In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
While we cannot underestimate the high status of our brothers and sisters massacred in the Christchurch mosque attacks, the procedure followed in regard to the manner funeral prayers were performed following the standard practice conformed to the precedent set by the Prophet and the pious predecessors.
In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
The precedent set by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions, followed by the Salaf al-Salih is to bury those who die in the battlefield against the unbelievers without ghusl or prayer.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered us to do so saying that they will rise from the graves – blood dripping from the wounds spreading the fragrance of pure musk.
In case of all other categories of shuhada, the practice was to bathe them and pray for them. Therefore, the three pious caliphs Umar, Uthman, and Ali had been washed, shrouded and prayed over. All three were martyred by the terrorists or rebels.
In case of all others, the standard procedure of bathing, shrouding and praying was followed. It is the mainstream view authenticated by the eminent scholars and schools of jurisprudence.
We may do well to know that we are to follow the set precedents in regard to acts of worship. As for matters that do not belong to the area of acts of worship, we are free to innovate – as long our practices do not contravene any of the fundamental principles of the Shari`ah.
As for the details of the precise designation of martyrs, I would like mention the following points:
There are two broad categories of martyrs (shuhada) in Islam, firstly, those who have died fighting for the cause of Allah (i.e., jihad), and secondly, those who have died after having being succumbed to certain types of ailments/calamities, etc.–not of their own making.
The second group, although not recognized and treated as martyrs in this world, shall receive rewards of martyrs in the Hereafter. As for a list of people of this category, we find some traditions– although not contradictory– such as the following:
1- In a report jointly reported by Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentions five types of martyrs: “One who dies in a plague; one who dies of intestinal ailments, one who dies of drowning, one who dies under a collapsed building; one who dies as a martyr in jihad.”
2- Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, etc. state that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are seven martyrs.” Having said this, he added the following to the list mentioned above: ‘One who dies in a fire”, and (finally) “A woman who dies during childbirth.”
3- A third report states that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies while defending his possessions is a martyr; whoever dies defending his person is a martyr; whoever dies guarding his faith is a martyr; whoever dies fighting to defend his own family is also a martyr.
4- Finally, in a report by An-Nasa’i, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever fights to protect his rights and dies in the process is a martyr.”
Imam Ibn Hajar states,
“We can conclude from these traditions that martyrs are of two types: Those recognized as martyrs in this world, and those recognized as martyrs only in the Hereafter. A martyr recognized in this world is one who has died fighting in the cause of Allah without having retreated from the battle; but those who are recognized only in the Hereafter are those upon whom the laws of martyrdom are not applicable in this world, although they merit rewards of martyrdom.”
According to Imam An-Nawawi,
“The second category of martyrs shall receive rewards of martyrdom, and yet unlike the martyrs of jihad, they should be washed, shrouded and prayed over.”
From the above discussion, however, one is advised not to jump to the conclusion that everyone who dies in similar circumstances as mentioned above will automatically merit rewards of martyrdom. Such an inference is not valid since Allah’s acceptance of a person ultimately depends on his/her’s state of faith (Iman) as well as upon the way he/she has responded to the will of Allah at the time of death. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A person will be resurrected in the Hereafter – in the state he/she has passed away.”
In conclusion, while we cannot underestimate the high status of our brothers and sisters massacred in the New Zealand mosques, the procedure followed in regard to the manner funeral prayers were performed following the standard practice conformed to the precedent set by the Prophet and the pious predecessors.
Almighty Allah knows best.