non-Muslims

The real meaning of kāfir and the difference between small kufr and big kufr

Is not wearing hijab kufr if the person knows and accepts that it's God's command but has a hard time fighting his nafs [ego]?

Kufr has two meanings when used in the Quran:

  • To deny a truth
  • To deny a blessing

The best translation of kufr might therefore be “denial”, a denial that includes both the denial of truth and the denial of blessings. Technically, any sin is to some degree kufr, because any sin we commit is a denial of God’s blessings. But since it does not contain a denial of truth, it is only what we may call “small kufr” in English. Not wearing hijab is a sin like any other and there may be acceptable excuses for it in the short-term.

There is also “big kufr”. When people think of kufr and kāfirs, this is what they usually think about. To commit big kufr is to turn your back against God, fight against Him and deny the truth of His scriptures and the truth of His blessings despite believing deep in your heart that God exists and that His scriptures are true.

When the Quran speaks of kāfirs it is not speaking of just any group of non-Muslims (as too many Muslims unfortunately think). A kāfir is one who believes in God but fights against Him, and the archetypal example of a kāfir is Satan, who lived in God’s presence and fully believed in His power and greatness, yet he disobeyed Him. A human kāfir is guilty of the same sin. They believe in God but deny His truth and His blessings.

By that definition, the majority of the world’s non-Muslims are likely not kāfirs, because they are not convinced in their hearts of the truth of God’s scriptures. A real kāfir knows the truth but denies it. A non-Muslim who has only heard negative things about religion and never gets a chance to fully explore it is a completely different type of person.

Regarding wearing the hijab, God does not ask you to do more than you are able. Wearing the hijab requires courage and it can be difficult if there is no one around you doing the same and supporting you in it. There are people who cruelly condemn Muslim women who do not wear the hijab. Know that God is kinder than humans, so do not let people’s cruelty make you think negative thoughts about God.

Hanging out with other hijabis can give you the courage and motivation to wear it. If you have a mosque near you, find out if they have a sisters’ circle and join them in their weekly gatherings. Belonging to the community can make it much easier to start wearing the hijab.

For more articles about the hijab please see this page.

On the Shia and their fate according to Sunni Islam

What are your views on Shia and their beliefs? And are they among the 70+ sects that are doomed?

First, the notion of the “72 doomed sects” is false, as I explain here. It is based on fabricated evidence.

As for the Shia, I believe that anyone who believes in God and His Books and does their best to follow Him, sincerely and in good faith, will be rewarded by Him, as the Quran promises:

Those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does what is right—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.1

The above verse and those like it have been interpreted in various ways. The fate of ‘others’ in Islam, whether non-Muslims or Muslims belonging to sects considered non-orthodox, is a contentious issue that lends itself to many interpretations. Those interested can read professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil’s book Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, which is a study that shows that there is sufficient room within Islam for what I mentioned above.

While it is common for Muslims to complain about Islamophobia in the West and the fact that people refuse to try to understand Islam, they themselves unfortunately act in very much the same way toward other Muslims. I have talked to some Sunni Muslims who have never met a Shia Muslim in their lives and who have the most absurd misconceptions and prejudices about the lives and thinking of the Shias. The Iranian government, in the name of Shia Islam, has committed a great deal of injustice and oppression against the Sunnis (a glaring example being that Sunni Muslims are not allowed to pray the Friday prayers in cities like Tehran, in their sectarian chauvinistic view only Shia mosques should have the right to hold Friday prayers). But many Iranian Shias do not support the actions of the government, or are simply busy making a living and not having the time to worry about what their government is doing, similar to the attitude of many Americans toward their government’s mass-murder of innocent people overseas. Among the Shia there are those who do their best to hold onto the Quran and to follow it in their lives, and God is generous and intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the efforts of such people even if they have beliefs and attitude that Sunnis would consider wrong. The Quran says the following about Jews and Christians, and I believe the same applies to the Shia:

113. They are not all alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

So my view is that God holds each soul according to the knowledge He has given it:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.3

God will not hold a Shia Muslim responsible for what Sunnis consider wrong beliefs if they really think what they believe is true, if they follow the Quran in good faith, and if they do not knowingly do evil.

By saying that, I do not mean to say that Sunni and Shia Islam are equally good religions. Religions are tools toward understanding and worshiping God, and the best tool is the one that helps the most people worship God in the best way possible. We can judge a religion by the number of pious, self-less and devout people it can produce, and I believe Sunni Islam comes out on top according to this measure.

Is it forbidden for Muslims to befriend non-Muslims?

Is it true that it's haram for Muslims and non Muslims to be friends. I didn't know this until I read the Qur'an because no one told me about it. It says that the believers can't take non-believers as awliyaa and in my Qur'an the translation says friends. I asked my friend and she told me it means political ally but in 9:71 Allah describes believers that are friends with eachother and there is no political notation there.

As a Muslim you should get into the habit of reading the whole Quran and judging one part in the context of the rest, instead of giving all attention to one verse and forgetting the rest. Verse 60:8 of the Quran says:

As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable.

This verse was sent to balance out the verse you mentioned, and also to balance out the verse at the beginning of its own chapter:

O you who believe! Do not take My enemies and your enemies for supporters, offering them affection, when they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the Truth. They have expelled the Messenger, and you, because you believed in God, your Lord. If you have mobilized to strive for My cause, seeking My approval, how can you secretly love them? I know what you conceal and what you reveal. Whoever among you does that has strayed from the right way.

Reading the whole Quran, we get the conclusion that we are forbidden from becoming friends with those who harbor resentment against Muslims and who plan and plot against them. An example of such a forbidden friendship would be a Muslim businessman becoming friends with Israeli settler businessmen who have unjustly expelled other Muslims from the lands they live in.

As for those who have not fought us because of our religion and who have not expelled us from our homes, we are allowed to treat them in whatever way is culturally and humanly appropriate.

By being Muslim the Quran does not ask you to stop being a human. It merely tries to reform you and prevent you from doing evil and foolish things (like befriending those who would happily kill you and your family for gain if they got the chance). There is nothing wrong with befriending a good and kind non-Muslim who wishes you no harm; this is what your conscience tells you and this is what the Quran tells you.

I have read the Quran dozens of times in multiple languages and have not found a single thing that goes against my conscience. If you find such a thing in it, it means you haven’t understood it fully, or that you are reading one interpretation of a particular verse or passage when various interpretations are possible.