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"Fitra" or "fitrah" (Arabic: فطرة; ALA-LC: fiṭrah), is the state of purity and innocence Muslims believe all humans to be born with. Fitra is an Arabic word that is usually translated as "original disposition," "natural constitution," or "innate nature."
According to Islamic theology, human beings are born with an innate inclination of tawhid (Oneness), which is encapsulated in the fitra along with compassion, intelligence, ihsan and all other attributes that embody the concept of humanity. It is for this reason that some Muslims prefer to refer to those who embrace Islam as reverts rather than converts, as it is believed they are returning to a perceived pure state.
It has also been suggested that the religious meaning can be translated into the logical equivalence in philosophy, as Kant's concept of 'ought'. In a mystical context, it can connote intuition or insight and is similar to the Calvinist term Sensus divinitatis.
Use in the Quran and Hadith
In the 30th Chapter of the Quran, verse 30, the word is used in the context of the following verse: "Set thy Face to religion as a Hanif in the primordial nature from God upon which originated mankind there is no altering the creation of God; that is upright but most mankind know not." Fitra in the Quran is closely linked to the concept of Hanif (Original Monotheism) and Nabbi Al Ummi (The Illiterate Prophet or The Aboriginal Prophet). In a Hadith, the prophet Muhammad states that children are born upon Fitra and are then socialized into various religions. The Hadith states as follows, "The Prophet said, 'No one is born except according to intrinsic nature, but their parents make them Jews, or Christians, or Magaians, just as a cow gives birth to a calf that is whole do you find it mutilated?'"
Root of word
- The root verb F-Ṭ-R means to split or cleave, also found in Iftar (breaking the fast) and Eid al-Fitr.
- It implies opening up and coming out.
- The term "Fitra" means "to bring forth", "to originate", "to knead and shape dough".
- Jon Hoover, "Fiṭra", EI3.
- Tuba Boz, Religious Conversion, Models and Paradigms, Epiphany: Journal of Transdisciplinary Studies, 2011, pp. 130
- Abu al-Fazl Izzati, Islam and Natural Law, Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2002, p. 96. ISBN 1904063055
- John Silber, Kant's Ethics: The Good, Freedom, and the Will, Mouton de Gruyter, 2012, pp. 188ff. ISBN 9781614510710
- Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, editor. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. HarperOne, 2015. The only reference to Fitra in the Quran is on page 1821 but the reference of the concept of Primordial Nature is mentioned 14 other times. See page 3181. ISBN 9780062227621
- Cleary, Thomas, translator. The Wisdom of the Prophet: Sayings of Muhammad. Shambhala, Boston & London, 1994, p. 9. ISBN 1570620172
- J.M. Cowan (1994), The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic
- John Esposito (2003), The Oxford Dictionary of Islam
- M. Masud (1996), Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas
- Imam Ali, Nahjul Balagha: Sermons, Letters & Sayings of Imam Ali
- Al-Kulayni, al-Usul mina ‘l-Kãfi, vol. 2, p. 13; al-Bukhãri, Sahih, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dãr al-Fikr, 1401) p. 104
- Islamic medical lecture on fitrah (includes discussion of cosmetic & reconstructive surgery)