Babies born upon Fitrah but without knowledge
Fatwa No: 328729

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. There is a verse in the Quran that says that babies are born without knowledge when they come out of the womb; how do we reconcile this with the fact that they are born upon the Fitrah (natural disposition).

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  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allaah says (what means): {And Allaah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.} [Quran 16:78]

The meaning of the verse as stated by At-Tabari is:

Allaah taught you that which you did not know after He brought you out of the wombs of your mothers while you did not understand anything or know anything. So He blessed you with a mind by which you know things and distinguish between what is good and what is evil, and He made you perceive with it that which you were not able to perceive, and he gave you the hearing by which you hear the sounds, and so each one of you understands the conversation that he has with the other, and He gave you the sight by which you see the people and recognize each other and distinguish between one another.

There is no contradiction between this verse and the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “Every child is born upon the Fitrah..."

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 290203.

The Fitrah mentioned in the hadeeth is the creation, and it was said that it is Islam, and it was said that it is the eligibility to accept the truth, and there are other sayings.

Al-Iraaqi, when explaining the hadeeth, said in Tarh At-Tathreeb:

Every child is born upon the Fitrah… The scholars differed in opinion about what is meant by the Fitrah: The first view is that what is meant is the creation, the first known creation that is different from the creation of animals; meaning upon a creation that entitles him to know his Lord when he reaches the status of knowing things; this was mentioned by Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr from a group of jurists. He said, 'But they [the jurists] denied that a new-born is created upon disbelief or faith; rather, he believes in this after reaching puberty when he becomes able to distinguish between things, because if he is created at the first place upon something, then he would not change it, whereas we may find them as believers and then they disbelieve, and it is impossible that the child realizes disbelief or Faith when he is born; Allaah says (what means): {And Allaah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.} [Quran 16:78] If someone does not know anything, then it is impossible for him to disbelieve and believe.' Ibn Abdul-Barr said, 'This is the most correct view about this issue.'

The second view is that what is meant here is Islam. This was reported by Ibn Abdul-Barr from Abu Hurayrah, Az-Zuhri, and others. They said that this is what is known according to most scholars of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) who were interpreters of the Quran, as they agreed in consensus that the saying of Allaah (which means) {[Adhere to] the Fitrah of Allaah upon which He has created [all] people.} [Quran 30:30] means the religion of Islam. They provided evidence of the statement of Abu Hurayrah in this hadeeth: '...and recite if you wish: {[Adhere to] the Fitrah of Allaah upon which He has created [all] people.}' They also provided evidence of the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in the hadeeth that was narrated by Iyaadh ibn Hammad: 'Allaah created Aadam (Adam) and his sons upon one religion as Muslims.'' Then Ibn Abdul-Barr refuted this, (explaining) that Islam is impossible from a child. Al-Maaziri determined that what was meant by the Fitrah is the covenant that Allaah had taken from the children of Aadam - in his loins - when He made them testify, [saying to them], 'Am I not your Lord?' And he said that birth applies to it, so the expression applies to the parents. Abul ‘Abbaas Al-Qurtubi determined that Allaah created the hearts of the sons of Aadam upon the eligibility to accept the truth as He created their eyes and their hearing able to visualize and hear, so it continued upon this acceptance, and it is upon this eligibility that it realized the truth and the religion of Islam. Abul ‘Abbaas Al-Qurtubi considered this as authentic in the narration that we have already mentioned by Muslim, 'Upon this religion – i.e. Islam.' In reference to the religion of Islam, he said, 'This is explicitly stated in the authentic hadeeth: 'Allaah created the creation upon the predisposition to know Him, then the devils misled them.'' In the same meaning is the statement of An-Nawawi; that the most correct view is that its meaning is that every child is born while prepared to accept Islam. If the parents of a child are Muslims, or only one of them is, then the child continues on Islam in regard to the rulings of this worldly life and the Hereafter, and if his parents are disbelievers (non-Muslims), then his ruling is the same as that of his parents, so he follows them in regard to the rulings of this worldly life. This is the meaning of, 'They turn him into a Jew or a Christian,' i.e. he is ruled to be like them in this worldly life. If the child reaches puberty, then the ruling of a disbeliever continues to be applied to him, and if it is written for him to be among the successful people, then he will embrace Islam, and otherwise, he will die on disbelief (as a non-Muslim)…

Allaah knows best.

Related Fatwa