Types of Kufr (Disbelief)
Imam ibn Kathir (rahimullah – b. 701 AH – d. 774 AH)
Adapted from "Tafsir ibn Kathir"
The Qur’an uses the word "kufr" to denote people who cover up or hide realities. The Qur’an uses this word to identify those who denied Allah’s favors by not accepting His Dominion and Authority. Kufr thus is an antonym for iman or disbelief in Allah and a kafir is a non-believer. This type of kufr is called Kufr al-Akbar (Major Kufr). There are many types of Kufr al-Akbar:
1. Kufr-ul-‘Inad: Disbelief out of stubbornness. 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. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:
"Throw into Hell every stubborn disbeliever" -Surah al-Qaf ayah 24
2. Kufr-ul-Inkar: Disbelief out of denial. This applies to someone who denies with both heart and tongue. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:
"They recognize the favors of Allah, yet they deny them. Most of them are disbelievers." -Surah an-Nahl ayah 83
3. Kufr-ul-Kibr: Disbelief out of arrogance and pride. The disbelief by Shaytan (Iblis) is an example of this type of Kufr. *For it was out of kibr (arrogance and pride) that Iblis refused to fulfill the command of Allah to prostrate to our father Adam alayhi salaam.
4. Kufr-ul-Juhood: 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 call themselves Muslims but reject any necessary and accepted norms of Islam such as Salat, Zakat, etc. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:
"They denied them (Our Signs) even though their hearts believed in them, out of spite and arrogance." -Surah an-Naml ayah 14
5. Kufr-ul-Nifaq: Disbelief out of hypocrisy.This applies to someone who pretends to be a believer but conceals their disbelief. Such a person is called a Munafiq or hypocrite. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:
"Verily the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of Hell. You will find no one to help them." -Surah an-Nisa ayah 145
6. Kufr-ul-Istihlal: Disbelief out of making Haram into Halal and vice versa. This applies to someone who accepts as lawful (Halal) that which Allah has made unlawful (Haram) like alcohol, adultery, etc. Only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has the prerogative to make things Halal and Haram and those who seek to interfere with His right are like rivals to Him and therefore fall outside the boundaries of iman.
7. Kufr-ul-Kurh: Disbelief out of detesting any of Allah’s commands. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:
"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 Allah has revealed so He has made their actions fruitless." -Surah Muhammed ayat 8-9
8. Kufr-ul-Istihzaha: Disbelief due to mockery and derision. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says what means:
"Say: Was it at Allah, His signs and His apostles that you were mocking? Make no excuses. You have disbelieved after you have believed." -Surah at-Tawba ayah 65-66
9. Kufr-ul-I’radh: Disbelief due to avoidance. This applies to those who turn away and avoid the truth. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:
"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) -Surah al-Kahf ayah 57
10. Kufr-ul-Istibdal: Disbelief because of substituting Allah’s Laws and ruling by other than He azza wa jall has revealed. This could take the form of:
- Rejection of Allah’s law (Shari‘ah) without denying it
- Denial of Allah’s Law and therefore rejecting it, or
- Substituting Allah’s Laws with man-made laws. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what means:
Allah says that which means:
"Say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely that this is lawful and this is forbidden so as to invent a lie against Allah. Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never prosper." -Surah an-Nahl ayah 116
*And it is this last case of kufr-ul-istibdal, substituting or ruling by other than what Allah has revealed, I'm flabbergasted to find a segment of Muslims classifying and propagating this to be but a minor act of kufr and that we cannot oppose such rulership or defend Allah's Cause, our rights and lives against them in any case without an amir. This is not the understanding the true 'ulema of Ahl us-Sunnah have inherited from the Salafus Saliheen. The following article, by Aboo Hafs ash-Shaamee, explains (in summary) the characteristics and distorted ideologies of such groups and individuals, how, why and where they went wrong. Let's inform ourselves and may Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala protect our youth from such groups and the "diseases" they spread that misguide and cripple our Ummah in iman and thought, unity and honor. Ameen.
A Summary of the Deviations of the Madaakhilah
*indicates places where I've inserted details pertaining to the subject but do not appear in "Tafsir ibn Kathir".