Fitra

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Fitra or fitrah (Arabic: فطرة; ALA-LC: fiṭrah) is either the state of purity and innocence in which Muslims believe all humans to be born, or the ability to choose or reject God's guidance, with which both humans and jinn are endowed.[1] Fitra is an Arabic word that is usually translated as "original disposition", "natural constitution", or "innate nature".[2]

It has also been suggested[3] that the religious meaning can be translated into the logical equivalence in philosophy, as Kant's concept of 'ought'.[4]

Root of word[edit]

The root verb F-Ṭ-R means to split or cleave, also found in Iftar (breaking the fast), Eid al-Fitr, and in the 82nd chapter of the Quran (Surah Al-Infitar - The Splitting). Arabic lexicographers also relate it to create.[5] Fatir is usually translated as originator or creator, and thus fitra also considered to refer to the "state of creation".[6]

Quran, Hadith and interpretation[edit]

Surah 30 of the Quran, 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." Seyyed Hossein Nasr links fitra in the Quran closely to the concept of Hanif (pre Islamic monotheist) and Nabi al-Ummi ("The Illiterate Prophet" or "The Aboriginal Prophet"),[7] a notion also attested in older sources of Islamic tradition.[8]: 214-216  If the term is understood to mean "divide", it might signify that God separates his creation into believers and unbelievers by means of the "true religion".[9]

In the prophetic traditions (hadith), the term gets new attention: “No one is born except according to intrinsic nature [(fitra)], but their parents make them Jews, or Christians, or Magians, just as a cow gives birth to a calf that is whole do you find it mutilated?'"[10] The Muʿtazila argue that Islamic law is rational and given to every born child, thus fitra is identified with Islam. This viewpoint was also adapted by several canonical traditions. In others however, fitra refers to the pre Islamic religion, originating in Adam, before any religious obligations have been revealed.[11]: 214-216  According to the Maturidi scholar (ʿĀlim) Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi, humans and jinn are created with fitra, and thus obligated (taklīf) to follow God's law.[12]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Abu l-Lait as-Samarqandi's Commentary on Abu Hanifa al-Fiqh al-absat Introduction, Text and Commentary by Hans Daiber Islamic concept of Belief in the 4th/10th Century Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa p. 243
  2. ^ Jon Hoover, "Fiṭra", EI3.
  3. ^ Abu al-Fazl Izzati, Islam and Natural Law, Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2002, p. 96. ISBN 1904063055
  4. ^ John Silber, Kant's Ethics: The Good, Freedom, and the Will, Mouton de Gruyter, 2012, pp. 188ff. ISBN 9781614510710
  5. ^ Dr. Stephen R. Burge, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, The Angels in Surat al-Mala’ika Exegeses of Q. 35:1, https://www.iis.ac.uk/academic-article/angels-surat-al-mala-ika-exegeses-q-351#_edn56
  6. ^ Dr. Stephen R. Burge, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, The Angels in Surat al-Mala’ika Exegeses of Q. 35:1, https://www.iis.ac.uk/academic-article/angels-surat-al-mala-ika-exegeses-q-351#_edn56
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ The Muslim Creed by A.J. Wensinck Publication date 1932-06-30 Usage Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Creative Commons License Language English The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development by A.J. Wensinck, Cambridge University Press, 1932 Addeddate 2016-12-27 21:03:29 Identifier WensinckMc1932 Identifier-ark ark:/13960/t4vj0kp9h Ocr ABBYY FineReader 11.0 Ppi 300 Scanner Internet Archive HTML5 Uploader 1.6.3
  9. ^ Dr. Stephen R. Burge, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, The Angels in Surat al-Mala’ika Exegeses of Q. 35:1, https://www.iis.ac.uk/academic-article/angels-surat-al-mala-ika-exegeses-q-351#_edn56
  10. ^ Cleary, Thomas, translator. The Wisdom of the Prophet: Sayings of Muhammad. Shambhala, Boston & London, 1994, p. 9. ISBN 1570620172
  11. ^ The Muslim Creed by A.J. Wensinck Publication date 1932-06-30 Usage Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Creative Commons License Language English The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development by A.J. Wensinck, Cambridge University Press, 1932 Addeddate 2016-12-27 21:03:29 Identifier WensinckMc1932 Identifier-ark ark:/13960/t4vj0kp9h Ocr ABBYY FineReader 11.0 Ppi 300 Scanner Internet Archive HTML5 Uploader 1.6.3
  12. ^ Abu l-Lait as-Samarqandi's Commentary on Abu Hanifa al-Fiqh al-absat Introduction, Text and Commentary by Hans Daiber Islamic concept of Belief in the 4th/10th Century Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa p. 243

Further reading[edit]

  • 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