Adam Deen of the Quilliam Foundation asked Dr Bill Warner, PhD of the Center for the study of Political Islam what the definition of the word Kafir was, according to classical scholars. The significance of this question lies in the fact that Bill’s work is entirely grounded in how the Kafir is treated in Qur’an by Muhammed or as defined by Muhammed’s life. That focus is where Bill derived his use of the term ‘Political Islam’. In short Bill would argue that no one cares about religious Islam, but the Kafir needs to care about how Islam sees him and would deal with him, as evidenced from Qur’an, prophetic Hadith and the Sira. Bill’s work is called The Trilogy Project.
To answer Adam Deen’s question, Bill said, that “to go back to the root k-f-r. and means to hide or conceal – to cover”. Deen agrees with that. Then Adam Deen asks how the classical scholars understand that term. Bill then explained that although he is not a classical scholar his understanding of Kafir is one who believes that Muhammed was not the prophet of Allah.
What Deen then tells Dr Warner is that non belief doesn’t constitute Kufar – then he says – what constitutes Kufar or to be a Kafir is someone who believes that Islam is true and conceals it and is hostile towards it. What I want to do in this short article is demonstrate just how misleading that claim by Deen really is. To do this I will cite several independent theologians, showing various ways in which the term Kafir is used in Qur’an and in Classical Arabic and then insert my own comments which I will sign as (Robert Chisholm).
Once I have given a broad theological definition by classical scholars I will explore the term that is lexically defined as infidel and how that word is also used as Kafir. There are only two instances of the word I am using in Qur’an, although the idea that stems from this word is expressed hundreds of times throughout Qur’an. It is important to realise that when we are claiming that what we are saying amounts to doctrine, or else reflects doctrine, where that doctrine must not come from many morphological and textual usages, we need to be able to show clearly where doctrine comes from. So كاف (Infidel – Lexical) or else كَافِرٍ (Infidel – Manuscript) are the two words I am using. The one كاف (Infidel) is lexical and the manuscript, which means the word used in Quran, is كَافِرٍ (Infidel – Manuscript).
This is a general encyclopaedic presentation, beginning with the term كاف (Infidel or Kafir). It includes several verses from Qur’an and I will be coming back to that usage specifically, showing what the term Infidel or Kafir means, and how Adam Deen of the Quilliam Foundation mislead all others, and by that means abused, insulted and patronised Dr Bill Warner, PhD – even though Dr Warner,’s definition and usage of the term Kafir is a fuller and richer expression of Qur’anic theological meanings, whilst stating clearly that he was not interested in Islam in its religious meaning.
KĀFIR (كافر), pl. kāfirūn. Lit. “The coverer.” One who hides or covers up the truth.
“The word is generally used by Muḥammadans to define one who is an unbeliever in the ministry of Muḥammad and his Qur’ān, and in this sense it seems to have been used by Muḥammad himself. Sūrah ii. 37: “Those who misbelieve (wa’llaẕīna kafarū), and call our signs lies, they are fellows of the Fire, they shall dwell within for ever.”
“It is also used for those who believe in the Divinity of the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Trinity. Sūrah v. 76: “They indeed are infidels (la-qad kafara ’llaẕīna), who say God is al-Masīḥu ibn Maryam.… Verily him who associates anything with God, hath God forbidden Paradise, and his resort is the Fire.”
Sharḥu ’l-Muwāqif, p. 597.
This is a straight forward Lexical presentation in which the term كافر is implicitly used in its Islamic Theological and Jurisprudent meaning giving rise to Doctrine that removes opinion and speculation and formally identifies the term as arising from, “Do not thou attribute or impute disbelief or infidelity to any one of the people of thy kibleh” (Robert Chisholm)
From verse 37 – 38 we read about the time when Adam is cast down to earth from Paradise with a warning that God would send him guidance – then in verse 39 the warning that to reject these signs of the mercy of God would lead to hell fire. Verse 40 gives a clear context of those who were at risk of rejecting Muhammed, even Israel, and then verse 41 establishes the clearest present tense warning about rejection of Qur’an (Muhammed). Lastly, verse 42 defines what doctrine is therein established for the one who does reject Qur’an, who is of Israel (contextually). It is this form of words verse 42 – And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is) – that makes the term كاف (Infidel – Lexical)) or else كَافِرٍ (Infidel – Manuscript) mean that anyone who has received the revelation of God, and rejects it because they are rebellious, intending to cover up the truth of Islam, is kafir. It is Israel that is being warned and Islam that is being taught.
If I were a deceiver and intended to cover up Islam according to Qur’an and according to 1400 years of history of Lesser Jihad then I would make this point. I would say these words in Surah 2:37-42 are spoken to Muslim, and therefore their meaning is that when the Muslim rejects Qur’an and Muhammed, the prophet of Allah, as the confession of faith says, then the Muslim in such a condition becomes Kafir. However whilst that claim may well be implicit in this passage from Qur’an we need to realise that Surah Two is one of the first Surah’s recited in Medina, and Medina at this time is made up of three Jewish tribes, as well Arabs, some Muslim and some polytheist, and therefore, the Jews represent half of the population. And whilst the Jews had a political agreement with Muhammed in Medina, they went on to reject his prophetic claim that he was the last of the Judaeo prophetic men given as a vessel to expound prophetic meanings. Regardless as to what Muhammed could have said to these men, their is no possibility whatever, that Muhammed could qualify as a prophet under Torah, or the other canonical books of Israel, and as such his rejection was inevitable – just as he was rejected in Mecca for the previous thirteen years.
The Arabic word for the apostate is from اِرْتِدادٌ meaning “ a returning; ” (S;) [An apostate: and particularly] one who returns from El-Islám to disbelief. (Edward William Lane). The term Infidel or Kafir cannot be properly applied to Muslim, because their position, once apostate, is far worse than all others. Kafir simply does not carry enough weight of consequence to the one who renounces Islam.
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ فَمِنكُمْ كَافِرٌ وَمِنكُم مُّؤْمِنٌ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
This narrative reference gives a clear and necessary outline of the underlying position that Islam takes in relationship to the Jewish Torah and Old Testament, as well New Testament Canon. (Robert Chisholm)
“We must now inquire what is the attitude of Muḥammadanism towards Christianity and the Canonical Scriptures. It has been asserted not long since that Muslims reverence the Bible, and that their religion may be regarded as a preparation for Christianity in Eastern lands. In this statement there is just enough verisimilitude to make it readily accepted by those who are not well acquainted with the real facts of the case. It is true that Muḥammad never spoke or wrote a single word against the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. On the contrary, he not only acknowledged them to have been given by Divine inspiration, but also asserted that the Qur’ân itself was given to bear testimony to their truth, and to guard them from injury. There are one or two verses in the Qur’ân in which the Jews are accused of perverting the meaning of their Holy Books, but Sir W. Muir has shown that these passages do not justify the statement current among Muslims that the text of the Scriptures has been tampered with. Although himself ignorant of Scripture, Muḥammad seems to have been so firmly convinced of its authority that he boldly appealed to it for testimony regarding his Divine mission. Yet on the other hand his teachings are in some instances diametrically opposed to Scriptural doctrine not only in minor details but also in the most important particulars. The Qur’ân denies the Trinity, the Divine Sonship of our Redeemer, His atoning Death, and his Mediatorial Office. Muḥammad taught his followers that Christ had prophesied of his coming when promising to the Apostles the gift of the Paraclete.
The origin of this mistake was the confusion which existed in the Arab mind between Παράκλητος and περικλυτός, which latter word might perhaps be rendered by Aḥmad, the same name as Muḥammad. We must not, however, permit ourselves to imagine that the “Prophet” claimed to be the Holy Ghost—whom Muḥammadans identify with the Angel Gabriel,—or in fact anything more than a man chosen and sent on a Divine commission. Yet he did claim for himself superiority to all other Prophets, and it is fully in accordance with the spirit of his teaching that Muslims believe, as they do, that the Qur’ân has practically annulled all the Holy Books that preceded it. There is therefore, they hold, no necessity for studying the Holy Scriptures of either Jews or Christians. It is very difficult indeed to induce most Muḥammadans to study them at all, and any copies which fall into the hands of Muslim authorities are ruthlessly committed to the flames. Muḥammadanism claims to stand, in other respects, in the same position with regard to Christianity that the latter holds in reference to Judaism. This will show how absurd it is to regard Islâm as preparing the way for Christianity. It is not too much to say that, except indeed the evil lives of professing Christians, and perhaps the corruptions that have crept into the Churches of Greece and Rome—Christianity has no greater obstacle to encounter in Eastern lands than Islâm. The lands where the latter holds sway are in fact the only portions of the world closed at present to the Gospel, and in which the profession of Christianity means death at the executioner’s hands.
Therefore as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ I publicly rebuke Adam Deen, because he has shown all of us that he is ever willing to assert academic, or supposed classical scholarly claims that of themselves deny the very meaning of Islam. For Islam is the way given to Muhammed, being of itself (according to Qur’an) formerly corrupted by the Jews, overthrown by Christians in their mistaken belief that Christ either died or else was therefore raised from the dead – also that he was a mere man, albeit a man who was covered by the Spirit of God, and being in such an estate gave Israel their opportunity to know Allah (God) as He so determined by His servant Abraham, and following thereafter all the prophets, culminating in Muhammed. So says Islam and therefore though I am a Christian and one who stands against Islam in its spiritual meaning, so declare I. Let all men know for sure that Islam must be seen as Islam is, and not some reckless falsehood given by false men who are pressing Islam as a child presses sweet papers greedily once the sweet is eaten, and have lost sight of what is in the stomach. By which determination are they Kufar against this nation.
THE CRŒSASID PARTY