What does Islamic fitra (primordial nature) mean?
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, says
that all infants are born with this Islamic fitra, and then their parents
cause them to adopt another faith (or no faith at all).
This hadith means that everyone has the innate potential to become a Muslim.
Meaning peace, salvation, and obedience, Islam is the natural religion of all
creatures. Since everything obeys God absolutely and functions according to
His laws, all creatures are Muslim. Every being’s bodily structure, regardless
of religion or lack thereof, whether they are human or jinn, are Muslim, for
all bodies operate according to the laws God Almighty determined for them. If
an infant led a completely monastic life free of environmental effects, he or
she would remain a “natural” Muslim.
This hadith also means that an infant’s mind is like a tape on which anything
can be recorded, a lump of dough that can be shaped in any way, a blank paper
on which anything can be written. If you could protect yourself against any
external thing that would corrupt your mind, you could receive anything related
to Islam easily and become a perfect Muslim. But if your mind becomes impure,
or you inject into it the tenets, beliefs, and conduct of another religion (or
of atheism), you either will adopt another faith or encounter many problems
on your way to becoming a good Muslim.
Infants are like seeds that can produce good Muslims, for they are all seeds
of future Muslims. Adverse conditions cause these seeds to be deformed or spoiled,
and these people eventually adopt another faith or none at all. Therefore, to
grow good Muslims, we have to do our best to improve our familial and surrounding
social conditions. After children reach puberty, sins are a primary cause of
deformed seeds. As every sin has the potential to divert sinners to unbelief,
we must protect ourselves against sin. Family, education, and social environment
are also of great importance.