The Quranic Word Series: Kaafir

The Quranic Word of the Day is Kafir = كافر‎


As we have seen in the video, kafir literally means someone who covers. But it is commonly understood to mean disbeliever.

A disbeliever is called a kafir because he covers the truth in his heart with rejection. In the Quran, Allah refers to farmers as kuffar because they cover the seeds with soil so that they grow. Allah says:

كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا

[Quran 57:20]

Like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris.

The word kaafir is mostly used in the Quran to mean a disbeliever who covers the truth which comes from Allah ﷻ. And it is of two categories: Major and minor kufr (disbelief).

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Major Kufr

This form of disbelief is the greatest one because it takes the person out of the fold of Islam and makes him among those who are forever in the Hellfire. May Allah save us from that, Ameen!

Some of these forms of kufr are:

To lie on Allah

This can be to deny Allah totally, deny the truth that comes from Him or even to invent lies and affiliate them to Allah. He says:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِالْحَقِّ لَمَّا جَاءَهُ ۚ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِّلْكَافِرِينَ

[Quran 29:68]

And who is more unjust than one who invents a lie about Allah or denies the truth when it has come to him? Is there not in Hell a [sufficient] residence for the disbelievers?

To have doubt in Allah

This is by having doubt in Allah or anything that has been established by Him to be true like, the messengers, the Quran, or the Day of Judgment.

Allah says regarding the two people who He blessed; one was a disbeliever with gardens of fruits and the other a poor believer without many resources.

The one blessed by Allah doubted that there would be a Day of Judgment and the other asked him, “Do you disbelieve in the One Who created you out of dust?” He was shocked and immediately stated He believed in Allah and would never associate any partner with him.

The man who had been blessed entered his garden and stated that he did not think his wealth would ever perish or that the Day of Judgment would ever come. He continued to say that if the Day of Judgment did come that he would surely find better than he had at that present time.1

Hypocrisy

This is by outwardly showing the actions of a believer while inwardly hating it in the heart. Allah says,


يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُون. وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

[Quran 2:8-9]

And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not.

Allah said, “but they are not believers,” which means they are kaafir.

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Minor Kufr

These types of disbelief are minor ones. They do not take a person out of the fold of Islam but only show weakness in his faith in Allah. The person may be forgiven by Allah or punished if he does not seek forgiveness before his death. Among them are:

Ingratitude

This is not being grateful towards a blessing that one has been given and ascribing the blessing to someone else either by statement or actions. Allah says:

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

[Quran 14:7]

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ “

And this blessing, the soul testifies that it is from Allah but the body parts deny it. Allah says:

يَعْرِفُونَ نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُنكِرُونَهَا وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

[Quran 16:83]

They recognize the favor of Allah; then they deny it. And most of them are disbelievers.

Fighting a believer

The Prophet ﷺ let us know that fighting with a believer is minor kufr as it is an act of disobedience to Allah. He said in the hadith:


وعن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏ “‏سباب المسلم فسوق، وقتاله كفر‏”‏ ‏(‏‏‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏‏‏.‏

Narrated Ibn Mas’ud: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Verbally abusing a Muslim is disobedience and fighting him is disbelief.”

Speaking evil of one’s lineage and wailing the dead

‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏ “‏ اثنتان في الناس
هما بهم
كفر‏:‏ الطعن في النسب، والنياحة على الميت‏”‏ ‏‏‏(‏رواه مسلم‏)‏‏‏.‏


The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Two matters are signs of disbelief on the part of those who indulge in them: Defaming and speaking evil of a person’s lineage, and wailing over the dead.”

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The Causes of Kufr

Blind following

This is one of the worst causes of kufr. The majority of those who disbelieve in Allah fall into this category. Some were born into other than the religion of Allah. They find their parents and relatives practising this kufr and they follow them without questioning or searching for the truth.

For some, even though they were born Muslims, they attach themselves to others outside of the religion and take on their ways and beliefs. But on the Day of Resurrection, all forms of attachment will be detached except those that were for the sake of Allah.

Envy

This also is a cause of disbelief in some people, especially those who have been given Scripture before us.

The envy in their hearts has prevented them from believing in the truth in spite of them knowing it. They wish it would be given to them or that they have more entitlement to it. Allah says:

وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُم مِّن بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِّنْ عِندِ أَنفُسِهِم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الْحَقُّ فَاعْفُوا وَاصْفَحُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

[Quran 2:109]

Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.

For all of these mentioned, if someone repents to Allah, seeks forgiveness, and returns to Allah; He is willing to accept them and overlook all their shortcomings. He said:


قُل لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِن يَنتَهُوا يُغْفَرْ لَهُم مَّا قَدْ سَلَفَ وَإِن يَعُودُوا فَقَدْ مَضَتْ سُنَّتُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

[Quran 8:38]

Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] – then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place.

But, if they don’t repent or seek forgiveness from their Lord until death comes to them, Allah has promised them punishment as a reward for what they have done. He says:

بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْا بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ أَن يَكْفُرُوا بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بَغْيًا أَن يُنَزِّلَ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۖ فَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ عَلَىٰ غَضَبٍ ۚ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

[Quran 2:90]

How wretched is that for which they sold themselves – that they would disbelieve in what Allah has revealed through [their] outrage that Allah would send down His favor upon whom He wills from among His servants. So they returned having [earned] wrath upon wrath. And for the disbelievers is a humiliating punishment.

Notes

  1. Surah 18:35-37

Conjugations of Kafir (كافر‎ ) in the Quran

كَافِرُونَ
‎Disbelievers

كافر
‎Disbeliever

كُفَّارَ
‎Disbelievers/To cover (farmers/tillers)

كفر
‎Disbelief


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Discover More Quranic Arabic Words

By learning about the different types of kufr that Allah has described in the Quran, we know what traits to avoid and can strive to do the actions of true believers, InshaAllah.

If you want to further deepen your connection with the Quran, check out our Arabic Unlocked App to discover a fun, easy, and effective way to learn new Arabic vocabulary.

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