Is it true everyone is born a Muslim?
If yes can you give a little detail as to what happens after birth and how the person doesn’t remain Muslim.
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
Everyone is not born a Muslim.
A ‘Muslim’ with respect to the technical meaning which is used in the Shariah means one who believes in, and accepts Allah as the One God, who Has no son, equal or partner. A ‘Muslim’ accepts the Holy Quran as the final revealed scripture and believes in it as a true revelation from Allah. He believes in all the Prophets from Adam (A.S) until the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and accepts Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as the final Prophet, whom he takes as his prophet and follows his teachings. Along with this, a ‘Muslim’ believes in the Oneness and attributes of Allah, in His Angels, Scriptures, in Qadr, in life after death, in Paradise and in Hell.
With respect to this meaning and definition of being a ‘ Muslim’, not everyone is born a Muslim.
Islam is the ‘true faith’ (Islam) which one is required to acquire after coming to the world, which he did not have at the time of birth. It is about this, Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A) wrote in his famous book of Aqeedah ‘Al Fiqh Al Akbar’: ‘Allah Most High created all created beings free from unbelief and true faith. He then addressed them (at maturity when they possessed intellect) and commanded them (to have true faith and obedience). Thereafter, whoever disbelieved, did so through his own doing by rejecting and repudiating the truth, Allah having forsaken him; and whoever believed did so through his own choosing by affirming the truth and being convinced of it, Allah having granted him divine guidance and assistance’. (Sharh Fiqh Al Akbar by Mulla Ali Al Qari pg. 82, 83 Darul Kutub Al Ilmiyah Bairut 2007).
The statement that is commonly said that ‘Everyone is born a Muslim’ means that everyone is born on a natural path having the capability and capacity to recognise/know his creator and believe in Him. Thus, the capability given to man eventually leads to submission to Islam.
Everyone is born on a clear path which is free from Shirk and Kufr. He is born upon a natural clear path which will take him to the truth, once he is not misguided. It is in this regard the hadith says, ‘Every child is born upon the Fitrah (natural path) of Islam. But his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Fire Worshipper.’ (Bukhari; Muslim). While explaining this hadith, the scholars have stated, ‘What is meant by being born upon the ‘Fitrah’ of Islam is that a person is born with the innate ability to be guided (follow the path of guidance). He is born in a prepared state to accept the religion of Allah. If one is left alone, then he will surely adopt the path of guidance and will not deviate from it. This is so because the recognition of the goodness of the religion of Allah has already been placed in the nature of man. However, he turns away from the straight path due to influences from others. (Fath Al Baari-Kitab Al Janaiz vol. 3 pg. 318 Qadeemi Kutub Khana.)
Imam An Nawawi has also stated, ‘The most correct opinion is that the hadith means ‘that every new born is born in a state that he is prepared for Islam’. (Sharh An Nawawi of Sahih Muslim-Kitab Al Qadr vol. 2 Pg. 337 Qadeemi Kutub Khana).
These explanations show that a child is born upon a path which will take him to that which is the truth. This path is free from shirk and kufr, and the heart of the new born is clean and pure which has the natural inclination to accept the true faith and follow it. However, as the child grows, he/she becomes influenced by his/ her surroundings and environment. This comprise of the parents and the religion they follow, and friends who may have an influence on the growing child. Very soon, the child begins to accept what is given by those around him, and he starts to believe in the same. This is the manner in which the child is eventually taken away from the natural path upon which he was created.
The scholars have also explained that the path that mankind is born upon is termed as ‘natural faith’ and not acquired faith. The ‘natural faith’ refered to as ‘Fitrah’ has been used in the Holy Quran and Hadeeth and it is termed as ‘Natural Faith’ based on the covenant which man took from his Lord. In this regard, Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) writesin Al Fiqh Al Akbar, ‘Allah extracted the progeny of Adam (A.S) from his loins and endowed them with intelligence. He then addressed them, commanding them to believe, and prohibiting them from unbelief. They affirmed His Lordship, and that was faith on their part, thus, they are born on this natural faith.’ (Sharh Fiqh Al Akbar –Mulla Ali Ali Qaari pgs 83,84- Darul Kutub Al Ilmiyah Beirut 2007).
The scholars have thus explained that acceptance of Islam and following it as one’s way of life is the acquired faith which one must adopt in his life. As for the state upon which one is born, this is ‘natural faith’ known as ‘Fitrah’ and not the acquired faith which is Islam.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseen KKhan.