Skip to comments.Kaafir, the New F-word
Posted on 01/18/2014 3:28:17 PM PST by nickcarraway
It was something I learned very young: Never say the word kaafir. I didn't know Arabic at the time, but I knew it was worse than a curse word. It was the most evil word you could possibly utter. Call a person anything you want, but never this.
A kaafir was evil.
A kaafir was a monster.
A kaafir was doomed to Hell forever.
These ideas floated around in my mind whenever I heard the word, and the sensation I felt upon even thinking of it was like the repulsion one would feel upon having a jinn-like beast sharing a single cover with you at night.
So naturally, in my world, a kaafir didn't exist. People who believed a kaafir did existand who had the audacity to use the term in connection to an actual human beingwere shunned, whispered about, and referred to as misguided and their thinking reprehensible. As for how my friends and I dealt with Muslims who used the word, we didn't associate with those Muslims. We didn't go to the masjid with those Muslims. We were better than those Muslims
Because we didn't use profanity.
We didn't say horrible words like kaafir.
As I grew older and eventually befriended some of those Muslims, I was surprised that they weren't revolting or evil, as I'd once thought. And I was even more surprised that they didn't seem angry or spiteful when they used the word kaafir. In fact, if anything, my friends and I were more obviously spiteful when we talked about those Muslims for using the word at all.
Nevertheless, like my jolt upon hearing for the first time a dog groomer use the word bitch in its appropriate context, I was a bit taken aback when I first heard the word kaafir used in the Islamic context by some of my new friends. And as was the case with my understanding bitch as simply meaning a female dog, I began to understand thatat least to these Muslimsthe word kaafir simply meant non-Muslim.
The Qur'an as the Judge
Allāh doesn't use profanity. That was probably my first epiphany that the word kaafir couldn't possibly be the unutterable, monstrous curse word that I'd thought it to be. Moreover, if the word did in fact occur in the Qur'an, then certainly it applied to someone. And Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) obviously wanted us to know who. Otherwise, why mention it at all?
Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:
Verily, those who disbelieve in Allāh and His Messengers and wish to make a distinction between Allāh and His Messengers, saying, 'We believe in some but reject others' and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers [Al-Nisaa; 150-151]
Surely, disbelievers are those who say 'Allāh is the third of three [in a Trinity] ' [Al-Maa'idah; 73]
Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] and among the pagans were not going to leave [their disbelief] until their came to them clear evidence, a Messenger from Allāh [Al-Bayyinah; 1-2]
Of the believers and Islam itself, Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:
Only those are the believers who have believed in Allāh and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not [Al-Hujuraat; 15]
Anyone who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers. [Ali'Imraan; 85]
Hadith As Further Clarification
In the famous hadith of Jibreel recorded by imām Muslim, the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel) came to Prophet Muḥammadṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the form of a man and said, O Muḥammad, tell me about Islam. The Messenger of Allāhṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, Islam is to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh, to establish the prayers, to pay the Zakat, to fast [the month of] Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage to the House if you have the means to do so.
The Angel Jibreel said further, Tell me about emaan (belief or faith). He [the Messenger of Allāh]ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded, It is to believe in Allāh, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day and to believe in the divine decree, [both] the good and the evil thereof.
In another hadith recorded by imām Muslim, the Messenger of Allāhṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, any person of this Community, any Jew, or any Christian who hears of me and dies without believing in what I have been sent with will be an inhabitant of hell.
Are Non-Muslims Going to Paradise?
It is well-known that all who believe in Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while joining no partners with Him and while not disbelieving in any of His prophets or revelationsand while believing in every aspect of religious truth that comes to them during their lifetimeare Muslims and will thus enter Paradise. It is also well-known that the believers of previous generations who believed in and followed their respective messengers are Muslims and will thus enter Paradise.
Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabians, those who believed in Allāh and the Last Day and worked righteousness, will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. [Al-Baqarah; 62] There has been much discussion by religious scholars and laypeople surrounding who these believers are specifically, some Muslims going as far as to openly claim that many non-Muslims of today are of these groups such that many open non-Muslims are over-praised and given the rights that belong only to believers, such as our praying for their forgiveness and openly hoping for their entry into Paradise.
However, regardless of who these believers are as individuals, whether in the past or present (or both), one undeniable fact remains: not a single one of us knows who they are by name, as this knowledge rests with Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone; thus it is impossible to speak of these people specifically.
Furthermore, given that Allāh's Book contains no contradictions and that our entire faith is based on complete belief in Allāh's revelations, without exception, there are only two possibilities concerning this group discussed in the Qur'an:
They are the Muslims of earlier times who believed in their respective prophets and messengers while making no exceptions regarding their belief in what Allāh revealed. (It is a fundamental part of the Islamic faith that the message of Islamic monotheism began with our father Adam'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and that Prophet Muḥammadṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not bring a new faith; he was merely the seal of a long line of prophets and messengers before him.)
They are people of both the past and present who believed in Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and all they knew of His prophets and revelations, but the knowledge of certain aspects of faith (such as the specific teachings of Prophet Muḥammadṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)) never reached them during their lifetime. In other words, these people are not an exception to the requirement of being Muslim; they are merely further proof of it.
Thus, it is inconceivable for any Muslim to claim that any descendent of Adam'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), whether in the past or present, can hear of any of Allāh's Books or prophets and reject a single one of them and still retain the label as believer in front of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), as rejecting any divine book or prophet is tantamount to disbelief and is the very essence of kufr itselfregardless of which time period a person lived. You Can Be Muslim, Too If We Like You
One of the most amazing things that is occurring today is many Muslims proclaiming, at leisure, that some non-Muslims are Muslims in their heart or that they embody the spirit of Islam while openly praying for Allāh's mercy, blessings, and forgiveness for people who did not accept Islam.
Though we can use conjecture and dabble in the possibility that the non-Muslims we happen to like or admirewhether because they are our family or friends, or because they are worldly renowned for their stances on justice and freedomcould be of the group of believers referred to in the above āyah, the fact remains that it is not our place or right to make such a claim, let alone act upon it through speaking of a non-Muslim's Muslim heart or praying for their blessings or forgiveness. And if we proceed to do so, we will be called to account for openly violating the guidelines of our religion.
In Islam, it is forbidden to pray for Allāh's mercy or forgiveness for disbelievers, and this is well-known, so much so that the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself was not allowed to pray for his own parentsand they died before He received revelation. Moreover, logically-speaking, if there are any non-Muslims who deserve our praise and admiration such that we could pray for their souls, the ones foremost in this right would be the ones who lived alongside the Prophet himself and sacrificed their personal safety and risked their very lives in protecting Allāh's Messenger from harm while ensuring that the message of Islam was spread unobstructed throughout the world. How can we claim any act of goodness by a non-Muslim that is greater than this? Yet the one foremost in this very act of goodness, namely the Prophet's uncle Abu Talib, the believers are not allowed to pray for. In fact, Abu Talib, despite this undeniably great act, will never enter Paradise, as Prophet Muḥammadṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) informed us.
Who then are we to raise a non-Muslimbased on our own whims and desiresto a status that even Abu Talib did not deserve?
Be Careful with the New F-word
The Qur'an is quite unambiguous regarding who is a mu'min (believer) and who is a kaafir (disbeliever), and this is clear to anyone who has read Allāh's Book in full. Nevertheless, it is not our job to carelessly toss around the label kaafir. Just as it is against Islam to label non-Muslims believers and give them the rights reserved only for Muslims, it is also against Islam to claim knowledge of the Unseen and carelessly label people kaafir, especially in reference to someone's soul after death.
A person can live his or her life as a disbeliever then accept Islam in private before death. A person can also live his or her life as a believer then reject Islam in private before death. Thus, ultimately, we don't know the state of anyone's souleven that of professed Muslims. Therefore, it is possible to act upon only one thing in this life: that which is apparent. So if a person professes belief in Islam, we treat them as a believer; and we pray for their soul and hope Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) grants them Paradise after death (as the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) showed us during his lifetime). But if a person does not profess belief in Islam, we treat them as a disbeliever; and we do not pray for their souls or openly hope Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) grants them Paradise after death (as the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) clearly showed us with his parents and his uncle Abu Talib). As for whether or not certain people lived secretly as Muslims or whether or not they heard the message of Islam before death, these are matters of the Unseen, and we should not delve into them.
As for the word kaafir itself, it is not an unspeakable, evil curse word; and if we think of it as such, we are accusing our Lord of profanity and of His asking us to recite profanity, as Allāh's Book is replete with ayaat discussing disbelievers.
Rather, what is required of us regarding the meaning of the word kaafir is the same that is required of us regarding everything mentioned in the Qur'an, and that is this:
We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord. [Ali'Imraan; 7]
Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost. To learn more about the author, visit themuslimauthor.com or join her Facebook page.
They are a little late making Kaafir into a bad word. I’m sure I’ve gone into natural food stores and have seen Kafir Probiotic Milk on sale for many years. Maybe it’s all in the way you spell it.
‘Kaafir’ is the Arabic equivalent of ‘heathen’, both invented to boast of special, supernatural favour toward the one using the word.
That’s kefir - liquified yoghurt.
Well, I for one, am glad he cleared that up. /s
Similar sounds mean the fermented milk stuff and also ‘lion cub’.
It’s not actually liquefied yogurt. It’s a traditional fermented milk beverage.
Sounds like the word kaafir would be a good word to remember when dealing with muzzies!
Another load of horse shit from backward people who wipe their asses with their fingers.
It also refers to sorghum bicolor, a species of grain found in Kansas.
Next time one of them pisses me off, I know exactly what work to use!
I wonder if one could make a T-shirt that reads: “If you can read this you are a Kaafir” in Arabic....
Painted with pig blood on the wall of the mosque.
Huge external fuel tanks? Odd looking gizmo on the undercarriage.
Long range photo-reconnaissance?
According to translate.google.com...
إذا كنت تستطيع قراءة هذا أنك كافر
I'm probably on the NSA watchlist now.
When I back-translated the arabic, it came back "If you can read this you're an infidel "
Not all Muslims are terrorists...but most terrorists are Muslim.
Is that made out of REAL Amish people?
Great. Now I have to feel guilty about being responsible for your death.
Never take advice from a man named Umm.
Older Israeli model.
Probably outfitted for an air show.
Some were used as bogies by the US Navy.
I like the sound of “USS Kaafir” for a battleship with 16” guns that does nothing but sail the Med shelling mad dogs on the eastern and southern shores.
For most Mualims, ‘kaafir’ is the word used to substitute for ‘non-Muslim’.
It will be a hilarious sight to see how a Muslim reacts to being called a non-Muslim, by a non-Muslim.
I have john 3:16 in Aramaic. i was going to put it on my front door. Just in case.
Of course I had to look it up.
I don't know how "strong" or "offensive" it really is.
I've seen "kaffir" written many times.
"Kaafir", not so much.
Guess it depends on who is saying it in a rap video.
"Kaafir", not so much.
Transliterating from Arabic can be problematic. Witness Gaddafi.
I was having trouble with my regularity this morning...
...thanks for clearing that up!
Whud up, kufir???
I still like being an infidel
Kufir are banned from the Islamic supremacist cities of mecca and medina under penalty of death.
How’s that for “tolerance”, “diversity”, and “moderate Islam”?