In Islam, Allah is believed to be the one and only true god. And, the Quran is said to be a revelation from him. The spiritual scripture consists of a series of divine messages from the god and is considered the book of guidance for mankind. Surah Al Kafirun is the 109th chapter of this religious text. It consists of six verses and gets its title from the disbelievers (Al-Kafirun). The passage warns the followers of Islam against idolatry. The Surah of disbelievers that was revealed in the Makkan period features 27 words and 98 letters. Like many other chapters in the holy Quran, Surah Al-Kafirun is also in the form of an invocation and guides believers on what they should do or ask aloud to continue walking on the path suggested by the almighty.
Surah Al-Kafirun Meaning
Surah Al-Kafiroon asks Muslims to remember the distinction between belief and disbelief both in past and present. It says:
Surah Al-Kafirun Verses in Arabic:
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ
لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدْتُمْ
وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
Surah Al-Kafirun Translation:
Say, “O disbelievers,
I do not worship what you worship.
Nor are you worshippers of what I worship.
Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship.
Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship.
For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
Surah Al-Kafirun Meaning:
Surah Al-Kafirun guides people on the appropriate behaviour and right attitude towards people who reject Islam. The verses inform Muslims how they need to have firm faith in their religion and answer anyone who does not believe in Allah. They suggest that bargain in matters of faith and religion is not acceptable. Surah Al-Kafirun also hints that even if people are free to believe in any religion that invokes their faith, the truth and falsehood cannot be allowed to mix.
Why was this Surah revealed?
It is believed in the Muslim tradition that the Surah of disbelievers was revealed in the city of Makkah when the Quraysh leaders were still trying to gain the support of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In their attempt to earn the Prophet’s favour, the Quraysh people offered him riches, status, and beautiful women to marry if only he would stop preaching about Allah. When this did not work out, they proposed another solution.
The Quraysh people told the Prophet that they will accept Allah as their god for one year and, in return, the Prophet (PBUH) will have to agree to pray to their gods in the next year. They offered that if what he brought was better, they will partake of it and share the good, and if the case was opposite, then the Prophet will have to share the goodness. Also, they demanded that he stops criticizing their gods. It was in reply to this proposed compromise that Surah Al-Kafirun was revealed.
According to Ibn Abbas, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), an additional verse was also revealed that called them ignorant and questioned if they wished the Prophet to pray to someone other than Allah. It further said, “if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers. Rather, worship [only] Allah and be among the grateful.”
The verses from Surah Al-Kafirun are considered very sacred in Islam. Here are some important lessons that people should learn from this chapter.
Respecting all religions: The Surah says that for you is your religion and for me is my religion. It suggests that people are free to choose what they follow and Islam cannot be forced upon anyone. However, Muslims should bear in mind that people are responsible for their choices and will have to deal with their consequences alone.
Not compromising on faith: Surah Al-Kafirun teaches people to be firm in their faith. It suggests that the true followers should neither sacrifice the teachings of Islam for anyone nor allow others to ruin their relationship with Allah.
Fulfilling commitment: The proposal of this degrading compromise by the Quraysh people shows that they were not serious about God or his teachings. But, Islam demands commitment towards Allah and should be practised with true devotion and sincerity.
Reciting Al-Kafirun: Virtues and Benefits
Reciting Al-Kafirun is considered a holy act. It is believed that doing so washes away the sins and earns the blessings of Allah.
It brings safety from Shirk: It is widely believed that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that reciting the Surah of disbelievers and afterwards going to sleep offers clearance from Shirk. The Prophet himself repeated the verses from this chapter during the Fajr and Maghrib prayers and the two Rakahs after performing Tawaf Umrah around Kaaba.
It is one-fourth of the Quran: According to Abdullah Ibn Abbas and Anas Ibn Malik, if anyone recites the Surah of disbelievers, it would be like reading a quarter of the Quran. Many believe that this is said in regards to the rewards. So, only by reading this passage, the devotees can get one-fourth of the rewards promised to people who read the whole Quran.
It offers great rewards: Reciting Surah Al-Kafirun is a good deed that supposedly brings enormous rewards. Besides keeping one safe from Shirk, it also drives away evil. Repeating the prayers earns forgiveness for the reciter and his/her parents and children. Also, if someone dies right after reciting the Surah, he/she dies a martyr.
It ensures safety during a journey: For people who are travelling, Islam suggests five Surahs to be read during a journey. These include Surah Al-Fatihah, An-Nasr, Al-Falaq, An-Naas and Surah Al-Kafirun. Muslims maintain that reading these prayers is beneficial for travellers as it ensures their safety and protection.
Surah Al-Kafirun is an important chapter in the holy book of the Quran. The passage warns people against idolatry and teaches them the right approach to follow when dealing with people who do not believe in Allah. The chapter features six verses and repeating them during the day keeps people safe from evil.
Surah Al-Kafirun FAQs
What are the main benefits of reciting the Surah?
Reciting the six verses during the day ensures protection from Shirk, offers Allah’s forgiveness, gives the death of a martyr, and brings safety during a journey.
Why is reciting Surah Al-Kafirun recommended before bedtime?
In Islam, it is believed that children and adults alike should revise the Surah of disbeliever before going to bed because it will keep him/her safe from any kind of harm while he/she is asleep.
How many unique words are used in the Surah?
In Surah Al-Kafirun, a total of 27 words are used. Among them, there are a total of 18 unique words without repetition.
What should be said after reciting the Surah?
After reading Surah Al-Kafirun, the devotees should say I worship only Allah and my true religion is Islam.
What is Shirk in Islam?
Shirk is an Arabic term that literally means ‘making a partner.’ In Islam, it refers to the sin of idolatry and the association of Allah with other gods.