Literally: A witness.
A martyr. A Muslim, who has sacrificed his life on the way of Allah. One who has died for haqq through sacrificing his life. ‘Ulamâ explained the causes of a person who has sacrificed his life on the way of Allah being called a shahîd as follows:
1: ‘Ulamâ who have based their explanation on the meaning of the word مشهود (mashhûd)1 said: “Allah and the malâikah witness that those who have sacrificed their lives on the way of haqq receive the ni’mahs of Jannah immediately.”
2: Some ‘Ulamâ who have based their explanation on the meaning of the word شاهد (shâhid)2 said: “They are not dead but alive. They reside before the hudhur of Allah, witness both al-‘âlam al-mulk and malakût and benefit from all ni’mahs given to them in those ‘âlams.”
3: Some other ‘Ulamâ who have based their explanation on the meaning of the word شاهد (shâhid)3 said: “On the day of qiyâmah, they will be witnesses to the former ummahs with the prophets.4 ”
The Fourth Level of Life is the life of the shahîds. According to the nass of the Qur'an, the shahîds have a level of life higher than the people of the grave. Since the shahîds sacrificed their earthly lives on the way of haqq, out of His perfect munificence, in al-‘âlam al-barzakh, Janâb-i Haqq bestows on them a life resembling earthly life but without the sorrow and hardship. They do not know themselves to be dead but only know that they have gone to a better ‘âlam. They derive pleasure with perfect happiness. They do not taste the bitterness of separation within death. Although the rûhs of the people of the grave are eternal, they know themselves to be dead. The happiness and pleasure they experience in the barzakh cannot reach the pleasure experienced by shahîds. Just as two men, in a dream, enter a beautiful palace resembling Jannah; one knows that he is dreaming. The pleasure and enjoyment he receives are very deficient. He thinks: "If I wake up, all this pleasure will disappear." While the other man does not know that he is dreaming. He experiences true happiness and pleasure.
In al-‘âlam al-barzakh, the benefits of the dead and the shahîds from the life of barzakh are thus different. It is certain and has been established by innumerable incidents and riwâyât that the shahîds manifest this way of life and know themselves to be alive. To a degree that this level of life has been illuminated and proved by many repeated events like Hazrat Hamza Radhiyallahu ‘Anh, the Sayyîd of the shahîds, protecting those who have refuged to him, performing and making performed their worldly matters.
I myself, even, had a nephew and student named Ubeyd. After he became a shahîd at my side and in my place, when I was a prisoner-of-war at a place three months' distance away, in a ru’yâ as-sâdiqah5 , I entered his grave, which was in the form of a dwelling place under the earth, although I did not know where he was buried. I saw him at the level of life of shahîds. He knew me to be dead. He said that he had wept much for me. He knows himself to be alive, but because he had retreated from the Russian invasion, he made a beautiful dwelling place under the ground for himself. Thus, this particular dream, through certain conditions and indications, gave me a conviction for the above-mentioned haqiqah at the degree of witnessing (Shuhûd).
The First Letter/First Question
1 (To be witnessed)
4 (The prophet of each ummah — to which a prophet and haqq religion were sent — will be witness for their ummah in the qiyâmah. Allah Taâ’lâ will gather all the ummahs, call them for judgement and make their prophets their witness.)
5 (The true dreams of the accepted, respectable and trustable people. The veracious dreams, which their haqiqahs occur in this world as it is seen.)(Tr.)