What is the definition of ‘Fitnah’ in Islam?

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Fatwa ID: 03136

Answered by:  Imam Abdul-Malik Sheikh​


What is the definition of ‘Fitnah’ in Islam?



In The Name Of Allah, The Most-Merciful, The Most Kind


Fitnah in the Arabic language means test or tribulation. From this comes the expression ‘Fatantu al-Dhahabbi an-Nar’ meaning ‘I tested the quality of the gold with fire’. (1)


The word of Fitnah is in Islam comes with a number of meanings. Fitnah means trial and tribulation:

“Do you think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe, and will not be tested?” (2)


Fitnah also means blocking, preventing or turn away from the path:

“But beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you” (3)


Fitnah can mean persecution, as Allah says:

“Indeed your Lord – for those who became fugitives after they had been persecuted, and then fought and were steadfast –verily your Lord afterwards is (for them) indeed Forgiving, Merciful” (4)


Fitnah can is sometimes used to describe a person that is afflicted with madness:

“Which of you is afflicted with madness” (5)


Fitnah sometimes refers to seeking discord due to hypocrisy and doubt in a person’s heart:

“But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the path thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord” (6)


Fitnah also means spreading corruption in the land:

“Had they marched out with you, they would have added to you nothing except disorder, and they would have hurried about in your midst (spreading corruption) and sowing sedition among you, and there are some among you who would have listened to them. And Allah is the All-Knower of the Zalimun” (7)


Fitnah also comes with the meaning of disobedience (ma’siya) and committing sins:

“Surely, they have fallen into disobedience” (8)


These are some examples from which it is clear that there is no single Islamic definition for Fitnah. Therefore the ruling of fitnah will also differ according to the state and applied definition.


Only Allah knows best

Written by Imam Abdul-Malik Sheikh

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham


  1. Maqayis al-Lughah of Ibn Faris, Dar al-Fikr, Vol 4 p.472
  2. Surah Al-Ankabut 2
  3. Surah al-Ma’idah 49
  4. Surah Nahl 110
  5. Surah Qalam 6
  6. Surah Aali Imran 7
  7. Surah al-Tawbah 47
  8. Surah al-Tawbah 49

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