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Offline Reader Questions

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The Word Kuffar - For Joseph Islam
« on: October 29, 2016, 08:12:51 PM »
As-Salaamu alaykum akhi,

I enjoy reading your articles.

I hear people argue that the word in Arabic for non-Muslims is "kuffar." Thus we generally treat non-Muslims as kuffar, but don't necessarily say "X person is a kaffir" until clear evidence shows this to be true.

What are your thoughts on this?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: The Word Kuffar - For Joseph Islam
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2016, 08:19:42 PM »
Dear brother,

Wa alaikum assalam

Thanks for your email and comments.

From a Quran’s perspective, non-Muslims are not automatically ‘Kuffar’. Otherwise, there would arguably be no need for the Quran to make such efforts to distinguish between the terms ‘polytheists’ (muskriks) and 'disbelievers' (kuffars).

In one verse, God even appears to show much mercy toward some of the polytheist's condition as God recognises that amongst them there are those who just simply do not know any better.

“And if anyone of the idolaters seeks thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of God, and afterwards convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who do not know”

From a Quran's perspective, there is a condition that must be completed before one enters a state of ‘kufr’. Please kindly see below two dedicated articles I have on this topic.



I hope this helps, God willing.

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Wakas

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Re: The Word Kuffar - For Joseph Islam
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2016, 01:39:34 AM »
A telling example, from Muhammad Asad:

Quote from: M. Asad
57:20 KNOW [O men] that the life of this world is but a play and a passing delight, and a beautiful show, and [the cause of] your boastful vying with one another, and [of your] greed for more and more riches and children. [29] Its parable is that of [30] [life-giving] rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil; [31] but then it withers, and thou canst see it turn yellow; and in the end it crumbles into dust. But [the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent] in the life to come: [either] suffering severe, or [32] God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion.
Quote from: M.Asad
This is the sole instance in the Qur’an where the participial noun kafir (in its plural form kuffar) has its original meaning of "tiller of the soil". For the etymology of this meaning, see note 4 on 74: 10, where the term kafir (in the sense of "denier of the truth") appears for the first time in the sequence of Quranic revelation.(Quran Ref: 57:20 )

Quote from: M.Asad
Since this is the earliest Qur'anic occurrence of the expression kafir (the above surah having been preceded only by the first five verses of surah 96), its use here - and, by implication, in the whole of the Qur’an - is obviously determined by the meaning which it had in the speech of the Arabs before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad: in other words, the term kafir cannot be simply equated, as many Muslim theologians of post-classical times and practically all Western translators of the Qur’an have done, with "unbeliever" or "infidel" in the specific, restricted sense of one who rejects the system of doctrine and law promulgated in the Qur’an and amplified by the teachings of the Prophet - but must have a wider, more general meaning. This meaning is easily grasped when we bear in mind that the root verb of the participial noun kafir (and of the infinitive noun kufr) is kafara, "he [or "it"] covered [a thing]": thus, in 57:20 the tiller of the soil is called (without any pejorative implication) kafir, "one who covers", i.e., the sown seed with earth, just as the night is spoken of as having "covered" (kafara) the earth with darkness. In their abstract sense, both the verb and the nouns derived from it have a connotation of "concealing" something that exists or "denying" something that is true. Hence, in the usage of the Qur’an - with the exception of the one instance ((in 57:20) where this participial noun signifies a "tiller of the soil" - a kafir is "one who denies [or "refuses to acknowledge"] the truth" in the widest, spiritual sense of this latter term: that is, irrespective of whether it relates to a cognition of the supreme truth - namely, the existence of God - or to a doctrine or ordinance enunciated in the divine writ, or to a self-evident moral proposition, or to an acknowledgment of, and therefore gratitude for, favours received. (Regarding the expression alladhinakafaru, implying conscious intent, see surah 2, note 6.)(Quran Ref: 74:10 )