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  • in Persia, non-Muslims were considered to be najis (ritually unclean) by Shi'a Muslims, and were not allowed to go outside in rain or snow for fear that some impurity could be washed from them onto a Muslim?

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Kafir (Arabic: كافر kāfir; plural كفّار kuffār) is an Arabic word meaning "rejecter" or "ingrate"; also the term "Kuffar" (singular "Kafir") is used to refer to peasants (أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ) (Surah 57 Al-Hadid (Iron) Ayah 20;[1]) as they till earth and "cover up" seeds; the term "Kufr" means "to cover up" – this is why earth tillers are referred to as "Kuffar."

In the Islamic doctrinal sense, the term refers to a person who rejects God (Allah) or who hides, denies, or covers the "truth". The Quran also uses the word for Muslims; in Sura 2 Verse 256, it asks them to take upon themselves the action of "Kofr" of all unjust idols, persons or powers.

It is usually translated into English as "unbeliever", "ungrateful" or "obliterator." In recent times, the term is seen as derogatory, which is why some Muslim scholars discourage its use and suggest the term "non-Muslim" instead.[1]

Contents

Etymology

The word kāfir is the active participle of the root K-F-R "to cover". As a pre-Islamic term it described farmers burying seeds in the ground, covering them with soil while planting. Thus, the word kāfir implies the meaning "a person who hides or covers". In Islamic parlance, a kāfir is a word used to describe a person who rejects Islamic faith, i.e. "hides or covers [viz., the truth]".[2]

"kafara" ~ the root verb ~ means "he hid (something)" and "he covered (something)" or "He hid (something) by covering it up." Both "hiding" and "covering up" are indelible significations of all of the words arising on the verbal root.

The Hebrew cognate word kofer also means "apostate".

Types of Kufr disbelief

Types of Kufr (Disbelief)-Adapted from 'Tafseer ibn Katheer[3] The Qur'an uses the word kufr to denote a person who covers up or hides realities, one who refuses to accept the dominion and authority of Allāh. There are several types of Al-Kufr ul Akbar:

  1. Kufrul-'Inaad: Disbelief out of stubbornness. This applies to someone who knows the truth and admits to knowing the truth and admits to knowing it with his tongue, but refuses to accept it and refrains from making a declaration. The Qur'an states: "Do ye twain hurl to hell each rebel ingrate?" [Soorah Qaaf (50), Ayah 24] [4]
  2. Kufrul-Inkaar: Disbelief out of denial. This applies to someone who denies with both heart and tongue. The Qur'an states: "They recognize the favor of Allah, yet they deny it, and most of them are ungrateful."[Soorah Nahl (16), Ayah 83] [5]
  3. Kufrul-Kibr: Disbelief out of arrogance and pride. The disbelief by the devil (Iblees) is an example of this type of Kufr.
  4. Kufrul-Juhood: Disbelief out of rejection. This applies to someone who acknowledges the truth in his heart, but rejects it with his tongue. This types of kufr is applicable to those who calls themselves Muslims but who reject any necessary and accepted norms of Islam such as Salaat and Zakat. The Qur'an states: "And they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, for spite and arrogance. Then see the nature of the consequence for the wrong-doers!" [Soorah Naml (27), Ayah 14][6]
  5. Kufrul-Nifaaq: Disbelief out of hypocrisy. This applies to someone who pretends to be a believer but conceals his disbelief. Such a person is called a MUNAFIQ or hypocrite. The Qur'an states: "The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them." [Soorah An Nisaa (4), Ayah 145] [7]
  6. Kufrul-Istihlaal: Disbelief out of trying to make HARAM into HALAL. This applies to someone who accepts as lawful (Halal) that which Allah has made unlawful (Haram) like alcohol or adultery. Only Allah has the prerogative to make things Halal and Haram and those who seek to interfere with His right are like rivals to Him and therefore fall outside the boundaries of faith.
  7. Kufrul-Kurh: Disbelief out of detesting any of Allah's commands. The Qur'an states: "And those who disbelieve, perdition is for them, and He will make their actions vain; That is because they are averse to that which Allah hath revealed, therefor maketh He their actions fruitless."[Soorah Muhammed (47), Ayah 8-9] [8]
  8. Kufrul-Istihzaa: Disbelief due to mockery and derision. The Qur'an states: "And if thou ask them (O Muhammad) they will say: We did but talk and jest. Say: Was it at Allah and His revelations and His messenger that ye did scoff; Make no excuse. Ye have disbelieved after your (confession of) belief. If We forgive a party of you, a party of you We shall punish because they have been guilty." [Soorah Taubah (9), ayah 65-66] [9]
  9. Kufrul-I'raadh: Disbelief due to avoidance. This applies to those who turn away and avoid the truth. The Qur'an states: "And who is more unjust than he who is reminded of the communications of his Lord, then he turns away from them and forgets what his two hands have sent before? Surely We have placed veils over their hearts lest they should understand it and a heaviness in their ears; and if you call them to the guidance (Qur'an), they will not ever follow the right course (Islam) in that case." [Soorah Kahf (18), Ayah 57] [10]
  10. Kufrul-Istibdaal: Disbelief because of trying to substitute Allah's Laws. This could take the form of: (a) Rejection of Allah's law (Sharee'ah) without denying it, (b) denial of Allah's law and therefore rejecting it, or (c) Substituting Allah's laws with "artificial" (i.e. non-Muslim) laws. The Qur'an states: "And if Allah had pleased He would surely have made them a single community, but He makes whom He pleases enter into His mercy, and the unjust it is that shall have no guardian or helper." [Soorah Shuraa(42), Ayah 8] [11] The Qur'an says: "Truly, Allâh is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are doers of good and righteousness." [Soorah Nahl (16), Ayah 116] [12]

Muslim relations with the Kafir

For dealing with non-Muslims, Jasser Auda, a director of the al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of the Islamic Law in London, England, says that the general rule is mentioned in the verse that says what means:

"Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers." ([Qur'an 60:8])

Birr in this context is likened to birr al-walidain, the kindness that a Muslim should show to his or her parents.[13]

Some Muslims believe that making friends with the Kafir is prohibited in Islam. However, the word "friends" in the following verse is an inaccurate translation, which would better be translated as "protectors." Others consider the directive in Qur'an only for those Christians and Jews who were direct addressees of Qur'an or in war when there is a danger of transmission of secrets.[14] As in Qur'an:

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." [Qur'an 5:51]

Shi'a jurists have traditionally deemed the person who does not believe in Allah (God ) and His Oneness to be ritually impure (najis) so that physical contact with them or things they touched would require Shi'as to wash themselves before doing regular prayers. As regards the people of the Book (i.e. the Jews and the Christians) who do not accept the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah, they are commonly considered Pak (pure).[15][16][17]

Use outside Islam

By the 15th century, the word Kaffir was used by Muslims in Africa to refer to the non-Muslim African natives. Many of those kufari were enslaved and sold by their Muslims captors to European and Asian merchants, mainly from Portugal, who by that time had established trading outposts along the coast of West Africa. These European traders adopted that Arabic word and its derivatives.

Some of the earliest records of European usage of the word can be found in The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation by Hakluyt, Richard, 1552-1616.[18] In volume 4, Hakluyt writes: calling them Cafars and Gawars, which is, infidels or disbelievers.[19] Volume 9 refers to the slaves (slaves called Cafari) and inhabitants of Ethiopia (and they use to go in small shippes, and trade with the Cafars ) by two different but similar names. The word is also used in reference to the coast of Africa ( land of Cafraria on the coast of Ethiopia).[20]

The word eventually changed into many forms — cafre (in Portuguese, Spanish and Greek), caffar, kaffer, kaffir, kafir, etc. (in English, Dutch, and Afrikaans). Those words were then used to name many things related to Africa, such as the Kaffir Wars,[21] Kaffraria, kaffir lime, kaffir corn, and so on; see kaffir (disambiguation).

Some of those African slaves were taken by the Portuguese to work in their colonies in Asia. In some cities of Sri Lanka, in particular, the descendants of those slaves still constitute a distinctive ethnic group, who call themselves Kaffir.

By the late 19th century the word was in common use throughout Europe and its colonies, often appeared in the newspapers and other written works of the time.[22][23][24][25][26] One of the Union-Castle Line ships operating off the South African coast even carried the name SS Kafir.[27]

In South Africa, the word kaffir eventually became a racial slur, applied pejoratively or offensively by some whites to African blacks or to dark-skinned persons in general.

See also

Non-Islam specific:

References

  1. ^ Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Shinqiti (2005). "General Fatwa Session, "...kafir is now a derogatory term..."" (HTML). Living Shariah>Live Fatwa. Islamonline.net. http://www.islamonline.net/livefatwa/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=8zOFOr. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  2. ^ Who is a Kaafir? - Reading Islam.com - Ask About Islam
  3. ^ url = http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/aqeedah/0038.htm | accessdate = 2009-01-03
  4. ^ url = http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=4&s=50&fv=24&tv=24
  5. ^ url = http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=2&s=16&fv=83&tv=83
  6. ^ url = http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=4&s=27&fv=14&tv=14
  7. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=3&s=4&fv=145&tv=145
  8. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=4&s=47&fv=8&tv=9
  9. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=4&s=9&fv=65&tv=66
  10. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=2&s=18&fv=57&tv=57
  11. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=2&s=42&fv=8&tv=8
  12. ^ http://thequran.com/Read.aspx?t=5&s=16&fv=128&tv=128
  13. ^ IslamOnline, Jasser Auda
  14. ^ Moiz Amjad, Relations with non-Muslims, Al-Mawrid.
  15. ^ Entry on the website of Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani
  16. ^ Entry on the website of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani
  17. ^ Bernard Lewis The Jews of Islam, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1984, ISBN 0-691-00807-8, pp. 33–34
  18. ^ http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/h#a1212
  19. ^ Richard Hakluyt. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation — Volume 04. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/7769. 
  20. ^ Richard Hakluyt. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation — Volume 09. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/10673. 
  21. ^ "Sir Harry Smith". The New York Times. 1902-05-24. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B05E5DC1330E733A25757C2A9639C946397D6CF. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  22. ^ "BARNATO A SUICIDE; The Kafir King Leaps Overboard....". New York Times. 1897. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B02E2DD163DE433A25756C1A9609C94669ED7CF. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  23. ^ "KAFIR BAND IN JAIL AND MIGHTY GLAD, TOO". New York Times. 1905-10-18. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E00E6DB1F3DE633A2575BC1A9669D946497D6CF. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  24. ^ Kafir Stories by W. C. Scully" at Project Gutenberg
  25. ^ The Right of American Slavery by T. W. Hoit at Project Gutenberg
  26. ^ "THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR HARRY SMITH". http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/hsmith/autobiography/harry.html. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  27. ^ "Union Steamship Company". http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/union.html. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 

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