The Islamic science of akhlāq (‘Ilm al-Akhlāq al-Islami) is concerned with the study of moral virtues and vices – acquiring moral virtues, protecting against moral vices, or removing moral vices if already present – as well as good and bad actions. Thus, in the Islamic science of morality, we deal with both qualities of the soul and voluntary actions.
The discussion regarding actions is limited to those which are voluntary. This is because we are not responsible for those actions which are not under our control. For this reason, involuntary actions are not studied in this science. As an example, blood circulation in our body, the growth of our hair, or our hair turning white as we become old all happen involuntarily and so they are not under our control. This is why they are not studied in the science of akhlāq.
On the other hand, anything that one has to voluntarily decide to start doing or at least can decide to stop doing is studied in this science. For example, breathing is something that happens naturally but the decision to stop breathing is something that can be studied in the science of akhlāq because one has control over this action. This is why we say that a person must not deliberately prevent themselves from breathing and commit suicide. For an action to be studied in the science of akhlāq, there must be some role for human
freedom in it and thus, every voluntarily action, whether good or bad, is studied in this science. Of course, good actions are studied in order to be able to perform them more easily and more frequently, and bad actions are studied with the intention of preventing them from happening. This concept is something very important which makes the Islamic science of akhlāq comprehensive.