Islamic “fitra” and “the light of Christ”

Islamic “fitra” and “the light of Christ” April 16, 2024


Teichert's Benjamin
King Benjamin addresses his people, in a painting by Minerva Teichert
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

Newly posted on the never-changing website of the Interpreter Foundation:

The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 17: “Filled with Love towards God and All Men” (Mosiah 1-3)

On the evening of Sunday, 31 March 2024, Martin Tanner and Terry Hutchinson discussed Book of Mormon lesson 17, “Filled with Love towards God and All Men,” covering Mosiah 1-3, during the. Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show.

Their conversation was recorded and, having been freed of commercial interruptions, has now been archived for your listening enjoyment and convenience.  The other segments of the 31 March 2024 radio show can be accessed at

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard live every Sunday evening from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  It can also be heard live on the Internet at

Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024): Lesson 17, April 22-28: Mosiah 1-3: “Filled with Love towards God and All Men”

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.

In related news:  “BYU’s space ace: Minor planet named in honor of Jani Radebaugh”

You might enjoy watching Jani Radebaugh address the topic of “The Outer Solar System: A Window to the Creative Breadth of Divinity”” on the website of the Interpreter Foundation.  Her remarks were given as part of the Foundation’s November 2013 symposium on “Science and Mormonism.”

Young LDS women
A league of their own? What? Why on earth should they be permitted to have a league of their own?

“U.K. Culture Secretary Tells Sports Chiefs to Protect Female Athletics: ‘Give Women a Sporting Chance’”

I enjoyed this brief article:  “How can we address the decline in religion?”

Michelangelos's God and Adam
The Creation of Adam.  (A Wikimedia Commons public domain image of a detail from Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in the Vatican)

The Arabic word fitra or fitrah فطرة)) is rendered in English by terms such as “original disposition,” “natural constitution,” or “innate nature.”  Its triconsonantal verbal root f-t-r carries the signification “to split” or “to cleave,” which is also found in the term Iftar (“breaking” the fast) and in the name of the Islamic Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, as well as in the title of the 82nd sura of the Qur’an (Surat Al-Infitar ). Arabic lexicographers also relate it to the concept expressed by the English verb “to create.” Thus, Fatir is commonly translated as originator or creator — see Qur’an 35 (al-Fatir) and fitra seems to refer to the “state of creation.”

In Islam, fitra is innate human nature that recognizes the existence (and the oneness) of God. It is inborn.  Muslims typically believe that every human is born in a state of purity and innocence.

So turn your face toward religion as a hanif [a term that requires an explanation that is beyond the scope of this blog entry]. [Adhere to] the fitra of God according to which He has created [fatara] [all] people. There should be no change in the creation [khalq] of God. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.  (Qur’an 30:30)

Moreover, all of the children of Adam made a covenant with God even before they were sent to earth, recognizing his Lordship (7:172–173), which properly makes them accountable to him.

Much more needs to be developed on this concept of fitra, but it seems obvious to me that it is fundamentally similar to John Calvin’s idea of a sensus divinitatis, an innate sense of divinity or deity that is inborn in every human soul:

That there exists in the human mind and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity [sensus divinitatis], we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead. .  . .  this is not a doctrine which is first learned at school, but one as to which every man is, from the womb, his own master; one which nature herself allows no individual to forget.  (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

The “Reformed epistemology” advanced by the eminent Protestant philosopher Alvin Plantinga, of the University of Notre Dame, argues for a modified form of the sensus divinitatis.  According to Plantinga, all humans have a sense of divinity, although — due to the noetic effects of sin, which is to say due to its effects upon the intellect and upon mental activity — it fails to function properly in some humans.  In the Roman Catholic tradition, the prominent twentieth-century German Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner similarly proposed that all human beings naturally have a latent awareness of God.

It also seems obvious to me that such ideas are connected with the Latter-day Saint concept of the “light of Christ,” which includes both a capacity to receive and recognize divine truth and, at the same time, basic conscience and moral intuition::

Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fillthe immensity of space—

The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.  (Doctrine and Covenants 88:12-13)

As the prophet Mormon taught:

The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. . . .  And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

Preparing to distribute wheat.
The Church’s humanitarian efforts are many and varied.  Thus, obviously, the situation is horrible beyond words.  (

And, finally, lest you grow too comfortable and complacent, I here offer up a chilling pair of theistic crimes from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™.  Remember always that eternal vigilance is the price of ideologically-driven paranoia:

“Recent Donations and Humanitarian Efforts in Brazil Help Increase Skills and Self-Reliance: Medical equipment, language training, new playgrounds and more are part of recent donations from the Church”

“Youth Join JustServe Efforts Around North Texas With Cleanup Projects, Donations and More: Service efforts in North Texas include helping food pantries, gardens and cemeteries”



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