Al-Fitrah (Instinct) and Adh-Dhamir (conscience) in terminology:
1 - Al-Fitrah (Instinct):
The word Al-Fitrah (instinct) was mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an, Allah the Almighty says: “[Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people.” (1)
The word Al-Fitrah was also mentioned in the blessed Hadith, as was reported in Al-Bukhari and Muslim, it was narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him), said: “No child is born except on the Fitrah and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian. Just as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated until you are the ones who amputate it?” Then Abu Hurayrah(may Allah be pleased with him) recited the following verse: “[Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah.” (2) (3)
It is noteworthy that Muslim scholars differed on the meaning of Fitrah (instinct) mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an and Sunnah. There are many opinions on this issue; some of them said: “the child is born on a pure instinct that is the natural inclination to Islam.” while some says: “Fitrah refers to the recognition of Allah and confession of monotheism, the covenant that Allah took on the children of Adam when they were in the spinal columns of their parents, as Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware." (4) Whilst other Muslim scholars said: “The child is born on a pure instinct, free from any belief, neither with belief nor with disbelief. (5)
The clear meaning of the Glorious Qur'an and Sunnah denote that Fitrah means the inherent inclination, inborn desire and innate tendency to Islam. This conclusion is supported by the indication of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) as he mentioned that the deviation is an accidental factor and alien thing to the pure nature of a newborn that happens due to some external cause. He (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) pointed to one of the strongest causes that cause deviation from the right path, such as the parents who make their children a Jew, Christian or Magi. The Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) did not say: “His parents make him Muslim.”, because Islam is a natural and constant instinct that is instilled in his nature. Furthermore, this conclusion is also supported by the narration of `Iyadh Al-Majasha’i (6) who narrates that the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) reported from his Lord the Almighty, who said: “I have created My servants as one having a natural inclination to the worship of Allah but the devils turned them away from their right religion and made unlawful for them what I have declared lawful for them and they commanded them to ascribe partnership with Me, though I had sent down no authority for that.” (7)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in this regard: “the proofs of the Glorious Qur’an, blessed Sunnah and conclusion of pious ancestors denote that people were created on the religion of Allah, confession of monotheism, His recognition, His love and His obedience. It is the demand of their soul that becomes a practical fact if there was nothing to oppose or stop it; it does not require any thing new; it requires only the absence of obstacles. In fact, the absence of belief in some cases returns to some foreign and unnatural causes. That is why; the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) did not mention any condition for the presence of Fitrah or instinct. Rather, he (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) has mentioned the external cause that diverts from Islam. Therefore, he (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “And then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian (8).” (9)
(1) Ar-Rum 30: 30.
(2) Ar-Rum 30: 30.
(3) Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. See: Ibn Hajar, Fat’h Al-Bari, Hadith No.11, p. 493, An-Nawawi, commentary on Sahih Muslim, vol. 5, p. 512.
(4) Al-A`araf: 172.
(5) See this subject in detail in Al-Qurtubi, Al-Jami`a Li Ahkam Al-Qur’an, vol.14, pp. 25 and afterwards, and Ibn Al-Qayyim, Shifa’ Al-`Alil, pp. 283 and afterwards, Maktabah, Ar-Riyadh Al-Hadithiyyah, 1st edition, year 1323 A.H. and Al- Baghawi, Sharh As-Sunnah (Explanation of the Hadith), edited by Zuhayr Ash-Shawish and Sho`aib Al-Arnaout, vol. 1, p. 157, Al-Maktab Al-Islami, 1st edition, year 1390 A.H.
(6) `Iyadh ibn Himar, At-Tamimi Al-Majasha’I, a companion of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) who resided in Basra and lived until about 50 A.H. See: Al-Isabah vol.3 p.48, and Taqrib At-Tahdhib p.437.
(7) Reported by Muslim. See An-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim vol.5, p.716.
(8) Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, as was mentioned previously.
(9) Ibn Al-Qayyim, Shifa` Al-`Alil, pp. 302, 303.