The fitra when it pertains to us includes everything that is true to our nature. The human fitra, is especially great, good, and praiseworthy.
Allah says in Sura al Rum (30:30):
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [To] the fitra of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.
This verse is the verse of the Fitra of Allah. It indicates that human beings are perfectly created. Although all other creatures have fitra we do not call that the fitra of Allah. It is the greatest fitra of them all.
Allah’s masterpiece is the human being when the human being is at his or her best. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “There is no child born but that it is born [entirely] on the Fitra.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah says, in a Hadith Qudsi, “Verily I created My servants as hanifs. Then the satanic demons came to them and diverted them away from their religion. And they declared to be forbidden what I had made permissible for them. And they commanded them to associate with Me that which is not Divine, and for which no authority had been sent down.”
The basic meaning of hanif is “to incline toward the truth and away from falsehood.” All human beings were created this way. The fasiq, who inclines towards falsehood and away from the truth, is the opposite of the hanif. But Allah did not create anyone as a fasiq.
On the Night Journey, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said [to the angels]: “Truly, I have some tonight something amazing. So, what is it that I have seen?” And the angels said “As for the tall man in the garden, it is Abraham, peace be upon him. As for the children around him, they are every child born that died on the fitra.” Then some of the Muslims said: “Messenger of Allah, even the children of idolators?” And he, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Even the children of idolators.” (Bukhari)
This is the nursery of Abraham, peace be upon him. It is the place where all children who die before the age of maturity go. All the children present there are described as the most beautiful of children, whether they were born of Muslims, Christians, idolators, even.
The beauty of these children indicates again the beauty of the fitra. They are manifestations of that fitra – the embodiment of it.
These children are worthy of the company of Abraham, peace be upon him, for although they did not follow him, they died on the fitra – on the primordial covenant.
The Primordial Convenant
There are many hadith on the primordial covenant. They are all commentaries on Sura al Araf (7:172-173):
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَـٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ
And when thy Lord took from the children of Adam, from their loins, their progeny and made them bear witness concerning themselves, “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Indeed, we bear witness.” Lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, “Truly of this we were heedless.”
Or lest you should say, “It is only that our fathers ascribed partners unto God before us, and we were progeny after them. Will You destroy us for that which the falsifiers have done?”
The Cornerstone of Sacred History
All commentators agree that these verses are proof texts on the fitra. The vast majority of commentators take the story literally. Scholars who believe that it is literal allow others who disagreed to take it metaphorically.
The standard position on this text is to take it literally. It is a reference to the Days of Days, the primordial day – the foundation of Allah’s purpose in creation. This verse is the cornerstone of Islamic sacred history and anthropology.
It establishes that the fundamental relationship between Allah and all human beings is premised upon the simple, unmediated recognition of Allah’s Lordship that took place on this day.
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.