kaafir (pl. kuffaar),
kafir?In its most basic meaning, a
kaafir is a non-believer in Islam.
Its use is sometimes more specific, used to describe atheists and believers in polytheistic religions,
such as Hinduism. Some
Muslims go so far as to refuse to make friends or associate with kuffaar, but
this is unusual and, in non-Muslim
dominated regions, impractical. The reasons or motivations behind someone’s
kaafir status might be taken into account; for example, if someone has never
been exposed to Islam for cultural reasons, they might be given more sympathy
than someone who has been exposed to the faith but who has chosen to reject it.
As is suggested by its definition of being atheists and believers in polytheism,
kaafir is not always applicable to Christians
for whom Muslims theoretically reserve different treatment. It should be noted
that the term kaafir can be used pejoratively, and outside Islam the same word
is an extremely offensive racial insult. For this reason many moderate and
reformist Muslims advise against its use, often citing the Qur’an’s instruction to
use only kind word as justification for its avoidance.
Ka’bah, Ka’ba, Kaaba?The
Ka’bah is a cube-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to the Qur’an, the Ka’bah was
built by Abraham
and Ishmael, and it is among the most holy and
revered places in Islam.
During the Hajj,
one of the Five
Pillars of Islam, Muslims must walk around the Ka’bah
anticlockwise seven times. It is this actual point towards which Muslims face
when they pray (rather than the city of Mecca in general, but in practice they
normally point in the correct general direction). Around the Ka’bah is built an
enormous Mosque, the Masjid
al-Haram (the largest in the world); the Ka’bah is set inside a
large square which can accommodate many thousands of Muslims, and indeed does
so during the Hajj. On the eastern cornerstone of the Ka’bah is set the Black Stone, which
Muslims ideally touch on the Hajj, but the sheer number of pilgrims makes this
impossible, so they point to it instead.
kafalah, kafala?A standard transaction in which
one person agrees to assume responsibility for the debts of another. It is an
assumption of the responsibility for debt repayment.
kaffarah, kafara?A compensation that must be paid
if a person breaks his or her fast during Ramadan.