The issue with "Kafir" tattoos

A good friend of mine, who is also a shooting buddy, showed up at the gun range one day very proud of his new tattoo, which was the Arabic word “Kafir”.

It is a euphemism to say that he disagrees with the Muslim faith. He seems to believe that this tattoo means “infidel” and that it is supposed to provoke Muslims or to say something like “I am not scared of your world domination scheme” (or something like that).

We have been arguing over this one, because I have pointed that it actually means “Unbeliever” and that Muslims call “Kuffar” (plural) either atheists, pagans or members of an Abrahamic religion who are not faithful to their creed. Christians are actually called “An Nassarah” (literally “Nazarenes”) and Jews “Al Yahoud”.

He does not want to believe that not only the tattoo does not means what he thinks it means but that, by wearing it, he is not only insulting the holy spirit (as the body is the temple of the holy spirit) but also advertising himself as a non-observant Christian. And, as the word is an insult addressed at Muslims, he is also doing his work in perpetuating the cycle of hate and violence.

I have to mention that he is a non-Catholic Christian and that he has tried to challenge me a few times, but I’ve decided to delay the apologetic confrontation for a while.

I am to the point where I don’t mention anything about this but the sight of this tattoo makes me shiver. I hope he can see the light and get it covered or removed.

Thanks in advance for your opinion and advice.

Have you directly shown him the meaning of the word, like with an Arabic-English dictionary or something like that, or have you just told him? It seems like stubbornness is the key factor here, but the question is how stubborn.
I honestly wouldn’t know what to do either way, but it might help clear it up for someone who would know what to do. Good luck; praying for you!


You are defining kafir in a very narrow sense. There are many Muslims who understand it in a broader sense, to include Christians and Jews.

*Whether a Jew or a Christian is a kafir is disputed. Scholar Cyril Glasse criticizes the use of kafirun to describe Christians as “loose usage”,[1] while salafist Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid states “Jews and Christians are both kaafirs and mushrikeen”.[3] *

Umm…just a quick Google of the words Kafir and tattoo brought up some interesting hits.
This “shooting buddy” might be nutty as a bedbug and perhaps being in the same place he is, while he has a gun, might not be the safest thing in the world. Arguing with him is not recommended.
Just curious, is he a veteran?

I would ignore it and not make a big issue about his battle tattoos.

I am guessing he’s a vet and was deployed overseas.

It’s common for troops to get tattoos and sometimes they do put things like that on their body.

It is something difficult to change and he may feel bad about it one day, but it makes you come off judgmental and critical. I would choose your battles with him.

We are all sinners and carry the scars or tattoos of our sins that those with special training and/or discernment can spot. It is far better I think to show compassion then judge. It is your love that will help him change more then your criticism.

He would have done well to take the “advice” of Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor imprint any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”

You seem to paint gun people with a broad brush. Owning a gun does not turn people into raging maniacs, or there would be 100 million maniacs in America.

And whether either of us are veterans is not an issue at all.

He is not nutty either, he is just very young. And that is the issue with tattoos: youth, ignorance and peer pressure are factors in people getting tattoos they regret later in their life.

Right, but I personally enjoy eating shrimp, which does not put me in a good place to judge him.

Lev. 11:12: “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.”

Why couldn’t he have tattooed the Arabic “nun”? wouldn’t that have sent the same message in a much more appropriate way?

I have spent an inordinate number of years studying the verses, the doctrine, the history, the extraneous writings of the Scholars, various Imams and Clerics, commentators within differing Quran translations et al, ad infinitum.

I can tell you that Kafir is a loathsome epithet used by Muslims to describe first, Christians and Jews (aka, “People of the Book” and "Pigs and “Swine”…as also used to describe us in the Quran)

When a non-Muslim uses it to describe themselves, it is a sign of defiance and agreement, that they are not associated in any way with Islam, Mohammed, the Demon Allah or current day practitioners of Islam.

One does not “reach into his soul” for a correct understanding of Islam, neither does an Academic simply take an adherent’s word about the truth of the religion…you study the religion to see what it, and those writers in antiquity say about it.

When viewed through that correct prism, you will see that there is ZERO reconciliation between the New Testament, and Islam.

Suggesting there is a kinship between Islam and any established understanding of the Gospel, is to know that the person believing this way, knows little about Islam, and his own religion.

I would like to add that CCC#841 is a dangerous proposition for those with little or no legitimate Biblical study - much less study of the Quran and it’s convoluted doctrine of Abrogation:…“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

There are several egregious statements in this paragraph not the least, is equating by establishing a least common denominator “the Creator” and suggesting all definitions of “the Creator” are the same or at least speaking of the same entity - Allah, is not Jehovah God…in fact, the average Muslim will take it as offensive if you dare suggest their ‘god’, Allah, is the same as God mentioned in “the Book” which they believe to be a book of lies and deceit, about Allah.

They also reject the notion of a Trinity, reject the efficacious sacrifice of Jesus or his deity.

It also causes you to abandon John 14:6 which is both exclusionary, and specific.

In light of these heretical attempts to reconcile Islam with Christianity, or reducing Jesus to nothing more than a Prophet whose "sayings have now been Abrogated (made of no account by Mohammed and so many more egregious and antithetical statements and attempts or meld Islam with Christianity, the concern about a tattoo pales, in comparison.

I would be much more concerned about whether the ecumenical minded “Christian”, is indeed saved as he seems very confused about the source of his salvation and the desperately lost condition of the Muslim.

Karir refers to anyone who is not Muslim OR of another religion who still does not agree with Islam’s theological rubrics…
…I will attempt to explain.

True: Islam does indeed speak of the Abrahamic religions ( i.e. people of the Book ) and does indeed say some nice things about them…
…However these statements are qualified that ONLY Jews & Christians who theologically believe as Muslims do are to be treated well.

A Christian who rejects the Trinity by definition ISN’T a Christian…
…A Christian who denies that Mary was the “Mother of God” isn’t a Christian by definition.
…A Christian who maintains that at any time ‘God’ could have wiped out Jesus simply for the sport of it ISN’T a Christian.

All these things Islam indeed teaches - so - a Christian or Jew who does not theologically believe as Muslims do…
…Is indeed a Kafir.

Unfortunate I know - but this is way it is…

‘Infidel’ isn’t a very good translation of ‘Kafir’ to begin with. It’s derived from kufr, which means disbelief. A kafir is, by definition, a disbeliever. Infidel, on the other hand, has to do with infidelity or unfaithfulness. Everyone is an infidel in the sense that we’ve been unfaithful to the Creator (by sinning). I’m an infidel, too.

So what you have here is your friend having ‘disbeliever’ tattooed on himself. Being a practicing christian that has that word written on themselves is probably not the brightest idea, especially if your friend ever comes across a christian who knows arabic. That just goes to show you; think before you ink. :thumbsup:

We are not bound by Mosaic Laws such as these.

Also interesting to note that in South Africa, the term was used by Afrikaans speakers to refer to Blacks - As I understand it, it is essentially used the same way the “n-word” is used here in the States. Not sure if it’s still used or not with apartheid being officially long gone. The origin is, of course the same as the Arabic as it was used by Arablic slave traders way back when to refer to black Africans; the Afrikaaners just borrowing the word.

I have to agree with others here - not the greatest thing to have tatooed on oneself.

Did Golden rule say where that tattoo was on his friend’s body? Maybe I missed it…

Anyway it doesn’t sound to me like a good idea…

Someday he may want to remove that tattoo and it’s really going to be a painful expensive process.

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