KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Muslims killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine are martyrs, Kedah Mufti Datuk Paduka Syeikh Muhamad Baderudin said.
In a report by news portal Astro Awani published today, the state’s top Islamic cleric said those who died from accidents such as the crash can be categorised as “syahid akhirat”, or “afterlife martyrs”.
“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,” the mufti said.
He added that the Ukrainian victims belonged in a different category from the “Palestinians who die fighting the Jews”.
Some Muslims believe in two categories of martyrdom: “life martyrs” and “afterlife martyrs”. Those in the former do not need to go through the usual Islamic funeral rites and those in the latter will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Those who died fighting for Islam belong in both categories, but those who died fighting for material and personal glory only belong in the former.
Those who died a cruel death, such as from plagues or accidents, belong in the latter.
In March, the National Fatwa Council had similarly declared Muslims on board the missing Flight MH370 were “afterlife martyrs”.