The types of Kufr

Imaam ibn Kathīr (rahīmahullaah – b. 701 AH – d. 774 AH)

Adapted from ‘Tafseer ibn Katheer’

The Qur’ān uses the word Kufr to denote people who cover up or hide realities. The Qur’ān uses this word to identify those who denied Allāh’s favors by not accepting His Dominion and Authority. Kufr thus is an antonym for īman or disbelief in Allāh and a Kāfir is a non-believer. This type of Kufr is called Kufr al Akbar or major kufr. There are many types of Kufr al Akbar:

1. Kufrul ‘Inād: Disbelief out of stubborness. This applies to someone who knows the truth and admits to knowing the truth and admits to knowing it with his tongue, but refuses to accept it and refrains from making a declaration. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Throw into Hell every stubborn disbeliever.” ( Qāf 50:24)


2. Kufrul Inkār: Disbelief out of denial. This applies to someone who denies with both heart and tongue. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“They recognize the favors of Allāh, yet they deny them. Most of them are disbelievers.” ( Nahl 16: 83)


3. Kufrul Kibr: Disbelief out of arrogance and pride. The disbelief by the devils (Iblīs) is an example of this type of Kufr.


4. Kufrul Juhūd: Disbelief out of rejection. This applies to someone who acknowledges the truth in his heart, but rejects it with his tongue. This types of kufr is applicable to those who calls themselves Muslims but who reject any necessary and accepted norms of Islām such as Salāt and Zakāt. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“They denied them (Our Signs) even though their hearts believed in them , out of spite and arrogance.” ( Naml 27:14)


5. Kufrul Nifāq: Disbelief out of hypocrisy. This applies to someone who pretends to be a believer but conceals his disbelief. Such a person is called a Munāfiq or hypocrite. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Verily the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of Hell. You will find no one to help them.” (Nisā 4:145)


6. Kufrul Istihlāl: Disbelief out of trying to make Harām into Halāl. This applies to someone who accepts as lawful (Halāl) that which Allāh has made unlawful (Harām) like alcohol or adultery. Only Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā has the prerogative to make things Halāl and Harām and those who seek to interfere with His right are like rivals to Him and therefore fall outside the boundaries of faith.


7. Kufrul Kurh: Disbelief out of detesting any of Allāh’s subhānahū wa ta’ālā commands. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Perdition (destruction) has been consigned to those who disbelieve and He will render their actions void. This is because they are averse to that which Allāh has revealed so He has made their actions fruitless.” (Muhammed 47: 8-9)


8. Kufrul Istihzaha: Disbelief due to mockery and derision. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Say: Was it at Allāh, His signs and His apostles that you were mocking? Make no excuses. You have disbelieved after you have believed.” (Taubah 9: 65-66)


9. Kufrul I’rādh: Disbelief due to avoidance. This applies to those who turn away and avoid the truth. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“And who is more unjust than he who is reminded of his Lord’s signs but then turns away from them. Then he forgets what he has sent forward (for the Day of Judgment).” (Kahf 18: 57)


10. Kufrul Istibdāl: Disbelief because of trying to substitute Allāh’s Laws. This could take the form of:

(a) Rejection of Allāh’s law (Sharī‘ah) without denying it.

(b) Denial of Allāh’s law and therefore rejecting it, or.

(c) Substituting Allāh’s laws with man-made laws. Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Or have they partners with Allāh who have instituted for them a religion which Allāh has not allowed.” (Shūrā 42:21)


Allāh subhānahū wa ta’ālā says:


“Say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely (that) is lawful and this is forbidden so as to invent a lie against Allāh. Verily, those who invent a lie against Allāh will never prosper.” ( Nahl 16:116)


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