Every newborn child is predisposed to be Muslim
Fatwa No: 26645

Question

A non-Muslim asked me why I am a Muslim and not a Christian, and if this is just because my parents were Muslims. I told him that taking after one’s parents is not enough to achieve sincere belief. However, I could not give a convincing reply. I want to know why we are Muslims and not Christians.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alyhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that every child is born with Islam as his innate religion then his parents convert him to Judaism, Christianity, or Magianism. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This Hadeeth (narration) indicates that Islam is the religion of the natural disposition and all other religions are acquired

Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that disbelief is not natural, but an acquired quality. That is, every baby is a Muslim at birth and this quality may be changed by an external cause. This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that parents may convert their child to Judaism, Christianity, or Magianism, but he did not say to Islam, because all children are Muslim at birth. An-Nawwawi and At-Teebi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them said that this Hadeeth means that every child is born predisposed to Islam. That is, if his parents are Muslim, the child will continue to be a Muslim and all the rulings of Islam will apply to him in this life, but if his parents are disbelievers, he will be like them and all the relevant rulings will apply to him in this worldly life.

Therefore, a child whose parents are Muslims is not taking after his parents -- he is a Muslim because he has retained  his natural state. Those who convert to Judaism, Christianity, Magianism or any other religion are taking after their parents.

We hope that this explanation is sufficient.

Allaah Knows best.

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