Faith is natural, says Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah. It is our Fitra. Built into us, it orients us toward worship of Allah and the extent to which we conform to our fitra is the extent to which draw close to Allah.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Then I was brought a bowl of wine and bowl of milk and a bowl of honey. I chose the milk. He [Gabriel] said, ‘It is the fitra. You and your Umma are upon it.’” (Bukhari)
The Meaning of Fitra
The fitra is the natural, inborn disposition of human beings. The word fitra has the same form as words like qibla (the way you turn) or jilsa (the way you sit). Literally “the fitra” refers to the special manner in which Allah creates things. And everything Allah creates has its own fitra.
The fitra of humans is a sign of Allah’s mercy, glory, and the bounty He bestowed on us all. All human beings have fundamentally the same fitra. The particulars differ in individuals, but we all have the same potentialities.
The main feature of fitra is that knowledge of Allah is inborn. It is more precise and profound than any great theologian. There is nothing a great theologian can tell you that you cannot dig out of yourself.
The Desire to Worship
We are also born with a desire or rather a need to worship Allah as strong as the need to eat, drink, and so on. It is a drive. Humans will always worship something. This can be derailed toward worship of other things, but what is derailed is the natural disposition.
More importantly we have an inborn love of Allah. The more we love Allah the more in touch we are with our true selves. The more we love Allah the more “natural” we become, in the sense that you get closer to your inborn nature, or fitra.
Every single human being is, in Latin, homo religiosus. It is our nature. We either get good religion and become good for others, safe for others, beneficial to others. Or we get bad religion. Those who do not believe in Allah and the Hereafter create secular alternatives to religion. We see examples of this everywhere.
The Way We Are and Ought to Be
We all yearn for the Infinite and the Absolute. In absence of that we fill this need with secondary things that we idolize and worship.
The word fan originally means fanatic. The word fanatic (fanaticus/fanatica) originally means idol worshiper. The fan pours into the idol their need and quest and yearning for the absolute that cannot be there in the idol.
Finally, the fitra is everything about us that is the way it ought to be. Being called to Allah is being called to the fitra – to the way things ought to be.
Dr Umar Faruq Abd Allah taught a series of four lessons based on his book Al Iman Fitra during his visit to Cairo 23-27 February 2018. The lessons were orignally recorded and posted online by The Qadriyya Association.