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Be Careful who you call a Kafir

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم



Be Careful who you call a Kafir

by Fareena Alam


"As to those who reject Faith, It is the same to them Whether thou warn them Or do not warn them; They will not believe." The Holy Quran, 02:06 Al Baqarah

Abdullah Yusuf Ali's commentary: Kufr, Kafara, Kafir, and derivative forms of the word, imply a deliberate rejection of Faith as opposed to a mistaken idea of Allah or faith, which is not consistent with an ernest desire to see the truth. Where there is sch desire, the Grace and Mercy of Allah gives guidance. But that guidance is not efficacious when it is deliberately rejected, and the possibility of rejection follows from the grant of free will. The consequence of the rejection is that spiritual faculties become dead or impervious to better influence.


Be careful who you call Kafir because only Allah knows who is truly a rejector and who is merely a misguided person. It is not up to us to "sentence" a person to the Hellfire.

We must always maintain courtesy, diplomacy and a never-dying zeal to convey the message to others no matter how discouraging or useless it may seem - don't give up on a non-muslim because most people are good people who simply need a break from the anti-Islamic propaganda around them.


The Fastest Way to Leave Islam


It is always safest to assume that a non-muslim has been misguided, misinformed and fed lies and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims - don't jump to calling him a Kafir. Remove the name-calling from your articles and websites - wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry - name-calling, especially wrongly branding someone as 'evil', 'kafr' and 'manifestation of satan' - GHEEBOT - could entail dire consequences for us on Judgement Day.


Perhaps there is no faster way to leave Islam than by calling other Muslims "kafir" or "mushrik" without discrimination.


About calling other Muslims "kafir," we 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! (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). [Muslim]


Therefore, if you call other Muslims "kafir" or "mushrik" without discrimination, you could find that you have left Islam, according to the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.), in less than a second.


Waste no time debating what a good Muslim should be. Be one!


Guiding a Non-Muslim to Islam only possible by the Grace of God. Our job is to help others understand Islam - that is our basic duty. And only then inshallah, will non-muslims move in the direction of becoming one of us. We must remain positive, open-minded and generous in our efforts to convey the true message.


You cannot encourage a non-muslim to be understanding and open-minded if you yourself are hot-tempered and hurling accusations at him/her. No non-muslim is going to respect you and it will certainly reflect badly on Islam if a Muslim, a representative of Islam, is narrow-minded.


I pray to Allah that we develop patience and sincerity in our efforts to bring about more tolerance in this world. Remember....every human being, regardless of whether he/she is born to Muslim or Non-Muslim parents, is born innocent and pure...it is society that influences him/her to stray from Islam and just as a person can stray, he/she can revert back and YOU can help this process.


We have a very important and sensitive role to play. We are the trusted Ummah of the Rasool, a servant of God...it has been made our duty and our obligation to pass on the pure, unadulterated truth - make honest and full use of this honourable task.

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The Danger of Rushing to Perform Takfeer

Shaykh Ahmad Fareed hafidhahullaah

From 'al-'Udhr bil-Jahl' (The Excuse of Ignorance), Translated by Abu Talha Dawud ibn Ronald Burbank and adapted by Abu Muntasir ibn Mohar 'Ali


The Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "He who says to his brother 'O Disbeliever', then it returns upon one of them." [1] He also said: "And he who accuses a believer of Kufr (disbelief) then it is like killing him." [2]


Imaam an-Nawawee said, "They differ as regards interpretation of this "returning", so it is said, "Kufr returns upon him if he is making that lawful", and this is far from the context of the narration, and it is said, "it is taken to refer to the Khawaarij", since they declare believers to be Kaafiroon (disbelievers)."[3]


Imaam al-Haafidh (Ibn Hajr) says, "And what is correct is that the hadith (narration from the Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam was said as a warning against a Muslim saying that to his brother. It is said, "What returns upon him is his speaking ill of his brother and the sin of declaring him a kaafir (disbeliever)", and this is reasonable. It is also said, "It is to be feared that this will lead him into kufr", just as it is said, "sins leads towards kufr". Thus it is feared that if he continues in that and persists in it then he will have a bad end. I prefer from these sayings that it refers to the one who says it to someone from whom nothing is known except Islaam and there is no justification or reason for him to claim that he is a kaafir. So in such a case he becomes a kaafir himself because of that, and this will be explained. So the meaning of the hadith is that his judgement of takfeer (making someone a kaafir) returns upon himself, so what is meant is takfeer not kufr. So it is as if he passed judgement of kuft upon himself since he passed this judgement on one who is like him (ie. a muslim)"[4]

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The Danger of Rushing to Perform Takfeer


Imaam ash-Shawkaanee said, "Judging that a Muslim has left Islaam and entered into Kufr is something that is not fitting for a Muslim who believes in Allaah and the Last Day except with a proof (Burhaan) which is clearer than the daytime sun, since it is established in the authentic hadith reported by a group of Companions that he who says to his brother "O Kaafir!" Then it returns back to one of them." In another wording, "Whoever addresses a man with Kufr, or says 'Enemy of Allaah' and he is not that, then it returns back upon him"[5]


So in these ahadith (plural of hadith) and others similar to them, there is the severest reprimand and the greatest warning against hurrying to perform takfeer. Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic says:


" ... and such as open their breasts to disbelief ... " [soorah an-Nahl 16:106]


So what has to be the case is that the heart embraces kufr and is at peace with it, and the soul is satisfied with it. So the appearance of wicked beliefs only is not to be taken into account here, especially if one is ignorant of the fact that they are contrary to Islaam. Likewise account will not be taken of the appearance of an action of kufr for the one who did not intend to leave Islaam by it and enter into kufr, and likewise account will not be taken of a word spoken by a Muslim which is a saying of kufr, when he does not believe what it means."[6]


So where do they stand those who hasten to perform takfeer of the Muslims in relation to the saying of the Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam: "Abusing a Muslim is open sin and killing him is kufr" [7] And in relation to his saying: "The Muslim is the Brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress or forsake him." [8] Also in relation to his saying: "All of the Muslim to the Muslim is inviolable; his blood, his wealth and his honour." [9] ?


Imaam Al-Qurtubee says in his tafseer (exegesis/explanation) of Sooratul Hujuraat: " ... and His (Allaah) saying: "lest your deeds be rendered fruitless while you perceive it not'." [soorah al-Hujuraat 49:2] does not mean that a person becomes a kaafir without knowing since just as a person does not become a believer except through choosing eemaan (faith) over kufr, then likewise a believer does not become a kaafir without intending kufr and choosing it, and there is consensus (ijma') regarding this."[10]




1. Reported by al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Maalik, at-Tirmidhee and Abu Dawood.


2. Reported by al-Bukhaaree.


3. Abbreviated from an-Nawawee's "Sharh" (explanation) of Saheeh Muslim (2/50)


4. Abbreviated from "Fathul-Baaree" (10/466)


5. Hadith reported by Muslim (2/49 - Book of Eemaan).


6. Taken from "as-Sailul-Jarraar" (4/578) and adapted.


7. Reported by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.


8. Reported by Muslim.


9. Reported by Muslim, Abu Daawood and at-Tirmidhee.


10. Tafseer of al-Qurtubee (7/6128).

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