The True Meaning of Shaheed
The term "Shaheed" is only applied to those who sacrifice their lives for Allah's (God's) cause. They have no fear; they only fear Allah and want to obey Him and to serve Him. They realize that their lives belong to Allah, the One who created them, so it is a gift and we should not be so selfish about it. To obey Allah and to implement what He has commanded might mean the loss of their loves. They are assured of a great reward in the end for their unselfish act. Their focus is on the next life and on pleasing Allah.
Now a days we see many people who want to terrorize people, whether they are Muslim or no, and kill other by blasting a bomb with themselves and call themselves as Shaheed (actually, suicide bomber). They are just mislead, they don't have anything wih Islam. They commit suiside and this act is prohibited in Islam. Allah will punish them for it. They are also trying to defame the image of Islam. This is not Islam. Now those who did 9/11 were drunk or not, I don't know. Its also strange for me to believe that they were muslims. Allah knows well.
However, in order to earn the title of Shaheed one must have the correct Niat (intention). In Islam intention is important behind every action in the religion. The only One who really knows the true intention of a person is Allah, for He sees their heart and knows their mind. Thus, the reward will rest upon the intention of the person. The Shaheed must have in his intention to risk his life only for Allah and not for anyone else. It can't be for his own ego. It can't be for the title of "hero". It can't be for revenge, for Allah will truly take care of the evildoers. It must be to serve the purpose of Allah and to uphold truth, justice, and liberty as well as to fight against all types of oppression.
Allah states in the Qur'an that "Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main,, in Allah's cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: They are the people who will achieve (salvation)" (9: 20)
To die as a Shaheed is an honour. Some people desire this title if they must die because of the great reward. Other people can achieve equal reward as a Shaheed: those who die from terminal illnesses like cancer, the woman who dies as a result of childbirth or those who are murdered.
An incentive to be a Shaheed is found in the Hadeeth that states: "No one who enters Paradise will want to come back to the world and have anything on the earth except the 'Shaheed.'. He will wish to return to the world and be killed ten times because of the honour he sees" (Bukhari and Muslim).