Should Christians be considered as Mushrik
because they worship the person of Jesus Christ, and there is no forgiveness for
that as Allah has told us [in the Qur'an
]. Or Kaafir
because Allah tells us that everyone who attributes a son to God is a Kaafir.
Before I answer your specific
question, it would be appropriate to first take a close look at the two terms
and "Kaafir", as only after that
can we say whether the Christians, Jews or adherents of any other religion fall
in these categories or not.
Let us first take the term "Kaafir".
"Kaafir" in the Arabic
language means "rejecter". The term "Kaafir",
normally taken to be synonymous with "non-Muslim" or "non-believer", is
quite different from the two terms. A "non-Muslim", obviously, is a person
who does not adhere to the Muslim faith. Thus, all those who do not ascribe to
the Muslim faith are "non-Muslims". A "non-believer" is generally used
for a person who does not believe in God and the Day of Judgment. "Kaafir",
on the other hand, is a person who knowingly rejects the truth. A person may not
believe in some 'truth' for a number of reasons. For instance, he may not be
fully convinced of some aspect of that 'truth' or he may have some doubts in
his mind regarding that truth. However, if all doubts are removed from his mind
and he becomes fully convinced of that truth, yet he persists in not accepting
it or persists in ascribing to a wrong belief after becoming certain of its
incorrectness, he then becomes a "Kaafir"
and is no longer just a "non-Muslim" or a "non-believer".
In other words, all those people who
persist in not accepting Islam after being fully convinced that Islam is the
truth of the Almighty or persist in ascribing to a false belief after being
convinced of its incorrectness are "Kaafirs"
or rejecters of the truth. All others for our purposes are "non-Muslims" or
This explanation, if considered
closely, should clarify the fact that we cannot call anyone a "Kaafir"
unless we have absolute knowledge of the reasons for his rejection of faith (or
Islam), which we do not possess. Thus, for the purpose of this world, we should
not call anyone a "Kaafir".
It is only God, Who with His absolute knowledge can declare someone a "Kaafir".
No one besides God possesses the knowledge that is essential to declare someone
Thus, we know on the basis of
God's declaration in the Qur'an
that the Jews and the Christians (and those ascribing to other
faiths) during the time of the Prophet
(pbuh) refused to believe in the Prophet (pbuh) even after
being fully convinced of his prophethood and were, therefore, termed "Kaafir"
by the Almighty. As far as the Jews and the Christians of later times are
concerned, we do not have adequate knowledge of the reasons for their rejection
to term them "Kaafir". God, on the Day of Judgment, shall give the
decision regarding these Jews and Christians. Those, among them, who refused to
accept Islam and the prophethood of Mohammed (pbuh), although they were fully
convinced of it being the truth, shall stand in the category of "Kaafirs"
on the Day of Judgment.
The term "Mushrik",
like the term "Kaafir" has also been slightly misused. It is not just
ascribing to a polytheistic belief that makes a person a "Mushrik". According to the
is one who ascribes partners to God. Christians, though ascribe to a
polytheistic belief, according to the Muslim understanding of polytheism, yet
they do not ascribe partners to God. They believe that there is only one God and
He does not have any partners. Yet they ascribe to a belief, which in the eyes
of the Muslims and according to the Qur'an
is a polytheistic belief. Christians, according to the
, would have been called "Mushrik"
had they believed that ascribing a son to God is a polytheistic belief and would
still have ascribed to that belief.
The above should also explain why
, even though it has pointed out that the Jews and the Christians of the times
of the Prophet
(pbuh) ascribe to some polytheistic beliefs has not addressed
them as "Mushrik".
has only addressed the Banu-Ishmael
and other Arab polytheists who clearly ascribed to polytheism by the term "Mushrik" (as should be
clear from Al-Baqarah
2: 105, Aal
Imraan 3: 67, Surah
Al-Taubah 9: 1 - 33, Al-Bayyinah
In the light of the above
explanation, in my opinion, the Christians should not be called "Mushrik"
We may say that Christians ascribe to polytheistic beliefs but should not call
them polytheists, as the Qur'an
has not called them polytheists. Likewise, we can call them
"non-Muslims", but should not call them "Kaafir",
as we do not know who among them has knowingly rejected Islam and who has not
accepted Islam because he was not convinced of it being the final truth from
Answer published by Moiz Amjad