The many shades of a Kafir

Saman Khanzada-Mirza
3 min readNov 1, 2022
Photo by op23 on Unsplash

Islamic scholars use the arabic word ‘kafir’ for one devoid of religious beliefs, or an atheist who denies the existence of God. And the consequences of dying a Kafir is severe in the Quran — unless one repents and mends their ways.

But what most scholars fail to explain is that the word kafir is used in different ways in the Quran, the most fundamental being ‘ungrateful’ or ‘to be thankless’ or ‘ingratitude’.

And ingratitude towards God is not a trait practiced by non-believers — since they don’t believe in God so they are devoid of gratitude to Him anyway.

In actual fact the term is used repeatedly in the Quran for those who believe in God but are ungrateful and thankless to Him at the best of times. Dare we term these believers kafir too?

That is why practicing gratitude and a keeping a sense of thankfulness in your heart is encouraged in Islam at all times. Not just towards God but towards all humanity.

If you look at the root word of kafir (k-f-r) it means ‘to conceal’.

In pre-Islamic times the term was used to describe farmers burying their seeds in the ground.

So another meaning of Kafir is anyone who buries or hides the truth after it has been made evident to him. And this truth essentially relates to existence and acceptance of omnipotence of God. So one who conceals the truth of God is a Kafir.

But its meaning also includes hiding any truth that a person is aware of at any time during their lifetime. One who deliberately conceals truth that he knows, is a prime candidate for being a Kafir.

Whatever ones reasons may be for concealing a truth — monetary gain, hiding own inadequacy, gaining social leverage over another, avoiding untoward consequences — all these actions make one a Kafir.

Harsh, you say? But the reason behind this curtness is simple — any concealed truth changes the course of events for you and for others involved in the truth.

Just like a jostle to a rolling ball changes its trajectory, hiding any truths essentially changes the future course of many processes, deviating them from the conclusion they were meant to be. It has a domino affect that touches many lives. That is why the Quran is so explicit and portrays a harsh ending for those who knowingly deliberately conceal truth thereby practicing Kufr.

We think Quran is dated and tells stories of the past not relevant to the lives we live today.

On the contrary, Quran is for all times — and is as relevant today as when it was revealed to the prophet.

Open any social media or news networks and you will see truths being concealed and twisted for nefarious worldly gains daily.

And it is not just the atheists doing it — many believers of God too are partaking of concealment of truth.

And then they think they are immune to being a Kafir and the severe consequences of it.

Well, think again.

Saman Khanzada-Mirza

I love all inspiring and uplifting things — whether as beautiful and profound written words, elating and exhilarating art and design or soulful life experiences