What is the Fitrah?
The fitrah refers to the human being’s natural moral compass. Every human being has a built in guidance system that helps us understand good and evil. Think of it as your intuition or natural instincts. We instinctively know that murder, lies and betrayal are evil. And we also naturally know that kindness, empathy, generosity and love are good.
Even a baby who does not understand language knows that the words “I love you” have a positive meaning. That same baby also knows that yelling and shouting are negative. How does a baby understand this? How does a baby know that smiling is a sign of happiness and that crying is an expression of sadness?
This is the fitrah at work. Islam teaches us that every child is born upon the fitrah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every child is born upon the fitrah, but it is the parents who make it a Christian, Jew or Magian,” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1292, Sahih Muslim 2658)
The fitrah is something we cannot see, but we know through revelation and experience that it is there. As per the hadith quoted, the environment, especially parents, play a major role in either nurturing or suppressing a child’s fitrah. But they cannot destroy it completely. Every human has the choice to follow society or follow their fitrah.
The corruption of human morals
A good example of how society suppresses the fitrah is the constant exposure to immoral messages from a young age. Initially, children are shocked and disgusted by the immorality they see in the adult world. Yet over time, they become desensitized towards it. Eventually, they embrace the immoral culture they are raised in.
The shock and disgust is the fitrah’s reaction to evil, while the desensitization is the suppression of our moral compass. Eventually, as teenagers they embrace immorality, yet deep down in their hearts the guilt, inner turmoil and emptiness remains. The fitrah cannot be destroyed completely by society.
How it works
The prophet (peace be upon him) also informed us that this element allows us to recognize something evil without someone telling us that it is evil. Once a companion asked the Prophet (peace be upon him), “What is righteousness and what is evil?” He was looking for a general definition to help him identify good and evil on his own.
The prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Righteousness is good character, and evil is that which you feel uneasy about inside and would not like others to know about you,” (Sahih Muslim 2553)
This Hadith defines the role that our fitrah plays in our lives. In psychological terms, it can be called the conscious. Psychologists are unable to understand how or why humans have a natural conscious, while other animals do not. As Muslims, we believe that Allah created us with this fitrah, as a means to guide us towards the truth.
The way in which our fitrah operates is that when we do something good, we feel a natural happiness inside of us. For example, if you give someone a gift or charity, you feel happiness deep inside. This is because our actions are in line with our fitrah. So Allah rewards us for this with happiness and inner peace.
The fitrah is also our guilty conscious. When we do something evil, there is this deep sense of guilt and shame inside. This is our fitrah sending us a warning sign that we are straying from the straight path. Whenever you feel this guilt, use it to fuel your repentance. Use it to motivate change for the better.
Its role in Dawah
The fitrah has also been a means of guiding many Non-Muslims to embrace Islam. As well as a means of guidance for many Muslims, causing them to abandon sectarianism for authentic Islam. These people tapped deep inside and discovered that they had inherit beliefs already programmed into their minds from birth, like the Oneness of God, the avoidance of superstition and the conscious awareness of good and evil.
Using this inner compass, they searched through the teachings of different religions and sects and found only Islam confirming every internal belief they already held. These people embraced Islam and finally found themselves at peace with their inner selves.
Acknowledging our fitrah and tapping into it at times or confusion is crucial for our spiritual development and the attainment of inner peace. When faced with a moral dilemma, look deep inside and see whether your inner compass is warning you against it or is at peace with what you wish to do. This will help us live more naturally moral lives, and attain inner peace.
Summary: About The Fitrah
The Fitrah is our natural compass. It helps us to instinctively understand good and evil. Society and the media may corrupt it, but they cannot destroy it. Tap into it to guide you towards the truth. Find inner peace by making your life and actions in line with your natural compass.
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