Verse 30 in Chapter 30 of the Qur’an is one of the most profound and important verses of the Holy Qur’an. In this verse, we are called to recognize something that is so natural to us. God says:
So yet your face toward the religion (in an) upright (manner). The nature of Allah according to which He created human nature. There is no altering Allah’s creation. That is the upright religion, but most people do not know.
The religion mentioned in the above verse is the particular religion revealed by Allah because of the definitive article “the” attached to the “Religion” and not any religion. This religion is called Islam as Allah says:
Religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. (3:19)
It is the religion of Islam that was perfected and chosen for the people as Allah says:
This day we have perfected your religion and completed our favors upon you and chosen Islam as your religion… (5:3)
According to verse 30:30, religion is not an external imposition but a yearning from within us. It is for this reason the Qur’an says:
“There is no compulsion in religion, the truth is distinct from error” (2:254)
The clause “the nature of Allah according to which He created human nature” in verse 30:30 shows that the religion (of Islam) conforms to human nature. Therefore, human beings should naturally move toward and adhere to religion in such a manner that they should not diverge from it. This manner is indicated by the adverb “upright”.
Therefore, the human being—like all creatures—is originated with a nature (fiṭra) that directs her to complete her deficiencies and fulfill her needs and tells her what is to her benefit and detriment in her life. God says: …by the soul and that which fashioned it… (91:7). In addition to this, she is endowed with all the abilities necessary to follow this nature; Then He made the way easy for him… (80:20).
The clause “there is no alteration in the creation of Allah” in verse 30:30 negates any alteration to the previous clause “the Nature of Allah according to which He created human nature”.
Human nature (fitra) guides the human being to a specific way of living or to a particular path with a single destination that she must follow.
In tafsir al-Mizan, the author says there is no difference in what harms and benefits mankind. For example, happiness or misery is one and the same for all human beings and the general principles on which human beings base their actions must be one and the same. Therefore, the guide that leads them to a specific way of living is also one and the same.
Question: What if human happiness differed from one person to another?
Reply: If this were the case, it would be impossible for a single society to exist that could guarantee the happiness of its members.
Question: Can human happiness differ from one region to the other?
Reply: No, otherwise religion would be based on that region and the human being would not be a single species but many – one for each region.
Question: Can human happiness differ from one time to another?
Reply: No because each generation would be a different species to one before it.
In short, if human happiness differed from one person to another or from one region to another or from one time to another, there would be no progress in human society and humanity would not move toward perfection unless there is a single frame of reference. Therefore, the correct way for human beings to live is also a single stable way of life – a reality shared between all human beings. It is around this axis that the wheel of humanity turns including the ways of living that are particular to different individuals, times and places.
Question: Is the religion of Islam innate and if so, in what way?
Reply: The original human was a simple human being who lived according to his innate nature (fitra) not corrupted by errors in thinking or selfish desires. He was in this state and very close to realizing the basics of true beliefs and the general precepts of the divine laws as he lived and moved according to his innate human nature. However, as for being guided to the specifics of true beliefs and detailed prescriptions of the divine laws, this required special guidance in the form of sending prophets. This is what is alluded to in the Qur’an:
Mankind were a single community; then Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that it may judge between the people concerning that about which they differed, and none differed in it except those who had been given it, after the manifest proofs had come to them, out of envy among themselves. Then Allah guided those who had faith to the truth of what they differed in, by His will, and Allah guides whomever He wishes to a straight path. (2:213)
Based on the above, religion is innate in every human being.
The Qur’an, through verse 30:30, is reminding us that our ability to engage in being “religious” is one of the most important struggles of our life. It forces us to engage in some kind of self-criticism.
Reference: Tafsir al-Mizan, Eng. Volume 31, pub. Tawheed Institute Australia, 2020.