Martyr: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses of "Martyr" and "Martyrs", see Martyr (disambiguation).
Saint Sebastian, an iconic image of martyrdom

A martyr (Greek: μάρτυς, mártys, "witness"; stem μάρτυρ-, mártyr-) is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce a belief, usually religious.



In its original meaning, the word martyr, meaning witness, was used in the secular sphere as well as in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible.[1] The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers (e.g. Josephus) that witnesses, especially of the lower classes, were tortured routinely before being interrogated as a means of forcing them to disclose the truth.

During the early Christian centuries, the term acquired the extended meaning of a believer who is called to witness for their religious belief, and on account of this witness, endures suffering and/or death. The term, in this later sense, entered the English language as a loanword. The death of a martyr or the value attributed to it is called martyrdom.


Martyrdom in Judaism is one of the main examples of Kiddush Hashem, meaning "sanctification of God's name" through public dedication to Jewish practice.


In Christianity, martyrs are considered to follow the example of Jesus in offering up their lives as a sacrifice to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. The first Christian martyr was Saint Stephen (whose name means "crown"), and those who suffer martyrdom are said to have been "crowned".

In the context of church history, from the time of the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire, being a martyr indicates a person who is killed for maintaining a religious belief, knowing that this will almost certainly result in imminent death (though without intentionally seeking death). Martyrs sometimes declined to defend themselves at all, in what they see as a reflection of Jesus' willing sacrifice. However, the definition of martyrdom is not specifically restricted to the Christian faith.

Some Christians view death in sectarian persecution as martyrdom. This view is typified by the accounts in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Usage of "martyr" is also common among Arab Christians (i.e. anyone killed in relation to Christianity or a Christian community), indicating the persecution Arab Christians continue to experience to this day.


In Arabic, a martyr is termed "shahid" (literally, "witness," as in the Greek root of the English word). The word shaheed appears in the Quran in a variety of contexts, including witnessing to righteousness (Quran 2:143), witnessing a financial transaction (Quran 2:282) and being killed, even in an accident as long as it doesn't happen with the intention to commit a sin, when they are believed to remain alive making them witnesses over worldly events without taking part in them anymore (Quran 3:140). The word also appears with these various meanings in the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad.


Despite the promotion of ahimsa within Santana Dharma, there is also the concept of righteous or religious war in Hinduism known as Dharmayuddha, where violence is used as a last resort after all other means have failed. Examples of this include in the Mahabharata, where Krishna instructs Arjuna to carry out his duty as a warrior and fight, and in the Ramayana where Ravana is defeated by Rama. Martyrdom in battle is seen as highly noble in Hinduism, which is evident in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna states

Either being slain you will attain the heavenly worlds or by gaining victory you will enjoy the earthly kingdom; therefore O Arjuna, rise up and fight.[2].

Bahá'í faith

In the Bahá'í Faith, a martyr is one who sacrifices their life serving humanity in the name of God.[3] However, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, discouraged the literal meaning of sacrificing one's life, and instead explained that martyrdom is devoting oneself to service to humanity.[3]


Martyrdom, in Sikhism, is a fundamental concept, and represents an important institution of the faith.


A communist 'martyrs column' in Alappuzha, India
  1. ^ See e.g. Alison A. Trites, The New Testament Concept of Witness, ISBN 0-521-60934-8 and ISBN 9780521609340.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Winters, Jonah (1997-09-19). "Conclusion". Dying for God: Martyrdom in the Shii and Babi Religions. M.A. Thesis. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 

See also


  • Catholic Encyclopedia "Martyrs"
  • Foster, Claude R. jr.: Paul Schneider, the Buchenwald apostle : a Christian martyr in Nazi Germany ; a sourcebook on the German Church struggle; Westchester, Pennsylvania: SSI Bookstore, West Chester University, 1995; ISBN 1-887732-01-2

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From BibleWiki

one who bears witness of the truth, and suffers death in the cause of Christ (Acts 22:20; Rev 2:13; 17:6). In this sense Stephen was the first martyr. The Greek word so rendered in all other cases is translated "witness." (1.) In a court of justice (Mt 18:16; 26:65; Acts 6:13; 7:58; Heb 10:28; 1 Tim 5:19). (2.) As of one bearing testimony to the truth of what he has seen or known (Lk 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22; Rom 1:9; 1Thess 2:5, 10; 1 Jn 1:2).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

A martyr is a person who died or was killed because of their faith, religious beliefs.

It is also used for people who die for any belief or idea, that is not religious.


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