Kufr is derived from Arabic and means ‘to cover or conceal something.’ But when we take this word in the context of Shariah (Islamic laws), it has several meanings, such as not believing in the message of Allah SWT and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad PBUH, ingratitude, or rejection. In short, the word kufr is the exact opposite of iman (faith). Keeping this in mind, this blog will highlight the types of kufr, Quranic verses about kufr, and what our Holy Prophet PBUH has said about kufr and kafir.
The word kafir is derived from the Arabic language and means a disbeliever. Kafir is the singular form, whereas kuffar is the irregular plural form, meaning the disbelievers. This word is often used in the Quran and Hadiths to warn people against different kufr types and punishments.
The word kafiron (the disbelievers) also comes in the Quran in Surah Kafiroon, the chapter of the disbelievers. Kafiroon is the regular plural form of the word kafir. Depending on the sentence’s syntax, this word can be replaced with kafirin (the disbelievers).
Above, we explained that kufr is the antonym of iman (faith). But, since a few Islamic scholars categorize kufr into the degrees of minor and major kufr, there is a condition where the word kufr is not in exact contrast with the word iman. And that condition applies when a difference is asserted between major and minor kufr. Let’s discuss both of these types below:
By attempting major kufr, you no longer remain in the fold of Islam and hence are a disbeliever. If you have committed major kufr and you die without making repentance (taubah), you will be thrown into Jahannam (hellfire) and will stay there for the rest of eternity.
By attempting minor kufr, you don’t become a disbeliever but a major sinner and transgressor. Minor kufr is also known as hypocrisy and should be avoided at all costs.
So we can say that minor kufr is a lesser form of kufr and does not make someone a disbeliever as it co-exists with Islam and iman.
Several types of major kufr can make you a disbeliever, and knowing them is crucial so you can stay protected from them and protect others around you, too. Let’s discuss some of them below:
This kufr is the type of kufr that is committed out of stubbornness. It means that a person knows about the truth, claims to know the truth with his tongue, but refuses to declare it.
The word kibr is derived from ‘takabbur,’ which means arrogance or pride. Hence, Kufr ul-Kibr is defined as the kufr committed out of arrogance. The most significant example of this kufr is Shaytan because he refused to bow before Adam A.S. because he took pride in being made of fire, whereas Adam A.S. was made of mud.
The word inkar means denial and kufr ul-Inkar is the kufr one commits when he denies the truth both with the tongue and the heart. A perfect example of Kufr ul-Inkar is the story of Abu-Lahab, the paternal uncle of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, who denied Islam with his heart and tongue.
The word nifaq is an Arabic word that means hypocrisy. So kufr ul-Nifaq is described as the kufr committed when a person claims to be a believer with his tongue but doesn’t believe in Islam with his heart. That person is called a (Munafiq) hypocrite.
Kufr ul-I’rdah is the kufr committed when one intentionally turns away from the truth. An example of this is the reaction of the polytheists to whom our Prophet PBUH was sent. They deliberately turned away from Islam, even though the Holy Prophet PBUH brought them all the proofs and signs. Therefore, they committed kufr ul-I’rdah.
The word Juhud is an Arabic word that means rejection or denial, and kufr ul-Juhud means the act of knowingly denying the truth of Islam or its core principles. This kufr may also apply to people who say that they are Muslims but reject the main principles of Islam, such as Hajj or charity.
Kufr al-Istihlal can be defined as the kufr when someone turns something that Allah SWT has labeled haram (forbidden) into something halal (permissible).
Examples of kufr al-Istihlal can include a person listening to music and claiming that he is depressed, that is why he is listening to it, or a person eating anything haram just because the halal options are not to his liking. This makes him a doer of kufr al-Istihlal because only Allah SWT can determine what is permissible and what is forbidden for us.
The word istihza is derived from the Arabic language and means to mock or ridicule. Kufr al-Istihza refers to the disbelief committed when one mock or ridicules Islamic beliefs, its core principles, or practices.
Kufr ul-Kurh is defined as the kufr one commits when he detests the commands and orders of Allah SWT, and this applies to a person who despises and detests Allah’s commands and rebels against them.
Kufr ul Istibdal is committed when a person knowingly and intentionally replaces or substitutes the fundamental principles and practices of Islam with other beliefs or ideologies.It is considered a major sin because it promotes the replacement of core practices and interferes with the sacred nature of faith.
Minor kufr, also referred to as hypocrisy, is the type of kufr that doesn’t put you out of the fold of Islam, but it is a major sin to commit and, therefore, should be avoided at all costs. And if someone does commit it, they should immediately repent to Allah SWT, as he is the most forgiving and merciful. Some examples of minor kufr in Islam are as follows:
Murdering someone in Islam is a major sin. If you deliberately kill a believer, you have committed an act of extreme transgression. Our Holy Prophet PBUH says in a hadith that abusing a Muslim is evil, whereas killing him is kufr. [Sahih al-Bukhari, 6044]
If a judge takes bribes from someone who decides in his favor, that is also considered kufr. Moreover, Allah SWT says that those who don’t judge according to what Allah has revealed are disbelievers.
3. Failing to Fast
A person who ignores his obligatory fasts just because of laziness is considered a kaafir by some scholars. Although the correct view states that such a person is not a kaafir, but is in an extremely dangerous position because they are neglecting one of the pillars of Islam. In this case, they should be disciplined and compensate for their missed fasts.
So, there it is. You know what kufr is, what kuffar is, and kuffar vs. kafir.
To sum it up, there are two kinds of kufr, and knowing about them is important when addressing matters of belief and practice within the Muslim community. If someone commits these types of kufr, they should immediately seek the advice of a scholar and repent, as Allah SWT is the most merciful.