The Fitrah of Children: Signs and Proofs
Posted by: Mustapha Himi, June 3, 2012
The prophet (SAS) said that every child is born on the Fitra (Buchari and Muslim). Interesting questions are if we can see signs of the Fitrah in Children and what these signs are. This article aims to answer these questions.
The Fitrah is sometimes explained as Islam and sometimes more generally explained as the natural inclination to Islam. However it’s explained, it remains clear that the Words and Guidelines of Allah and all His Prophets and Messengers fit in well with the natural state of the human being. In other words, when presented in purity to a soul with purity (that is not polluted to an extent that makes the heart too hard and resitant to truth) it is usually simple to understand, accept and follow.
As Muslims we have seen many signs of this already. The growth of this Ummah and the way reverts usually accept Islam (by getting simple straightforward and logical answers to life questions that make sense) are a couple of those signs. But also the fact that Islam is a way of life in the sense that it guides through all areas of life in a way that brings peace to ourselves and fellow creatures in this world and (God Willing) in the hereafter. Like the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ”The situation of the Muslim is amazing. His situation is always good! When hardship befalls him, he is patient and when ease befalls him, he is thankful.” (Muslim)
An interesting question is if we can see the signs for children being born on the Fitra. Some might argue that children cannot be described as being totally innocent and pure because they exhibit feelings of frustration, anger and jealousy which are unislamic. In response to this it can be said that the existence of these feelings doesn’t nullify Islam. In other words: a person who gets angry or jealous doesn’t become a disbeliever even though he can be sinful. Rather the Muslim is taught to fight against these feelings by purifying himself which leads to contentment and happiness. So a child who exhibits these feelings is still considered Muslim. Furthermore, feelings like anger and frustration are natural and can serve a good purpose. It is for example praiseworthy for a Muslim to be angry about what makes Allah angry like polytheism, adultery, stealing and lying to name a few. Of course a Muslim should deal wisely with such situations and encourage the good in a wise, polite and respectful way… but still the basis is that this should be rejected by the heart. Evidence for this is the prophet’s saying wherein he said: ”Whoever of you sees a bad thing, let him change it with his hand. If he is not in the position to do so, let him change it with his tongue and if he is not able to do that, let him (only) reject it with his heart and that is the weakest form of faith.” (Muslim) So it can be said that these natural feelings exist in children because they can serve a good purpose and that they don’t nullify the Fitrah. As the child is growing towards the age of rationality he needs to learn self control and the right and wrong ways of showing anger and jealousy. Till then, he is not held accountable for his deeds as the prophet said: ”The pen is lifted from three people (i.e. their deeds are not recorded): The child until he reaches puberty, the person who is insane until he comes to his senses and the person who is asleep until he wakes up.’’ (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah) So, yes, signs for the Fitra where children are born upon, can be seen in Children.
An analysis of the Islamic texts is not the only thing that can lead to this conclusion. Some recent scientific research seems to indicate that children are born on the Fitrah as well. Professor Paul Bloom who is a psychologist at Yale University and Deena Weisberg who is a doctor candidate in Psychology say that children are not born not knowing anything (Bloom & Weisberg, 2007) which was a belief of classical behaviourists. They also say that ”children naturally see the world in terms of design and purpose” (Bloom & Weisberg, 2007) which can mean that they are naturally inclined to believe in The Creator.