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:''For other uses of "Martyr" and "Martyrs", see Martyr (disambiguation).''
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. 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.
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 that the English word "martyr" may not actually be a proper equivalent of its commonly ascribed Arabic translation.
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 Arabic, a martyr is termed "shaheed" (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 ([http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/002.qmt.html Quran 2:143]), witnessing a financial transaction ([http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/002.qmt.html 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([http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/003.qmt.html Quran 3:140]). The word also appears with these various meanings in the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad (S.A.W).
Despite the promotion of ahimsa within Sanatana 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..
Therefore, it is implied that death in battle will result in the person attaining svarga or the heavenly planets. This is in contradiction to the somewhat erroneous beliefs of many Hindus which regard all violence as abhorrent.
In the Bahá'í Faith, a martyr is one who sacrifices their life serving humanity in the name of God.
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.
Martyrdom, in Sikhism, is a fundamental concept, and represents an important institution of the faith.