DEFINITIONS OF KUFR
• IN ARABIC USAGE
the term kufr comes from the arabic verb kafara, which means to cover up, conceal or deny. this is the same as to cover, hide, and disbelieve. the three-letter root of both of these words, bears meanings that range from covering and hiding to disbelief, ingratitude, infidelity and godlessness. (Al-Ba‟albaki, 1995)
• ACCORDING TO QURAN
kufr means to disagree, to reject or not to give declaration to any one of the commands and prohibitions bestowed by Allah (SWT) and shown by Muhammad (P.B.U.H).
the term kufr and shirk can be interchangeable. shirk could refer to associating others in worship to Allah, and kufr could refer to what is greater than that to include shirk and disbelieving in one of the pillars of islam, or other acts in the heart. if these two terms are mentioned in one context, their meaning is different, but if only one term is mentioned, then it includes the meaning of the other one.
SOME DEFINITIONS OF KUFR BY SCHOLARS
• Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (rahimahullaah)
not believing in Allah and His messenger, whether that is accompanied by denial or it is not accompanied by denial but rather doubt, or turning away from faith out of jealousy or arrogance, or because one is following whims and desires that prevent one from following the message. so kufr is the attribute of everyone who rejects something that Allah has commanded us to believe in, after news of that has reached him, whether he rejects it in his heart without uttering it, or he speaks those words of rejection without believing it in his heart, or he does both; or he does an action which is described in the texts as putting one beyond the pale of faith. [ Majmoo’ al-Fataawa by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, 12/335; al-Ihkaam fi Usool al-Ahkaam by Ibn Hazam, 1/45 ]
• Imam Ibn Baz (rahimahullaah)
Kufr is the denial and concealment of the Truth such as those who deny the obligation of Salah, Zakah, Sawm, Hajj in case of being financially and physically able, and dutifulness to one’s parents, and so on. It is also like those who deny the prohibition of Zina (premarital sexual intercourse and/or adultery), consuming Khamr (intoxicants), and disobeying one’s parents. [ Majmoo’ al-Fataawa vol.09]
• Ibn Hazam (rahimahullaah)
Rejecting something for which there is sound proof that there can be no faith without believing in it is kufr, and uttering words for which there is proof that uttering them is kufr is kufr. Doing any action for which there is proof that it is kufr is also kufr. [ al-Fasl ]
• Imam Nawawi (rahimahullaah) in his commentary of sahih muslim it is mentioned regarding the following hadith ;
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Zubair that he heard Jabir b. 'Abdullah saying. I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) observing this: Between man and polytheism and unbelief is the abandonment of salat. [Sahih Muslim 82b]
He said: "Shirk and Kufr could be mentioned to mean one thing, which is disbelief in Allaah. But their meaning could differ, Shirk could mean worshipping idols or other creatures while acknowledging the existence of Allaah, like the Kufar of Quraysh, so the term Kufr is more general than Shirk."
TYPES OF KUFR
In Islam, it is believed that kufr may arise in a variety of forms of which all faithful Muslims must be wary. disbelief may arise from stubbornness to admit the truth, from pride and arrogance, from ingratitude towards Allah, from disobedience or unwillingness to comply with any one of the principles of Islam, from mockery of Allah's prophets, signs or teachings or from the hypocrisy by those professing to believe while concealing unbelief.
• Ibn Al-Qayyim has classified kufr as ;
1. kufr taktheeb (disbelief due to rejection)
this is to believe that the messengers of Allah the mighty and sublime are not truthful. to believe that they have not delivered the message to us fully. rejecting the message fully or parts of it. rejection happens when a person knows the truth but still denies it. similar to this is the kufr of permitting that which is forbidden. whoever regards as permissible something which he knows that Islam has forbidden has disbelieved in the messenger (P.B.U.H) and in that which he brought. the same applies to one who forbids something which he knows that Islam has permitted. [ see (2:89), (2:146), (27:14) and (6:33) ]
2. Kufr Istikbaar (disbelief due to arrogance and pride whilst one acknowledges the truth)
it is like the Kufr of Iblees (Satan), for he did not deny the command of Allah, and he did not face it with rejection, but he responded to it with arrogance and pride. from this comes the disbelief of the one who knows the truthfulness of the messenger and that he has come with the truth from Allah but does not comply with it due to arrogance and pride. [ see (2:34), (23:47), (91:11) and (14:10) ]
3. Kufr I’raadh (disbelief due to turning away/ignoring)
it is to turn away with one’s hearing and one’s heart from the Messenger, neither believing in him nor rejecting him, neither allying with him nor showing enmity towards him, and not paying attention to that which he came with at all.
4. Kufr Shakk (disbelief due to doubt)
it is when one is not certain of the Messenger’s truthfulness and one does not disbelieve in him but has doubts about him.
5. Kufr Nifaaq (disbelief due to hypocrisy)
it is when a person shows belief with his tongue while rejection is hidden in his heart. this takes the form of not believing in the heart and not acting, whilst submitting outwardly in order to show off to people.
we must understand that not all acts of kufr takes the person out of the fold of islam. unintentional thoughts (waswaas) are not to be considered as something that would keep the person out of the lines of islam, as long as we don't harbor those thoughts and cultivate them into actions. this claim is proven with the following evidence from sunnah,
Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab:I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying, "The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. [bukhari(1)]
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Verily, Allah has pardoned my nation for what occurs within themselves, as long as they do not speak of it or act upon it". [bukhari(5269) and muslim(127)]
further this is clarified in ;
narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, relating from his Lord, may He be glorified and exalted: "Allah decreed good deeds and bad deeds, then He explained that. Whoever thinks of doing a good deed then does not do it, Allah will write it down as one complete good deed. If he thinks of doing a good deed and then does it, Allah [may He be glorified and exalted] will write it down between ten and seven hundred fold, or many more. If he thinks of doing a bad deed then he does not do it, Allah will write it down as one complete good deed, and if he thinks of it then does it, Allah will write it down as one bad deed." [bukhari(6491) and muslim(131)]
now that we have an understanding of kufr, i believe it is worthy to remind ourselves of what things that would take us out of the fold of islam. things that would nullify our islam. various scholars have mentioned numerous things that can take a person out of the fold of islam. Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdil Wahhab has listed 10 things that would nullify our islam. these are the most obvious and the most important things according to the sheikh.
THINGS THAT NULLIFY ONE'S ISLAM
The things that nullify one's Islaam (nawaaqidh) are ten. Nawaaqidh is the plural of naaqidhah, and they are things that render something ineffective, like the nawaaqidh that nullify one's wudhoo', for example, are the things that render the wudhoo' null and void.
1.shirk in one's worship of Allah.
Verily Allaah does not forgive that partners be ascribed to Him, while He forgives what is less than that for whomever He wants.(4:116) and He, the Most High, has said Verily whoever ascribes a partner to Allah, then Allah has made Paradise haraam (impermissible) for him (i.e. He will never enter it), and his abode is the Fire. And there are no helpers for the oppressors whatsoever.(5:72)
Whoever sets up intermediaries between himself and Allah, calls on them, asks them for things, and places his trust in them, then he has disbelieved, by way of scholarly consensus.
Whoever does not declare the poly theists to be disbelievers, or he doubts their disbelief or approves of their way, then he has disbelieved.
Whoever believes that guidance other than Muhammad's (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) is more complete than his, or that the rulings of others are better than his rulings, like the one who prefers the rulings of at-tawaagheet over his rulings, then he is a disbeliever.
Whoever hates something that the Messenger (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) came with, even if he acts according to it, then he has disbelieved.
Whoever mocks anything from the Religion of the Messenger or Allah's reward or punishment has disbelieved.
The proof is the statement of Allah the Most High: "Say: 'Was it Allah, His Verses, or His Messenger you were mocking? Make no excuse, verily you have disbelieved after your belief.(9:65-66)
- Magic, like as-sarf and al- ' atf, whoever practices it or is pleased with it, has disbelieved.
The proof is His Statement: "And they (the two who taught magic) did not teach anyone before first saying, 'We are merely a tribulation, so do not disbelieve. (2:102)
- Trying to give the polytheists victory and assisting them against the Muslims.
And the proof is His Statement: "And whoever of you takes them (the Jews and Christians) as allies, then he is from them. verily Allah does not guide the oppressive people.(5:51)
Whoever believes that some people are allowed to go against the Sharee 'ah of Muhammad (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace), like how al-Khadhir went against the Sharee'ah of Moosaa, peace be upon him, then he is a disbeliever.
turning away from the Religion of Allah, not learning it and not acting by it.
And the evidence is His Statement, "And who is more oppressive than the one who is reminded with the Verses of his Lord and then he turns away from them? Verily, We will get retribution from the criminals.(32:22)
with this much said, i will mention a couple of questions answered by Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdil Wahhab, which i believe is relevant to the context of this matter which we have discussed.
• [Ql3] : Is the one who is ignorant of these things that nullify one's Islaam to be excused?
• [Al3] : Ignorance is of different types. If it is not possible for the ignorant person to learn, then he is to be excused until he finds someone to teach him, like the one who lives in a land far away from the lands of the Muslims, and only disbelievers live there. Such a person is to be excused on account of his ignorance. But as for the one who lives amongst the Muslims in the lands of the Muslims, hearing the Quran and hearing the ahaadeeth, hearing the speech of the people of knowledge, then such a person is not to be excused on account of ignorance, since the proof has reached him and he has not concerned himself with it.
• [Q14]: If someone has committed one of these acts that nullify one's Islam and then repented, is this repentance valid?
• [A14]: Yes, if he repents, then Allah will accept his repentance. Allah accepts the repentance of all sinners, those who apostate and other than them. if a person dies as a repenting Muslim, then Allah accepts his repentance, as Allah accepts the repentance of the apostate and anyone else who repents to Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.
just to have a more clearer and an easier understanding, let us look at the 4 pillars of kufr identified by Imam Ibn Qayyim,
• haughtiness and disdainfulness : this prevents the person from submission before Allah the mighty and sublime.
• envy (al hasad) : this prevents the person from accepting naseehah.
• anger (al ghadab) : this prevents the person from being just.
• lusts : this prevents the person from giving himself to worship of Allah.
If the pillar of false pride and haughtiness is demolished, then submission will become easy for him. If the pillar of envy is demolished, then it becomes easier for him to accept advice and to offer it. If the pillar of anger is demolished, it becomes easy for him to be just and humble. If the pillar of lust is demolished, it becomes easy for him to be patient and ready for worship.
The origin of these four pillars is from man’s ignorance concerning his Lord and ignorance concerning himself. Had he known of his Lord qualified with the most perfect and magnificent attributes and had he known himself qualified with all forms of defects, he wouldn’t be haughty, angry, envious of others because envy in fact is one form of opposition to Allah because he dislikes the favor and blessing of Allah which he bestowed upon his slave while Allah loves that.
this subject of kufr/shirk is very important and very vast as well. i believe with this effort a person can have a more clearer understanding about kufr and how to identify them at the very least, insha Allah.
whatever mistake or error their might be in the answer it is from me, may Allah rectify me
may Allah the mighty and sublime grant us mercy and guide us to the straight path.
ALLAH KNOWS BEST