بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
News Right Now: Redefining Kufr
Assalaam u alaykum wa rahmatullahee wa barakathu hu
Welcome to News Right Now- Redefining Kufr.
The Indonesian based Islamic group, Nahdatul Ulama made an announcement asking Muslims to refrain from using the word Kafir or Kuffar when addressing anyone who is not Muslim. Instead of calling people kafir, the organization says, Muslims should call non-believers, muwathin. This is an Arabic word for “citizen,” but it is not very well-known in Indonesia.
In all of the confusion of words and labels it is important to assess how we should view this news in light of Islamic text and also to think of why Muslims are so eager to redefine or make obscure what was once very clear.
Firstly in the Quran Allah (swt) tells us,
[وَقُلِ الۡحَـقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيُؤۡمِنۡ وَّمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡيَكۡفُرۡ ۙاِنَّاۤ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلظّٰلِمِيۡنَ نَارًا ۙ اَحَاطَ بِهِمۡ سُرَادِقُهَا ؕ وَاِنۡ يَّسۡتَغِيۡثُوۡا يُغَاثُوۡا بِمَآءٍ كَالۡمُهۡلِ يَشۡوِى الۡوُجُوۡهَؕ بِئۡسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَآءَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقًا]
"Say: The truth is from your Lord. Whoever wishes to believe, let him believe. And whoever wishes to disbelieve, let him disbelieve" [TMQ, Al-Kahf 18:29]
Islam distinguishes between the Muslim and the kafir (non Muslim). This can actually be viewed as a positive thing. The Muslim Ummah possesses a unique belief or Aqeedah that distinguishes it from any other nation in the culture it adopts, the laws it submits to, the thoughts and ideas it carries, and its outlook upon life. Without a clear understanding of Islam as distinct from Kufr, the Muslim Ummah is stripped of its distinguished status, and the Islamic 'Aqeedah is no longer seen as unique.
To know the propose that Muslims, and those of other or no faith should not be stated as such, denies a truth.
[اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ يَكۡفُرُوۡنَ بِاللّٰهِ وَرُسُلِهٖ وَيُرِيۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡ يُّفَرِّقُوۡا بَيۡنَ اللّٰهِ وَرُسُلِهٖ وَيَقُوۡلُوۡنَ نُؤۡمِنُ بِبَعۡضٍ وَّنَكۡفُرُ بِبَعۡضٍۙ وَّيُرِيۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡ يَّتَّخِذُوۡا بَيۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ سَبِيۡلًا ۙ *اُولٰٓـئِكَ هُمُ الۡـكٰفِرُوۡنَ حَقًّا ۚ وَ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ عَذَابًا مُّهِيۡنًا وَالَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا بِاللّٰهِ وَرُسُلِهٖ وَلَمۡ يُفَرِّقُوۡا بَيۡنَ اَحَدٍ مِّنۡهُمۡ اُولٰٓـئِكَ سَوۡفَ يُؤۡتِيۡهِمۡ اُجُوۡرَهُمۡ ؕ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ غَفُوۡرًا رَّحِيۡمًا]
"Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make a distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, 'We believe in some, but reject others,' and wish to adopt a way in between, they are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment." [TMQ, An-Nisa' 4:150-151]
The Muslim and the Kafir are not the same in their belief, this is a fact that cannot be denied. Referring to the Jews and Christians as people of the book is a term used in the Quran but they too are Kuffar. This term, for them, does not denote negative treatment , but firmly establishes that the Muslims constitute one grouping or millah, and all of the Kuffar comprise another.
The people of the book are Ideologically and culturally distinct from the Muslim Ummah. Many ayat in the Qur'an clearly establish this point without any ambiguity:
[يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ ۚ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُمْ بَهِيمَةُ الْأَنْعَامِ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ غَيْرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيْدِ وَأَنْتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ]
"Surely, in disbelief are they who say that Isa (Jesus) is the Messiah, son of Mary. Say, 'Who then has the least power against Allah, if He were to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, his mother, and all those who are on the earth together?' And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is Able to do all things." [TMQ, Al-Ma'idah 5:1)
As Nahdatul Ulama spreads confusion with redefining words, on a side note, the correct term for those non muslims who live under the Islamic rule under a contract is, Dhimmi. This term is used many times in Islamic text. Their fair treatment has been highlighted in historical references, and is a legal term that ensures they have protection but in the end they too are still kuffar and not the same as Muslims. Despite being citizens of the Khilafah and having certain rights we cannot say they are the same as the Muslims.
The terms we see in the Quran are words Allah SWT chose to address people, these terms are not invented and made to be changed. Whilst Islam has a defined area where we can have difference of opinion, these differences still has to be based upon Islamic evidences. All other opinions, made by people cannot be taken even if they serve political correctness. The term Kuffar, Kafir and who is a kafir is not open for debate.
We are warned by Allah SWT
[فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ حَتّٰى يُحَكِّمُوۡكَ فِيۡمَا شَجَرَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوۡا فِىۡۤ اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيۡتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوۡا تَسۡلِيۡمًا]
“But no, by your lord they can have no Iman, until they make you the judge in all disputes between them.” (An Nisa verse 65)
This verse shows us where we draw the line, what is right and wrong and how we view every single thought, action and word.
When we ordered to do something we must do it. Our treatment of the Kuffar is what Islam ordered. If Allah addresses the non Muslim as kuffar or kafir, then we address them as such. If an action or thought comes from kufr then we also view and label it as kufr.
Taking Islam and all its rules comprehensively means we do not need to shy away or chop and change Islam by deed or words. The word kaffir is not in itself a bad word but the context of how a word is used can be derogatory or simply states a known fact. This word defines a certain group of people and presents no problem if it is used as such.
Today redefining clear descriptions, actions and word and replacing them with confused ideas is growing in the East and West. For example, jihad in the Quran is mentioned in reference to fighting and removing kufr, yet the word has become reduced to any type of struggle or effort and the idea of fighting is the least spoken about or shy away from.
Another example is Shariah. today Shariah is associated with backwardness and capital punishments and not as a complete set of solutions to mans problems.
When we are saying any word that is a word from the words of Allahs swt, how can we be so confident to re define?! Did RasulAllah saw hide, change or re define what he was sent as revelation? Did the Sahabah after him do this to suit their time or place they lived in, or the many hundreds of scholars and muslims of the past dare to reinvent and re define?
The words kufr, kafir, jihad, shariah and so on are words revealed by Allah SWT the Creator of the World, all that is in it. He created the Muslim and the Kafir and He drew distinctions of who is a Muslim and who is a Kafir.
Jazakamullah Khayran for joininig us, Wasalaamu alaykum wa rahamtullahi wa barakatahu.