Until recently, there was no debate on what "shaheed" meant: a man who died while defending Islam (or an Islamic country). This of course happened during war time. But now the word can mean any number of things.

When a near relative died in an accident (a loaded container fell on his car), his father went to great lengths to convince me that his son had died a martyr. I wanted to ask him why it should matter, but I refrained. A "shaheed" is believed to get the highest honor in heaven, complete with the seventy two virgins. But then, why is a woman (Benazir Bhutto) called a "shaheed"? What will be her reward in the hereafter: seventy two virile young men? Just because she was shot dead by a militant (due to her own stupidity)? What about the hundreds of people who die in accidents every month? 

The other day a young engineering graduate was killed by looters when he refused to hand over his cell phone to them. I saw a moulvi on Twitter saying that the man was a martyr, and he advised anyone in a similar situation to resist with full force any armed bandit, as dying in this manner would make him a "shaheed". I wonder what he would do if he was being looted. 

Not only being killed by robbers can make a man a martyr, it now seems that all those who die in earthquakes and floods and other natural disasters are also "shaheeds". I won't be surprised if in future the word includes those who die in epidemics (like Covid). You never know with these mullahs, they can interpret religion any way they want.