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The term "fitrah" seems to have some connotations of "natural" and is sometimes rendered as "innate nature". It crops up in different contexts, sometimes as including a natural inclination to the doctrines of Islam (see first link), circumcision, matters of hygiene and grooming. Wikipedia has a very small article on it that talks about it in spiritual terms. The question whether certain acts are against fitrah has been asked on here (in particular, homosexuality), and islamQA for example says that's the case.

That is quite a number of concepts grouped together into fitrah, so that leaves me with quite a diffuse understanding of the term. So my question is, what exactly is fitrah?

1

Fitrah can be thought of as...

... the natural disposition/instinct which Allah created human beings upon that is not tainted or corrupted by external influences.

Linguistically, Fitrah (فِطرة) is:

  • الْخِلقة التي يكون عليها كل موجود أَوّلَ خَلْقِه
    The innate nature that every newborn is initially upon

  • الطبيعة السليمة لم تُشَب بعَيْب
    The sound nature that is not tainted by any defect/shortcoming

  • ما ركَّزه الله في الإنسان من قدرة على معرفة الإيمان
    That which Allah Has instilled naturally in with regards to recognizing Eemaan


With this overarching definition in mind...

... the following concepts are considered to be examples of the Fitrah:

  • Belief in the existence of Allah as the One who Alone deserves to be worshipped

    This subsequently makes Fitrah synonymous with the religion of Islam in certain contexts.

    Proofs for this can be found in:

    • the Hadeeth narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah, in which the Prophet ﷺ said:

      كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ
      Every child is born upon the Fitrah (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone), then his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity or Magianism

      Saheeh al-Bukhari, Book 23, Hadeeth 128

    • Surah Ar-Room, Verse 30

      فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا  فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا
      "So set you (O Muhammad ﷺ) your face towards the religion of pure Islamic Monotheism as a Haneef (worship none but Allah Alone). (This is) Allah's Fitrah (i.e. Allah's Islamic Monotheism), with which He has created mankind.

  • Deeds or actions that are considered to be part of innate, uncorrupted human nature

    This includes:

    • matters pertaining to personal hygiene

      Another Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah shows the Prophet ﷺ refer to several things as being "from the Fitrah":

      الْفِطْرَةُ خَمْسٌ - أَوْ خَمْسٌ مِنَ الْفِطْرَةِ - الْخِتَانُ وَالاِسْتِحْدَادُ وَتَقْلِيمُ الأَظْفَارِ وَنَتْفُ الإِبِطِ وَقَصُّ الشَّارِبِ
      Five things are part of the Fitrah: removing the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the nails.

      Sunan Ibn Majah, and there are other Ahaadeeth recorded in other authentic collections with the same meaning

    • when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ chose milk over wine in the Night of Ascension

      أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أتي ليلة أسري به بقدحين من خمر ولبن، فنظر إليهما فأخذ اللبن، فقال جبريل صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏"‏الحمد لله الذي هداك للفطرة لو أخذت الخمر غوت أمتك
      On the Night of Al-Israa (the Night of Ascension) the Prophet (ﷺ) was presented with two drinking vessels: one full of wine and the other one full of milk. He looked at them. Then he took the vessel which was full of milk. Thereupon Jibril (Gabriel) said: "Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah) Who has guided you to that which is in accordance with the Fitrah (i.e., Islamic Monotheism; pure nature of Islam). Had you selected wine, your people would have gone astray."

      Saheeh Muslim, Book 14, Hadeeth 1393

  • The natural state/condition that Allah Has created things upon

    Imam at-Tabari alludes to this in his exegesis of an-Nisaa:119 (Arabic only) as a possible meaning for what Satan refers to when he says that he will order those who listen to him from mankind to "change the creation of Allah":

    وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّـهِ
    ... and indeed I will order them to change the creation of Allah.

    Surah An-Nisaa, Verse 119

    And this is how homosexuality falls foul of the Fitrah - it goes against the natural state that Allah Has created things upon, as was made clear by Prophet Lut when he called his people to abandon their homosexuality:

    أَتَأْتُونَ الذُّكْرَانَ مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ وَتَذَرُونَ مَا خَلَقَ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُم مِّنْ أَزْوَاجِكُم  بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ عَادُونَ
    Do you go in unto the males of the world, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your wives? Nay, you are a trespassing people!"

    Surah Ash-Shu'araa, Verses 165-166


In summary...

... there is no contradiction between the examples mentioned in the question, as they are all examples of what a human being is naturally inclined towards as long as their disposition has not been tainted or corrupted by that which opposes it.

  • Maybe you could add something like the menioning of the ikhtilaf of the word fitra in the verse 30:30 : "واختلف العلماء في معنى الفطرة" altafasir.com/al-quran/surat/30/ar-rum/30/al-qurtubi – Kilise Apr 19 '17 at 22:52
  • Could you also explain how your definition of fitrah (your three points) ain't contradiciting the hadith which talks about the five things that are fitrah: "circumcision". For instance, you could be born, muslim or non-muslim and yet not in anyway see circumcision as something every person would naturally do. I think this needs more explanation. – Kilise Apr 19 '17 at 22:57
  • Thanks for the link. I'll go through it when I have time and add to this answer what I feel is appropriate. With regards to the second point, it's implicit in Hadeeth of parents converting a child to Judaism, Christianity or Magianism, but I guess I can make it more obvious. – Zaid Apr 19 '17 at 23:05
  • @Kilise "For instance, you could be born, muslim or non-muslim and yet not in anyway see circumcision as something every person would naturally do." It's clearly unnatural to cut children's genitals - no one whose culture doesn't ritually practice this would do it - but the answer probably means "this is what Islam says you should be doing". – G. Bach Apr 20 '17 at 1:23
  • @G.Bach Maybe you have answered your own question then yourself. I myself couldn't draw the conclusion in this answer as you did (maybe i misunderstood it): <but the answer probably means "this is what Islam says you should be doing"> – Kilise Apr 20 '17 at 14:48
-1

According to hadits which written in Al-Muwattha' number 507, Kitabul Jana'iz number 1358, 1359, and 1385, Fitrah is state of purity that Allah gives to every human since their birth.

  • This answer needs a lot of improvement to be useful. – Medi1Saif Apr 21 '17 at 17:08

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