Theology

Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 192
eBook Price: $3/Php150

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Preface
Chapter 1 – The Meaning of Fiṭrah
Chapter 2 – Man’s Dispositions
Chapter 3 – Sacred Inclinations
Chapter 4 – Love and Worship as Proof of Human Inclinations
Chapter 5 – Spiritual Love: Marxism and the Permanence of Human Values
Chapter 6 – The Evolution of Human Originality
Chapter 7 – The Foundation and Origin of Religion
Chapter 8 – Love and Worship
Chapter 9 – The Innate Nature of Religion
Chapter 10 – An Examination and Refutation of Durkheim’s Theory
Chapter 11 – The Qur’anic View on the Origin of Religion

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Ways to Attain Gnosis (ma‘rifah)

gnosis

In general, man can attain ontological (takwīnī) and legislative (tashri‘ī) knowledge through the following four ways:

  1. Sensual way (ṭarīq-e ḥissī) or sensual knowledge: sensual knowledge has the following characteristics:

Firstly, it is particular and personal.

Secondly, it is confined to material realities.

Thirdly, it is limited to the outward aspects of material phenomena and it has no access to the quiddities of things.

Therefore, although it has an important contribution in worldview and man is not independent from it, sensual knowledge cannot provide a comprehensive and firm worldview for man.

  1. Rational way (ṭarīq-e ‘aqlī): the components of this type of knowledge are universal rational principles and rules and its form consists of rational analysis and synthesis. This knowledge has the following characteristics:

a. It is universal and all-encompassing.

b. Its scope is the absolute existence including both the material (māddī) and the immaterial (mujarrad).

c. It encompasses even the essence and quiddities of things, yet it is incapable of discerning and knowing the manifestations and particularities of things.

In view of the above points, we can conclude that since some manifestations and particularities are outside the domain of the sensual and rational knowledge, it follows that the sensual and rational knowledge cannot separately or jointly address the epistemological need of man, although they have a big share in this regard and without them, the epistemological system of man cannot take shape.

  1. Way of inward overture and intuition (ṭarīq-e kashf wa shuhūd-e bāṭinī) this type of knowledge is intuitive (shuhūdī) and presential (ḥuḍūrī); that is, through his heart and soul, man directly witnesses the truths within and outside his being.

Intuitive witnessing and discernment of external truths can be realized provided that the self (nafs) is purified through abstinence (riyāḍah) and free from the entanglements and fetters of materialistic inclinations. Abstinence necessitates rational and lawful regulations. For this reason, this method is in need of reason (‘aql) and the Divine law (sharī‘ah)

  1. Way of the Divine revelation and inspiration (ṭarīq-e waḥyi wa ilhām): although this type of knowledge is based upon sensory perception (ḥiss) and reason, Divine revelation deepens man’s sensual and rational knowledge because Divine revelation unveils truths which are beyond the realm of man’s sensual and rational knowledge; for example, knowledge of the details of laws and morality (the branches of religion or furū‘ al-dīn) as well as issues pertaining to the high levels of discursive knowledge about God such as the Divine Unity (tawḥīd) or subjects related to the next world.

DiscursiveTheology2 (An excerpt from ‘Ali Rabbani Gulpaygani, DISCURSIVE THEOLOGY, Volume 2, trans. Mansoor Limba (Manila: AIF, 2015), pp. 368.)

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