Many have a misconception that the Quran abuses Hindus by calling them Kafirs. What is Kafir meaning? Is it derogatory? Let’s analyse.
Who is Kafir?
“Kafir” is an antonym for the word “Muslim”. Words have other words that are opposite in meaning to it. We call them ‘antonyms’. Example: good and bad, right and left, polite and rude etc. Similarly, the antonym (opposite word) for Muslim is Kafir.
A Muslim is a person who believes and accepts the teachings of Islam. A “Kafir is a person who does not believe or rejects the teachings of Islam.
How is “Kafir” defined?
To know how the “Kafir” is defined, we must understand the meanings of the words “Muslim” and “Kafir”.
Meanings of the word Muslim and Kafir
The word “Muslim” is used for a person who believes in the following:
- God is ONLY One
- God is not in need of anything or anyone
- God does not have parents or children
- God does NOT discriminate on the basis of birth, race or caste.
- God does NOT have any weaknesses like sleep, illness, memory loss etc.
- There is NONE equal to God
- Life after death where God judges every human based on his actions in the world. The good people go to heaven and evil people go to hell.
- Prophets who were righteous people that were sent as role models to human beings.
- Believe and follow all the five pillars of Islam namely: Testimony of faith, Five times prayer, Fasting, Zakath and Hajj.
Like we saw above, the word “Kafir” is the opposite of the word “Muslim”. So naturally, “Kafir” can be defined as any person who does not believe in the eight points above.
“Kafir” is NOT a derogatory word
Opposite words or antonyms are used in every faith. Hinduism uses the word “Melechas” to refer to people who are foreigners or have a non-vedic origin. Christianity and Judaism, uses the word “Gentiles” to refer to the people who are not Israelites.
In Hindi, we use the word “Firangi” to refer to a “Foreigner”. Every major city has a “Foreigners Registration Office”. Should an American or a German in India, consider being called a “Foreigner” as insult? Obviously, No! The same holds good with “Kafir” also. It is NOT an insult or abuse but is used to just convey the opposite meaning for the word Muslim.
All humans including Hindus are honoured
God explicitly states in the Quran:
Islam teaches the entire mankind is children of Adam and we all belong to the same “human family”. The whole humanity is honoured by God. This includes Muslims, Christians and all the Hindus as well. If this is the case, where is the question of insulting Hindus?
A “Muslim” can also be Kafir
Both the words “Muslim” and “Kafir” are related to actions performed by people. Therefore, they can be used ONLY to a person who does those actions. So, a person becomes a Muslim, ONLY by believing and obeying the commands of God and NOT because he was born in a Muslim family or has a “Muslim sounding” name like Sulthan or Shaikh. A person can have a Muslim name but can be a Kafir because of his disbelief in God.
Prophet Muhammad said:
As you can see, the saying is addressed to those who are considered as “Muslims” in the society. This should clarify that the word “Kafir” is not something exclusively used for Hindus or non-Muslims and is NEVER used to insult anyone.
You may also see what the Jamiat Ulema e Hind has mentioned about calling Hindus as “Kafir”.
What is the origin of the word “Kafir”?
The word “Kafir” is an Arabic word. It comes from the Arabic root word “Ka-Fa-Ra”, which means “to reject or disbelieve”, “to conceal” and “to be ungrateful”. In ancient Arabic, the word “Kafir” was used to refer to farmers as they concealed the seeds under the soil.
What is the history of the usage of the word “Kafir”?
The word “Kafir” was used to refer to farmers because the farmers hid the seeds under the soil. Even the Glorious Quran uses the word “Kafir” to refer to a farmer.