebody "Martyr" or "Marhum" (One who has been shown mercy)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


I have recently found out that it is not permissible to name a deceased person 'Marhum' or 'Shaheed' (martyr). What substitute name do you recommend people in journalism, the news, or anyone else for that matter to use?


Regarding the first term, 'Marhum': If it is used as information to describe the person, then it is not allowed because none knows if he has been shown mercy or not. But if it is intended as a supplication, then there is no harm in it.

Just as one may say, "So-and-so, may Allāh have mercy on him," or, "So-and-so, may Allāh forgive him, ..."

There is no harm in this.

As for the word shaheed (martyr): Such usage affirms the rulings associated with the martyr for this person, and this is not allowed because bearing witness that a person is a martyr is an affirmation of the ruling that applies to the martyr – that he is one of the people of Paradise, as Allāh Glory be to Him said:

وَٱلشُّهَدَآءُ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ وَنُورُهُمْ

And the martyrs, with their Lord. For them is their reward and their light. 1

And His Saying:

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا۟ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أَمْوَٰتًۢا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَآءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ

And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allāh as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, 2

This cannot be said about anyone without a text, or a consensus of the Muslims. Al-Bukhari may Allāh be pleased with him entitled one of his chapters, "It should not be said that so-and-so is a martyr."

Yet there are many forms of death a person may suffer in which the Shari'ah ruling is that they have died as a Shaheed. Then in these cases it may be said in a general way, since whoever dies in such circumstances is a martyr, and is hoped that this man will be among the martyrs.

As for what has become popular in the news and the like with this title, that it is bestowed upon such persons whom it is certain are not even believers, yet he is honoured with the title of martyrdom, then it is incumbent upon people to be careful about what they say, be it a reporter or not, because they will be held accountable for everything they say. Allāh Glory be to Him says:

مَّا يَلْفِظُ مِن قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ

Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record] 3

What we can say, though, when someone dies in one of the ways a martyr dies, is that it is reported in a Ḥadīth that whoever dies in this way is a martyr, so we hope him to be one of them. Thus not being attributing it with certainly about a specific person.

Answered by Sheikh Muḥammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen 4

  1. ^   Al-Hadid 57:19
  2. ^   Āl-'Imran 3:169
  3. ^   Qaf 50:18
  4. ^    Recorded in from Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol 8, Page 24