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The Islamic concept of ‘Human Nature’

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Islam guides and seeks everyone to be good for everyone is born with great righteousness.

By: Tousif Raza

Islam and Christianity are the two religious with massive following across the globe and project two different conceptions regarding human nature. The attitude of Christianity towards the creation of man is essentially negative, while the Islamic view considers it to be positive. Christianity believes that man is the product of sin: genetically tainted, congenitally flawed. But Islam rejects this attitude and believing that the creation of man is essentially positive achievement; Man is created in the divine image and his birth is immaculate and untainted.

Man is an accomplishment, not an aberration; the realization of divine will, not deviation from it and the materialization of a purpose, not a refraction from it, Islam wants its followers to believe. This bipolarity in the two Ibrahimic religions is reflected in the attitudes of the practitioners of these religions. The Islamic phraseology al-fitrah (الفطرہ) means nature, creation means (الخلقۃ) but it is not creation of genetic sense: it reduced to its essentially human parameters. Thus it relates to the specifically human creation and excludes from its orbit other forms of creation.

Man is an accomplishment, not an aberration; the realization of divine will, not deviation from it and the materialization of a purpose, not refraction from it, Islam wants its followers to believe.

We are therefore primarily concerned with human nature and not with other varieties that may stake out claims as natural products, apparently with a matching degree of aggression and flexibility. An eminent Muslim scholar, Imam Ragib Asfhani, observes that "…nature is the creation and origination of thing vested with apparent capacity to perform an act.”

Thus human nature is fundamentally the capacity to opt for any particular conduct- positive or negative- that is vested in a person at the time of creation. The term 'fitrah' is derived from 'fitr' it means 'to open'. Quran declares:

"The heavens shall rend; thereby his promise is ever brought to fulfillment ".(73:18)

'Fitr'(فطر) and 'Iftar' (اِفطار) share the same etymological origin: they signify the act of eating and drinking at the end of the fast. The action of Iftar is a two pronged phenomenon: at one level it suggests the termination of the existing situation and the initiation of a new one. The period of time extending up to the sun-set represents the existing order, the order of restraint and prohibition, while the act of Iftar represents the resumption of eating and drinking: it is in fact legally and morally permissible dissolution of prohibitory checks and controls imposed by the existing order.

More clearly it is a replacement or substitution of a previous condition by a new condition. At the second level, it is fulfillment of Allah's will, the performance of an obligatory act as He has ordered the muslims to conclude the fast by sundown. Therefore, the term 'fatara' (فَطَرَ)  or 'fitrah' (فِطرَۃ) flashes out a non existing entity with the reality and corporeality of a form or a shape and is an obvious fulfillment of the devine will. That is why creation of human beings is known as 'fitrah'.

Quran has elaborated the concept of creation of mankind at many places. For instance

"Then set your face steadily and truly to the faith :(establish) God's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has mankind. There is no change in Allah's creation. That is the standard religion (the right path), but among mankind do not understand ". (30:30)

The Quranic statement is supplemented by by prophetic remark reported by Aswad bin Saree" every child is born with right nature ". (Masnand Ahmad v:3 p:432)

It is further reinforced by the words of Jabir bin Abdullah: "Every child that is born confirms the true path". (Tafseer Ibn Kabeer). It means that every child is vested with fitrat - e  saleema (فطرتِ سلیمہ) at the time of his birth ;he is born with a potential capacity to and act fairly. It is immaterial weather his birth takes place in the house of a Muslim or that of non Muslim. What rally matters is the configuration of his nature at the juncture of his birth. And this nature potentially patterned on the right path. This is in fact the birth-right of a child, irrespective of his racial, tribal and ethnic affiliations.

And there is no possibility of modification or alteration in this design because it is divinely ordained and no human being has the power to upset the devine apple - cart. Human beings posses the talent force to damage human schemes and projects but devine purposes and intentions are beyond human scrutiny and access, affirming the utter helplessness of human beings.

Abu Hurerah (RA) has also narrated a prophetic declaration which lends further conceptual strength to the statement and clearly endorses the divine articulation: "No child is born but follows the right nature, then his parents make him a Jew, or a Christian or a Magian, as a beast is born with all it's limbs or intact (or without a defect) ;do you see one born maimed and mutilated? " (Bukhari V:1 P: 185)

The holy Prophet (pbuh) repeatedly stressed the point that human nature is patterned on the right path and no human being holds the power to alter or modify the course sanctioned by Allah.

Islam has introduced the the doctrine of unity and equality of mankind which imparts further credibility to the idea of positive human creation:

"O people! Don't neglect (your duty) to your Lord, who created you from a single being. "(Quran 4:1)It finds added support to another statement " All people are basically a single nation, so Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners ". The holly Prophet (pbuh) addressed the people on hijjat ul wida in these words" O people! Allah says : O mankind! We created you from a male and female couple and split you into tribes and nations to distinguish you from one another. Truly,  in the eyes of God,  the most righteous among you is the most honored of you ". (Quran 49 :13)

These Quranic statements and prophetic declarations clearly reveal the equal, unexceptional and nondiscriminatory attitude of Islam towards human beings and their creations. In the light of statement it is absolutely baseless to suggest that some of the human beings are created with bad nature or are born with inherent criminal tendencies. Islam, the religion of peace, declares the unity of human beings is essential at every aspect and every human is same in the sight of God. So Islam seeks everyone to be good for everyone is born with great righteousness.

The attitude of Christianity towards the creation of man is essentially negative, while the Islamic view considers it to be positive. Christianity believes that man is the product of sin: genetically tainted, congenitally flawed. But Islam rejects this attitude and believing that the creation of man is essentially positive achievement; Man is created in the divine image and his birth is immaculate and untainted.

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