Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Are all non-muslims deemed “kafir”?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
The term “kafir” refers to someone who is not Muslim—someone who does not believe in the guidance the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came with.
There are different types of non-Muslims:
(1) Those who merely do not believe;
(2) Those who reject belief;
(3) Those who dislike belief and believers;
(4) Those who actively oppose and fight belief and believers.
The verses about enmity to disbelievers refer to this last category.
The Term “Kafir” as a Derogatory Term
The believer is commanded by Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to be true, upright, and dignified in speech. Allah Most High says, “Believers, be mindful of Allah and speak only words that are upright.” [Qur’an, 33.70] And to, “Say only good to people.” [Qur’an, 2.83]
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Thus, the legal scholars of Islam mention that it is sinful to use terms like “takfir” in derogatory or insulting or hurtful ways. [Fatawa Hindiyya]
One must also be careful, spiritually, of the sins of looking down on others, pride, self-consequence, conceit, and similar.
The Fate of Non-Muslims?
A non-Muslim is held responsible for disbelief if the message of guidance reaches them and they reject it. See:
We do not delve into the specific fate of individuals, whether believers or disbelievers—as their affair is with their Merciful and Just Lord, Allah Most High.
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.