Punished By Allah Or Martyrs?
By now we have all heard about the tragedy involving Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17. The ill-fated Boeing 777-200ER plane was on a routine Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight on July 17, 2014 when it was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile over Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, approximately 50 km from the Ukraine-Russia border. A total of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board lost their lives in the sky over rebel-controlled territory. But over in Malaysia there are conflicting views on how Muslims should treat the dead passengers who are Muslims. Should they be treated as being punished by Allah, or are they martyrs?
PAS On Punishment By Allah
Malaysian were outraged after a recent comment by the leader of the youth arm of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) concerning the dead victims of MH17. Tarmizi Sulaiman, the information chief at Kedah PAS Youth reportedly said that this MH17 crash (and the earlier MH370 flight that disappeared into the Indian Ocean without trace) are punishment from Allah.
Tarmizi Sulaiman allegedly said that the flouting of Islamic rules by Malaysia Airlines has incurred the wrath of “Allah in the bellies of the planes”. Tarmizi Sulaiman cited as examples, the serving of alcohol on Malaysia Airlines flights and the outfits of flight attendants.
While sympathetic to the dead victims and their families, Tarmizi Sulaiman said that the senior management of Malaysia Airlines should “view the problems besetting MAS from the most basic of issues, the element of God and his creation”. Tarmizi Sulaiman added: “Flying in a MAS plane does not give passengers the feeling of an airline operated by a country which organises the annual Quran recital competition and in fact, even winning the competition”.
Tee Hooi Ling, spokesman for the MCA Youth said: “It is disgraceful that there are insensitive quarters who are out to gain cheap publicity from the deaths of 298 people aboard MAS Flight MH17. It is disgraceful that he is insinuating that this tragedy is a punishment from God against MAS for serving alcohol and allowing its crew to wear Malaysia’s traditional costume which he deems as indecent dressing”.
Kedah Mufti Datuk Paduka Syeikh Muhamad Baderudin said that Muslims who died on MH17 should be categorized as “syahid akhirat”, which translated into English means “afterlife martyrs”. Explaining what this term means, Datuk Paduka Syeikh Muhamad Baderudin said: “Afterlife martyrs mean if we can identify the dead, we have to go through the funeral rites like any other deaths. We pray, shroud and bathe them, but in the afterlife they will be rewarded by Allah like martyrs”.
There is another kind of martyrs, called “life martyrs”. Those in the afterlife martyrs category has to go through the usual Islamic funeral rites. Those in the life martyrs category will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Those who die fighting for Islam belong to both categories, but those who died fighting for material and personal glory only belong to afterlife martyrs.
Think About It
So are the Muslim dead of MH17 being punished by Allah “in the bellies of the planes”? If so, were they then simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time? After all, if Allah is punishing MAS for serving alcohol on board and for improper dressing of the cabin crew, then why kill innocent passengers? On the other hand, if they are martyrs, what exactly did they do to be called by that name?