Martyrs are among the believers whom Allah (SWT) has chosen because they have fulfilled their promise with Him, their commerce prospered and they eventually have won. Allah, the Ever-Living and Sustainer, bestowed on them everlasting life though we do not perceive this.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah “dead.” Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not.” [The Cow 154] They are the ones who come in order after the prophets and the saints and before the righteous in the verse: “Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they!” [Women 69-70] The part of the first verse that reads, “only ye perceive not” is itself a miracle. For when we die we all decompose; yet, this does not apply to prophets’ bodies as our prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us in the hadith narrated in the books of Ibn Dawoud and An Nassaey.
Likewise, the martyrs’ bodies remain intact because their souls feed on the Heavenly fruits. This may explain the scent of musk, the bleeding of the wounds, the growth of the beard, the sweating, the intact cells, and the non-existence of microbes, insects and the rodents near their bodies although they may have died long ago.
Decomposition, Medically Speaking
It is well known that after death flesh decomposes within a period of six months to one year and bones within twenty to fifty years. Body decomposition depends on the nature of the surrounding atmosphere (humidity, heat, exposure to sun, location and nature of death, and nature of the body). (1)
Four minutes after death decomposition starts internally. This is called ‘self-decomposition’ during which oxygen vanishes and the percentage of carbon dioxide and excrements increase, hence cell poisoning. Then some enzymes start decomposing the cells from within due to high acidity percentage. Fats, proteins, and sugars decompose to simpler elements. This stage of decomposition cannot be perceived during the first few days following death. It is concentrated in the liver due to the intensity of enzymes and in the brain due to the availability of fluids there. Blood color changes to dark green and gathers under the skin. As a result of over-acidity, cytoplasm congeals and then the next stage starts, that is, worn out. Aerial and non-aerial bacteria as well as fungi start decomposing the cells after they put an end to the remaining defenses of the white corpuscles which collapse entirely and turn into gases, fluids, and primary materials. The gases that result from decomposition and cause the smell of stench are methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphate, and ammonia. If these gases do not release through the normal orifices, they may cause the explosion of the body. All this takes place during the third week after death. Afterwards, some insects play an important role in decomposition. They lay their eggs in the open holes and their larvae start feeding on the decomposing body. They then cooperate to decompose the flesh and the bones. Due to its own nature, flesh vanishes before the bones do. Then the stage of dry decomposition starts. Some mosses grow on the bones and help crumbling them according to the available humidity. During the first decade following death, grooves appear on the bones, which peel off. By the passing of time, bones turn into dust: (from dust and unto dust we return). (2)
Martyrs’ Miracles: Authentic Stories
We know from so many documented and recurrent stories told by truthful and reliable narrators that the bodies of some of those who died as martyrs in the way of Allah remained as they were for decades and even centuries. The color of the skin did not change, blood still bled, the musk smell was everywhere, their beards grew, and some bodies remained in the deserts for years and were not eaten by wild animals.
Martyrs of Uhud
In his series (Story of the End) Dr. Tariq Suwaidan mentioned that Sheikh Muhammad As-Sawwaf, one of the scholars who were chosen to rebury the martyrs of Uhud after the flood that uncovered the bodies, told him that their bodies did not change, decompose, or rot even after 1400 years from their death. Sheikh Muhammad As-Sawwaf said that: “Among the bodies was that of Hamza (may Allah be pleased with him). He was big and his nose and ears were cut. His abdomen was ripped apart and he put his hand on it. When we took his hand up, blood flew down as if he died one hour ago.(3)
Samir the Martyr: Intact Body after 15 Years
Maher Katkout from the old town in Naples has a story to tell. He says “We, like many others, hear about the miracles of the martyrs and we sometimes think they are a little bit exaggerated. Yet, what happened a few days ago let me believe all that from the bottom of my heart. When we opened the grave we found Samir Shihada’s body intact; it was as it was on the day of his death 15 years ago.”
Amer, Samir’s brother continues:
“When my mother died we wanted to bury her in the same grave with her son Samir. We asked the scholars about that and they did not object, especially that Samir had died 15 years ago and his remains would not be more than some bones. Yet, the surprise was that when we opened the grave we found Samir as he was on the day of his martyrdom. His body, his clothes, and the Palestinian flag he was wrapped in were intact. His hair was combed and wet because the day of his death was rainy. When we moved him to bury our mother, his body was still warm and his sanguineous blood started bleeding anew as if he was shot a few minutes ago.” (4)
The Christian Boy
Al Qurtubi wrote in his book: “This is also the case with the martyrs of the previous nations who died in the way of Allah defending the right cause along with their prophets.” in the story of Ashab Al Okhdoud (lit. the owners of the ditch) Al Tirmizi mentioned that the boy killed by the king was buried and in the time of Omar Bin Al Khattab he was uncovered and found putting his finger on his temple as he put it at the time he was killed. The story of the owners of the ditch is narrated in Sahih Muslim. They were at Najran during the period between Jesus and Mohammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon them). (5)
Egyptian Martyrs of the Nakbah (lit. catastrophe)
Dr. Mahmoud An-Najjar tells us that he and his brother participated in 1956 in a memorial ceremony of the martyrs of the Egyptian army who fought in the way of the Allah against the Zionists in 1948. He saw with his own eyes the transfer of about 45 martyrs whose bodies and clothes remained intact after 8 years of their martyrdom.” (5)
The Jordanian Martyr
The Jordanian corporeal Hussein Muhammad Awadh Al Momni from Abeen town in the Governerate of Ajloun – Jordan met his martyrdom in Tobas, Palestine in 1976. After more than 10 years, his body remained intact and the people of Tobas refused to let his relatives take his body to his birthplace because they considered it as a good omen.
The Martyrs of Afghanistan
One of the Mujahedeen (Said Shah) was known for his night worship. His dreams always came true and he had many miracles. He met martyrdom and after two years and half his body was found intact, except that his beard grew. Stranger than that, over his body was found a unique black silky aba whose smell was better than musk and ambergris.
Habibu-Allah tells us: my brother Yaqout died and after three months my mother dreamt of him and he told her that all his wounds have been healed except for a wound in his head. My mother insisted on opening the grave and when we reached the body we smelt musk and found that the wound in his head was still bleeding. My mother dipped her finger in the blood. For more than three months, the fragrance did not go from her finger.
Abdul-Galeel was a righteous scholar. A missile hit him and he died. After the funeral prayer was finished in the afternoon his body was sent to his father and he remained there until next morning. The Mujahedeen went to see him and he kept smiling with his eyes open till morning. They went to their sheikh and asked him not to bury their colleague because they thought he did not die and they had to pray the funeral prayer again. He told them Abdul-Galeel had already died the day before but these were the miracles of the martyrs.
·Mohammad Sahib, an attorney general from Kabul , told me that he saw sweat on the forehead of martyr Eid Muhammad after three days of his martyrdom. Whenever we wiped that off, we smelt musk and sweat flew anew.
Palestinian Pure Martyrs
Gafaar, brother of the two Qassamite martyrs Muhammad and Asem Rihan from the village of Tall southwest of Naples, was surprised when he opened the grave of Muhammad after 100 days of his martyrdom on 18/2/2002 to prepare a shrine for him and for another Qassamite martyr Yasser Aseeda that the grave was full of musk fragrance. He felt the blood of his brother and found it still warm. He was lying in complete peace. He wiped the sweat off his forehead to the surprise of all present. More still, his beard grew.
Martyr Anwar Hamran: his mother, wife, and sister went to have the last look over him in the hospital morgue. When they hugged him his blood stained their clothes and from these clothes one could clearly smell musk fragrance.
Martyr Muhammad Yusuf Al Ashqar from Al Aqsa Battalions: his blood kept bleeding from the wound in his head since his death and until he was laid down in his grave.
And there are many other stories in the following books:
- Al Rahman’s Miracles in the Afghanis’ Jihad by Abdullah Azzam.
- Microbes and the Martyrs’ Miracles by Dr. Abdul Hameed Al Qadhah.
- Faleuja Epic (Moslem Scholars Authority).
Science has no explanation for this. Atheists have their usual doubts as they call every intangible thing a superstition. Unfortunately, some Muslims are in doubt as well.
Yet, Dr .Abdul Hameed Al Qadhah has a sound justification. He tells us that microbes are among the soldiers/ creatures of Allah and they perform His orders. He orders them not to approach martyrs’ bodies and so they do. There are also many other signs such as their smiling faces, bleeding, sweat, beard growth and the musk fragrance.
Merit of Martyrdom in the Way of Allah
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they have provision. Jubilant (are they) because of that which Allah hath bestowed upon them of His bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not joined them but are left behind: that there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. They rejoice because of favour from Allah and kindness, and that Allah wasteth not the wage of the believers.” [The Family Of Imran 169-171]
Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “The martyr has six merits from Allah: with the first gush of blood his sins are forgiven; he sees his place in paradise; he is saved from grave torture; he is saved from the greatest fear; he wears the costume of Iman; he marries houris, and he intercepts on behalf of seventy of his relatives.” (Sonan of Ibn Majah) The annotator of the Tahawi Belief mentioned that: “Allah orders the earth not to decompose the Prophets’ bodies. Some of the martyrs remain intact even after long periods of burial. It is possible they shall remain the same until the Day of Judgement or their bodies shall take longer time to decompose as a tribute for what they did. This may differ from one martyr to another according to the degree of his martyrdom.”
In the fourth section of his Sahih, Imam Al Bukhari devoted a chapter to “The Merit of Jihad and Battles” starting with the verse: “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is the promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better that Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.” [Repentance 111] Here the buyer is Allah (SWT) and as we know that good prevails so that the body gets the same merit as the soul.
This divine tribute to martyrs is a sound proof on the rightness of the way and the soundness of the objective. It is Allah’s choice of the truthful worshipers to be honored during their life and even after their death. Through these tributes Allah urges all of us to follow in the steps of martyrs[H1]
5) Professor of Archaeology – Specialist in human bones – Yarmuk University-Jordan.
6) Refer to the chapter about the martyrs’ souls are in paradise in Al Qurtubi’s Reminder of the States of the Dead and the Issues of the Afterlife.