Objective morality: Hamza’s Allah vs Islam’s Allah

By Mahmudul Huq Shafi

Originally published on Shongshoy
The original article in Bangla can be found here
Translated by the author himself

Hamza Tzortzis is a highly regarded and popular Islamic apologist. Hamza uses moral philosophy to justify the existence of Allah. Here, we are going to dissect one of his articles to show how he does that. By analyzing his article, we will shed light on the characteristics of his Allah. Then, with the help of the Quran and the Sunnah, we will examine if, according to the Islamic creed, the Allah of Islam has the same characteristics as that of Hamza’s. To do so, first we need to understand Hamza’s article thoroughly. I would ask the reader to go through his article from the beginning to the end several times. Now, let’s understand Hamza’s Allah.

Allah of Hamza

Hamza Tzortzis believes in the existence of Allah. Why? He answers this in his popular article: KNOW GOD, KNOW GOOD: GOD AND OBJECTIVE MORALITY (1).  This article is adapted from his book “The Devine Reality: God, Islam & The Mirage of Atheism”. In this article, first he attempts to establish that objective morality does really exist. Then, based on the existence of objective morality, he presents the proof of his Allah. Now we must clarify Hamza’s understanding of objective morality. He presents his understanding like this-

First he defines the word “objective” (1)
“A basic definition is that the term refers to considering or representing facts without being influenced by personal feelings or opinions. In the case of morals, objective means that morality is not dependent or based on one’s mind or personal feelings. In this sense, it is ‘outside’ of one’s personal limited faculties. Mathematical truths (1+1=2) or scientific truths, like the Earth going round the Sun, are true regardless what we feel about them.


Later he gives the definition of “objective morality” (1)-

“This is doomed to failure because the definition of objective morality is that morals are independent of feelings, beliefs and cultural practices, so to use them as a means to deny the objectivity of morals is meaningless.”

Therefore, Hamza understands that objective morality is independent of feeling, beliefs and cultural practices. He gives an excellent example to clarify his points about objective morality (1).
“For instance, the fact that killing a five-year-old is morally wrong will always be true, even if the whole world were to agree that killing a young child is morally right.”

If we combine Hamza’s understanding of objective morality with this example, killing a five-year-old is morally wrong regardless of feelings, beliefs and cultural practices.
At this point, we can identify some characteristics of objective morality-

  1. Independent of feelings (e.g. personal affection or hatred)
  2. Independent of beliefs (e.g. religion)
  3. Independent of cultural practices (e.g. Arab culture or Bengali culture)

However, we can find an additional feature of objective morality in Hamza’s article. He writes (1)-

“Imagine you have come back from a busy day and you switch on the television. You skim through some of the channels. Shocked by a headline, you stop at a popular international news channel. Sure enough, the headline is truly appalling: Man Beheads Five-Year-Old Boy.

Now let me ask you a question. Was what this man did morally wrong? You, like the majority of decent human beings, say yes. Now answer this question: is it objectively morally wrong? Again, like most, you say yes.

However, here’s a final question: why is it objective?”

This implies that the majority of decent human beings know that killing a child is objectively wrong. Therefore, Hamza agrees that the majority of decent human beings can identify what’s objectively right and what’s objectively wrong. So, we can identify a very important characteristic of objective morality-

  1. What’s objectively right or wrong can be identified by the majority of decent human beings.

Hamza gives the proof of the existence of his Allah using some of these characteristics of objective morality. To do so, first he establishes that killing a five-year-old-boy is wrong because objective morality exists. Then he goes on to ask- why is this child-killing objectively immoral? According to him, this very question leads to the proof of the existence of Allah. Hamza writes-

“Coming back to the tricky question I raised earlier, let us try to answer it: why is it objective? The answer is simple. The morals that we consider to be objective are so because God exists [2]. Before I explain this further, I want to make sure that this has nothing to do with the beliefs that someone has. I am not saying “you cannot be an atheist and display moral or good behaviour” or “you have to believe in God to have moral traits such as defending the innocent or feeding the poor” or “just by being a believer you will behave well.” What I am saying is that if God does not exist, then there are no objective moral truths. Sure, we can act as if moral truths are objective, and many atheists throughout history have demonstrated admirable moral fortitude without believing morality requires a Divine basis. However, what I’m arguing is that, with God out of the picture, these moral values mean nothing more than social conventions. Therefore, moral truths such as “murdering innocent people for entertainment is wrong” and “defending the innocent is good”, for example, are merely social conventions without God, just like saying it is wrong to pass wind in public. This conclusion is based on the fact that God is the only rational foundation for objective morals. No other concept adequately provides such a foundation.

God provides this foundation because He is external to the universe and

transcends human subjectivity. Professor Ian Markham similarly explains, “God

explains the mysterious ought pressing down our lives; and God explains the

universal nature of the moral claim. As God is outside the world, God the creator

can be both external and make universal commands.

God provides this foundation because He is external to the universe and transcends human subjectivity. Professor Ian Markham similarly explains, “God explains the mysterious ought pressing down our lives; and God explains the universal nature of the moral claim. As God is outside the world, God the creator can be both external and make universal commands.””


In Hamza’s opinion, in order for objective morality to come into existence, Allah also comes into existence since it is only Allah who can provide the basis of objective morality because he is external to the universe and independent of human subjectivity, such as human feelings.
Now, slowly but surely, the fundamental characteristics of Hamza’s Allah is dawning on us. We can identify some fundamental characteristics of Hamza’s Allah-

  1. Hamza’s Allah is external to the universe.
  2. Hamza’s Allah transcends subjectivities.


However, the existence of Allah and objective morality gives rise to a very old, popular and robust problem known as Euthyphro’s dilemma. Hamza does not avoid this dilemma; rather he attempts to face it. While doing so, Hamza attributes more characteristics to his Allah. So to understand Hamza’s Allah more precisely, we need to understand how Hamza faces Euthyphro’s dilemma.

The statement of Euthyphro’s dilemma from Hamza’s article (1)-

“Is something morally good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is morally good?”
Hamza agrees to the fact that this dilemma poses a problem for the believers in Allah. Hamza writes (1)-
“This dilemma poses a problem for theists who believe in an All-Powerful God because it requires them to believe in one of two things: either morality is defined by God’s commands or morality is external to His commands. If morality is based on God’s commands, what is good or evil is arbitrary. If this is the case, there is nothing we as humans should necessarily recognise as objectively evil. This would imply that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with, say, killing innocent children—just that God puts the ‘evil’ label on it arbitrarily.

Here, the reader should note that Hamza agrees that we, humans, should recognize what’s objectively right or wrong. This statement of Hamza bolsters the fourth characteristic of objective morality- 4. What’s objectively right or wrong can be identified by the majority of decent human beings.


The second statement of Euthyphro’s dilemma is even more problematic to the believers in omni-powerful Allah. “God commands it because it is morally good” implies that what’s good or bad is independent of Allah. Therefore, to identify good or bad, we do not need Allah. Rather Allah himself has to rely on objective morality. In other words, Allah himself is a slave to objective morality. This notion is utterly undesirable to believers in omni-powerful Allah. Hamza writes (1)-

“The other horn of the dilemma implies that some sort of a moral standard is completely outside and independent of God’s essence and nature, and even God is obligated to live by this standard. However, that would be clearly undesirable for the theist, since it would make him admit that God is not All-Powerful or independent after all; rather, He has to rely on a standard external to Himself.

As a whole, the Euthyphro’s dilemma presents a conflict between two Ilahs or Gods. One God is Allah and another is objective morality. This conflict makes the theists anxious as to which Ilah or God is greater. To resolve this issue, Hamza looks for a third alternative. He combines Allah and objective morality in one essence and proposes- God is good. To support his proposal, Hamza quotes Professor Shabbir Akhter-
“There is a third alternative: a morally stable God of the kind found in scripture, a supreme being who would not arbitrarily change his mind about the goodness of compassion and the evil of sexual misconduct. Such a God always commands good because his character and nature are good.”

As we can see, to encounter Euthyphro’s dilemma, Hamza is proposing an Allah who is intrinsically good and morally stable.

Now we have three more characteristics of Hamza’s Allah-

  1. Allah is morally stable.
  2. Allah is intrinsically good.
  3. Allah always commands good.

We have identified five sifats or characteristics of Hamza Tzortzis’s Allah. For the sake of future discussion let’s list them again.

Hamza’s Allah-

  1. is external to the universe.
  2. Transcends subjectivities.
  3. is morally stable.
  4. is intrinsically good.
  5. Always commands good.

Since Hamza’s Allah is morally good, we should list the characteristics of objective morality as well.

Objective morality-

  1. Independent of feelings (e.g. personal affection or hatred)
  2. Independent of beliefs (e.g. religion)
  3. Independent of Cultural practices (e.g. Arab culture or Bengali culture)
  4. What’s objectively right or wrong can be identified by the majority of decent human beings.

Allah of Islam

We already know about Hamza’s Allah. Let’s ask- how do we know about Islam’s Allah? The answer is very simple: The Quran and the Sunnah (otherwise known as Hadiths). The Quran is the literal words of Islam’s Allah through Islam’s prophet’s mouth and Sunnah is what the prophet and his companions said, commanded and practiced; in a nutshell Sunnah is their traditions. According to the Salafi School of thoughts, which is by far the most authentic form sunni Islam, both the Quran and the Sunnah equally are the source of Islamic legislation. Islam’s Allah clearly commands muslims to follow the Sunnah. In the Quran, on several occations, Allah says-

It is not for a believing man or woman—when Allah and His Messenger decree a matter—to have any other choice in that matter. Indeed, whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has clearly gone ˹far˺ astray. Quran 33:36


Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it. And whatever he forbids you from, leave it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is severe in punishment. Quran 59:7


Whoever obeys the Messenger has truly obeyed Allah. But whoever turns away, then ˹know that˺ We have not sent you ˹O Prophet˺ as a keeper over them. Quran 4:80


Say, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger. But if you turn away, then he is only responsible for his duty and you are responsible for yours.2 And if you obey him, you will be ˹rightly˺ guided. The Messenger’s duty is only to deliver ˹the message˺ clearly.” Quran 24:54


Therefore, clearly, both the Quran and the Sunnah are the sources of Islam’s Allah’s command. So, based on the Quran and the Sunnah we can try delineate the sifats or characteristics of Allah of Islam.

Is Islam’s Allah morally stable?
One can be said to be morally stable if s/he does not change his/her moral stance on important things frequently or whimsically. Can a morally stable Allah, who is by definition omniscient, change his mind about what is good or bad every now and then? The answer is absolutely a big NO. Let’s examine if Islam’s Allah is morally stable by studying some of his commands.

Let’s examine an authentic Hadith narrated by Aysha (2)-

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with, her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur’an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah’s Apostle () died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur’an (and recited by the Muslims). 


Making someone mahram by clear suckling is a very important moral issue. Many foster mothers could make their foster sons their mahrams by breastfeeding them. This would allow those mothers to continue a normal mother-son relationship while also not breaking strict Islamic gender segregation rules. In the Quran, first Allah dictates that the foster son has to be breastfed ten times. Then Allah changes his position and dictates five times breastfeeding, probably to ease up the process. However, at some point Allah turns one-eighty degrees and abrogates the ruling altogether. Allah does not stop there; he even removes the corresponding verses from the Quran. Can a morally stable entity change his moral stance so whimsically? Allah of Islam seems to be a capricious lawmaker who has no idea about the consequences of his actions. Allah of Islam takes a moral stance, it backfires, and he takes another stance. Islam’s Allah follows a very human like trial and error process to formulate laws.


Is Islam’s Allah intrinsically good?

Now we are going to see if Allah of Islam is intrinsically a good entity. An intrinsically good entity must always sanction good and outlaw bad.

We all know that, according to the Quran and the Sunnah, Allah of Islam allows Muslims to have sex with war captive women without their consent. Allah allows this action in Surah Nisa Ayah 24. Tafseer E Jalalin explains this verse (3)-


4:24 And, forbidden to you are, wedded women, those with spouses, that you should marry them before they have left their spouses, be they Muslim free women or not; save what your right hands own, of captured [slave] girls, whom you may have sexual intercourse with, even if they should have spouses among the enemy camp, but only after they have been absolved of the possibility of pregnancy [after the completion of one menstrual cycle]; this is what God has prescribed for you (kitaba is in the accusative because it is the verbal noun). Lawful for you (read passive wa-uhilla, or active wa-ahalla), beyond all that, that is, except what He has forbidden you of women, is that you seek, women, using your wealth, by way of a dowry or a price, in wedlock and not, fornicating, in illicitly. Such wives as you enjoy thereby, and have had sexual intercourse with, give them their wages, the dowries that you have assigned them, as an obligation; you are not at fault in agreeing together, you and they, after the obligation, is waived, decreased or increased. God is ever Knowing, of His creatures, Wise, in what He has ordained for them.

Please check the reference here

Let’s ask- Is having sex with war-captives wrong? Like most decent human beings, you say, yes it is morally wrong just like killing a kid is morally wrong. Sexually exploiting war-captives is outright rape, according to the international law as well as majority of decent human beings (4). Is it objectively wrong? Again, it is objectively wrong because according to the fourth characteristic of objective morality, the majority of decent human beings can identify what’s objectively right or wrong. Therefore, it is safe to say that Allah of Islam commands morally wrong things. Rephrasing- Islam of Allah is NOT intrinsically good.


Did Hamza really solve the problem?
According to Hamza Tzortzis, the majority of human beings can identify what’s objectively right or wrong. This is problematic for Hamza’s theist followers. As the majority of decent human beings can identify what’s objectively right or wrong, do we really need Allah as the basis of objective morality? Does Hamza seem to realize this?

However, Hamza seems to find another problem in his argument. He writes (1)-
An atheist’s natural response would be “You must know what good is to define God as good, and therefore you haven’t solved the problem”.

His reply (1)-

The simple reply would be that God defines what good is. He is the only Being worthy of worship because He is the most perfect and moral Being.”

I hope the reader has already realized Hamza’s catastrophic mistake. Hamza falls into the abyss of Euthyphro’s dilemma again. Saying ‘God defines what good is’ is tantamount to saying “something is morally good because God commands it” which is exactly the first horn of Euthyphro’s dilemma.


The dangers Hamza and the likes pose

There have been decades of efforts by Maurice Bucaille, Harun Yahiya and lately Zakir Naik to prove Islam is true by claiming scientific miracles in the Quran and the Sunnah. These sorts of efforts are now termed as Bucailleism. Approaches like these raised numerous questions and eyebrows. Any smart person with access to the internet can factcheck these days and expose the lies propagated by the Bucailleists. What’s more, with the rise of Salafism, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide the original true interpretations of the Quran and the Sunnah. Recently we are observing a new trend in Islamic apologetics. Throwing away Bucailleism, Hamza and the likes are relying on moral philosophy to prove the existence of Allah. It does not matter that their line of reasoning is full of fallacies; the drowning believers are grabbing them in droves. They do not care if Hamza and the likes are changing the nature of their God. They do not even seem to notice this blasphemy. However, had the believers kept their beliefs in their personal sphere, there would not have been any problem. They go several steps farther. With some false sense of confidence in their Allah, they start to claim that their “moral Allah” ordained things like killing apostates, raping warcaptives, child-marriage etc. are morally okay, and there lies the danger of Hamza and the likes.


(2)       Sahih Muslim, Hadith no- 1452, Shahih International

(3)       Tafseer E Jalalin, Quran 4:24

(4)       Rule 93. Rape and Other forms of Sexual Violence


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.