Fatawa Islamiyyah: Difference Between Kufr & Shirk


I have a three-part question: Is there a difference between Kufr [disbelief] and Shirk [polytheism]? What is the difference between the kaafireen (disbelievers) and the mushrikeen (polytheists)? Whoever does a nullifying action from the nawaaqidul Islaam [nullifiers of Islaam] and then repents after that, is there taubah [repentance] for this individual?


Yes, al-Kufr [disbelief] is broader and more general than ash-Shirk [polytheism] and that is because disbelief can be due to denial of the Lord (Rabb Subhaanahu wa Taaalaa) so he doesn't believe in the Rabb, like Fir'awn [Pharaoh], the Mu'attilah and the Dahriyyah. And as for the polytheist, then verily he believes in the Rabb but he commits shirk with Him and other than Him. As for the disbeliever then it can be due to heretical denial and it is also possible that he believes in the Rabb but he commits shirk with Him and other than Him. So between disbelief and polytheism there are generalities and specifics.

Disbelief is broader than shirk there are specific and general differences between the disbelievers [al-kafireen] and the polytheist [al-mushrikeen]. Disbelief is broader than shirk, since the polytheist is a disbeliever and not every disbeliever is a polytheist. The polytheist worships Allaah, and he also worships others. As for the disbeliever, then he denies the existence of A1laah, the Majestic and lofty, and he does not acknowledge Allaah, nor does he acknowledge any of the religions. This is the disbeliever who is in denial.

The polytheist acknowledges and believes, however, he worships Allaah and others. Thus, he is a polytheist disbeliever, since every polytheist is a disbeliever, and not every disbeliever is a polytheist, since the disbeliever could be an atheist in denial (of Allaahs existence). AIIaah Accepts Repentance Yes, if one .repents then Allaah accepts repentance, A1laatl accepts repentance from all of the Mudhnibeen [those who do dhamb (sins)] from amongst the Murtaddeen [apostates] and other than them. Allaah, Subhoanhu wa Taaalaa, says: "And verily I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous good deeds ... (Q20[Ta Ha]: 82). And He says, "Say O my slaves who have transgressed against themselves, despair not of the mercy of AIIaah, verily A1laah forgives all sins. " (Q35[Zumar]: 53). Also Allaah says: "Indeed those who disbelieve after having faith and then went on increasing in their disbelief never will their repentance be accepted .:" (Q3[Aal-Imraan]: 90).

Similarly, Allaah Ta'aalaa says: "And whoever apostates from amongst you from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will lie lost In this life and in the hereafter" (Q2[Baqarah]:217). Meaning whoever apostacises and does not repent then this is the increase in disbelief, his remaining upon disbelief and if he were to repent then Allaah would accept his repentance; which indicates that if he died as a repentant Muslim then A1laah would have accepted his repentance [taubah] and that is because Allaah accepts the taubah from the apostate and other than him when he repents to Him; Azza wajall."

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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