What Does Virtue Mean?

Virtue does not mean being exactly in the middle; it means being on average, and evil means diverging in either direction from this average. The hadith-i sharif [1] which reads, "Temperance in all things is the best of all deeds," epitomizes what we have been trying to explain. In that event, there are two vices for each virtue, which adds to eight main vices to counterbalance four main virtues:

1– Deceitfulness (jarbaza): It is the excessiveness of the wisdom (hikmat). It is the utilization of one's habits and capacity to investigate matters in depth in wrong places unnecessarily, e.g., utilizing them for deceiving others or for scheming, plotting or committing prohibited actions. Using the scientific powers "intelligence" of the spirit in an excessive manner is not a vice or deceitfulness. Utilizing one's power of investigation excessively to obtain scientific or religious information or improving in mathematics is a very good deed.

2– Foolishness (baladat): It means stupidity or not using one's brain. It is also called thickheadedness. One who has this habit cannot discriminate between right and wrong. His learning and reaction will be slow and defective.

3– Rashness (tahawwur): A person with this habit has a quick-temper. It originates from excessive bravery (shaja'at) in his constitution. One with this habit attempts to do things that would not be approved by the wise and exerts gratuitous pressure on his soul and body.

4– Cowardice (jubn): It is an outcome of inadequate bravery. A person down with this deficiency acts timidly in situations requiring courage.

5– Debauchery (fujur) is a kind of excess whereby the limits of chastity (iffat) are exceeded.

6– A person with this excess is addicted to worldly pleasures and commits excessive actions not approved by Islam and wisdom.

7– Laziness (humud) ensues from inadequate power utilized in chastity. A person having this shortcoming foregoes pleasures allowed by Islam and wisdom. Thus, he loses physical strength, becomes ill and his family-tree ends with him.

8– Injustice (zulm) means to violate the rights and freedom of others. A person with this habit violates other people's rights by stealing their property or by injuring them physically or by sexual harassment.

9– Indignity: A person having this inefficiency accepts all dishonorable treatment and oppression. It is caused by not having enough amount of justice in his constitution. As justice is an assortment of all sorts of goodness, so does oppression (zulm) contain all vices. For that reason, some scholars said that things that would not break others' heart would not be sinful.

[1] hadith (sharif): i) a saying of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam).; al-Hadith ash-sharif: all the hadiths as a whole; ii) 'ilm al-hadith; iii) Books of the hadith ash-sharif. iv) Al-hadith al-qudsi, as-sahih, al-hasan: kinds of hadiths (for which, see Endless Bliss, II).