I have recently been introduced to the term akhlaq, defined in Wikipedia as follows:

Akhlaq (Arabic: أخلاق‎) is an Arabic term referring to the practice of virtue, morality and manners in Islamic theology and falsafah (philosophy).

This to me sounds exactly the same as adab, a term I was already familiar with and which is defined in Wikipedia thus:

Adab, in the context of behavior, refers to prescribed Islamic etiquette: "refinement, good manners, morals, decorum, decency, humaneness".

On the surface, they appear to be referring to the same thing (i.e., good character, manners and morals). Are the two terms actually synonymous, or do they have different applications?

3 Answers 3


Akhlaq is more emotional, it’s similar to the word morals, you know the difference between right and wrong, or you feel for others etc...

Adab is more of an action and how people perceive you as having good morals, it is related to etiquette, and behavior, rather than an emotional act.


Adab is a part of akhlaq. It is simply giving respect mostly to your elders. Akhlaq is related with your personality. It is derived from the word Khulk, means disposition. When you keep doing something repeatedly you start doing it at spinal level, becomes your reflex action. It may be your intelligence, anger, desire or imagination.

You have two responsibilities in life. First your responsibilities towards Allah and second your responsibilities towards other people around you. This second action of yours towards other people is called as akhlaq. Read Quran, understand it, imbibe it, always follow tithe directives of Quran will come into your reflex action. This is the best Akhlaq. Muhammad s.a.w. has said," I have been sent to complete the best of Akhlaq." "The heaviest thing on the day of judgment will be Akhlaq."


Akhlagh is about morals (which are not physical) and abilities of soul. Akhlagh is morals that one has used to have them and has became the structure of his personality and usually are hard to change.

But Adab is about body and how to use body regarding others. For example greed or pride is included in Akhlagh and how to sit or talk your mother is included in Adab.


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