I am often confused with the definition of Kafir as different people have different arguments on this. However, I am more interested in does Quran consider non-Muslims as Kafir?

If the answer to above question is No, then what does Kafir mean in the context of other religions?

  • 2
    Kafirs are those who heard correctly the message of Islam, but they rejected till their end of life and those who rejected the prophets and messengers. But those who didn’t heard the message of Islam are not kafirs.
    – Alex A
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


Kufr is the opposite of belief:

والكفر ضد الإيمان

Tafsir Qurtubi

And Kafir is the opposite of a believer, i.e. a disbeliever, as demonstrated in the following verses:

هو الذي خلقكم فمنكم كافر ومنكم مؤمن

It is He who created you, and among you is the disbeliever, and among you is the believer.

Quran 64:2

فآمنت طائفة من بني إسرائيل وكفرت طائفة

And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved.

Quran 61:14

وآمنوا بما أنزلت مصدقا لما معكم ولا تكونوا أول كافر به

And believe in what I have sent down confirming that which is [already] with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it

Quran 2:41

لا تتخذوا الكافرين أولياء من دون المؤمنين

do not take the disbelievers as allies instead of the believers

Quran 4:144

فمن يكفر بالطاغوت ويؤمن بالله

So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah

Quran 2:256

ولكن اختلفوا فمنهم من آمن ومنهم من كفر

But they differed, and some of them believed and some of them disbelieved

Quran 2:253

The Quran has explicitly called certain beliefs and the ommission of certain beliefs as Kufr.

Not believing in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad ﷺ:

ومن لم يؤمن بالله ورسوله فإنا أعتدنا للكافرين سعيرا

And whoever has not believed in Allah and His Messenger - then indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers a Blaze.

Quran 48:13

Having a belief that is shirk:

لقد كفر الذين قالوا إن الله هو المسيح ابن مريم

They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary"

Quran 5:72

Not believing in some Prophet or Messenger while believing in others:

إن الذين يكفرون بالله ورسله ويريدون أن يفرقوا بين الله ورسله ويقولون نؤمن ببعض ونكفر ببعض ويريدون أن يتخذوا بين ذلك سبيلا

أولئك هم الكافرون حقًّا وأعتدنا للكافرين عذابًا مهينًا

Indeed, those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and wish to discriminate between Allah and His messengers and say, "We believe in some and disbelieve in others," and wish to adopt a way in between -

Those are the disbelievers, truly. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.

Quran 4:150-151

Denying the commandments of the Allah:

ومن لم يحكم بما أنزل الله فأولئلاك هم الكافرون

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers.

Quran 5:44

وإذ قلنا للملائكة اسجدوا لآدم فسجدوا إلا إبليس أبى واستكبر وكان من الكافرين

And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.

Quran 2:34

Presuming that this world will last forever and doubting that the day of Judgement will happen:

ودخل جنته وهو ظالم لنفسه قال ما أظن أن تبيد هذه أبدا وما أظن الساعة قائمة ولئن رددت إلى ربي لأجدن خيرا منها منقلبا

قال له صاحبه وهو يحاوره أكفرت بالذي خلقك من تراب ثم من نطفة ثم سواك رجلا

And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, "I do not think that this will perish - ever. And I do not think the Hour will occur. And even if I should be brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this as a return."

His companion said to him while he was conversing with him, "Have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you [as] a man?

Quran 18:35-37

So yes, non-muslims are Kafir. The Quran does not use any other noun to describe the genus 'non-muslim' other than 'kafir' itself.

  • The only undefined part in your answer is: what is a Muslim? Also the word kufr is derived from the meaning “to cover/ cover up” which can also mean “deny.” So in translation it doesn’t literally form a nice pair of belief and unbelief as in English. Muslim is one who not only believes but submits to God’s will as revealed in the Quran, which includes fasting Ramadan and salat prayer and zakat charity. But a kafir is one who rejects faith in God alone in the first place. Christians are “covering” faith with belief in Jesus as God and hence kafir applies. But some Unitarians could be believers.
    – S Karami
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 2:36
  • @SKarami 4:136 and this hadith answer that question. Your statement that "a kafir is one who rejects faith in God alone" is negated by the verses I quoted in the latter half of my answer. Unitarians would be believers until the advent of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Quran, if they remain on that afterwards then it is Kufr.
    – UmH
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 8:58
  • Excellent answer and quotes. You proved your point. Thank you!
    – S Karami
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 10:17

Please consider the following segment of the verse 2:105:

مَّا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا الْمُشْرِكِينَ

i.e. They who deny the truth from among the People of the Book, or from among those who associate partners with God

This construction means that those who deny the truth form a subset of the People of the Book and a subset of those who associate partners with God. enter image description here

This makes it difficult to say that Quran considers every non-Muslim a Kafir by default. Yes, there may be some among them.

This construction of the sentence has been used more than once in the Quran to refer to a subset from a larger population. For example, see 5:78, 59:2, 59:11, 98:1 and 98:6.

Moreover, if you consider 2:62, you'll note that the Quran recognizes the Jews as Jews, the Christians as Christians, and the Sabaeans as Sabaeans, which as I understand is the default state of affairs. When a non-Muslims accepts the truth he becomes a Muslim and when he denies the truth only then he becomes a Kafir.

  • Yes, for الْمُشْرِكِينَ in the same verse i.e. 2:105.
    – a_fan
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 18:19
  • I am not sure what do you mean by "Because Ahle Kitab are a people and not a religion". Isn't Kafir is a term applied on people?
    – a_fan
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 18:20
  • To me it is pretty much obvious as المشركين is in genitive case. To be more precise, أهل الكتاب is in genitive case due to the effect of من and المشركين is conjoined with it by using the conjunction و. Therefore, both must have the same case. Had it not been the case, a nominative case المشرکون would have been used.
    – a_fan
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 10:50

Are all non-Muslims disbelievers?

Of course not. There are Christians and Jews who believe in God like Muslims do, but what is missing from their belief is, to believe in prophet Muhammad. God Says:

“Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [al-Baqarah 2:62]

Which it means, that if the message of Islam didn’t reached to one of them, then they are believers, but if it came but they refused to be on Muslims, then that’s the problem, they have committed the sin of disbelief.


According to Quran, the disbelievers are:

  1. Those who commit shirk [The women, 4,171]
  2. Those who reject the prophet and the message of Islam.
  3. Those who mock, make fun of the message of Islam or Signs and at the prophets and Messengers and God. [al-Tawbah 9:65-66] 
  4. And those who don’t believe in what the prophets and messengers tells them or God.
  5. And the rejectors of Truth.

What about those who didn’t heard of ubderstood the message of Islam?

Well, they’ll be given another chance of the Day of Judgment, it is part of God’s justice. See the hadith below:

al-Aswad ibn Saree’, who reported that the Prophet of God SAWS (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said: “There are four (who will protest) to God on the Day of Resurrection: the deaf man who never heard anything, the insane man, the very old man, and the man who died during the fatrah (the interval between the time of ‘Eesaa (Jesus, upon whom be peace) and the time of Muhammad SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)). The deaf man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but I never heard anything.’ The insane man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but the children ran after me and threw stones at me.’ The very old man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but I did not understand anything.’ The man who died during the fatrah will say, ‘O Lord, no Messenger from You came to me.’ He will accept their promises of obedience, then word will be sent to them to enter the Fire. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.”

I hope I gave you good answer

  • What is the source of your last Quote?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 12:53

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