Are Jews and Christians Kafir?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

Yes, the Jews and Christians are Kafir. Although they are a particular group of Kufaar, referred to us Ahl al-Kitab (people of the book). They are closer to us than other types of Kufaar.

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَأَنْتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ

O People of the Book, why do you deny the signs of Allah whilst you are witnesses (to their truth)? (Surah Ali Imraan, 70).

The people of the book (Ahl al-Kitab) have been referred to as disbelievers (Kufaar) repeatedly in the Holy Quran and blessed Sunnah. There is no room for debate or discussion regarding this. They are Kafir. However, they are a particular group of Kufaar. They are closer to Islam, when compared to other groups of Kufaar (disbelievers).

Not only do we have numerous generic and encompassing verses, like the one above, explicitly referring to the people of the book (Jews and Christians) as Kufar (disbelievers). We also have verses that identify particular beliefs the Christians held and refer to them as Kufr (disbelief).

لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَم

Indeed, those who say that Allah is the Messiah son of Mary have disbelieved. (Surah al-Maidah, 17).

لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَهٍ إِلَّا إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Indeed, those who say that Allah is the third of three have disbelieved. There is no god but One God. If they do not desist from what they say, verily those who disbelieve will be touched by a painful punishment. (Surah al-Maidah, 73).

As we see in the Holy verses above, the trinity has been condemned to be Kufr. As has the belief that Sayidina Isa (Jesus) is the son of God. Sayidina Isa (Jesus) is one of the greatest Prophets of Allah (Most High), and we love him deeply. But we completely reject any Kufr beliefs people have invented regarding him. This is true love and reverence.

The Jews and Christians (Ahl al-Kitab) reject Prophets of Allah (Most High). This is yet another reason they are referred to as Kufar in Quran and Sunnah.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يُفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَ اللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍ وَنَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يَتَّخِذُوا بَيْنَ ذلِكَ سَبِيلاً. أُولئِكَ هُمُ الْكافِرُونَ حَقًّا وَأَعْتَدْنا لِلْكافِرِينَ عَذاباً مُهِيناً

Indeed those who disbelieve in Allah and wish to divide between Allah and His Messengers, saying ‘we believe in some of them and we reject some of them,’ and they wish to take a path between that. Truly, those are disbelievers and We have promised the disbelievers a humiliating torment. (Surah al-Nisa, 150 – 151).

These are but a few of countless verses of the Holy Quran that clarify, beyond doubt, that Jews and Christians are Kufar. The blessed Sunnah is also filled with Hadith narrations clarifying this point. I will suffice with one authentic Hadith here, to avoid lengthening this answer.

(Sayidina) Abu Hurairah (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘By the One Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand, no person from this nation, be it a Jew or a Christian, will hear of me and then he dies whilst not believing in that with which I was sent, except that he is from the companions of the fire.’ (Sahih Muslim, 240-153).

Due to the abundance of verses from the Holy Quran and Hadith of the blessed Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and their clarity, the scholars were unanimous in confirming that the Jews and Christians are indeed Kufar.

وَاتَّفَقُوا على تَسْمِيَة الْيَهُود وَالنَّصَارَى كفَّارًا

And they (the scholars) agreed upon calling the Jews and Christians disbelievers (Kufar). (Imam Ibn Hazm, Maratib al-Ijmaa).

بِالْإِجْمَاعِ عَلَى كُفْرِ مَنْ لَمْ يُكَفِّرْ أَحَدًا مِنَ النَّصَارَى وَالْيَهُودِ، وَكُلَّ مَنْ فَارَقَ دِينَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، أَوْ وَقَفَ فِي تَكْفِيرِهِمْ، أَوْ شَك. (الشفا بتعريف حقوق المصطفى)

There is consensus regarding those who do not consider anyone from the Christians the Jews to be disbelievers (Kufaar), that they themselves are Kafir. (This, being Kafir, includes) anyone who is not upon the religion of the Muslims, or refrains from considering them (Jews and Christians) Kafir, or doubts it (their being Kafir) . (Imam Qadi Iyaad, Kitaab al-Shifaa).

وَأخْبر تَعَالَى عَن الْكفَّار فَقَالَ {وَلَئِن سَأَلتهمْ من خلقهمْ ليَقُولن الله} فَأخْبر تَعَالَى أَنهم يعْرفُونَ صدقه وَلَا يكذبونه وهم الْيَهُود وَالنَّصَارَى وهم كفار بِلَا خلاف من أحد من الْأمة وَمن أنكر كفرهم فَلَا خلاف من أحد من الْأمة فِي كفره وَخُرُوجه عَن الْإِسْلَام. (الفصل في الملل)

And He Most High has informed (us) regarding the Disbelievers saying: (And if you ask them who created them. Indeed, they will say: Allah). Then He Most High informed (us) that they know it is true and they do not deny it. And they are the Jews and Christians. They are disbelievers (Kufaar) without any dispute from anyone in the Ummah. Whoever denies their disbelief (Kufr), then he himself is in a state disbelief (Kufr) and has left Islam, there is no dispute (or difference) from anyone in the Ummah regarding this (too). (Imam Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm, al-Fasl fi al-Milal).

There really should not be any doubt regarding the fact that the Jews and Christians (Ahl al-Kitab) are Kufar. However, certain Muslims have been misled regarding this issue, due to the fact that a small but loud minority of famous Muslim speakers have propagated this misguidance.

It is important for Muslims to follow the methodology of Ahl al-Sunnah. This will safeguard them from such misguidance. As Ahl al-Sunnah, we follow Quran, Sunnah and the interpretation of classical scholars. Contemporary or recent scholars are not to be followed if they contradict the classical authorities of Ahl al-Sunnah. For even more evidence and Nusoos regarding this issue, please see the link below.

And Allah Most High Knows Best

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (17.05.2022)

See also:
Is Islam the only religion accepted by Allah?
Is it obligatory for Muslims to be different to Kufaar?

See also video: