Meaning of Kafir

Meaning of Kafir

So what does “Kafir” mean?

Even though “Kafir” is a word found many times and with many variations in the Quran, many understood it to mean ‘Infidel’.

However, the English translation of “Kafir” is far from being correct.

The meaning of Kafir

The word ‘Kafir’, or ‘Koufar’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Kafara’ – Someone who hides the truth, or covers the truth!

Even though the words ‘Kafir’, and ‘Koufar’ are negative words, they are still used in the Quran in a respectful way as someone who covers up the truth.

Plus, the words ‘Kafir’, or ‘Koufar’ do not mean ‘Infidel(s)’, thus, it is not proper to describe Christians and Jews as non-believers!

According to Wikipedia, the word ‘Kafir’ means ‘to cover’.

Below is a great video lesson taught by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq at the Al Kawthar Academy, Leicester, United Kingdom on Friday, January 28, 2011

‘Kafir’ and ‘Infidel’ are NOT the Same

Unlike ‘Kafir’, the word ‘Infidel’ is a very derogatory word and should not be used to describe someone who does not believe in the oneness of Allah (SWT) and all his creation, including all the previous Prophets and his last Prophet Muhammad (SAAWS – PBUH)!

We need to look at how Allah (SWT) describes things that go against His teaching and commandments.

Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran describes the non-believer as ‘Kafir’ for a single (singular) person, or ‘Koufar’ for a group of persons (plural).

But does ‘Kafir’ mean ‘Infidel? No it does not.

Does the Quran mention the word ‘Infidel’?

In this article regarding the translation of “Kafir” into English ‘Infidel’ when talking about, or describing someone who does not believe in Allah (and his creation and commandments).

First and foremost, the word ‘Infidel’ is a word that is nowhere to be found in the Holy Quran (in the Arabic language, and not its translation), nor in the saying of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

How the word ‘Infidel’ came about?

The word ‘Infidels’ was actually introduced by the crusaders to describe us, Muslims, as the ‘disbeliever’ of their religion!

Islam’s Classification of someone or a group of People

There are various classes in Islam to describe someone, or a group of people and they are as follow:

  • Kafir: A Kafir is someone who is a disbeliever, or someone who rejects Allah and his final Messenger Muhammad (PBUH)
  • Mushrik: A Mushrik is someone that worships another god, or associates other gods other than their creator, Allah (SWT). Or is a polytheist (believe in multiple gods).

I strongly believe that the word ‘disbeliever’ is the closest, and the best description of the word ‘Kafir’ than the word ‘Infidel’.


Because I believe the word ‘disbeliever’ better describes someone who has rejected Allah (His creation and commandments), than the word ‘Infidel’!

Are Christians and Jews Koufar?

Contrary to today’s belief, Christians and Jews (known in the Quran as the ‘People of the Book’) are not necessarily Koufar as long as they…

  • Believe in the existence of God
  • Engage in righteous deeds
  • Uphold a Monotheistic lifestyle
  • Uphold the rituals outlined in their original scripture

I leave you with two things, one for the non-believers, and one for the believers!

For the Non-believers

Allah (SWT) gave you the rights and the choice to believe in Him, or not to believe in Him and his creation and no one can nor should try to take that right from you!

All I ask of those who are still searching for their creator and want to find the truth and have their heart at ease with their creator, is to do what other people, and all Prophets did before you!

With a strong sincerity of the heart, have a talk with your creator and ask Him for guidance!

Ask God to show you the right path in any language (It does not have to be in Arabic) you are fluent in, and in any position you know (whether on your knees, sitting on a chair)…

And Insha-Allah, if you are sincere, in your heart and your Dua’a, in seeking to know your creator, than your creator will answer your prayer, Insha-Allah.

You can say something like (in any language):’ O’ My creator, I want to know the truth, I want to know you, guide me to the truth!’, and if you are sincere in your prayer and willing to follow whatever comes with the truth, Allah (SWT) will guide you.

For the Believers

Instead of trying to revert someone to the truth, try to convey the message of Allah (SWT) given to all of his Prophets (PBUT) including Prophet Muhammad – PBUH.

Convey the same message with your action, in the best manner and the sweetest tongue because if you try to revert someone to Islam, you might get them further away from the truth than closer!

Know that Allah (SWT) is the one who guides and not you, nor did the Prophet (PBUH). The Commentary on the verse…

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad ) except as a mercy to the worlds. [Al-Anbiya’ 21:107]”

According to Sahih of Imam Muslim, when the Prophet’s opponents increased their persecution (in many folds), the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked him to curse them all.

But the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) reply was…

“I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.”

Even though his opponents continued to treat him (PBUH), and his companions unjustly and with cruelly, He (PBUH) always prayed for them.

Your job is to also convey the words of Allah (SWT) and the saying of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and leave the guidance to someone who can, Allah (SWT)!

Teaching of Islam

Does ‘Kafir’ mean ‘Infidel’?