Surah Kafirun, or Surah al Kafirun, is a surah with a profound message and provides insight on how to deal with people who don’t believe in Allah SWT. This Surah teaches us that no matter which religion people choose to pursue, the distinction between true and false should always be distinct, and no Muslim should ever compromise their Muslim identity. This blog will delve into the reason for the revelation of Surah Kafirun, its meaning, and the lessons and hadiths about this Surah.
Surah Kafirun (The Disbelievers)
قُلْ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلْكَـٰفِرُونَ لَآ أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ وَلَآ أَنتُمْ عَـٰبِدُونَ مَآ أَعْبُدُ وَلَآ أَنَا۠ عَابِدٌۭ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ وَلَآ أَنتُمْ عَـٰبِدُونَ مَآ أَعْبُدُ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِىَ دِينِ
Surah Kafirun Transliteration:
Qul yaaa-ayyuhal kaafiroon Laaa a’budu maa t’abudoon Wa laaa antum ‘aabidoona maaa a’bud Wa laaa ana ‘abidum maa ‘abattum Wa laaa antum ‘aabidoona maaa a’bud Lakum deenukum wa liya deen.
Surah Kafirun Translation:
Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
Surah Kafirun is the 109th Surah of the Quran, placed in the thirtieth part. This Surah comprises six verses with a clear message on dealing with non-Muslims.
The name of this surah is taken from the first verse قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ where the word الْكَافِرُونَ occurs, meaning the disbelievers. Although scholars have different opinions about the place of revelation of this Surah, many scholars say that this is a Makki surah. While many think this Surah preaches religious tolerance, its actual meaning is the clear and undeniable rejection of polytheism, which was prevalent among the Quraish in those times.
Surah Kafirun was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after the disbelievers of Quraysh declared that they would worship Allah SWT on the condition that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also worshipped their gods for some time. Not only this, the disbelievers also wanted the Prophet (PBUH) to stop speaking ill of their gods. In addition, they also promised they would make him the wealthiest man of Makkah, marry him to any woman he desired, and give him anything he wanted.
In response, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied, Wait, let me see what my Lord commands me. Surah al-Kafirun was sent down, eradicating any confusion about the believers and disbelievers ever finding common ground in the case of religion.
While Surah Al-Kafirun was initially revealed for the disbelievers of the Quraysh because they were unlikely to accept Islam, the last verse, “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion,” can be used in any situation where a Muslim is pressured to compromise their faith or worship.
In addition to this Surah, some other sources also say that other verses were revealed along with it. These other verses are from Az-Zumar, the 39th chapter of the Quran.
In the verses, Allah SWT says that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should ask the Quraish if they want him to worship anyone other than Allah SWT. This verse also mentions that if someone (this Surah was for the Quraish, but its message can be preached to anyone) associates anything with Allah SWT, all their work is worthless, and they are among the losers. And that they should only worship Allah SWT and be among the grateful. [Quran 39:64-66]
In several hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) talks about Surah Kafirun. Let’s discuss these hadiths.
Abu Hurairah [RA] narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to recite Surah al-Kafirun and Surah al-Ikhlas in the two voluntary Raka’ts of the fajr prayer.
Another hadith narrated by Ibn Umar states that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to recite Surah al-Kafirun and Surah al-Ikhlas in the Maghrib prayer.
In another hadith, it is stated that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to recite Surah al-Kafirun with two other Surahs in the Witr prayer.
Another hadith states that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) recited Surah al-Kafirun and Surah Ikhlas in the two Rakats after tawaf.
Another hadith states that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that whoever recites Surah al-Kafirun equals a fourth of the Holy Quran for him.
In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said that before going to bed, you should recite Surah al-Kafirun and sleep because this Surah protects from polytheism.
Since this Surah was revealed when Quraish offered the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to find some common ground between the two religions and to worship their idols for some time, the message of this Surah is clear as day. A Muslim should never compromise his identity for anything he may get in exchange.
The proposal of the Quraish about worshipping each other’s gods for a certain amount of time clearly showed that they were not serious about their religion. Therefore, we should be aware that Islam is a lifelong commitment and should be observed with truthfulness and loyalty to Allah SWT without any negotiations or bargains.
Islam preaches peace. But in some conditions, conflict is the only option. In the tafsir of verse 6 of this Surah, For you is your religion, and for me is my religion, it is clearly stated that the offers of the Quraish regarding worshipping their gods couldn’t be accepted because it was shirk.
Although the Holy Quran does say that when disbelievers move towards peace, Muslims should also move towards peace. But in some situations, like when we have to go beyond the limits of our religion, peace is not an option.
In summary, Surah al-Kafirun was revealed as a response to the Quraish’s proposal for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to compromise his Islamic beliefs and worship their gods. This Surah rejects all kinds of compromises and highlights the unyielding commitment to the monotheistic belief of Islam. Moreover, the message of this Surah remains timeless, emphasizing the importance of unwavering devotion to Allah SWT at all times and highlighting the non-negotiable nature of faith for Muslims.