Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
Seeking Advancement of Knowledge through Spiritual and Intellectual Growth

International ConferenceAbout IRFIIRFI CommitteesRamadan CalendarQur'anic InspirationsWith Your Help

Articles 1 - 1000 | Articles 1001-2000 | Articles 2001 - 3000 | Articles 3001 - 4000 | Articles 4001 - 5000 | Articles 5001 - 6000 |  All Articles

Family and Children | Hadith | Health | Hijab | Islam and Christianity | Islam and Medicine | Islamic Personalities | Other | Personal Growth | Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) | Qur'an | Ramadan | Science | Social Issues | Women in Islam |

Islamic Articles
Islamic Links
Islamic Cemetery
Islamic Books
Women in Islam
Aalim Newsletter
Date Conversion
Prayer Schedule
Q & A
Contact Info


Defining Islam, people of the book, Kafir .


From: "Mike Ghouse" <>View contact detailsTo:


Monday, August 3, 2009 5:59 PM



I appreciate your comments on the words Islam, Kafir, People of the book etc, indeed a majority of Muslims subscribe to that thought process. The word Kafir and People of the book are misused to claim superiority over the others, to create a class, that which Islam stands againts. Arrogance is the root cause of all conflict and that is not what God's wishes, he wishes his creation to get along and live in harmony without any distinction of religion, race or culture. (idea of Quraan 49:13) 

I know a few will jump at me without even thinking, as if they are parrots and have shut out all thinking faculties. The fact is an overwhelming majority of Muslims are open to learning, as Quran started with that word, and most Muslims subscribe to the idea that God is not owned by Muslims or any exclusive group, Praise the lord, lord of the universe, (rabbul aalameen) as Muslims we recite that at least 50 times a day.

I am writing a piece on Muslim women seeking to marry men outside their faith, in the article, I have touched up on the idea of " Kafir and the people of the book". For nearly a thousand years men who wanted to "control" women wrote most of the ideas... at times what it seems like going against the equality God has blessed to men and women. On the day of judgment no woman will have her husband stand by her, nor a man has a woman standing by him, each one is an equal individual responsible for his or her actions. Nothing but your responsibility is accounted for... of course, God is merciful and beneficent and he would always has his last word. 

2:221 “AND DO NOT marry women who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondwoman [of God]* is certainly better than a woman who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though she pleases you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for- any believing bondman [of God] is certainly better than a man who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though he pleases you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind."

God is for all times and so is his wisdom. Thank God we have the freedom to learn and understand concepts that were limited in scope but are actually universal.

In the above verse, a distinction was made between those who believe in a creator and those who reject the creator (or associate the creator with others). Do Jews, Christians, Hindus or people of other faith not believe in God? Don't the Atheist, Buddhists, Jains, Wicca and others believe in accountability? They all do, they also believe that some thing caused the world to come into being, whom we call God.

Perhaps the wisdom behind the distinction was to understand those who rejected God in medieval times, and it meant that they did not care for the moral values of the humanity and became a source of immorality. That stereo typing does not apply today as it did some ten centuries ago. Atheist and those who do not believe in a formal God are as moral as the ones who show off their belief every which possible. In all sincerity the word “Polytheist” exists without a corpus. Typically Hindus are ascribed as Polytheists without verifying that Hindus believe in one supreme God as well, and accept God in different manifestations, as Muslims also see God in 99 different attributes.

The other aspect that a few Muslims are hung up with is the phrase “People of the book” as though we belong to an “exclusive men’s club” and others don’t. That is sheer arrogance and a major source of conflict in community relations. Islam’s message was to find means to dissolve the arrogance and not manufacture it. 

The Prophet, peace be upon him, indeed had wished that his people also had a book like the Jews and Christians. At that time having a book meant civility, discipline and a system and not necessarily divinity. No doubt the Christians and Jews were included in the exclusive club, but we have missed out the Hindus, Buddhist, Jains and others who all have a book of guidance. The Qur’aan uses 124,000 Prophets to mean that the cherisher of the universe (Rabbul Aalameen) has reached out to every nation and tribe although only 25 names were listed; similarly only two inclusions were listed as people of the book where as there were many others who followed the books.   

God is wise, all embracing and cannot be narrow in his appeal. We the humans tend to want to own God and box up his wisdom. Let's give God all the freedom he has. After all we have created God in our own image.  

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, an Islamic family law expert at Emory University , argues that gender dynamics have changed in a way that makes interfaith marriage more reasonable under Islamic tradition. "In social reality today, men are not dominant in the marriage relationship. The rationale of historic rule is no longer valid," he said. "But people are not willing to accept this. This is a major source of tensions." 

There is a value we all have to realize today or tomorrow and that is peaceful co-existence is God’s will.  We should be open to people who value the morals of the society to work for peaceful co-existence with or without the books. 

Mike Ghouse

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation;  that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion.  Mission statement

# # # #

In a message dated 8/2/2009 12:42:27 P.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Javed Saheb:

Let me ask you a few specific questions: We would appreciate if you could answer them objectively and not go off our focus of defining key words that are repeated over and over in the Quran. This can help all of us.  If we agree to key definitions of these words then the interpretation of the Quran becomes more important in the light of these definitions.  AGAIN - PLEASE DO NOT ATTACK OR MAKE "PERSONAL ATTACKS."    This is only to explain our two sides in the best possible way so that global message of the Quran and its wisdom from the Hadith can be available for all to see.

1) Define Islam

2) Believer

3) Dhimmi

4) Kafir

5) Non-Believer


Key Definitions:     How do we define and explain key words is absolutely important to better understanding of The Quran in the light of Global Inter-religious peace movement that is going on.  It creates a mind-set that can become very narrow and selective in creating antagonistic divisions or it can create a more accommodating and tolerant mind-set.  Some of the key words which are essential to better understanding are the following:

 Islam The Quran is very clear in explaining the definition of the word Islam.  What does it mean and what does it stand for.  The uniqueness of this word is - that it is not named after any person (in this case our Prophet).  It means total surrender or submission to Allah (God).  Islam was the religion even before our Prophet Mohammed was born (pbuh) as is evidenced in The Quran in reference to 42:13,

 "The same religion (Islam or submission) has He established for you that which He enjoined on Noah.  That which We have sends as inspiration to you (Mohammed pbuh) and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus: That you should stay steadfast in religion (submission to our Lord -Islam) and make no divisions therein. (this means work for the unity of humankind)  As for those who worship other than God they are on (hard) wrong way to call from.  God chooses and guides those whom He wills towards Him.

Commentary:  According to this if a Christian, a Jew or any believer in One Supreme Being says “we surrender or submit to God.”  They are falling within the definition of the word Islam.  The art of surrender or submission is called Islam.  This art of submission/surrender was shown to all the Prophets and their people as evidenced in The Quran 10:47, 14:4 & 16:36.  Islam is very inclusive and broad in its definition.  Muslims believe in Allah (God) and take Mohammed (pbuh) as their messenger, just as Christians and Jews believe in the same God and take Jesus and Moses as their respective messengers. However Muslims believe in all the prophets from Jewish and Christian scriptures. One must refrain from judging other believers the depth of surrendering or submission of other believers. God is THE ONLY JUDGE.  Here Jesus advice is more relevant, “Do not Judge others lest you be judged.”

Surah 3:85, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him.”   Here the definition of Islam must be taken in its global context of surrendering and submission to One and Only One God.

Believer:  Anyone who says, “We believe in One God” is a Believer.  Let God be the ultimate judge. Humans will never have perfect knowledge to judge others.

Muslim:  A Muslim is a person who says, “There is no God but One God (Allah) and Mohammed (pbuh) is a messenger of God.

Dhimmi: People of the Book, Christians and Jews who lived in an Islamic state were called dhimmis.  This term is very often mis-interpreted.  The expressed mission of Islamic state was to establish Islamic rules and regulations and form Islamic society. To convert People of Book to Islam was not the policy.

Dhimmis were exempted from military service and Islamic teachings.  The Quran honored Christians and Jews as People with Revelations, the Bible and the Torah.  Their property, life and places of worship were protected.  For this service and protection a prorated tax “Jaziya” was collected by the Islamic state.  Jaziya was not meant to be economically oppressive, on the contrary it was a compensation paid to the state for maintenance of law, order and due process in the Islamic state that guaranteed their constitutional rights.  Dhimmis were exempted from paying the Zakat that was obligatory on every Muslim citizen.  The rate of Jaziya was smaller than the Zakat rate. Presently, no Muslim country imposes “Jaziya” on People of other faiths. Jaziya is now history.

Kafir or Infidels:  The word Kafir is derived from the Arabic root word KFR, (Kaf, Fay and Ray) which means to cover, conceal or hide. Hiding with the intention of misleading, deceiving or suppressing the truth.  Meddling with the Holy Scriptures where intentionally truth is either, concealed, changed, omitted, misinterpreted so that people either begin to doubt or lose complete faith in God, His Signs and His Revelations – this can come in the area of infidelity (being unfaithful to your Creator) or Kufr. 

Character assassinations of Biblical and Quranic Prophets, done intentionally to undermine the faith or trust/believe in God, His Signs and Revelations can also be classified, as Kufr and people committing such acts are called Kafirs or infidels. 

One cannot call a believer in God from Christianity or Judaism as Kafir if they do not believe in Mohammed (pbuh) as Messenger of God. 

In modern language, you can say, it has to be intentional dishonesty, deception and misinformation.  Just like a more sophisticated, premeditated perjury is deep rooted in misleading or deceiving people which can lead to criminal actions so also we have to consider the extent of intentional deception or perjury in explaining Kafir or Kufr.

Infidel does not really represent the true meaning of the word Kafir. The dictionary merely says an infidel is one who does not belief in any religion, especially Christianity and Islam.

Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs who comprise 2.5 billion of the world’s population cannot all be classified as non-believers or as KAFIRS.  There are billions of them who belief in God, the Last Day and Life after Death and in doing righteous deeds.   They have also been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion (which in Arabic is called Islam).   The Quran says, “To every people we send an Apostle in their own language and in their own country to clarify God’s message in Quran 14:4, 10:47 &16:36.  Muslims are commanded to believe in the revelations that have come to them (The Quran) and the revelations that came before their times (Torah, Psalms and Gospels) in Quran 2:4.  

Hence believers in One God from other faiths cannot be lumped or stereotyped as non-believers. No one has the authority to judge others.  Hence they cannot be called KAFIRS because they also have been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion which is the true meaning of the word Islam. 

The Quran uses Kafirs in reference to the pagan Arabs who had unleashed war on Prophet Mohammed and early Muslims.  All the verses on war must be taken in reference to pagan, idolatrous Arabs.  Muslims look towards war in the Quran to stop tyranny, oppression of the pagan Quresh tribe.  The other side of war was to establish freedom, liberty, women rights and a better law abiding society.

Christians and Jews who lived during the times of Prophet Mohammed were never defined as Kafirs or infidels.  They are called as, “People of the Book” throughout the Quran.  Prophet Mohammed included them as part of Medina Constitution This is a very important observation that we all should know.

Hence believers in One God from other faiths cannot be lumped or stereotyped as non-believers. No one has the authority to judge others.  Hence they cannot be called KAFIRS because they also have been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion which is the true meaning of the word Islam. 

Non-Believer:  Non-believers are those who do not believe in God.  There could be numerous reasons, conditions, situations or factors for their lack of faith in God.  There are Americans who are not taught religion at home or public schools hence they become secular in their outlook.  They also grow with no negative baggage.  Their conscience is clear.  They have a sense of equality and justice which is God-given quality of being just and fair.

Sometimes a believer passes from being in a believing state to a non-believing state and there could be many reasons for that too.

A non-believer is not a hypocrite or infidel (kafir).  It is important to know the difference. 

Dear Iftekhar,


Your definition of Islam is nothing but an attempt to deislamise islam, to deprive it the supremacy it has, owing to its being the Destination of God’s Guidance, over all other ideologies, and to make it compatible with the Western ideologies of economic fundamentalism, supremacy of Western ideology over others, the dominance of West in the world and the commercialization of human susceptibilities, which is one of the major sources of its economic power. A few years back I had given a detailed reply to all your questions. Interfaith has unfortunately been reduced to an attempt to deprive all religions of their established principles and to develop a conglomeration of ideas befitting the demands of Westernism from religion, which wants religion to be chained into the boundaries of places of worship and human brains. Interfaith has made it look to the world that the root cause of all evils is in religion, or at least in the ways they are interpreted. The truth on the contrary is that the threat to religion in general and Islam in particular comes not from the other religions but from the modern ideology of Economic fundamentalism, Westernism being its most visible face. Interfaith must realize this and not play into the hands of the forces  of globalization, and must instead concentrate on fighting the economic fundamentalism and its most dangerous component, the commercialization of human weaknesses that hassled to the death of hundreds of millions of people, disintegration of family system, huge increase in crime rates and social chaos. Islam of course has the capability t0o lead this fight, and Muslims must seek the support of all other faiths in this task. The world must know the dangers posed by alcohol, smoking, gambling, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, lame legal system that fails to control crimes and the exploitative economic system that has created huge disparities.

Dr Javed Jamil

Chief Editor

Islam, Muslims & the World

--- On Sat, 8/1/09, Iftekhar Hai <> wrote:

From: Iftekhar Hai <>

Subject: Reply to Zahid Jamil: What is Islam & Basic Fundamentals of Quran

To: "Zahid Jamil" <>, "Mike Ghouse" <>,,,,

Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 3:40 PM

Salams to All:

I would love to hear from any one of you on two points that Zahid Saheb has raised below:

1) What is the definition of the world Islam.  Can Javid/Zahid Saheb or any one define Islam.  This is what comes up in global interfaith discussions over and over again.  Our answers are in attachment.

2) What are the fundamentals of Islamic ideology?  This is what Br. Zahid Jamil has implied.  Is pluralism and diversity not the fundamentals of Quranic teachings? Our answers are in attachment too.

Both the below attachments are shared all over USA, Europe and UK.

1) Islamic definitions and

2) Basic & Fundamentals of Quran

Iftekhar Hai

UMA Interfaith Alliance 

Tel: 650-872-2578




Subject: MuslimAgenda :: Re: For the Love of Huma - Jewish-Muslim story

Date: Sat, 1 Aug 2009 03:10:04 +0000

Dear Mike, 

I have strong reservations about your assessment of how Muslims perceive Islam in today's world. I have lived in many regions of the world and have extensively met Muslims from many countries. You are wrong in counting yourself among moderates and among the majority of Muslims. You should count yourself, as we have known you through your opinions expressed on this platform, as liberal. As a majority of Muslims are Sunnis and I can say with much confidence that an average sunni Muslim would not ascribe to the opinions expressed by you on many issues. Shias are generally no less conservative. If you would describe yourself as moderate, then let me tell you that at least 70% of Muslims in today's world should be described as conservative. Even the very first sentence of your following response is surely misleading. The word 'Islam' means 'surrender to the will of Allah', then how can it be about free will. The free will of human beings often tends it to the temptation of many immoral worldy attractions, which in religious language are described as satanic. The quran lays down strict guidelines in absolutely clear terms for many living aspects of human life and thus a Muslim is obliged to follow those guidelines, it is an other matter how comfortable one feels about it or follows it. 

And to Iftekhar Sb, when Islam recognises diversity and pluralism, it does not ask you to dilute your own religion and compromise on very fundamentals of an ideology. It means that you love all human beings and cooperate with others in day to day living irrespective of their religion or belief. 

As far as this case of interfaith marriage is concerned, it is only Islam which allows its man to marry a woman of another religion. Judaism does not even allow anyone to enter its faith. All countries of the world have their own constituion and follow different sets of rules. Let them do so but respect each other and have peaceful co-existence. The same applies to different religions and that is what the Quran advocates.

 A sincere Muslim will try to invite others to the teachings of Quran in an affectionate manner so that they do not miss out on a treasure what we believe is the final word from the creator. Muslims must not seek confrontation but are allowed to respond if they are being attacked. 

Another thing which puzzles me is that none of us seem to be learning anything. Such platforms are for learning, however, we do not seem to have changed our opinion on any issue despite a few years of lecturing to each other. Just imagine how great the noble prophets were and how strong their message was that they had changed the entire living of humanity. 


Zahid Jamil


Dear All:


After studying closely arguments from all sides - I would like to add my observations:

In San Francisco and around its 50 miles radius - we have people from all over the world peacefully engaged in making a living.

The silicon valley of the world consist of people from every religion.  They are exposed to each other intellectual and cultural differences.  They range from religion to secularism.  

Males and females of every religion are marrying each other in a civil union.  Religious blessing is not coming to them from their respective families - BUT live goes on.  Each person respecting the other's faith.

Muslim families are highly educated and do not view religion in a private setting - not to be enforced on the environment. American society is where you leave your religion at home.  You have complete freedom to practise privately.

I am reminded of the ayat in the Quran that says: 109:6  "To you be your ways and to me mine."

Islam is din of Allah - Allah will resurrect it.  Allah does not need anyone's help.  Our family lives in the vicinity of San Francisco.  We follow our religion to the utmost as we think fit and pray to the same God who has created people of other faiths and other cultures in millions.  ALL SPIRITUAL PATHS ARE ENDING IN THE SAME DESTINATION.



To you we have given the scriptures, just as we have given the scriptures to people before you (Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc).  We have protected your scriptures (Quran) in its entirety.  So judge among people from what knowledge has come to you (from Quran) and do not be carried over by your vain desires (that Muslims are the only righteous and chosen people to lead). To each among you (referring to diverse groups – not excluding anybody) We have prescribed the Law (teachings of the indigenous, native people and Buddhist scholars, Gitas, Vedas, Torah, Gospels and The Quran) and an Open Way (given a conscience with reference to the spiritualists people). If God had willed, all humanity would have been of one single community (this means diversity is part of God’s creation).  God’s plan is to test you in what each one has received (in form of Holy Scriptures or Conscience).  So strive, as in a race in all virtues.  The goal of all the people is to God.  God (alone) will tell you the truth in matters of which you dispute.” 5:48  

 (This means do not fight over religious matters, establish peace and conduct dialogues with wisdom and beautiful conduct to understand each other so all can live in peace)


Iftekhar Hai

UMA Interfaith Alliance 

Tel: 650-872-2578



Please report any broken links to Webmaster
Copyright © 1988-2012 All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer

free web tracker