Fitrah of Human in the Quran
A third aspect of the human in the Quran is his natural disposition, which is described by the Quranic term fitrah. Like the physical creation and the spirit, the fiţrah proceeds directly from God. We read, “Orient your face towards the true religion, in accords with your natural disposition. [This is] the nature of God, upon which He has fashioned humanity. Let there be no alteration in the creation of God. That is the upright religion; however, most people realize it not” (30:30).
In this verse, God mentions that He has fashioned the human upon His nature. We can understand this as referring to, among other things, His waĥdāniyyah (oneness). This means that humans are fashioned to readily recognize that oneness, unless they have been removed from their natural state. This understanding is supported by the verse “I have not created the jinn and humankind except that they worship Me” (51:56), as well as the verse, “When your Lord brought the descendants of the Children of Adam from their loins, and caused them to bear witness against themselves, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ they said, ‘Certainly, we bear witness,’ lest they should say on the Day of Resurrection ‘We were heedless of this’” (7:172).
In this verse, God describes the descendants of Adam, peace be upon him, as extracted from his loins and then called to bear witness to the oneness of God. This pretemporal event imprinted upon human consciousness a natural disposition toward monotheism. Hence, “[this is] the nature of God, upon which He has fashioned humanity.” The dross of the world, which envelops the heart in darkness, leads many humans to reject their very nature, turning them away from God. Revelation and prophetic teachings remove that darkness and allow humans to reaffirm the pretemporal covenant of monotheism, thereby returning to their natural state.
Finally, the Quran informs us that the believers possess a “light.” We read,
On the Day you see the believing men and women with their light emanating before them and to their right. “Glad tidings are yours. [You will have] gardens with rivers flowing beneath to dwell therein forever. That, indeed, is the great triumph.” (57:12)
On a day God will not disgrace the Prophet and those believing along with him, their light emanating before them and to their right. They plead, “Our Lord complete for us our light and forgive us. Surely, You have power over all things.” (66:8)
Likewise, “One for whom God does not make light, he has no light” (24:40).
The light referred to in these verses has variously been described as the “actualized knowledge of God,” “the light of insight,” “a light given by God to the believers after their resurrection,” “the light of Divine Oneness,” “the light of obedience,” and “the light of guidance.” The prophetic tradition, however, introduces narrations that allow us to view this light from another perspective and to understand its divine origin. One of the prayers made by the Prophet ﷺ is the following: “O God, make light in my heart, light in my vision, light in my hearing, light to my right, light to my left, light before me, light behind me, make a light for me.” Another version adds, “and light in my hair, light in my skin, light in my flesh, light in my blood, and light in my bones.” This prayer was not just personal for him: it is instructional for us.
The Prophet ﷺ prayed to God that he be made into a being of light, and he taught us to make that prayer. This could mean that he was praying that the light of his spirit be reflected in his physical nature. Our physical nature can indeed be infused, by the will of God, with light. When that occurs, like the angels, who are created from light, we readily recognize the purpose of our creation and become monotheistic, obedient servants of the One.
Thus, the Quran presents a view of the human as a physical creature, a spiritual creature, a creature naturally disposed to worship, and an enlightened creature. Our body, our spirit, our predisposition to worship God, and our light are gifts sent directly from God to serve as critical means toward our attaining human perfection.
That perfection lies in cultivating those aspects of the spirit that transcend its animating qualities, actualizing our disposition to worship, and refining our light. When this happens, the human is a beautiful creature, and as such, a fitting object of divine love, for as our Prophet ﷺ mentioned, “Verily, God is beautiful and loves beauty.”