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Fitra, or fitrah (Arabic: فطرة‎‎; ALA-LC: fiṭrah), is an Arabic word that has no exact English equivalent although it has been translated as 'primordial human nature',[1] and as "instinct" or common sense ('urf).[2]

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 what it is to be human.[citation needed] 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.[3] The perfect embodiments of fitra were Abraham and Muhammad.

It has also been suggested [4] that a close approximation, the religious meaning can be translated into the logical equivalence in philosophy, as Kant's concept of 'ought'.[5] In a mystical context, it can connote intuition or insight and is similar to the Calvinist term Sensus divinitatis.[citation needed]

Root of word[edit]

  • The root verb means to split or cleave
  • Implies opening up and coming out
  • The term Fitra means 'to bring forth', 'to originate', 'to knead and shape dough'.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Abu al-Fazl Izzati, Islam and Natural Law, Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2002, pp.93f. ISBN 1904063055
  2. ^ Frederick M. Denny, God's Friends: The Sanctity of Persons in Islam, in R. Kieckhefer and G. Bond (editors). Sainthood: Its Manifestations in World Religions, University of California Press, 1990. ISBN 9780520071896
  3. ^ Tuba Boz, Religious Conversion, Models and Paradigms, Epiphany: Journal of Transdisciplinary Studies, 2011, pp. 130
  4. ^ Abu al-Fazl Izzati, Islam and Natural Law, Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2002, p.96. ISBN 1904063055
  5. ^ John Silber, Kant's Ethics: The Good, Freedom, and the Will, Mouton de Gruyter, 2012, pp. 188ff. ISBN 9781614510710

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

External links[edit]