Monday, September 12, 2011

Kafir Vs Non-Muslims

Let me ask you this.

"Are all Non-Muslims Kafir?"


Assalamualaikum wbt.

1. Yes, indeed it is a very interesting question yet it has a great impact on the way we behave as Muslims. At least I believe so.

2. The brief answer, as far as I am concern is that all Kafir are non-Muslims but not all non-Muslims are Kafir. I repeat, not all non-Muslims are Kafir!

3. Hence, to enlighten you with this claim, my elaboration below will be substantiated with proofs from the Quran and ahadith (the plural form of hadith) insya Allah, and is based on a number of reference I made and studied through (The list of reference is provided below for you).

4. Actually I personally came across this very recently too. It is an eye-opening consciousness yet very significant to influence the way we treat others who are not Muslims.

5. Think about this. Many of us were born as Muslims and then grew up knowing that there are others who were born not as Muslims. Can we then postulate from there that we were BORN to enter Paradise and these non-Muslims were BORN to be the inmates of Hellfire?

6. The Paradise is too small to accommodate everyone isn't it?

7. This question becomes more relevant when we go back to the first question just now. Are all non-Muslims Kafir? Because if they are, then maybe it's true that the door for Paradise is already closed for them and 'spared' only for us. Why? Because the Kafir will always reject the truth.


"In fact, as for those who reject Faith; it is the same, whether you warn them or you don't, they will not believe."

Surah Al-Baqarah (2:6)

8. When I said that knowing this difference affects the way we treat non-Muslims, the above verse explains it all. That if all non-Muslims are Kafir, then we will bother not about them because they are surely rejecting whatever truth we present to them. In other words, there is no need to do dakwah to non-Muslims!

9. Is that true though?

10. Let me try to use a simple logic now. When Prophet SAW accepted the revelation, he was the first Muslim (during his time) and by right, others were at that moment non-Muslims.

11. This includes his own most beloved wife, Khadijah and great companions like the four Khulafa' Ar-Rashideen (The rightly guided caliphs), may Allah have mercy on them all. Ameen. If it was true that non-Muslims were Kafir and will absolutely reject Islam, why would Prophet SAW talked about Islam to these people when there were not yet Muslims?

12. It makes sense to us now right? That they were non-Muslims but finally accepted Islam! Which means, that the verse above, is addressed to the people whom are Kafir, not the non-Muslims alone. In other words, Kafir and non-Muslims are two different status, where the former won't accept Islam, but the latter may do so.

13. I believe that you are clear about that part now. But to complete this and make it even clearer to you, let's understand the definition of the word Kafir.

14. Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates Al-Kafirun as those bent on rejecting the truth.

15. We need a clarification here. A Kafir is one whom even after knowing truth, he rejects it. Therefore, he must know the truth first before he rejects it. How could someone reject something that he does not even know?

16. A non-Muslim however, who has never heard of Islam, or heard of it but in a distorted way, according to my understanding, should not be regarded as Kafir. So, we can not use the verse above (2:6) to justify our refusal to do dakwah to non-Muslims.

17. I pick this subject for several important reasons. I already explained one i.e. so that we don't find excuse from preaching Islam to non-Muslims.

18. Another reason is about justice. Do you know that this question of justice is a favorite question by non-Muslims (and can therefore be the reason why they don't accept Islam)?

19. They ask, is it fair for God to make them non-Muslims and then burn them in Hell though they have never heard about the pristine (original) message of Islam?

20. This is however beautifully answered by Allah SWT in the Holy Book of Quran when He SWT says;

"..And never would We punish until we sent a messenger."

Surah Al-Isra' (17:15)

21. Therefore, the one whom will be punished are those Kafir whom rejected truth even after the warning has been given to them. Because Allah with His ultimate justice will only punish those whom reject His messengers and the message they brought. Further proof can be found in the following verse:

"Almost bursting with fury: Every time a Group is cast therein, its Keepers will ask,"Did no Warner come to you?" They will say: "Yes indeed; a Warner did come to us, but we rejected him and said,"Allah never sent down any (Message): Ye are nothing but an egregious delusion!""

Surah Al-Mulk (67:8-9)
22. The above verse is a conversation in the Hellfire whereby the inmates were asked of a Warner and as you can read, these people are those whom already received the message but rejected it.

23. Right. Now, how about those that died not as Muslims but never heard of Islam? I have 3 answers for this.

24. First, in this modern world where everything is connected and resource is just everywhere, the chance that one has never heard of Islam is very highly unlikely. Second, it is therefore our responsibility as Muslims to do the dakwah to non-Muslims lest Allah will make us accountable for non-Muslims whom know us but never heard a single word about Islam from us. Third, to non-Muslim friends, it is your task to learn Islam and then make a decision as to whether you should stay being whom you are, even after knowing the truth! Our job as Muslims is mere to bring the message forward to you.

"There shall be no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing."

Surah Al-Baqarah (2:256)

We choose the path we want to take in life ;-)
25. I think it is also good to put here the answer given by a great Islamic scholar of our time, Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid regarding the question. He says that;

"A person who has never heard of Islam or the Prophet SAWs (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and who has never heard the message in its correct and true form, will not be punished by Allah if he dies in a state of kufr (disbelief)."

26. You can read his full answer to the original question asked here.

27. Before I forget, he also states that these group of people however will be tested by Allah during the Day of Judgement.

28. I do not plan to write any longer but let me conclude this part and end with the most important lesson I believe we should put in our mind.

29. To conclude this part, I notice that from my reading, some references I found do not distinguish between the word non-Muslims and Kafir. Therefore I am not here to force you to accept this distinction.

30. However, my intention is simple. Among the non-Muslims, there will always be people whom do not accept Islam because they have not heard of the true message of Islam. 

31. Unfortunately, we Muslims sometimes forget that it is our tasks to let them know about Islam because we think that they are Kafir. That's why I am writing this to try to correct our misconception. Don't simply call them Kafir. Instead, look at them with love and a sincere hope that we want them to join us becoming true Muslims. Remember, our job is only to tell them the truth. It is not our problem if they do not want to accept it.

"......And if they submit (in Islam), they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the (duty of) notification. And Allah is Seeing of (His) servants."

Surah Ali-'Imran (3:20)

32. The final part of this article is to me the most important of all. Whether or not we realize, the problem with the term Kafir is more dangerous than we may think it is.

33. Apart from mistakenly calling all the non-Muslims as Kafir, some people ignorantly call their Muslim friends Kafir just because they differ in minor opinions about Islam, sometimes more shockingly in matters which are very small.

34. I bring up this issue because it occurs amongst us Muslims nowadays and we really have to address this issue very carefully.

35. Calling others as Kafir, when in fact if by Allah's knowledge he is not a Kafir, will certainly bring a great calamity towards us because it will in turn make us Kafir instead! What a grave error don't we think? Na'uzubillahiminzalik..

36. Try to read the following hadith;

"It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever (Kafir)! (Then the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an Unbeliever)." 

(Narrated by Muslim)

37. Therefore, I would like to call upon ourselves to be very careful about giving labels to other people lest the labels come back to us and make us what we thought others are!

38. Remember, we do not live to disintegrate, but to unite as Muslims! I have written a long article regarding unity in Islam in my previous article.

"Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects - you, (O Muhammad) are not (associated) with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah; then He will inform them about what they used to do."

Surah Al-An'am (6:159)

39. To end, let me reiterate at least 2 lessons we should take from this article. First, the duty to do dakwah to non-Muslims is our duty. So, let's do it. Second, please do not simply call others Kafir, when only Allah knows what's in their heart. Be careful instead, and be rational, not emotional.

40. Also, I would like to say I am sorry should there is any weakness in this little piece and I look forward for your comments and feedback. Truly Allah knows best and I hope He will always guide us and grant us all His Paradise. Ameen.

Wassalamualaikum wbt. Take care all =)

"And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims.""

 Surah Fussilat (41:33)

Ibnu Hanaffi



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