“A fountain of blood cascades crimson in the bright sunlight of the martyrs’ cemetery,” says a snippet of what was published in the New York Times in a 1984 article titled, “Iran: Obsessed with Martyrdom.”

One would assume that this title fits best with what the state of affairs was like in Iran­­. They may suppose that the resistance against the Shah’s regime caused Iranians to be “self-destructive” as they’d rather be victims and lose their own lives than to comply with the Shah’s sovereignty.

However, only a mind empty of any kind of depth would think so.

What this mind fails to realize is the concept and honor of martyrdom in Islam. Self-destruction wouldn’t be the right word to describe it; seeking eternity out of this temporary world would be more suitable – for it was when they were sure of their destination, did they muster up the courage to go out on the streets to call out the transgression being committed in the society. They weren’t afraid of death. They were valiant ordinary citizens who would rather gain success and eternity through martyrdom, than to comply with the oppressors.

There is a difference between self-destruction and love. It is love that drives them — gives them the courage.

In the book The Concept of Martyrdom in Islam, A. Ezzati says:

“It is neither jihad nor martyrdom outside the realm of truth, that martyrdom applies only when it is preceded by jihad, that jihad is an inclusive struggle for the cause of the truth, that a mujahid dies the death of a martyr even though he does not fall on the battlefield. He dies as a martyr even though he is not killed, on the condition that he stays loyal to the divine truth and stands ready to fight for the truth and to defend it at all costs, even at the cost of his own life. He is a mujahid while he lives, and a martyr if he dies or is killed for it.”

Martyrdom isn’t just going to the battlefield and putting yourself out there on purpose. It means to have a goal and to give everything in your power to achieve it — even if it comes at the cost of your own life.

Now, many a times, we hear about men sacrificing their lives for Islam. The most prominent figures we hear about are Shaheed Ibrahim Hadi and Shaheed Mohsen Hojaji and while their status is distinguished, it is not often that we hear about women martyrs.

Shaheed Baqir al-Sadr says:

“Oh, daughters of az-Zahra (S)! Today, you are presenting the ideal of a woman who carries in one of her hands her Islam, religion, value, ideals, veil, and her insistence on her authentic and elegant personality that Islam preserves for her; and in her other hand she carries knowledge and culture.”

It is this knowledge that compels these honorable women to recognize their purpose and to stand against oppression ­— not limiting their strength just doing whatever they’re told.

1- Lady Amin

Lady Nusrat Amin, 1982 | Image via S. Mohammad Namazi (IQNA)

Tayyebeh Cheraghi wrote about this extraordinary woman in her book saying: Sayyida Nusrat Beygum Amin was one of the outstanding female jurisprudents and theologians of the 20th century. After being given the permission of ijtihad by prominent — thus entitled mujtahida, she in turn granted permission of narrating hadith of ijtihad to future renowned male and female scholars.

In addition to her academic scholarship, Lady Amin displayed firmness in her movement against the emergence of modernism and false propaganda against Islam when she rose against the misleading ideologies promoted by Reza Khan, the autocratic ruler of Iran pre-1979. In a generation bombarded with celebrities that entice today’s youth to overlook true exemplars, Lady Amin is an example of a woman with notable achievements in which people can apply to their modern lives.

In reply to the question, “What is the best jihad for women today?”

Lady Amin answered:

“Currently, the most important action of a woman is that they fight with their worldly temptations and pleasure-seeking soul regarding jewelry, clothes, and new fashions. Although this may seem difficult at the beginning, with practice, they soon will achieve spiritual excellence. In other words, the best jihad for them is to modestly cover themselves.

2- Shaheedah Amina al-Sadr

Shaheedah Amina al-Sadr with her brother, 1997 | Image via Khamenei.ir

She is one of those whom God chose for Himself. She was martyred along with her brother Shaheed Baqr al-Sadr. They were brutally tortured and their story resonates somewhat with the events that occurred in Karbala. Her brave eminence stood firmly with her brother, just like Sayyeda Zaynab did with Imam Hussain in all his missions.

Shaheeda Amina was a strong advocate for women’s rights in Islam. She did her best to eradicate the misconceptions by encouraging women to get down to the field of reality in order to become more aware. From opening educational centers for women, to writing stories themed on religion, belief and societal change for the youth, to standing up against the oppressors unapologetically, she’s done it all.

She undertook on her shoulder to write poetic pieces through which she expressed what she had in mind.

Her educational, ideological and media creativity was part of her character. To her, work was a sacred act of worship, as is the case with the daily obligatory prayers. To her, multi-faceted Islamic work, including its media aspect, was a sacred duty rather than something marginal or secondary.

3- Shaheedah Nasreen Afzali

Shaheedah Nasreen Afzali | Image via Tebyan.net

She is definitely a shining star in the list of women martyrs. She was an activist, participating with a lot of passion in the anti-Shah activities of Iran to the point that she became a target of surveillance of the SAVAK. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she participated whole-heartedly in the Construction and Education Movements started by Imam Khomeini, in which volunteers were systematically dispatched to travel from one village to the other, teaching reading, writing and helping make life for the villagers easier by helping build the infrastructure for the most basic of necessities.

Upon returning from a Du’a Tawassol gathering on a Tuesday night with her husband in the state of high fever, she was shot by enemies of the betterment for mankind.

She is known for the letter she wrote her husband; in which she says:

“Dear husband,

Do know that me, Nasreen, who loves you, also loves martyrdom very much, because this is where I can find Allah. If you want to become a Godly person who can become an example for others, connect with Allah from today and now onwards…”

4- Shaheedah Maryam Farhanyan

Shaheedah Maryam Farhanyan | Image via Followers of the Pure

At the age of 17, she started volunteering at the Imam Khomeini Hospital of Abadan, looking after the injured soldiers of the Iran – Iraq war. While she was visiting the shrine of an unknown martyr with two other women, she was hit by the mortar fragments of a Ba’thist attack, thus putting the flower of martyrdom on her shoulders.

A section of her will reads:

“Mother, if I earn the blessing of martyrdom and attain it, don’t be sad at all. We are all amanahs (subjects held in trust for someone else, in this case, God) and will leave this world, because this world is a testing ground where God puts his people in order to test them.”

5- Shaheedah Marzieh Hadidchi

Shaheedah Marzieh Hadidchi | Image Via Khamenei.ir

Marzieh Hadidchi, known by the name of “Tâhereh Dabbâgh” is one of the Muslim women fighters in Iran whose tumultuous life can be summed up in one word: struggle.

Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, expressed his condolences for the loss of Ms. Marzieh Hadidchi Dabagh, the tireless revolutionary fighter when she passed away due to her long illness in 2016.

In the pre-Revolution taghuti era, she helped transmit the books and statements of Imam Khomeini where they could be read something illegal to do in those days. She was surveilled, followed, arrested, beaten and tortured for it. But that was just the start. Prison and severe torture could not discourage that courageous and self-sacrificing lady. After the formation of the Islamic Republic, she held responsibilities such as commanding the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Hamedan, being a member of the Islamic Consultative Majlis, teaching at university and participating in public service organizations. She was also honored by being a member of the delegation which delivered the well-known letter by our late Imam Khomeini to the head of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was purely passion and deep awareness about Islam that urged these pure souls to propagate the true message of Islam across the globe. They not only caused a revolution in their own hearts, but in the world as well. These martyrs have paved a path for us women and us teens to tread upon, and to realize that age does not matter. Yeah, you cannot change the world and yourself all of a sudden; it takes time and patience, but the best time to start is right now!

Take inspiration from these immaculate souls and with their stories imbedded in you for guidance, start your journey. The destination is Allah, and it’s not as much of a long way to go as you might think.

Featured image via Khamenei.ir

About the Author

Zaynab Ali

A servant of God who hopes to aspire those who are struggling with either their faith, their voice, or their identity through her writing. Her passion and thirst for knowledge has led her to delve into everything Ayatollah Murtadha Mutahhari and she's definitely not complaining!

View All Articles