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From wikishia

ʿAdlīyya (Arabic: العَدْلية) is a theological term used to describe both Shi'as and Mu'tazilites. The term, which translates to "proponent of justice," signifies their belief that there is an inherent sense of goodness and badness, rightness and wrongness, which serves as the basis for God's actions, by which He is considered just. As a result, justice is a fundamental principle in Shi'a Islam and one of the five principles of the Mu'tazila.

In contrast to the 'Adliyya, the Ash'arites hold a different belief regarding goodness and badness. They argue that there is no inherent goodness or badness in reality. Instead, they believe that what God commands is deemed good, and what He forbids is considered bad. As Morteza Motahhari explains, all Islamic sects and denominations acknowledge the justice of God, but they differ in their interpretations of divine justice.

The implication of the 'Adliyya's belief in rational goodness and badness is that, in addition to the Qur'an, the tradition, and consensus as sources of religious rulings accepted by all Muslims, they also recognize the authority of reason as a valid source for deducing Sharia rulings.

Divine Justice: A Major Problem in Islamic Theology

The issue of justice is regarded as a significant problem in Islamic theology, leading to a division among Muslim theologians into 'Adliyya and non-'Adliyya camps.[1] The principle of justice holds great importance in Shi'a belief, being one of the five core principles.[2] Additionally, it is the second principle among the five principles of Mu'tazilite theology, which is followed by some Sunni theological sects.[3]

Main Question in Divine Justice

As per Morteza Motahhari, the issue of divine justice does not revolve around whether God is just, as all Muslim scholars acknowledge God's justice, and no Islamic sect denies it. The question lies in the correct interpretation of divine justice:[4] whether there exists a criterion for justice that guides God's existential and legislative laws, including His commands and prohibitions, or whether there is no specific criterion for justice and whatever God does is considered an act of justice.[5]

In other words, the question boils down to whether good and bad, advantages and disadvantages, and rights and wrongs exist independently, serving as the basis for God's rulings, or if God's rulings come first, shaping the concepts of good and bad, right and wrong.[6]

For example, the question arises as to whether God commands individuals to be trustworthy because it is inherently good and carries inherent advantages, and prohibits the betrayal of trust because it is inherently bad and entails inherent disadvantages, or alternatively, whether there are no inherent advantages or disadvantages, and actions are deemed good solely because God has commanded them, while others are considered bad simply because God has forbidden them.[7]

Who Are 'Adliyya?

Within Islamic theological schools, 'Adliyya is a term used to refer to Shia and Mu'tazila.[8] Theologians from these traditions uphold the belief in rational goodness and badness. This means that actions are inherently and rationally classified as good or bad, regardless of whether God declares them as such. In essence, reason discerns certain actions as good and others as bad, and God is considered just because He aligns with the good and bad as determined by reason.[9]

Opponents of 'Adliyya

Ash'arites, in contrast to Shi'a and Mu'tazilite theologians, form a group of Muslim theologians who reject the notion of rational goodness and badness. They instead believe in religious or Sharia-based goodness and badness. According to their perspective, reason is incapable of discerning goodness and badness. In other words, they do not acknowledge the existence of inherent good and bad. Instead, they assert that whatever God commands is considered good, and whatever He forbids is considered bad. They argue that without the guidance of Sharia, the concepts of goodness and badness would not exist.[10]

Authoritativeness of Reason for 'Adliyya

According to Morteza Motahhari, 'Adliyya, who acknowledge rational goodness and badness, consider reason as a valid source for jurisprudential rulings, alongside the Qur'an, the tradition, and consensus, which are universally accepted by Muslims. Therefore, they view reason as a type of religious evidence that can be utilized for ijtihad and the deduction of Sharia rulings.[11] This stands in contrast to the non-'Adliyya, who believe that reason cannot lead us to Sharia laws.[12]


  1. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 811.
  2. Muḥammadī Reyshahrī, Dānishnāma-yi ʿaqāʾid-i Islāmī, vol. 8, p. 99.
  3. Subḥānī, Farhang-i ʿaqāʾid wa madhāhib-i Islāmī, vol. 4, p. 51.
  4. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 3, p. 73.
  5. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 811-812.
  6. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 813.
  7. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 811-812.
  8. Ḥillī, Istiqṣāʾ al-nazar fī l-qaḍāʾ wa l-qadar, p. 34; Mashkūr, Farhang-i firaq-i Islāmī, p. 333.
  9. Ḥillī, Kashf al-murād, p. 302-303.
  10. Ḥillī, Kashf al-murād, p. 302.
  11. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 815.
  12. Muṭahharī, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 4, p. 814.


  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Istiqṣāʾ al-nazar fī l-qaḍāʾ wa l-qadar. Edited by Muḥammad Ḥusaynī Nayshābūrī. Mashhad: Dār Anbāʾ al-Ghayb, 1418 AH.
  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Kashf al-murād fī sharḥ tajrīd al-iʿtiqād. Edited by Ḥasan Ḥasanzāda Āmulī. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1413 AH.
  • Muḥammadī Reyshahrī, Muḥammad. Dānishnāma-yi ʿaqāʾid-i Islāmī. Qom: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1385 Sh.
  • Mashkūr, Muḥammad Jawād. Farhang-i firaq-i Islāmī. Mashhad: Āstān-i Quds-i Raḍawī, 1375 Sh.
  • Muṭahharī, Murtaḍā. Majmūʿa-yi āthār. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ṣadrā, 1384 Sh.
  • Subḥānī, Jaʿfar. Farhang-i ʿaqāʾid wa madhāhib-i Islāmī. 1st edition. Qom: Nashr-i Tawḥīd, 1373 SH.