The Definition of Fitrah

By Yasien Mohamed

Extracted with slight modifications from "Fitrah: The Islamic Concept of Human Nature" © 1996 TA-HA Publishers Ltd.

In attempting a definition of ‘fitrah’, I give an exposition of its linguistic and religious meaning. The religious understanding of fitrah is based on the positive interpretation of fitrah…

Suffice it to say that linguistic and positive religious explanations have one thing in common: both define fitrah as an inborn natural predisposition which cannot change, and which exists at birth in all human beings. What makes our religious understanding positive is that it not only acknowledges fitrah as a natural predisposition, but also one which is inclined towards right action and submission to Allah, the One God.

After discussing the implications for human responsibility, I compare, for the benefit of Western readers, the Islamic concept of original goodness with the Christian concept of original sin. I argue that the doctrine of original sin, from an Islamic point of view, cannot be reconciled with the notion of Divine mercy nor the human responsibility. Since the doctrine of original sin features significantly in the Christian concept of human nature, and as Islam and Christianity are the world’s largest revealed religions, this aspect of their creeds presents an interesting contrast, well worth investigating.

1. The Linguistic Meaning of Fitrah

‘Every new-born child is born in a state of fitrah. Then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian, just as an animal is born intact. Do you observe any among them that are maimed (at birth)?’[1]

The word fitrah comes from the Arabic radicals fa ta ra, the verbal noun being fatrun. The root action means, he clove, split, slit, rent or cracked it. Note the usage of the first form fatarahu (He created it); that is, He caused it to exist, newly, for the first time. Thus fatiru’s-samâwât, the Originator or Creator of the heavens.[2]

The second form, fattara(hu) (verbal noun taftir), denotes repetition, muchness and frequency of the root action which means, as we saw, he clove, split, slit, rent or cracked it.[3] Futira (‘ala shay’) is equivalent to tubi‘a, which is the passive form of taba‘a (verbal noun tab‘un) he sealed, stamped, printed or impressed, being a synonym of khatama, he sealed. Ar-Râghib says that it means the impression of a thing with the engraving of the signet and stamp; thus taba‘a’llâhu ‘alâ qalbihî ‘Allâh sealed his heart’, that is the unbeliever’s heart. Similarly, khatama ‘alaihi, pertains to the natural constitution which denotes a quality of the soul; either by creation or habit, but more especially the creation.[4] Also, taba ‘a’llâhu ‘alâ amr – ‘Allâh created (him) with a disposition to the affair, state or condition’. Likewise, tubi‘a ‘ala shay’ ‘he was created with a disposition to a thing’ which is synonymous with jubila or futira.[5] Tab‘un – originally a verbal noun – signifies nature or an inborn disposition. Its synonyms are sajjiyah, jibillah, khalîqah, tabî‘ah and mizâj. These are names for innate natural disposition which cannot change, and which exists at birth in all human beings.[6] Thus, fitrah, having the same meaning as tab‘un, linguistically means an inborn natural disposition.

The term fitrah literally means, creation; the causing a thing to exist for the first time; and the natural constitution with which a child is created in his mother’s womb. It is said that is the meaning in the Qur'an (30:29), and in the central, opening hadith.[7]

2. The Religious Meaning of Fitrah

In the context of the hadith, according to Abű Haytham, fitrah means to be born either prosperous or unprosperous [in relation to the soul]:

‘And if his parents are Jews, they make him a Jew, with respect to his worldly situation; [i.e. with respect to inheritance, etc.] and if Christians, they make him a Christian, with respect to that situation; and if Magians, they make him a Magian, with respect to that situation; his situation is the same as that of his parents until his tongue speaks for him; but if he dies before his attaining to the age when sexual maturity begins to show itself, he dies in a state of conformity to his preceding natural constitution, with which he was created in his mother’s womb.’[8]

Fitrah is also associated with Islam and being born as a Muslim. This is when fitrah is viewed in respect to Shahadah – that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah – which makes a person a Muslim. Fitrah, in this sense, is the faculty, which He has created in mankind, of knowing Allah. It is the natural constitution with which the child is created in his mother’s womb, whereby he is capable of accepting the religion of truth.[9] That fitrah refers to religion is further shown in a tradition in which it is related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, taught a man to repeat certain words when lying down to sleep, and said: ‘Then if you die that same night, you die upon the fitrah (in the true dîn).’ Also by the saying: ‘The paring of the nails is of the fitrah (i.e. of the dîn).’[10]

This meaning is affirmed by sűrah 30 âyah 30:

‘Set your face to the dîn in sincerity (hanîfan) which is Allah's fitrah (the nature made by Allah) upon which He created mankind (fatâra’n-nâs). There is no changing the creation of Allah. That is the right dîn but most people know not.’

Apparently Abű Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, cited this verse after the central hadith which means that, in his view, the fitrah of the hadith is the same fitrah in the ayah. The ayah refers to the fitrah as good because the right religion is being described as Allah's fitrah. Thus according to Abű Hurairah, fitrah is associated with the dîn of Islam.[11]

Since Allah's fitrah is engraved upon the human soul, mankind is born in a state in which tawhîd is integral. Since tawhîd is intrinsic to man’s fitrah, the prophets, peace be upon them, came to remind man of it, and to guide him to that which is integral to his original nature. The ayah describes a fitrah of primordial faith which Allah Himself implanted in human nature. It implies Islam's essential message of submission to the will of Allah as taught as practised by the prophets.

The Laws or the sharî‘ahs, which the prophets were sent with, are guiding lights to the essential faith in Allah which is created in every human being. Furthermore, since this faith comes from Allah, it naturally follows that only laws capable of guiding man back to it must also come from Allah, hence Islam is also called dîn al-fitrah, the religion of human nature.

That every child is born in this pure state of fitrah is also supported by the following hadith concerning the polytheists:

‘It is related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said that he saw in a vision an old man at the front of a large tree and around him were children and in the vision he was told that the old man was Ibrihim and that the children who were around him were the children who, before attaining the age of discretion, had died. At this, some Muslims had asked hum: "And the children of the polytheists too, Messenger of Allah?" The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, replied: "The children of the polytheists as well."[12]

Being with Ibrâhîm meant being in Paradise, and this includes children of polytheistic families. It is clear, from the Qur'an and from the hadith, that every child is born with a pure nature, as a Muslim. Islam recognises that all children, whether born of believing or unbelieving parents, go to Paradise if they die before attaining the age of discretion.

Imâm Nawawî defined fitrah as the unconfirmed state which exists until the individual consciously acknowledges his belief. Hence, if a child were to die before he attains discretion he would be on of the inmates of Paradise. This view applies to the children of polytheists as well, and is supported by the above-quoted hadith. The legal implication of this hadith is that all children are born pure, sinless and predisposed to belief in one God; moreover they are of the inmates of Paradise; however, if their parents are non-Muslims, the religion of their parents will be applicable to them in this world.[13]

Islam is also called dîn al-fitrah, the religion of human nature, because its laws and its teachings are in full harmony with the normal and the natural inclination of the human fitrah to believe in and submit to the Creator. Like the word al-Islam, the word dîn also means, according to Lane, obedience and submission, among other meanings. Allah states:

‘And who is better in obedience (in dîn) than he who resigns himself to Allah?’ (Qur'an 4:125)

‘There shall be no compulsion in obedience (dîn).’ (Qur’ân 2:256)

Ad-dîn implies religion in the widest sense of the word, embracing both the practical aspects of the acts of worship and ordinary transactions of life, and the teachings of religion; and it is a name for that whereby one serves Allah.

‘Truly, the religion (dîn) in the sight of Allah is al-Islam.’ (Qur’ân 3:19)

And, according to Lane, it means particularly the religion of al-Islam. The synonyms of ad-dîn are ash-Shariah (the law), tawhîd (Oneness of Allah) and wara‘ (caution). Ad-dîn also comes from the verb dana, meaning ‘he had indebted’. This is significant, according to al-Attas, because man is indebted to Allah for his existence and sustenance. The believer will realise that his spirit acknowledged Allah in pre-existence, and that the debt that he must return is his self, and this can be done by service and submission to Allah. This return implies a return to man’s inherent spiritual nature, to his fitrah. The one who submits to Allah is called ‘abd (a slave) of Allah, and his service is called ‘ibâdah (slavehood or conscious submission to the will of Allah). By worshipping Allah in such a manner, man in fulfilling the purpose of his creation and existence.

‘I have not created the Jinn and man but that they should serve Me (li ya‘budűnî).’ (Qur'an 51:56)

Such worship or submission does not entail loss of freedom, for, freedom is to act as one’s true nature demands; that is, as one’s fitrah demands. Al-Attas succinctly explains the connection between submission, fitrah and dîn as follows:

‘When we say that such a man is fulfilling the purpose for his creation and existence, it is obvious that that man’s obligation to serve God is felt by him as normal because it comes as a natural inclination on the man’s part to do so. This natural tendency in man to serve and worship God is also referred to as dîn, … here in the religious context it has a more specific signification of the natural state of being called fitrah. In fact dîn also means fitrah. Fitrah is the pattern according to which God has created all things… Submission to it brings harmony, for it means realisation of what is inherent in one’s true nature; opposition to it brings discord, for it means realisation of what is extraneous to one’s true nature.’[14]


3. Fitrah and Human Responsibility

 …Man is distinguished from the rest of the creation because he has been endowed with intellect (‘aql) and free-will (irâdah). The intellect enables him to discern right from wrong. He can use these faculties to complement his fitrah and to please Allah or to be untrue to it and displease Allah. The choice is his. The prophets and Divine revelation are external sources of guidance to guide the intellect and will of man. The Qur'an declares that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, enjoins the right and lawful things (ma‘rűf) and forbids the wrong and unlawful things (munkar). Man is responsible for his actions and accountable to Allah for every atom of right and wrong that he does. It is in this sense of accountability that guides man to act in accordance with the Divine will. It empowers him to struggle against the wrong-doing of his lower self (nafs) as well as the negative influences of the social circumstances. The central hadith makes plain that it is the social circumstances after the birth of the child that causes the individual to diverge from fitrah. Hence if someone follows an aberrant path it is not because of any innate wrong within his nature, but because of the emergence of the lower self or nafs after birth, and negative effects in the social circumstances.

The concept of fitrah as original goodness, in my view, does not merely connote a passive receptivity to good and right action, but an active inclination and a natural innate predisposition to know Allah, to submit to Him and to do right. This is man’s natural tendency in the absence of contrary factors. Although all children are born in a state of fitrah, the influence of the environment is decisive; parents may influence the religion of the child by making him a Christian, Jew or Magian. If there are no adverse influences, then the child will continuously manifest his fitrah as his true nature. Since many infants are born with gross physical deformities, the maiming referred to in this hadith is not meant in the physical sense; it means that all children are born spiritually pure, in a state of fitrah. The reference to animals born intact in the central hadith should be viewed as an analogy to illustrate the parallel spiritual wholeness of children at birth.

It is precisely because of man’s free-will and intellect that he is able to overcome the negative influences of the environment and attain to the highest level of psycho-spiritual development, an-nafs al-mutma’innah, ‘the self made tranquil’. At this level, his inner and outer being, his soul and body, are able to conform to the requirements of his fitrah and the dictates of the Shariah. He actualises his fitrah, and attains psycho-spiritual integration and inner peace.


4. Alienation from Fitrah

The central hadith suggest that circumstantial (i.e. parental and other social) influences cause man to change and become alienated from his fitrah. However in Qur'an 30:30 (‘There is no changing in the creation of Allah.’) suggests that fitrah is universal unchanging given of the human constitution. This meaning is consistent with the linguistic definition of fitrah as innate natural disposition which cannot change, and which exists at birth in all human beings. The synthesis of the meanings of both statements is that although fitrah remains a universal unchanging given of the human constitution, people may, because of the elements of intellect and free-will, decide and choose to conduct themselves in a wrong or unlawful manner. All the children of Adam, including those who deviated from the path of tawhîd[15], possessed fitrah. Civilisations which have been condemned and destroyed by Allah because of their practice of polytheism (shirk) and unbelief (kufr), possessed fitrah. Fitrah is a universal and immutable given of the metaphysical human constitution, and as a rule, cannot be corrupted or altered. No wrong action can pollute the Divine spirit [maintainer’s note: i.e. spirit created by God] which Allah has blown into man (Qur'an 15:29) despite the many generations of polytheism and unbelief. For example, a generation whose forefathers were mushrikűn (those who practice shirk) does not possess a fitrah of a lesser quality than a generation of believers. However, both shirk and kufr represent the antithesis of fitrah by undermining its very object and raison d’etre; kufr is a rejection of the oneness of Allah (tawhîd). When a individual commits shirk or kufr he denies his own nature. Fitrah which is integral to man’s spirit (rűh) was created by Allah so that he man acknowledge Him as the Lord Who has power over all things. Tawhîd is intrinsic to man’s fitrah because Allah in His infinite wisdom intended for man to know Him as the One God. This is why man was able to acknowledge his Lord before his existence on earth, that is, in pre-existence state.

The function of the prophets and Divine revelation is not only to remind man about that which he already knows (that is, tawhîd), but also to teach him that which he does not yet know (that is, Shariah). Man already knows tawhîd because of the pre-existent fitrah as well as his earthly unchanging fitrah. The prophets have come only to remind man of tawhîd; the choice is left to the individual, as suggested in the following verse:

‘Surely, this is a reminder; so whoever wills, let him take a way to his Lord.’ (Qur'an 76:29).

Knowledge of the Divinely revealed laws, the methodology of worship and devotion, etc. are acquired by man from Shariah which is based on Divine revelation and the teachings of the prophets. Since every individual is endowed with the innate knowledge of tawhîd, he is held accountable for his belief in Allah precisely because of his fitrah. Not every soul, however, will be held accountable for not practicing Shariah because knowledge of Shariah is acquired only by those who received the message of the Divine revelations and the teachings of he prophets.

The distinction between the inborn knowledge of tawhîd (which includes the knowledge of right and wrong) and the acquired knowledge of Shariah (which includes what is lawful and unlawful) is significant because of the legal implications of each. The mushrik, one who violates tawhîd, will not be pardoned for his polytheism, irrespective of whether he received the message of Islam or not. On the other hand, the practice of Shariah is only required from the Muslim while the non-Muslim (who did not receive the message of Islam) is not expected to fulfil this obligation. An individual may be forgiven for not practising the Shariah if he had not received the message of Islam, but he will not be forgiven for rejecting tawhîd. The Muslim will thus be held responsible for tawhîd and Shariah. Dr. Faruqi Ahmad Dasuqi,[16] who holds this view, adds that the hunafa’ [17] of past centuries had acknowledged tawhîd and will not be held accountable for Shariah.

Apart from the chosen prophets, I venture to say that there is no difference between the fitrah of individual men: all men are endowed with the same or an ‘equal’ fitrah. The believer is in harmony with his fitrah because his instincts are directed in service of Allah, but the unbeliever is alienated from his fitrah because his instincts are in the service of everything else besides Allah. The reason for man’s destruction of himself and his environment is that he has become alienated. Nevertheless, he can overcome this estrangement his will and intellect with the Divine will and knowledge. It is man’s recourse to Islam which will enable him to effect such a reconciliation.


5. The Christian Doctrine of Original Sin

Religions may be contrasted with secular philosophies in that the former recognise the transcendent principle of human nature while the latter tend to view man as a material being. Religions usually refer to this transcendent principle as the spirit or the soul in man. Most religions recognise three dimensions within man: body, mind and spirit. Secular theories of human nature tend to recognise only the body and sometimes the mind. Western psychologists such as Carl Jung recognise the spiritual dimension not as an independent unchanging reality, but as a part of the human psyche. Religions in general, with the exception of Hinayana Buddhism, recognise the spiritual dimension of man as a distinct unchanging reality of human nature. The first step towards self-knowledge is the recognition of our inmost spiritual essence which is universal in man and which is immortal. It is this innate spirituality which explains the urge at the heart of every man for betterment and self-realisation; and it is this human spirit which explains man’s capability to emerge out of darkness into light and goodness. This emergence has been the unfailing history of man: nothing can stop the human soul from projecting itself nearer to the source of all good, Allah. Islam and Christianity both recognise this innate spirituality but they differ in the methods by which to attain to this self-realisation, and they also differ in the methods by which they attain to this self-realisation, and they also differ with respect to their views of innate human nature. For the Christian view I need to turn to the doctrine of original goodness in Islam. Such a comparison will bring into focus the divergent perspectives of human nature of two major religions of the world.

Christianity, in all the varied forms in which it exists today, is probably the largest religious movement. It emerged out of Judaism as a religion of salvation by faith. Christianity became a universal religion of redemption, and its world-renouncing strain has been strong for a great part of its history. Judaism and Islam were never so dominated by monasticism and the ideal of celibacy. This is not to say that Christianity did not have a world affirming strain in it. The Kingdom of God was an imminently arriving state of this earth. With emphasis on the person of Jesus, peace be upon him, rather than his preaching, salvation was to be by rather than his preaching, salvation was to be by faith-union with Jesus in his supposed death and resurrection. Jesus, peace be upon him, was exalted to heaven and acclaimed as Lord, Son of God, and the meaning of Messiah – an anointed prophet-king – was altered radically.

Paul was the main figure to work out Christian theology almost entirely in terms of the doctrine for man. Jesus’ two worlds are reinterpreted in terms of a great contrast between man in bondage to the flesh and man redeemed in Christ. This theology is set out in the first eight chapters of The Epistle to the Romans.[18] The flesh (sarx) is man in his weakness and the spirit (pneuma) is the Divine breath and power of life which makes man inwardly aware of himself as a person. The whole person is either bound to sin or redeemed in Christ. As a rabbinically trained Jew, Paul had to integrate his new gospel of salvation with the old doctrine of creation and so he began the development of the Christian epic story:

‘Creation had originally been perfect, but Adam fell and mankind has since been in bondage to sin; but through Christ, the second Adam or Last man, the world or mankind are being restored to their original perfection. Thus in the Christian doctrine of man the central theme is that Christ is the Creator’s proper (=own) Man.’[19]

To make this scheme more intelligible, Paul had to emphasise both the parallels and the contrasts between Adam and Christ, peace be upon both of them. Adam was first made in the image of God, but Christ is the true and final image of God. Adam’s disobedience plunged mankind into ruin, but Christ’s obedience restored mankind. Adam brought wrath and guilt upon mankind, Christ has brought grace and acquittal.

This contrast profoundly affected later Christian thought. The Christian doctrine of man has two themes, the Divine image and the Fall. Since the latter theme is more directly relevant to my discussion of original sin I shall focus on this aspect, Adam’s disobedience plunged the human race into ruin, and fallen man could not of himself do good, please God or gain salvation.

A good example of the classic Christian doctrine of man is Milton’s Christian epic Paradise Lost (1667). The themes are the special creation of man by God, the Divine image in man, original righteousness, the Fall through man’s disobedience, the curse on man and woman, and the ensuing original sin. This scheme was wrecked by Darwinism and today liberal and humanistic theologians take over the evolutionary view of man’s gradual ascent, seeing Christ as a pinnacle of human development. Others, such as Rudolph Bultman and Paul Tillich, have built their theology on an existentialist doctrine of man.

The Christian is born in sin and in an impure state, and cannot redeem himself by his own inner resources, but only through Christ. Salvation for the Christian is centred on an external entity – the mystical body of Christ in which the Christian must participate in order to be saved.

By contrast, in Islam the redemptive potential is centred in the individual himself, who engages in meaningful intercourse with the guidance provided by the Qur'an and the Sunnah, Salvation in Islam depends on faith (iman) and good conduct (ihsân), and not on faith alone. The Qur'an emphasises the exertion of will, for ‘there is nothing for man but that which he strove for’. This notion of the will also has implications for responsibility. A person is responsible only for the manner in which he exercised his own will and not the will of other persons.

Christians believe that Christ has paid the wages of sin through his death, and having suffered for all men’s sins. Salvation is based on this faith. Without the doctrine of original sin there would be no need for a saviour and, consequently, the trinity, the crucifixion and the resurrection would become meaningless.

Islam rejects the premises of these doctrines, especially the concept of original sin which is alien to Islam and inconceivable to the Muslim mind. Islam has a different version of the Fall. Adam acknowledged that he had gone astray and sincerely sought Allah's forgiveness which was granted to him unconditionally. Adam and his progeny descended from bliss to the earth because of his error, and yet, none of his children inherited the blame for his error. The volitional implication of fitrah is that man is responsible for his own wrong actions. It is inconceivable to Muslim thinking that mankind should be punished for wrong actions that others did. The concept of Divine forgiveness features strongly in the Qur'an, for Allah accepts the sincere repentance of His slaves.

‘But the devil made them slip from it, and caused them to depart from the state in which they were. And We said, "Down with you and be henceforth enemies unto one another; and you shall have in the land a state of settledness and necessities of life for a period."

Then Adam received words (of guidance) from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: truly, He is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Compassionate.’ (Qur'an 2:36-37)

Tawbah (literally, turning, i.e. away from wrong action, and to Allah) or repentance plays a very significant and decisive role in a Muslim’s life. Although man is born in a state of original goodness or fitrah, he is also subject to temptation and folly. Allah has granted him the ability and opportunity to repent which means that he should admit his errors and turn remorsefully away from them to Allah.

Knowledge of Divine mercy as well as knowledge of the innate goodness of the human fitrah, serves three very important functions: firstly it gives the believer hope of salvation and success; secondly, it gives him confidence in his own potential to do right and resist wrong; thirdly, it exhorts and admonishes him to actively pursue all that is right and resist all that is wrong. These are the merits of sincere repentance. Just as the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, repented and was pardoned for his wrong action, so may his descendents repent and be pardoned for their wrong actions.

Confession and penance is a fundamental pillar of the Roman Catholic Church, but for the rest of the Christian world it holds virtually no fundamental value. Belief in Christ as a Saviour is of primary importance, even for the Catholic who engages in penance mainly as a means of self-discipline or self-retribution. No amount of confession or repentance can save the Christian from the belief in Christ as the Saviour. Adherence to this doctrine can be problematic when viewed in the light of the doctrine of original sin.

Neither Islam, common sense or modern Western law, hold a person responsible for the deeds of someone else. Certain awkward questions may also be posed to the adherents of this doctrine. For example, does inheritance of Adam’s sin mean that man is born innately sinful or guilty of a sin he did not commit or both? Did Christ’s suffering change human nature or did it only absolve man of guilt for the sin he never committed, or both? If man is born innately evil and sinful why is he still capable of choosing good over evil? What happened to the souls before Christ who could have had the benefit of the latter’s alleged suffering; were they saved by the Saviour they neither knew nor acknowledged or were they just too unfortunate to be born at the wrong time? These questions are asked in all sincerity of the believing Christian whose faith every Muslim is required to respect.

To conclude, fitrah may be defined as a natural predisposition for good and for submission to the One God… While the concept of fitrah offers a hopeful and positive outlook for the Muslim, the doctrine of original sin is fraught with negative connotations and complex dogma. To the average Christian, man is impure and bound for eternal damnation, even if he leads a life of virtue, if he does not accept Christ as his saviour. Apart from the Christian theory, there are secular theories of human nature which are also subject to determinism, fatalism and pessimism…

If, in this chapter, the reader has not gained a clear conception of what fitrah is, it should at least be clear to him what it is not. Fitrah does not refer to man’s outward behaviour; not to his psyche, personality or character. A definition of fitrah does not involve the role of man as an individual or a collectively as such. Rather, fitrah pertains to the deep, common spiritual essence of man. It is humankind’s natural and universal innate predisposition for goodness and submission to One God…


Notes and References

[1] I. M. Hanîf, Sahîh Muslim bisharh al-Nawawî, Book of Qadr, Vol. 16 (al-Matba‘at al-Misriyyah bi al-Azhari, 1930) p. 207.

[2] Ibn Manzűr, Lisân al-‘Arab al-Muhît. Vol. 4., ed. A. al-‘Alayali, (beirut: Dâru Lisân al-‘Arab, 1988), pp. 1108-1109; cf. also, al-Isfahânî, al-Raghîb, Mu‘jam Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur’ân ed. Nadîm Mar‘ashlî. (Dârul Karîb al-‘Arabi, 1984) p. 2415; cf. also, Lane, E. W., Arabic-English Lexicon. 2 volumes, Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1972), p. 397.

[3] This repetition also applies to the 7th form verb infatara, 5th form tafattara and the 1st form fatara, e.g. idha’s-samâ’unfatarat ‘When the heaven shall be cleft’, (Qur’ân 82:1), and yakadu’s-samâwâtu yatafttarna minhu ‘The heavens almost become repeatedly rent in consequence thereof’, (Qur'an 19:92), and tafatarat qadamahu ‘his feet became cracked’.

[4] Lane, Ibid., p. 1823; al-Isfahânî, al-Raghîb, Kitâb al-Dharî‘ah ila Makarim al-Sharî‘ah. Ed. Abű’l-Yazîd al-‘Ajamî, (Cairo, 1987), p. 113.

[5] Lane, Ibid, p. 1823.

[6] Yasien Mohamed, The Islamic Conception of Human Nature with Special Reference to the Development of an Islamic Psychology. unpublished thesis, (Cape Town: Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town, 1986), p. 74; cf. also, Lane, Ibid., p. 1823; al-Isfahânî, al-Dharî‘ah, op.cit., p. 113; al-Isfahânî, Alfaz, op.cit., p. 310.

[7] Ibn Manzűr, Lisân al-‘Arab, op.cit., p. 1109; cf. also Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, op.cit, pp. 2415-2416.

[8] Ibn Mazűr, Ibid. p. 1109; Lane, Ibid., pp. 2415-16.

[9] ‘Alî ibn Muhammad al-Sayyad al-Sharîf Jurjânî, Kitâb al-Ta‘rifat ed. ‘Abdul Mun‘îm al-Hafani. (Cairo: Dârul Rashad, 1991), p. 190; cf. also Ibn Manzűr and Lane, Idid.

[10] See Ibn Manzűr and Lane, Ibid.

[11] Muhammad al-Ansârî A. A. Qurtubî, Al Jâmi‘u al Ahkâm al-Qur'an Vol. 12 Part 14. (Cairo: al-Maktabu al-‘Arabiyyah, 1967), p. 25.

[12] Ibid, p. 30; cf. Ibn Manzűr, Ibid.

[13] Ibn Taymîyya Dar‘u Ta‘arud al ‘Aql wa al Naql. Vol. 8, ed. Muhammad Rashad Sa’im. (Riyadh: Jami‘at al-Imâm Muhammad ibn Sa‘ud al-Islamiyyah, 1981), p. 382-3.

[14 ] S.M.N. Al-Attas, Islam, Secularism and the Philosophy of the Future, London: Mansell Publishing Limited, 1985, pp. 57-58.

[15] cf. Lane, op.cit., for the meaning of the ad-dîn.

[16] Tawhîd is the corner-stone of the Islamic belief which was taught by all the prophets. The Arabs deviated form tawhîd but it was restored to its original purity with the advent of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, Divine Unity is expressed as lâ ilâha ill' Allah ‘There is no deity but Allah’ and together with his expression of Muhammadun Rasűlu’llah ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’, a person is admitted into the fold of Islam. Tawhîd implies that Allah is One, and that He is one and unique in His essence (dhât), His attributes (sifât), and His works. This monotheistic concept of Allah liberates man from subservience to everything and everyone, and is the basis for the unity of mankind. The antithesis of tawhîd is shirk which is considered to be the only unforgivable wrong action (Qur'an 4:48), and it signifies the association of partners with Allah. Blind submission to one’s own desires is also described as shirk (Qur'an 25:43).

[17] Dasuqî, F. A. Muhadarat fî al-‘Aqîdah al-Islâmiyyah, (Alexandria: Darul Da‘wah, 1983), p. 28.

[18] The hanîf (singular of hunafa’) is one who naturally rejects polytheism and idolatry while inclined towards acceptance of tawhîd. In the Qur'anic context, the hanîf refers particularly to those who followed the faith of Ibrâhîm as well as those who accepted tawhîd during the Jâhiliyyah period. After the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the term acquired a more circumscribed meaning – one who follows the dîn of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Dr. Dasuqî cites Zaid ibn ‘Amr ibn Nufayl and Qais ibn Sa‘ada as examples of hunafâ’ in pre-Islamic times. A more well-known hanîf was Waraqa ibn Nawfal, the cousin of the Prophet’s wife, Khadîjah.

[19] Don Cupitt, The Nature of Man, (London: Sheldon Press, 1979), pp. 33-34.

Top of Page Contact Mission Islam Discussion Board Recommended Links