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The Islamic Position on the Divine Command Theory

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org

Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt


Any ideas on what are the best Islamic responses to the divine command theory?


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for contacting Mathabah.

The “divine command theory” refers to the belief that what is moral, and what is immoral, is commanded by the Divine.  

In Islam, the belief is whatever Allāh commands is upright, moral and good. Adhering to Allāh’s commands will lead one to a life of contentment and happiness. Allāh has also divinely instilled the ability for us as humans to ascertain the good and the bad.

Almighty Allāh and the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) have laid down principles for the best of guidance in every aspect of our lives, which also includes morality. The human nature (firah) that Allāh created and also, the intellect that Allāh gave us to determine morality is tied to our spirituality. For example, we love kindness, speaking the truth, respecting others etc. because we love Allāh. – (See: Madārij Al-Sālikīn, Vol 1, Page 245, Al-Maktabah Al-Shāmilah)[1]

“And when they commit an immorality, they say, “We found our fathers doing it, and Allāh has ordered us to do it.” Say, “Indeed, Allāh does not order immorality. Do you say about Allāh that which you do not know?” – (Qur’ān 7:28)[2]

Only Allāh knows best.

[1]     فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سُبْحَانَهُ فَطَرَ عِبَادَهُ عَلَى اسْتِحْسَانِ الصِّدْقِ وَالْعَدْلِ، وَالْعِفَّةِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ، وَمُقَابَلَةِ النِّعَمِ بِالشُّكْرِ، وَفَطَرَهُمْ عَلَى اسْتِقْبَاحِ أَضْدَادِهَا، وَنِسْبَةُ هَذَا إِلَى فِطَرِهِمْ وَعُقُولِهِمْ كَنِسْبَةِ الْحُلْوِ وَالْحَامِضِ إِلَى أَذْوَاقِهِمْ، وَكَنِسْبَةِ رَائِحَةِ الْمِسْكِ وَرَائِحَةِ النَّتْنِ إِلَى مَشَامِّهِمْ، وَكَنِسْبَةِ الصَّوْتِ اللَّذِيذِ وَضِدِّهِ إِلَى أَسْمَاعِهِمْ، وَكَذَلِكَ كَلُّ مَا يُدْرِكُونَهُ بِمَشَاعِرِهِمُ الظَّاهِرَةِ وَالْبَاطِنَةِ، فَيُفَرِّقُونَ بَيْنَ طَيِّبِهِ وَخَبِيثِهِ، وَنَافِعِهِ وَضَارِّهِ – كتاب مدارج السالكين ج١/ص٢٤٥

[2] وَإِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهَا آبَاءَنَا وَاللَّهُ أَمَرَنَا بِهَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ ۖ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ – الأعراف ٢٨

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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