Plato's The Euthyphro Dilemma

If divine command theory is true then either (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, or (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.

Has this issue been discussed by past Islam scholars?

  • Maybe you should add why it's a dilemma: if (i) is true, then Allah is not the moral authority and unnecessary to distinguish good actions from bad ones, and if (ii) is true, then he is a dictator and whatever he says goes, so if he commands genocide then genocide is good. The reason this is an issue is because neither of these is really appealing to Western theists. I would expect Muslim scholars not to see any problem with (ii), they would just stick with "it's His divine privilege and we got no business criticizing Him", as they do with eternal torture in hell. – G. Bach Mar 20 '18 at 14:51

Something is good because the God wills it. Something is bad Because the God wills it. Everything is by the order of Allah. An act is good or bad by the will of Allah.


I have not read about any Muslim scholar that has talked about this problem you are speaking of, but it is solvable simply.

First of all, the wording in this dilemma is a significant problem. Morally good? What does that even mean? Islam talks about Justice and Mercy. So, I am going to consider justice and mercy as morally good. Justice and mercy are much easier to define. Justice is to fulfill everyone's rights and your responsibilities and rewards and punishments. Thus, true justice is not possible except when you know everything (so as to take everything into account). Mercy is when instead of being completely Just, you skew the action in favor of the other person. Punish them less than they deserve or Reward them more than they deserve.

Allah is All-Just and Most-Merciful. Thus, everything Allah does is Just and He is Merciful. So, we say all that Allah has commanded us is from his Wisdom and for justice and mercy, and following Him is the best way to truly be the most just you can be, as his commands come from His complete knowledge.

Indeed Allah enjoins justice and kindness and generosity towards relatives, and He forbids indecency, wrong, and aggression. He advises you, so that you may take admonition. (16:90)

Some things Allah commands and why they are good:-

Worshipping Allah (Good):

  • Allah has a right to be worshipped and praised, and by not doing it you are ignoring his rights and your responsibilities

Charity (Good):

  • Society has a right over part of our money, and giving more is merciful

Killing Innocents (Evil):

  • We don't have the right to kill innocent people

If we consider moral goodness justice and mercy:

Allah commands good because He is All-Just and the Most Merciful. So, in a sense, you can see both (i) and (ii) are true. Allah commands good (justice and mercy) because it is good (just and merciful), and whatever he commands is good because He is All-Just and the Most Merciful.

  • I think you've missed the entire point of the argument here; it's not a question of whether justice and mercy are good or whether we can implement them without divine knowledge, it's a question of whether they're good because Allah says so, or does Allah command them because they're inherently good? – goldPseudo Mar 21 '18 at 0:55
  • @goldPseudo Changed last paragraph to answer question – The Z Mar 21 '18 at 1:07
  • Except you're not answering the question: You take two examples of Allah's command, but these really don't map to everything that He has commanded of us (i.e. everything that is "morally good" according to Divine Command Theory). For example, you gloss over mankind's responsibility to worship Allah: Is worshipping Allah good because Allah says so, or is it inherently good whether He commands it or not? Or the same with any of Allah's other commands? – goldPseudo Mar 21 '18 at 1:36
  • @goldPseudo The question didn't ask about specific commands of Allah and their status of good. Do you think I should add an explanation about worshipping Allah, etc.? – The Z Mar 21 '18 at 1:39

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