Muslims want courage and justice but they don’t want temperance and prudence

The four virtues relate to the four “humors” in the human body. Physical sickness is related to spiritual sickness and when these four are out of balance, spiritual and moral sickness occurs. 

So when courage is the sole virtue, you no longer have prudence.You are acting courageously but imprudently and it’s no longer courage but impetuousness. It appears as courage but it is not. A person who is morally incapable of controlling his appetite has incontinence and thus he cannot be prudent nor courageous because part of courage is to constrain oneself when it is appropriate. Imam al Ghazali says that courage is a mean between impetuousness and cowardice.

The same is true for incontinence. The person who has no appetite is not a temperate person but an impotent person and that’s also a disease. Someone may have immense business acumen but uses it to accumulate massive amounts of wealth. That is not a prudent person but a crafty or clever person. Prudence is a mean between the extremes of stupidity and craftiness or what the Arabs call maakir. The maakir is the one who is afflicted with the same condition that has afflicted Iblis the maakir, the clever.

The interesting point to note about the four virtues is that you either take them all or you don’t take them at all. It’s a packaged deal.There is a strong argument among moral ethicists that justice is the result of the first three being in perfect balance.

shaikh hamza yusuf


About Abdullah

Analytical & Creative. --- I'm not a Sheikh or a scholar, I'm just a regular guy in love with this Deen. Don't praise me for practicing my Deen. But pray for me, for the errors, that you haven't seen.

Posted on September 18, 2013, in Articles. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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