Muslim Tolerance and Kafirs

Yasmine of Rambling Monologues has a moving post about the intolerance displayed by some Muslims. You should read her whole post, but here is the conclusion.

I write this because I hate the word “kaffir,” and I hate how it comes so easily to some Muslims even as it makes me flinch, and I hate that we contemptuously turn away the very same people we accuse of not understanding us, without giving them a fair chance to know who we are, without granting them credit for making the beautiful effort of shared human spirit and outreach that we ourselves as Muslims rarely make a point of with other communities. Who the hell are we to be critical then, when we accuse others of stereotyping us and disliking us and being ignorant of who we are, of the vastness of our humanity and traditions, and of what Islam in its pure beauty truly stands for? And I guess what I’m really just trying to figure out is –

When did we ourselves become so damn self-righteous and judgmental?

I agree with Yasmine about the (ab)use of the word “Kaffir.”

And here are some suggestions to fellow Muslims (and others):

  • Do not call anyone “Kafir.”
  • Do not call anyone atheist or non-Muslim just because they don’t agree with your opinion on evolution.
  • Respect others’ faith.
  • Do not try to debate Islam’s “superiority” over someone’s religion.
  • Treat Pakistani Christians/Hindus (or other minorities) with respect (replace your own country and minority here).
  • Don’t be quick to judge anyone, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, atheist, or of some other religion.
  • Socialize with a diverse set of people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs. Don’t be proud of your habit of staying within your own religious circle.
  • Don’t caricaturize other religions.
  • If you criticize the Bible using textual analysis, be prepared to use (or at least let others use) similar tools for the Quran.

Any more suggestions?

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. All this results from the acute observation skills that we give to our students while they are studying in buildings that we call universities and colleges.
    Knowledge makes you tolerent and our nation truly lacks that.

  2. agreed, though I actually can articulate one meta-rule that pretty much trumps all the above: do not debate theology with non-muslims.

    Most of the above, including the use of the word kaafir, derives from a self-righteous speriority complex that is the antithesis of submission and humility as prescribed by the faith.

    I actually extend teh dictum to sectarian debates as well – I am willing to explain what I believe and practice, but refuse to discuss why. If muslims simply excercized restraint in discussion of religion, it would go a long way towards mitigating the harsh edge of our image amongst non-muslims.

  3. You think if everyone adhered to number three, it would take care of the rest. Discussion between the faiths is a healthy thing and you can hardly interact with people of other faiths without at some point discussing the differences.

    Sectarian and Muslim/Christian debates seemed to have accomplished little except to raise bitterness and widen the divide between us. For me, it rings too close to evangelizing which comes from an angle of arrogance.

  4. One aspect of this that really bothers me is that a lot of Muslims who talk like this make no distinction between a person who clearly and unequivocally rejects Islam, and a person who doesn’t know much about Islam. Calling every non-Muslim “kafir” erases the very big difference between the two kinds of people. This is something I wrote about in one of the earliest posts on my blog, though I didn’t go into as much depth as this discussion.

  5. Good points. It’s not just between Muslims and those who aren’t, but also between Muslims. How many times have I been accused of being a westoxicated, feminist harpie hell-bent on destroying someone’s pure and perfect (H)islam for daring to question or reject misogynist traditions.

    People who question anything, even within our own traditions, are often labeled as kuffar, zionist agents, too westernized and all the other madness. God help us with our arrogance, it blinds us and keeps us so far from one another.

  6. sume: Sure.

    Moiz: While that is part of the problem, there is a lot of extremist and bigoted Muslims with degrees in, for example, science and engineering.

    Aziz: Good observations. And I had forgotten about the sectarian issues while writing this post.

    Al-Muhajabah: That is a small part of it in my opinion.

    Ninhajaba: Those accusations are quite familiar to me. And “(H)islam” is a good one.

  7. Nothing can be more authentic and correct than Qur’aan al Hakeem. In support of the points enumerated by Zakaria, I quote:

    SURA 2 (Al-Baqara) Verse 263 : Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most-Forbearing.

    SURA 3 (Al-e-Imran) Verse 128 : Not for thee, (but for Allah), is the decision: Whether He turn in mercy to them, or punish them; for they are indeed wrong-doers.

    SURA 4 (An-Nisa) Verse 86 : When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.
    Verse 148 : Allah loveth not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who hath been wronged. Allah is ever Hearer, Knower.

    SURA 41 (Fussilat) Verse 34 : The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.

    SURA 49 (Al-Hujraat) Verse 12 : O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin:

    INFERENCE : We do have duty to advise / guide sister / brother Muslims but we should never belittle any one what to say of ridicule. I fail to find any where in Qur’aan or Hadith any human being has authority to dub anybody as Kafir / infidel. Only Allah knows who is good Muslim.

  8. Regarding how to deal with non-Muslims, I quote only two of the incidences that took place during life of Prophet Muhammad, SAS. (1) In early days of Islam, Muslims were advised to migrate to Habsha. Quraish of Makkah had good relations with king of Habsha. They sent a delegate to Habsha to repatriate the Muslims. On inquiry by King of Habsha, one of the Muslims recited portion of Sura Maryam that described birth of Hazrat Eissa, AS, (Jesus). King of Habsha, being a true Christian, knew it and thus was impressed and allowed asylum to the Muslims. (2) A Jew women used to throw rubbish on Prophet Muhammad, SAS, whenever he passed by her house. One day, when Prophet passed by her house, she didn’t do that. Prophet, SAS, inquired about her and, knowing she was un-well went to enquire of her health.

    In the first case, the message given to king of Habsha was according to king’s belief, so had good impact . In the second case, Prophet, SAS, showed extreme patience and laudable behaviour which made the Jew woman change her attitude and thoughts.

  9. I liked that entry as well; certain vocabulary, the word “kafir” being one of them, has always made my eye begin to twitch. Some of the others include “western” and “devient,” the latter especially so.

    I think a lot of it is about poor rhetoric, and regurgitated soundbytes. We all have our favorites, I suppose, but some are more common and vitriolic than others?

  10. Salams Zack
    I have been tuning into your website for a while now and I really enjoy it. I was just reading this article and I was curious to know (since you lived in Pakistan) how you fell about Ahmadis. I am an Ahmadi myself, but I was born in Canada and have lived in the US my whole life, so I have never been subject to those kind of specific persecutions. On the other hand, my husband did grow up in Pakistan and he experienced firsthand the prejudices. However, I would be interested in learning your views about it. I would be happy to enlighten anyone on Ahmadiyyat. Here is a website……. Thanks!

  11. Aisha: how you felt about Ahmadis

    That would require a long answer, but here is the short version: I strongly disagree with the discrimination and religioujs persecution Ahmedis have to face in Pakistan.

  12. guys you know what i’m from a country where i was not even the minoroty and was treated as one. i had to drop my mother tongue after 8th grade. infact most people i know from back there don’t go farther than 8th grade. it just no available in our languange. as if living under comunist rule wasn’t hard enough they tore it down and left this vacuum there to be filled with greedy politicions. all the sudden even the poor things we had we couldn’t afford anymore. we as muslims have to understand that some of the things going on in this world today. this is our time to prove ourselves to this world. its time for us to show the world what islam is truly about. it will be hard since western media has choosen to show islam to be biased and full of hate not mercy. now with all this evil and all the lies Islam has been put under the spotlight. we must remember not to freeze up and do our part of what Allah has destined for mu’min. honestly i think i’m going crazy just watching the news and the ignorance of the head cia agent assinged to learn about Islam. the man thinks in Islam there is no such thing as forgiveness. LMAO what a hatefull man. do you guys honestly think he doesn’t know Islam like the back of his hand. He does and he still stands his ground. why because its what his mission is. ::x-files music in the background:: yes I admit we have gone back in our shells. its not a good thing but when you bother a snail you can’t expect the snail not to croll into its shell. some muslims are even kinda beating around the bush about their faith in the public. IT IS HARD TIMES but we have to remember everything that inflicts mankind weather good or bad comes from Allah. Allah tells us that sometimes what we identify as a bad thing is actually gonna turn out better for us. we have to understand that for somepeople no matter what we say, how we explain the Quran and Islam it will not change their minds. I agree that best thing we can do is not try to proove the superiority of Islam above other religions. Allah has a plan for that, as we speak in canada a debate goes on weather canada should give up 1% to charity. weather they like it or not Islam is the solution to all of our problems including terrorism. In Islam we have been giving in 1% for 1400 now. i’d like to add that ussually anti islamic people bring up the jizya tax or the tax of protection either way they use jizya to try and blacken islams image, but the truth of it is that Muslims have to pay this tax as part of our religion and it was extended for all living under islamic rule. LOOK , LOOK AT THAT Allah is truly great. I almost forgot this here is a little something for the none muslims in the west but more the u.s. since that is where i chose to live. do you know that the terrorists in the muslim world are not any different than the gangs in the ghettos of the u.s. these people are in it only for the $$$. i dunno who to blame about that. I know that humans when facing difficult times would even eat their friend, maybe even kill him before he dies so he can eat sooner than later. when you go into survivealist mode there is no telling what anyone would do. these people in afghanistan, in chechnia, and in iraq, palestine even although thats is a very fragile subject for many. their counties have been war torn and poor for so long that for some people it has come to the point where you either stay alive and watch your family starve or be a soldier for these people and feed your family. same thing happens in the u.s with the army who do you think they target. the poor people they promise them education and money and they do it. It seems that the only time humans act nice to each other is when facing some big natural disaster or something even than some people are so greedy that they will rippoff the ones who lost everything.
    and now i’m almost done,
    Israel/Palestine: you know what guys when The Ottomans had jerusalem these people could do nothing more than just live togather. these guys are like the 2 brothers who bug each other the whole roadtrip to granmas house LOL i’m sure you get the picture. I say we tear down israel and rebuild it as on nation kinda when u mix chocolat with vanilla it tastes so much better. these people need their mother in this case turks to just spank them both and force them to hug it out. you might think i’m completely insane. But that whole issue in that area is insane. as for the palestinians guys these people fled in the name of religion because of a guy named hitler i’m sure you heard of him. you know also know what the Quran says about people imigrating for religion. now you may say oh but hitler was just a zionist i dunno maybeso maybe not. real people died there so it happened weather you wanna believe it or not. Alot of scandals but it still happened to poor jews. infact there is a site i recomend to all muslims its a very informative site about things.
    its really too bad after all this talk nothing has been fixed in this world LOL but Allah doesn’t abandon his people. May Allah give us the Wisdom and strength to deal with the enemy of Islam(whoever it may be) May Allah send us his Mercy and Justice. May Allah wash away the evils of this world.
    Inshallah we all wake up soon. Amin

    p.s. please forgive the grammar and spelling.


  13. I parachutted to your site. I am very happy for your advanced stauts in defending Islam, and defending your integrity, but not insulting or offending others. We, Muslims, are offended too much nowadays, and I think it is the time of chaios or “Fitna”, when we have to hold on our beliefs very hard because every thing around us is so ambiguous. Zarqawi in Iraq kills arabs and muslims in the name of Islam. On the internet , he publishes announcements and congratulations for the Islamic Umma for killing so and so arbs and muslims. I wonder, how would he face god with all this blood on his hands!?, I would not like to be in his place then. All blood is prohibited in Islam, muslim and non muslim alike, unless there is tyranny or injustice made against muslims and all other ways to reverse such injustice were blocked. Islam is a doctrine for life not for death. God wants us to live and prosper, not to kill ourselves and be walking bombs to terrorize and make other people fear and suspect us. May allah help us.

  14. peices of you peaple anywhere in the earth.
    i would say all we are humans that allah created in this earth our great father was ADam so we are brothers and sisters;we are distinguished by our behavior good things and bad things that we did and still doing also nobody in the earth knows what will happens the next day of his life we have to think positively & consciously that many generation passed before; emperors ,kings etc.. had gone, the spirits returned to god the bodies became as original ground materiel in conclusion that every things that we aquierd mony buildings children in this earth could not be taken with when we dye only thing we take is good things that we had done.
    think in allah still creating muslims jewish christian’s chineesesa god is for all creatures that all we return back to allah.

    There is a humiliating story is quoted by all Muslims, to show our prophet was kind and please the kafirs. It is about a deranged old Jewish woman who used to throw garbage over our great apostle every day as he passed by her house. They say that the apostle one day did not see the woman and upon enquiry he found out that she was sick. So he went to pay her a visit and showed her kindness. What a lie! How could a man who cut throats for excitement take that kind of abuse lying down (The only thing he took lying down in his life was his child wife, 9 year old Ayesha, who was too tiny to handle his hefty weight in the traditional missionary position. Our prophet was against missionaries).
    That story belongs to Abdul Baha, the prophet of the najis Bahais and a courageous Arab woman in Akka and not to our holy prophet. Such story does not exist in any hadith. It is plagiarized to make our holy prophet look weak. He was a courageous man. He ordered the assassination of a Jewish woman only because she had composed poetries against him. Would he let a Jewess throw garbage at him and then go and pay her a visit?.

  16. It is sad that Muslims go around repeating this made up story…not even knowing it is a modern day fabrication by a Bahai’i.
    It shows Muslims never check the facts and believe every crackpot story their mullahs tell them. I am not surprised…60% of all Muslims can’t read (90% of Muslim women are illiterate). Talk about abusing women…keep them pregnant and stupid!

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