Who is an Infidel?
By Obadiah Tohomdet
In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed an avalanche or preponderance of the use of the word “INFIDEL” or Kafir(in Arabic) by either some Muslim clerics and even young men and women, particularly on Christians and people of other faiths. So many videos and audios have been produced and now in circulation in the social media with uncouth and abusive words on people of other faiths without hinderance and restraints.
This has led me to do some studies on the word “infidel” being bandied around. Interestingly, the word means “Unbeliever” or “one without faith.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines an Infidel as one who is not a Christian or opposed to Christianity.
The word was first defined in 1551. The History and Etymology of the word comes from Middle English Infidele meaning “non-Christian” borrowed from Middle French and Late Latin. Middle French, borrowed from late Latin Infidelis which means “Unbelieving” and “not keeping faith.”
Studies show that the Crusaders might have used the word against those considered as gentiles, unbelievers (non-Christians), pagans and atheists.
In the Scriptures, the word “Infidel” is used specifically in two places. In 1Corinthians 6:15 where Apostle Paul asked, “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Then in 1Timothy 5:8 Paul described a person who doesn’t provide for his own, especially those of his own house as “worse than an Infidel.”
Dr. Reza Aslan, a Muslim Scholar and author of several books on the Middle East, said Infidel “is the word that the Holy Koran uses to describe exclusively the Meccan aristocracy with which the Muslim community was at war.” It is possible that with time Muslims began to use the word on people who do not accept the Islamic faith.
It is interesting to note that while Christians have de-emphasized the use of the word on other non-believers, some Muslims have hyped the use of the word on those they consider as Unbelievers. Christians feel that the word is being used in an abusive, accusatory and derogatory manner. The truth is that the term infidel is a nasty way of referring to someone who does not follow the same religion you do. Some Christians are now thinking of picking up this archived word to use on non-Christians. This is a recipe for chaos and conflict.
Government should therefore step in to checkmate escalation of the use of the word to avoid perpetuation of hate speeches by all religions. Everyone has the right to choose his or her belief system without stigmatization and violence. Religion is not a superiority contest, it is about belief system and conviction. My research has, so far, shown that in some Western countries, some atheists, tired of conflicts and bickering, among major religious groups, have started wearing badges with inscription “I am an Infidel.”
This signals danger for the expansion of both Christianity and Islam. The derogatory and abusive application of the word Infidel is, no doubt, a barrier to peaceful co-existence in a multi-religious country like Nigeria. Evangelism is best done without abusive word. So, the question still remains: With over 4,300 religions currently practiced in the world, Who is an Infidel?
Just rocking the boat.