Every mushrik is a kaafir and every kaafir is a mushrik

Q: “Is every mushrik (one who associates partners with Allaah in that which is only for Him) a kaafir (disbeliever), but not every kaafir a mushrik?”

Shaikh al-Albaani:

“This is the understanding present in people’s minds save a few. I will explain that with an example: a man testifies that none has the right to be worshiped except Allaah and that Muhammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allaah, and he prays, fasts, etc., but he denies a verse from the Qur.aan. Has this man disbelieved or not disbelieved? He has disbelieved. Has he associated partners with Allaah? That which is correct is that he has associated partners with Allaah. Every kaafir is a mushrik and every mushrik is a kaafir – there is no difference between the two words whatsoever.

Whoever disbelieves has associated partners with Allaah, and whoever associates partners with Allaah has disbelieved – there is nothing problematic in that. The evidence for this is if we remember the debate between the believer and the disbeliever in Surah al-Kahf: {And put forward to them the example of two men: We granted to one of them two gardens of grapes, and We surrounded both (gardens) with date-palms and placed between them crops. Each of the two gardens brought forth its produce and did not fail in the least therein, and We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them. And he had property, so he said to his companion while debating with him: ‘I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in respect of men.’ And he went into his garden while unjust to himself (with disbelief)} – pay attention now – {And he went into his garden while unjust to himself (with disbelief). He said: ‘I do not think that this will ever perish and I do not think the Hour will come’}. According to your previous understanding, has this man disbelieved or associated partners with Allaah? According to your previous understanding, your wrong understanding, he has disbelieved but not associated partners with Allaah, he (just) denied the Resurrection. {He said: ‘I do not think that this will ever perish and I do not think the Hour will come. And if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this when I return to Him.’ His companion said to him while debating with him: ‘…If you see me less than you in wealth and children, may my Lord give me something better than your garden and send upon it a torment from the sky so it becomes a barren slippery earth, or its water becomes deep-sunken (into the earth) so you would never be able to get it.’ So his fruits/property were encompassed (with ruin), and he began clapping his hands (in regret) over what he had spent on it, while it was empty and fallen upon its trellises, and said: ‘Would that I had not associated any partners with my Lord!’}[1]

Therefore when he denied the Resurrection, he associated partners with Allaah. So whoever disbelieves in anything that has come in the Book or the Sunnah, he is a mushrik at the same time. This is with regard to the Qur.aanic text, so what is the intellect-related aspect? The answer is that He تعالى said: {Have you seen he who takes his own desire as his god?}[2] Hence whoever commits some type of disbelief is a mushrik because he made his own intellect a partner with his Lord تبارك وتعالى. For this reason, do not differentiate between kufr (disbelief) and shirk (associating partners with Allaah in that which is only for Him).

When you know this reality, there won’t be any problem which may sometimes occur to some of those who hear the Messenger’s ﷺ hadeeth with both its wordings: ‘whoever abandons the prayer has disbelieved’ and ‘whoever abandons the prayer has associated partners with Allaah.’[3] How is this? The one who differentiates between kufr and shirk will find the expression ‘associated partners with Allaah’ to be problematic; no that which is correct is to say that he has disbelieved.  Likewise the other hadeeth: ‘Whoever swears by other than Allaah has disbelieved’ and ‘whoever swears by other than Allaah has associated partners with Him.’[4] He has disbelieved, he has associated partners with Allaah. He has associated partners with Allaah, he has disbelieved. There is no difference between the two expressions in regard to Legislative terminology. In regard to linguistic terminology, there is a difference no doubt, but the Legislation illuminates our insight, thinking and understanding. Why is anyone who disbelieves in Allaah عز وجل – committing any type of disbelief – a mushrik? Because he makes his intellect a partner with his Lord عز وجل in those judgments and rulings that it passes.”


[1] Surat ul-Kahf 18:32-42
[2] Surat ul-Jaathiyah 45:23
[3] Saheeh at-Targheeb 568
[4] Saheeh at-Tirmithi 1535

[silsilat ul-hudaa wa nnoor 727/7 / alalbaany.com]

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2 thoughts on “Every mushrik is a kaafir and every kaafir is a mushrik

  1. Sheikh Fawzan seemed to disagree by saying that not all kuffar are mushriks.
    Can the apparent disagreement of Fawzan and Albaani be reconciled?

    1. baarakallaahu feekum for your comment. i dont know how to reconcile between the sayings, but what shaykh al-albaani said maashaallaah is based on strong daleel he takes from the qur’aan from two surahs and the likes of this daleel and explanation is something i didnt find anywhere else, so i wanted to post it up so people may benefit inshaallaah and be able to base their opinions on daleel.

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