What is Kufr? Difference between Shirk & Kufr?

June 1, 2014 Off By Admin


All Praise be to Allaah.

Kufr’ means deliberately denying an Ayah of the Qur’an or a Hadeeth of the prophet which is known to be authentic. The ‘kaafir’ is the one who denies and conceals the truth. The basic meaning of the word kufr in Arabic is concealment. On the other hand, ‘Shirk’ means giving Allah’s attributes or devoting worship to anyone/anything other than Allaah. Kufr may take the form of denying and rejecting, but the mushrik may believe in Allaah. This is the difference between the mushrik and the kaafir.

Each word may also carry the meaning of the other, so the word kufr may be used in the sense of shirk, and the word shirk may be used in the sense of kufr.

Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) said:

‘Kufr and shirk may carry the same meaning, which is disbelief in Allaah, may He be exalted, or they may be used separately, whereby shirk refers to the worship of idols and other created beings, whilst also acknowledging Allaah, as the kuffaar of Quraysh did; and kufr may have a more general meaning than shirk.’
[Sharh Saheeh Muslim. 2/71]

Shaykh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baaz (rahimahullah) explained this in his Majmoo’ Fataawa, 9/174, 9/175 as below:

Kufr is denial and concealment of the truth, such as one who denies that prayer is obligatory, or that zakaah is obligatory, or that fasting Ramadaan is obligatory, or that doing Hajj when one is able to is obligatory, or that honouring one’s parents is obligatory, and so on, or one who denies that zina is haraam, or that drinking intoxicants is haraam, or that disobeying one’s parents is haraam, and so on.

Shirk is devoting acts of worship to something or someone other than Allaah, such as one who seeks the help of the dead, those who are absent, the jinn, idols, the stars, and so on, or who offers sacrifices to them, or makes vows to them.



A kaafir may be called a mushrik, and a mushrik may be called a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whoever invokes (or worships), besides Allaah, any other ilaah (god), of whom he has no proof; then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, Al‑Kaafiroon will not be successful.”
[Surah al-Mu’minoon 23:117]

So their calling on anything other than Allaah is actually shirk, but it is also called as kufr.


Allaah says in Soorat al-Tawbah (interpretation of the meaning):

“They (the disbelievers, the Jews and the Christians) want to extinguish Allaah’s Light (i.e. Tawheed – with which Muhammad has been sent) with their mouths, but Allaah will not allow except that His Light should be perfected even though the Kaafiroon hate (it). It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikoon hate (it)”
[Surah al-Tawbah 9:32-33]

Here Allaah refers to the disbelievers as ‘kaafiroon’, and He also calls them ‘mushrikoon’. This indicates that a kaafir may be called a mushrik, and a mushrik may be called a kaafir.

And there are many other Ayat of the Qur’an and Hadeeth of the Prophet which prove the same.



So even though Kufr (denial of Quran or Sunnah) and Shirk (associating partners with Allah) have their specific meanings, they are still supplementary. This is because, the person who does Kufr is also doing Shirk as he takes his own desires are lord besides Allah. And the one who does Shirk, is also doing Kufr by denying so many Ayat and Hadeeth that invite to Tawheed. And Allah knows the best.


(See full article on: http://islamqa.info/en/67626)