The Various Types of Vice

We have already said that deviation from moderation and the mean causes vice. This deviation towards either of the two extremes on each side of the mean has infinite degrees. Here we will mention only the two extremes for every moral virtue.
















There are, therefore, eight kinds of vices, for every one of which we shall give a brief description.

1. Stupidity is deficiency of wisdom; that is, not using the power of the intellect to understand the nature of things.

2. Slyness is the excessive use of the intellect; that is, using the power of the intellect in matters for which it is inappropriate, or using it too much in matters for which it is appropriate.

3. Cowardice is deficiency of courage; that is, fear and irresolution in cases where there is no cause for them.

4. Foolhardiness is the excess of courage; that is, reckless action in cases where it is inappropriate.

5. Lethargy is the deficient state for which the point of moderation is chastity; that is, failure to use things which the body needs.

6. Rapaciousness is the other extreme in opposition to lethargy; that is, excess in sexual activity, eating and drinking, and other sensual pleasures.

7. Submissiveness is the deficient state for which the point of moderation is justice; that is, accepting oppression and tyranny.

8. Tyranny is the other extreme in opposition to submissiveness; that is, oppressing either one's own self or others.

Every one of these eight vices possesses numerous branches and subdivisions, which are connected with the direction and degree of deviation from moderation represented by the four virtues. Since deviation can occur in a limitless number of degrees, it is not possible to enumerate all of them. We shall, however, mention some of the most well-known ones here, and later discuss the ways in which they can be fought against.

Vices are divided according to the powers they are related to, namely, Intellect, Anger and Passion.

1. The Power of the Intellect (al-quwwah al-`aqliyyah) can possess two kinds of vices, which are stupidity and slyness, the further subdivisions of which are as follows:

Simple ignorance: not knowing.

Compound ignorance: being ignorant, and being unaware of one's ignorance.

Perplexity and doubt: the opposite of which are certainty and conviction.

Carnal temptations: in opposition to which is contemplation of the beauty of Divine creation.

Deceit and trickery to attain ends dictated by Passion and Anger. 

Shirk (polytheism): the opposite of which is belief in the Unity and Oneness of God.

2. The Power of Anger (al-quwwah al-ghadabiyyah) has two vices: cowardice and foolhardiness, the subdivisions of which are:

Fear: a psychological condition which is caused by expecting occurrence of a painful event, or loss of a favourable condition.

Lack of endurance and self-depreciation: This is one of the consequences of weakness of the spirit and indicates an incapacity to face hardships. The opposite of this characteristic is steadfastness, which means the capacity to endure hardship and adversity. 

Timidity: this is brought about by a lack of self-confidence and a weak character, and indicates inability to struggle for the sake of attaining noble and worthy goals. The opposite of this vice is the virtue of fortitude; that is, courage and willingness to undertake great efforts to attain true felicity and perfection.

Lack of sense of dignity: this is also brought about by a weakness of character and indicates failure to take care and watch over matters which need to be looked after and watched over.

Hastiness: this is another manifestation of a weak character and means making decisions and embarking on actions without having given them proper thought. The opposite extreme of this quality is lethargy, which is the tendency to slackness and lack of alacrity in initiating action when required.

Suspicion about God, and the believers: this is another manifestation of a weak and timid character. The opposite of this is trustfulness towards God and the believers, which is a sign of courage and self confidence.

Anger: the opposite of which is patience and forbearance (hilm).

Revengefulness: the opposite of which is the quality of forgiveness.

Violence: this is caused by the Power of Anger and use of force to achieve an end. Its opposite is conciliation and compassion.

Ill-temperedness: the opposite of which is good-temperedness.

Envy and malice: it also results from the Power of Anger. 

Enmity and. hostility: this is a manifestation of the power of anver and its opposite is friendliness; in other words, having the welfare of others at heart.

Self-conceit and vanity: the opposite extreme of which is having an inferiority complex.

Arrogance: the opposite of which is humility.

Boastfulness: which means talking about oneself with pride and satisfaction. This condition is brought about by arrogance.

Rebelliousness: disobedience towards someone who deserves one's.

Obedience. This condition is also caused by arrogance, and its opposite is obedience to someone to whom it is necessary to be obedient.

Fanaticism: intense uncritical devotion to something. 

Injustice and concealing of truth: the opposite of which is justice and steadfastness in the defense of truth.

Brutality: lack of mercy and compassion when these qualities are called for.

3. The vices of the Power of Passion and desire are lethargy and greed; and their subdivisions are the following:

Coveting the world and riches: the opposite of which is zuhd (self restraint).

Affluence and opulence: the opposite of which is poverty.

Avarice (tama): the opposite of which is indifference to possessions of others.

Greed (hirs): the opposite of which is contentment with what one has.

Coveting of things forbidden by religion, and engaging in illegitimate acts: the opposite of which is wara` (piety, caution), abstinence from forbidden things and activities.

Treachery: the opposite of which is honesty.

All kinds of debauchery: such as adultery, sodomy, wine drinking, and other forms of frivolous conduct.

Sinking into falsehood and believing in false things.

Indulging in frivolous and nonsensical talk and empty boasting as a matter of habit.

Thus we come to the end of recounting the virtues and vices belonging singly to each of the three powers. Now let us consider those virtues and vices which belong simultaneously to two or three of the powers of the soul. These virtues and vices are as follows:

Jealousy, that is wishing a decline in the fortunes of another person.

Insulting and degrading other people: the opposite of which is honouring other people and respecting them.

Not being sympathetic or helpful to others.


Breaking one's ties with family and kin.

Being undutiful to parents and earning their disavowal.

Sticking one's nose into other people's affairs in order to discover their faults.

Revealing other people's secrets: the opposite of which is guarding other people's secrets and concealing them.

Causing friction and disharmony among people: the opposite of which is to make peace and bring harmony among them. 


Verbal argument and animosity.

Making fun of other people and ridiculing them.



Coveting fame and station.

Lover of praise and hatred of criticism: the opposite of which is indifference to both.

Simulation: which is doing something in order to attract favourable attention.

Hypocrisy: the opposite of which is being the same in one's exterior appearance and inward self.

Self-deception: the opposite of which is insight, knowledge and humility.

Rebelliousness: the opposite of which is obedience.

Impudence and shamelessness: the opposite of which is modesty and shame.

Having elaborate and far-flung hopes and desires.

Persistence in sin: the opposite of which is repentence. 

Self-neglect and alienation from one's self: the opposite of which is self-attention and awareness of one's goal.

Apathy and indifference towards one's felicity and good.

Misplaced hatred: the opposite of which is appropriate friendship and love. 

Inconsistency and disloyalty: the opposite of which is loyalty.

Isolation and seclusion from people: the opposite of which is being sociable and friendly.

Pique and peevishness: the opposite of which is calmness and selfcomposure.

Sorrow and remorse: the opposite of which is cheerfulness and joy. 

Insufficient trust of and reliance on God. 

Ingratitude and unthankfulness: the opposite of which is thankfulness and gratitude.

Anxiety, alarm and impatience.

Impiety: that is disobedience and transgression of Divine commands, the opposite of which is piety and obedient performance of the duties set by God, and also performance of acts which are recommended by God.