All thanks and praises belong to Allāh, Who has prepared Paradise as a favor and honor from Him for His believing slaves, and prepared Hellfire, through His justice and wisdom, for the sinners and disbelievers. 1 thank and praise Him as He should be praised and ask for His forgiveness and pardon. 1 bear witness that there is no deity worth of worship except Allāh alone without partners and that Muḥammad is our Prophet, Allāh’s slave and Messenger. May Allāh’s best peace and blessings be upon Muḥammad the son of ῾Abdullāh, his progeny, Companions and his followers who convey and deliver his call until the Day of Resurrection.
Brothers and sisters in Islām! The essence of any Friday khuṭbah (sermon) is basically to remind ourselves of the divine teachings and injunctions, which perhaps we already know. We need to be reminded again and again because we are humans. The word for human in Arabic isإنسان made up from the root letters ن س ي, from which we have the word نَسِىَ which means to forget. Since we forget, we need to be reminded. If we understand this, then we can appreciate why God Almighty says in the Qur’ān,
وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَى تَنْفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers (Q. 51:55)
In today’s khuṭbah, we want to share some thoughts with you on the meaning and concept of a term in Islamic theology called ‘fiṭrah’ (فِطْرَة). What is fiṭrah and what does it imply? Fiṭrah is an Arabic word. It is the inborn natural disposition, which is inclined towards submission to One God. It is the pure and original state upon which God creates all human beings, and which is inclined towards that which is morally and spiritually pure, upright and wholesome. The concept of fiṭrah comes from the Qur’ān, which states,
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Devote yourself single mindedly to the true faith; and adhere to the true nature on which Allāh has created human beings. There is no altering in the creation of Allāh. That is the true straight faith, although most people do not know (Q 30:30)
The true faith or the right religion or the correct way of life (الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ) that the Qur’ān presents is the one in which none but Allāh is worthy of worship and obedience, and in which man by his own free will chooses to order his life in accordance with the guidance and law of Allāh. This is being described as Allāh’s fiṭrah. Since Allāh’s fiṭrah is engraved upon the human soul, mankind is born in a state in which tawḥīd is integral, and since tawḥīd is inherent to man’s fiṭrah, the prophets and messengers of Allāh came to remind man of it, and to guide him to that which is integral to his original nature.
Despite the fact that human beings live with so many different ideologies, religions, belief systems, and world-views, Islām teaches that we are all born with the same inherent nature. The Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) said,
كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ، كَمَثَلِ الْبَهِيمَةِ تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةَ، هَلْ تَرَى فِيهَا جَدْعَاءَ .
Every child is born in a state of fiṭrah (i.e. to worship none but Allāh Alone). Then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian, as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?
Without guidance, the fiṭrah is corruptible. The system of guidance revealed by Allāh, known simply as ‘surrendering to Him’ or ‘Islām’ is the fulfillment of the natural disposition of human beings. Islām is also called Dīn al-fiṭrah, the religion of human nature, because its laws and its teachings are in full harmony with the normal and the natural inclination of believing in and submitting to the Creator. God took a covenant with humanity prior to their earthly existence and it is this primordial affirmation of God that yields the tendency to journey towards Him and towards good in this earthly existence.
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آَدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ
When your Lord took out the offspring from the loins of the Children of Ādam and made them bear witness about themselves, He said, Am I not your Lord, and they replied, Yes, we bear witness. So you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, we were not aware of this. (Q 7:172)
The Prophets came to remind man of this reality of tawḥīd. The choice is left to the individual as suggested in the āyah,
إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا
This is a reminder, so let whoever wills take a path to his Lord. (Q. 76:2)
Thus, every child is born with a natural spiritual, moral and intellectual constitution by which it makes sense of reality and this inborn tendency is affirmed and nourished by the revealed system of guidance known as Islām. Like the word Islām, the word dīn also means obedience and submission among its other meanings. The Qur’ān states,
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ
Truly, the deen in the sight of Allāh is Islām (Q. 3:19).
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ
Who could have a better religion than someone who submits himself completely to Allāh? (Q. 4:125)
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ
There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. The right way has been made clear from the wrong way. (Q. 2:256)
This means that man is not compelled to obey or disobey. He can choose from the right and wrong path, which have both been made clear to him.
أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُ عَيْنَيْنِ وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ
Have We not given him two eyes; and a tongue and two lips, and shown him the two paths? (Q. 90:8-10)
It is interesting to note that the word dīn comes from the verb dāna (دَانَ), meaning “he has indebted.” The Arabic word dayn (دَين) means ‘debt’. This is significant, because man is indebted to Allah for his existence and sustenance, and that the debt that he must return is his self, and this can be done by service and submission to Allāh. This return implies a return to man’s inherent spiritual nature—to his fiṭrah. The one who submits to Allāh is called ‘abd or slave of Allāh and his service is called ‘ibādah or worship or conscious submission to the will of Allāh. May Allāh give us the tawfīq to live our lives being His ‘ibād.
There is a verse in Sūratu Ṭā Hā, which says,
رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
Our Lord is He who has given everything its form, then guided it. (Q. 20:50)
This verse describes the reality that the Creator has instructed every creature how it should fulfill the purpose of its creation. Those instructions are embodied in the capability of performing required acts by various things. The instinct given to honeybee, for example is to distinguish plants and flowers and make selection for drawing juice from them into its belly for storage in the beehive. The same way the humans are graced with a natural instinct and capability to recognize their Creator and submit to Him. This is what Islām is all about. By worshipping Allah, man in fulfilling the purpose of his creation and existence, for Allāh says,
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I only created jinn and man to worship Me.” (Q. 51:56)
Such worship or submission does not entail loss of freedom, for freedom is to act as one’s true nature demands; that is, as one’s fiṭrah demands. Man is distinguished from the rest of the creation because he has been blessed with intellect and free-will. The intellect enables him to distinguish right from wrong. He can use these faculties to harmonize with his fiṭrah and to please Allāh or to be untrue to it and displease Allāh. The choice is his. Man is responsible for his actions and accountable to Allāh for every atom of right and wrong that he does. It is this sense of accountability that guides man to act in accordance with the Divine will. It empowers him to struggle against the wrong-doing of his nafs or lower self, as well as the negative influences of the social circumstances.
Unlike assertions of man’s original sin or inherent evil in other theological and ideological systems, the Qur’anic discourse argues that the fundamental nature of human beings is inherently good.
However, rather than cultivating that natural inclination towards good, man often descends into the gratification of his lower desires including greed, hatred, envy, lust and power. The human soul constantly battles with a desire to feed the appetite of the nafs, which the human being knows to be destructive by virtue of his fiṭrah.
It is because of man’s free-will and intellect that he is able to overcome the negative influences of the environment and attain to the highest level of psycho-spiritual development, an-nafs al-muṭma’innah, ‘the self made tranquil’. At this level, his inner and outer being, his soul and body, are able to match to the requirements of his fiṭrah. He actualizes his fiṭrah, and attains psycho-spiritual integration and inner peace.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say this and ask Allāh for forgiveness for me and you, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين
All thanks and praises belong to Allāh the Lord of the Worlds. And may the constant blessings and mercies of Allāh be upon the leader of the Prophets, his entire household, companions and the entire Muslim ummah.
Brothers and sisters! It is the parental and other social influences that cause man to change and become alienated from his fiṭrah. The Qur’anic statement (There is no changing in the creation of Allah) لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ suggests that fiṭrah is the universal unchanging given of the human constitution. A generation whose forefathers were mushrikun, i.e., those who practice shirk, does not possess a fiṭrah of a lesser quality than a generation of believers. There is no difference between the fiṭrah of individual humans. All humans are endowed with the same fiṭrah. The believer is in harmony with his fiṭrah because his instincts are directed in service of Allāh, but the unbeliever is alienated from his fiṭrah because his instincts are in the service of everything else besides Allāh.
May Allāh give us the tawfīq to live our lives according to the fiṭrah that He has blessed us with.
O Allāh, please confer Your blessings and grant peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad (SAW), his family and all of the companions.
May Allāh be pleased with the Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī, and all of the noble Companions.
O Allāh, we seek Your grace to make us amongst those who remember you much and are steadfast on performing acts of worship. O Allāh, please forgive us all.
O Allāh, we seek refuge in Your perfect words from the evil of that which descend from the sky and from the evil of that which ascends in it, and from the evil of what is created in the earth and the evil of that which comes out of it. O Allāh we seek refuge in You from the trials of the night and the day, and from the visitations of the night and day, except for one that knocks with good. Indeed, You are the Most Merciful.