Habit serves as a means for doing morally good or evil actions. Habit (huy) is a faculty (malaka) of the spiritual heart and soul. Sometimes it causes actions which are neither good nor evil. In the first case it is called good nature, or virtue (fazîlat). Generosity, bravery and gentleness are good examples of this. In the second case it becomes vice, scandalous behavior, evil nature, or disagreeable habit, such as stinginess and cowardice.
As we know, if the actions and deeds are reasonable, fine, and free from inadequacy and excess, the habit which performs these actions is called virtue (fazîlat). On the contrary, if the habit which performs actions that are excessive or inadequate is called vice (razâlat).
If theoretical knowledge is in excess, it is called loquacity (jarbaza). If it is inadequate, it is called stupidity (balâdat). Justice cannot be in excessive or deficient proportions; yet it does have an antonym, which is called tyranny (zulm). The chastity which is in excessive proportions is called debauchery (fujûr). If it is inadequate, it is called laziness (humûd). Excessive proportion of courage is called rashness (tahawwur) while deficient proportion is called cowardice (jubn).
The essence of good nature consists of four main virtues. Similarly, the essence of bad nature consists of four main vices.
1– Scandal (razâlat) is the opposite of wisdom.
2– Cowardice (jubn) is the opposite of courage (shajâ’at).
3– Debauchery (fujur) is to follow the desires of the nafs and to commit sins. It is the opposite of chastity (iffat).
4– Tyranny (jawr, zulm) is the opposite of justice.
There are innumerable vices corresponding conversely to every virtue. For, goodness occupies the medial position. To be on the right or left of the middle means to have digressed from goodness. Farther away from the middle way farther away from goodness.
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 (balâdat): 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 (shajâ’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 (fujûr) 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 (humûd) 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.
All the virtues are in average proportions. Every habit which is in excessive or deficient proportion becomes a vice. Perhaps many languages do not possess words to describe all the vices. But, if one contemplates and ponders over them their meaning will become clear.
There are some virtues which are necessary for human beings to possess. People assume that the more abundance of them you have the higher will you be in goodness. That is not the case, though. Every virtue has its limits and beyond those limits virtue turns into a vice. That it is a vice to have less of a virtue than the amount prescribed by Islam requires little thought to realize. Examples of this are shajâ’at (courage) and sahâwat (generosity). Excessive proportions of these two habits are rashness (tahawwur) and spending wastefully (isrâf). Ignorant people and especially people who are unaware of ethics of Islam think that spending extravagantly constitutes generosity and thus praise those who do so. In their view people who are rash and impetuous are brave and courageous. On the other hand, no one considers a pusillanimous person as brave or a stingy one as generous.
There are other habits which a person should possess which people think are better when they are possessed in a proportion below average. When they are in excess, however, their wickedness becomes flagrant. A good example of them is humility, which means not having conceit (kibr). If this exists in a less than necessary amount, it constitutes excessive humility (tazallul). It is difficult to discriminate excessive humility (tazallul) from humility. In fact, many people mix humility of a beggar with that of a scholar (’âlim) because freedom from arrogance is their common behaviour. This similarity deludes people’s optimism concerning the beggar’s humility.
Two meanings can be understood from the medial path. The first meaning is, as everybody understands, the exact center of something, like the center of a circle. The second meaning is the relative center of something. In other words, it is the center of a certain thing. That it is the center of something known, does not mean that it is the center of everything. The middle or center which is used in the science of ethics is the second meaning. Hence, virtues vary, depending on persons, places, and times. Something which is considered as a virtue by one community might not be recognized as such by another. A habit which is recognized as a virtue at one time could be recognized as something else at some later time. Therefore, 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 hadîth-i-sherîf which reads, “Temperance in all things is the best of all deeds,” epitomizes what we have been trying to explain.
 Ref: These paragraphs are quoted from the book “Ethics of Islam” page 219, which is the translation of the book Berîka written by Abû Sa’îd Muhammad bin MustafâHâdimî ‘rahima hullâhu ta’âlâ’, who passed away in 1176 Hijrî, 1762 A.D. in Konya / Turkey and the book Akhlâq-i-Alâî written in Turkish by Alî bin Amrullah ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ,’ who passed away in 979 Hijrî, 1572 A.D. in Edirne / Turkey. “Ethics of Islam” published by Hakikat Kitabevi, Istanbul. You can find the whole book and the other valuable books in the web site www.hakikatkitabevi.com.tr and download in PDF format for Adobe Acrobat Reader, EPUB format for iPhone-iPad-Mac devices and MOBI format for Amazon Kindle device.