Literally, the word "shaheed" in Arabic means "martyr". But the word also has a more specific political meaning.

In the Middle East, the term "shaheed" often indicates a Muslim suicide bomber acting against a non-Muslim target. Here I found a description of a cricket contest in India, in memory of Shaheed. From the text, it seems that "shaheed" refers to a soldier from the army of India.

Does the term "shaheed" in India just refers to any soldier of India who was killed during service? Or does it have a specific political meaning (e.g. identifying with a specific group/religion in India)?

2 Answers 2


Shaheed or Shahid means Martyr in India also. In India it applies as Martyr who gave up his/ her life for nation.

Sikhism The word shahid (Punjabi: ਸ਼ਹੀਦ) is also found in Sikhism, a religion founded by Guru Nanak in the northwest part of the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan and India). It means a martyr.[30][31][32]

The term was borrowed from the Islamic culture in Punjab when Sikhism was founded, and before the start of the British Raj it referred to the Sikh people who met death at the hands of Muslims.[30] Another related term is shahid-ganj, which means a "place of martyrdom".[30][33]

The most discussed shahid in Sikhism have been two of their Gurus, namely Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur for defying Islamic rulers and refusing to convert to Islam.[32] Guru Arjan was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and asked to convert to Islam.[34][35] He refused, was tortured and executed in 1606 CE.[34][36] Historical records and the Sikh tradition are unclear whether Guru Arjan was executed by drowning or died during torture.[34][37] His martyrdom, that is becoming a shahid, is considered a watershed event in the history of Sikhism.[34][38]

Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom resulted from refusing to convert and for resisting the forced conversions of Hindus in Kashmir to Islam because he believed in freedom of conscience and human rights.[39] He was publicly beheaded in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.[40][41] Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Delhi marks the shahid-ganj, or place of execution of the Guru.[42]

The Sikh have other major pilgrimage sites, such as the shahid-ganj in Sirhind, where two sons of Guru Gobind Singh were buried alive by Mughal Empire army in retaliation of their father's resistance. In Muktsar, near a lake is a shahid-ganj dedicated to forty men who died defending Guru Gobind Singh.[33]

India celebrates Martyr's day also known as Sarvodaya day

Although the Sarvodaya Day is celebrated on 30th January on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest martyrs have been Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar, not limited to these.

  • I see. So a shaheed may be of any religion - Muslim, Sikh, Hindi, or any other? Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 8:09
  • @Erel Yes, I think it is a borrowed word from Arabic, mark it as answer if it answers your question
    – Up-In-Air
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 13:49
  • I am curious to know - why are Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar "greater" martyrs than Mahatma Gandhi (according to your opinion)?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 13:03

Shaheed in India means a person who died to save his nation and people.He/she can be anyone from Army men to common civilians. Shaheed or martyred have same meaning.

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