We don't know how long we shall try these worn principles. They cannot even support their own custodians, what about the others?
These rules are like deep wells, which sometimes reach massive underground stone pieces, and the more we try to pierce into these stones and progress inside them, the more we exhaust ourselves, and finally there is no trace of water.
So we shall look where the fault is, recognize it, contemplate, and think about the solution.
First, we find that such regulations resemble the drugs which are only for external use and their effect is completely superficial. They have neither succeeded to penetrate into the depth of human conscience, which is the inspiration of his attempts, endeavors, and movements, nor to mobilize his powers in a bid to eradicate the roots of pain.
For example, which law can revive human intellect and affection of those riches that have made testament for allocation of their wealth to their cats and have provided the facilities for establishment of a village for millionaire cats, and invite them to support millions of African hungry men? Which law can restore the sense of philanthropy in those who wear precious diamond pieces, and several millions value stamp albums are one of the little decorations of their drawing rooms, and invite them to save the life of millions of leprous, cancerous and tuberculosis patients?
Which law can manage obstinate and destructive instincts, and control man's feelings and utilize his great industrial powers for urbanization and reclamation of the countries?
Is any law able to penetrate into the territory of their spirit and soul, and cause these changes? It goes without saying that there is not such law among the existing ones.
It is here that the necessity of training and development of another principle called "ethic" is clarified. The principle which passes any obstacle just like the powerful waves of gravity and even passes through vacuum and accedes to the interior of man's soul, alters him, and creates a new person which is excellent and heavenly and in the real sense, humanistic attributes.
The man who sympathizes in grief and distress of others.
The man who considers his own and others' interests the same.
The man who never seeks relief in discomfort of others.
And finally, a man whose wide horizon of thought causes him to be relieved from disturbances, offences, intolerance and vindictiveness, and forms a real unity along with his fellowmen, in which there is welfare and blessing.
Yes, these principles, which are called "ethic", should be revived, and present book is written for this purpose and has originated from Islamic rich and powerful resources.
Qom, Theological Center
Nasir Makarim Shirazi
Allah may send blessings on our Prophet, Muhammad (S), who guided us to His Straight Path, and illuminated our heart with His guidance.
I offer the reward of this book to the spirit of my late grandmother, May God have mercy on her, and beseech Allah to make it, for me and her, a means of attainment to His reward and pleasures on the Day of Judgment.
I shall acknowledge that my reference books have been: ``A Glossary of Islamic Technical Terms'', Islamic Research Foundation of Astan Quds Razavi, ``Holy Qur’an'', Arthur J. Arberry, and ``Nahjul Balagha'', S. Ali Reza.
Dear readers are requested to send their views, suggestions, comments, questions, problems, to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org 
Some of the scientists have accepted the first possibility and believe that as some of trees bear bitter fruits, and as a gardener cannot change his nature, mentality of the lowborn and impure-hearted will not be changed through training and even if it is changed, it will be very transitory and superficial, and will soon be restored to its first mode.
They suggest that structure of body and soul has a close relation with morality, and in fact morality of each person depends on the disposition of his soul and body, and for this reason, it is not changeable. They cite as a proof the traditions like:
A great deal of experiences on the immoral persons has fully proved this reality that a lot of wicked and vicious individuals are perfectly corrected by a "healthy environment", "good association" and "high training". Otherwise, all of divine instructions of prophets and religious leaders were cancelled, because all of them are concerned with training men's souls. On the other hand, all punishments having a corrective aspect, being common among all nations throughout the world, were vain and ineffective.
We see that even fierce and wild animals are domesticated through training, and are used for the purposes against their original disposition. How can we believe the ill-humour in men to be more rooted than ferocity of wild animals?
We believe that the best way for proving this claim is studying the procedure of formation of a "moral habit" in a bid to find the way of eradicating it in the same way it is formed. We know that every good or bad action leaves a similar effect in man's soul and "attracts" man's soul to it.
Practice and repetition of the action increases this effect and gradually a feature called "custom" is achieved and with more practice, it changes into "habit", and thus man's interior tendency to perform that action is increased by rooting of customs and habits. This reality is proved by experience.
Therefore, if moral customs and habits are formed through repetition of an action, they are removable in the same way. That is to say, first, "action", then "repetition" and then "formation of a moral attribute and habit".
Of course, suggestion, reflection, correct instructions and healthy environment- which have a suggestive effect are very effective in predisposing soul for acceptance and formation of a good morality.
Struggle of these powers exists in all men and relative dominance of one of these factors causes men to be in completely different levels in view of humanistic values, and increases the distance of man's "ascending" and "descending" curve. At times he becomes superior to the nearest-stationed angels, and at others he becomes more inferior to the most dangerous predator animals.
This fact is also deduced from several traditions. For instance, Imam Ali (A.S.) says:
1- There are always antagonistic powers in man like a battlefield, and destiny of man depends on the dominance of one of these two parts of powers.
2- This warfare is called "the greater warfare" since it is an eternal and unceasing one. Moreover, an internal battle is always more dangerous than an external battle, and more importantly, defeat in this warfare has no result save misery and misfortune, while defeat in common warfare may result in acquiring the honour of "martyrdom". That is to say, warfare with external enemy has never a real defeat, but there is a high possibility of defeat in inner warfare.
3- Although this warfare is painful, it is the code of man's perfection, because perfection is usually the outcome of conflicts and struggle of "negative" and "positive" powers, and this is the reason why man does not become experienced and trained unless he is involved in the events and struggles with problems as Imam Ali (A.S.) says: The wood of forest trees (which are always exposed to a lot of incidents) is stronger and their fire is more durable.
And herein the mystery of creation of these antagonist powers and sensual desires is manifested.
4- Warfare with outward enemy may occasionally be performed for material purposes (collecting booties or achieving fame and such like), but inner warfare will always be for gaining perfection and achieving virtue. So overcoming therein indicates decision, will and belief power as well as prominence of ambition and greatness of man's personality.
But since to the same extent that "perfection" and "utilization" are clear in view of general sense, they are ambiguous and complicated in view of partial concepts, most often people have mistaken the path of prosperity so that for example, one egoist rich man, who has exchanged the heart’s ease and relief of his spirit and body with accumulation of a massive wealth, may consider himself prosperous, while his capricious child, after death of father, deems scattering of this wealth for satisfaction of his lusts as prosperity, and in the meantime both of them are wrong.
Anyway, herein we shall recognize man's real perfection and the correct way of utilizing these material and spiritual favours, although this recognition may need a great deal of study and inconvenience.
Rather, they believed that absolute prosperity for man would not be possible in this world and as far as the spirit is connected to this material body, and tainted to corporeal impurities, it is deprived of real prosperity. Only when it is disconnected from body, it may achieve absolute prosperity. On this end, they spurned and neglected all material affairs.
The conditions of Dewjanse, the famous physician of Cynics, and his life in a jar! Instead of house and room, and his contentment to one drinking cup from all life facilities is well-known. Even it is said that once he saw someone drinking water from a water course with his hands, then he threw away that cup too.
Existentialists are on the opposite side to this idea and consider prosperity only in an unconditional utilization from material pleasures and condemn any obstacle on this way.
They assume absolute happiness only through material pleasure and go ahead in this way till the threshold of insanity, and practically disregard all social and moral limits and habitudes for achieving it.
It is obvious that we cannot call this ideology, which is unfortunately spread nowadays among some nations, a doctrine. Rather, it is a sort of delusion and mental disease. However, we can assume it a reaction to the extremist doctrines like Cynics who have totally ignored corporeal aspects in prosperity.
Moderate doctrine: since man is not merely a body or a soul, and the reality of his essence is composed of two parts, he should seek prosperity too in both parts and surely any program focusing in one part of his essence, shall not guarantee his prosperity, because it is not in conformity with the outward realities.
Among Greek philosophers, the first teacher, Aristotle and his followers advocated this doctrine and Islam's superior instructions have explicitly supported it, and have mentioned new principles for it. This reality is reflected in Qur’an and sayings of our great leaders, and motto of Islam in this regard is summarized in the following verses:
But while confessing that most of moral virtues and vices are concerned with social life of man, we believe this could not be generalized. Because there are a great number of moral cases which have only an individual aspect, and are true for a single man too.
For instance, patience or impatience for afflictions, bravery or fear for events, endeavour or laziness in achievement to one's objective, ignorance or attention to the Creator of the world, thanksgiving or ingratitude for His endless favours and such affairs, which ethics scholars have discussed in ethical books and have called them moral virtues or vices, that could have an individual aspect, and are truthful for one living completely isolated from the society.
Hereof division of morality into "individual morality" and "social morality" is clarified. However, it is obvious that social morality is more important in ethics, and man's personality focuses on it, although individual morality too has a considerable part in respect to oneself.
Because they actually destroy the subject of social morality, and although they avoid some vices in this way, it is not really considered a virtue. It looks like the one who cuts his sexual apparatus for avoiding adultery and lewdness, although he is not tainted with unchastity, but this will not be a virtue for him.
Moreover, experience has shown that isolation and seclusion from society will cause a series of moral vices such as peevishness, suspicion, vanity and conceit, and suspicion of divine predestination in man, which will be illustrated in a separate discussion in detail.
So, Islam has encouraged Muslims to have a social life and to live in large cities and has recommended observance of moral principles in the heart of society.
First point: We shall always treat those involved in moral deviations like a patient, because as it was already referred, moral deviations are in fact a sort of mental disease, which sometimes result in physical diseases too, and or vice versa sometimes they originate from physical diseases. Thus, we shall observe herein the same principles which we observe in the treatment of physical diseases.
Second point: we always consider three principles in the treatment of diseases:
1- Diagnosis of disease
2- Finding causes of disease
3- Way of treatment of disease
We usually use symptoms and consequences of disease for its diagnosis. Of course, this is a relatively simple task in respect to physical diseases, especially with existing facilities and equipment. But in view of moral cases, it is a very complicated matter, because moral deviations often have similar manifestations and symptoms, or there are some manifestations which are caused by a mixture of several moral diseases, and their diagnosis becomes difficult, and thus the ethics scholar and soul physician should study this science patiently and carefully for treating himself or the others.
For finding the causes of a disease, one should also carefully study biography of the deviated person, specially the backgrounds of his childhood period, which constitutes foundation of man's personality, as well as his family and social environment, his occupation and job and geographical area for recognizing the causes of a moral disease. Even heritage should not be ignored, because ill-humour (like physical diseases) is sometimes inheritable.
And for treating moral vices, it should be noted that if they have become chronic, they should be treated patiently and carefully and vigilantly, and one shall never get tired by lapse of time. However, if they are superficial and extrinsic, they will be treated in a shorter period.
For this reason, correction of moral vices of youths and children is much easier than adults. Because the former are both tainted and treated soon.
Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) said:
These two parts exactly exist in moral cases and mental diseases. So, we shall avoid occurrence of moral deviations as far as possible, and try for hygiene of morality of ourselves and others through adopting necessary counsels.
It is seen in a lot of cases that destiny of a man is completely changed due to such associations and thereby, direction of life is changed.
Effects of association in correcting man's personality are so significant that it is said for knowing someone; look at the companions and friends he keeps. Imam Ali (A.S.) says:
Basically, one of the most important hindrances for involvement in sin and moral vice is the importance and greatness of vice and sin in view of man and his hatred towards them. Display of moral vices and sins decreases its importance in view of people and lessens its hatred and prepares soul for accepting it.
And on this account, for renewing importance of sin in public opinion, it is instructed in Islam to punish evil doers publicly and in presence of people:
The same is observed in most of physical diseases, when those interested in their health immediately immigrate from the contaminated environment.
"Emigration" enjoys a special concern in Islam and it is interesting that it constitutes the foundation of Islamic Epic. Emigration of Islam's Prophet (S) from Mecca to Medina was nothing else than escaping from a tainted and unfavourable environment to a more favourable one for spreading belief and virtue.
The immigrants at the beginning of Islam enjoy a special privilege and prominence in Islam's history, and several verses are found in Qur’an concerning them. Several traditions are narrated in respect to immigration from parts tainted to sin and polytheism towards healthy parts indicating importance of the matter.
In Majmaol Bayan interpretation under verse:
1. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 61/65, tradition 51
2. Naraghi, Jami’ as-Saadat 67/1
3. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 122/11, narration 1
4. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 123, narration 9
5. Nahjul Balaghah, aphorisms, no. 390
6. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 447/11
7. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 197/74
8. Kulayini, Kafi 375/2
9. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, volume 2, page 128
10. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 191/74
11. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 185/75
12. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 604/8
13. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a,page 605
14. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 609/8
15. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 31/19
16. Ali Ebne Ebrahim commentary, vol. 2, page 151
• Scale for evaluation of good and bad morality
• Effect of seclusion and unsociability in morality
• Arguments of advocators of seclusion and association
• Exceptional cases in which seclusion is permitted
• Vigilance and self-examination or studying incentives and consequences. First, we shall review a prospect of the principles of ethics in view of pioneers of this technique, and study exactly the course of their discussion in brief.
Ethics scholars have summarized principles of moral virtues in four articles:
They believe that each of these four principles has a norm, between two extremes of sensual powers and instincts, and so moral vices are on two sides of them, and there are two vicious attributes for each virtue.
1- Wisdom means moderation in recognition and understanding of realities as they are, and the opposite side in its high extreme is "slyness and astuteness", which refers to hyperactivity of perception faculty and relying on the probabilities and doubtful matters and non-stability on correct theories and in its low extreme is "stupidity and dullness".
2- Chastity refers to moderation in using lusts and appropriate utilization from desires and instincts, and the opposite side in its high extreme is "greed and self-indulgence" and in its low extreme is "numbness".
3- Bravery is moderation in anger faculty and fearing of what should be feared and not fearing of what should not, and the opposite side in its high extreme is "rashness" and temerity, and in its low extreme is "cowardice" and horror.
4- Justice refers to listening of desire and anger powers to intellect power and their appropriate control for correction and prosperity, and the opposite side in its high extreme is "being oppressed and tolerance of oppression" and in low extreme is "injustice".
They assume moral vices infinite in one aspect, while moral virtues, as the normal limit and moderate point, have only one stage, and thus they have resembled it to the centre of a circle, which is only one point, and the vices to infinite points existing within the circle.
It is narrated from Mohaghegh Tousi, Khajeh Nasireddin and some other scholars that "the path" described in the traditions as:
Ethics scholars say in reply: man's soul has three powers:
1- Power of perception and distinction
2- Power of acquiring benefit or "attraction" and in the other word "desire" (in its general sense)
3- Power of loss repulsion or "repulsion" and in the other word "anger"
Moderation in each of these powers forms one of the moral virtues, which are respectively, called wisdom, chastity and bravery.
And when two powers of desire and anger are under control of distinction and perception power, justice is achieved.
In other words, balance in each of the above triple powers is considered as a virtue, but their combination with each other, that is desire and anger being controlled by perception power, will be another virtue.
It often happens that a man is brave and for example, is not afraid unduly in the battle field, but this bravery may be utilized in a wrong way, like fighting for little and worthless objectives, and this is bravery but not justice. But if this bravery is applied for a high and intellectual objective and mixed with wisdom, justice is achieved.
1- There are some good moral habits that placing them in one of the above quadruple principles seems difficult. For instance, philanthropy, self-sacrifice and self-devotion, can hardly be included in "chastity", because it is possible that an individual's desires are moderate, while he lacks self-sacrifice, self-devotion and philanthropy. That is to say he neither aggresses to the rights of others, nor desires their loss, but at the meantime does not have any self-sacrifice and self-devotion.
Moreover, optimism could not be included in "wisdom", because "optimism" differs with "correct distinction".
Perhaps insisting on this quadruple division is caused by the ideology of the ancients who assumed most of world's issues based on the number four, and considered four things as the main elements, and divided body's components and temperaments into four. They considered four diseases as the principles of physical diseases, and assumed one of four temperaments for all medicines. While today it is certain for us that none of these quadruple divisions are correct. The same is true for division of principles of good ethics into four.
2- Including wisdom among principles of moral virtues, and its opposite point among the vices is not appropriate, because moral habits are along the perception system and deal with desires, affections and instincts, not with perceptions, and so interpreting braininess as "good morality" does not seem appropriate.
3- Insisting that all good moral habits are moderation between two extremes is baseless, because although this is true in some cases, it is untrue in others.
For example, considering tolerance of oppression as the high extreme for justice is not suitable, because high extreme is not applicable to justice. If tolerance of oppression means indolence and numbness, it will be the opposite side of chastity, and if it means fearing of adjudication, it will be low extreme of anger power, and anyway high extreme in justice is meaningless, especially when justice is considered as anger and desire powers being controlled by intellect. It is a certainty that high extreme in this control is senseless.
It is concluded that although moderation of good moral habits is true in the cases like bravery and chastity, but it is not a generalization and is untrue in the case of justice and wisdom.
It is also inferred from above discussions that dividing principles of good and bad attributes into four principles has no clear reason, and is even objectionable in different aspects.
Therefore, it is better not to restrict principles of moral virtues to four. Rather, we have good and bad moral attributes as many as different instincts, desires and affections entrusted in man, and training and balancing each of these instincts and desires for being useful and effective for individuals’ and society's perfection is a virtue, and deviation of each of them causing degeneration of individual or society is considered as a vice.
On this account, there are vicious and virtuous attributes as many as man's instincts and desires, just as there are physical diseases as many as different systems of body and its components.
The figure mentioned in traditions and narrations of the Prophet's Household (A.S.) for moral virtues is much more than four. For example, in a well-known tradition at the beginning of Osoul Kafi, it is narrated from Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) in respect to "hosts of intellect and ignorance", the number of intellect and ignorance hosts is counted to be 75, most part of which are among moral virtues or vices.
But some others may be discussed and doubted in view of being a virtue or a vice. Thus, we cannot pursue moral discussions without having a clear evaluation scale.
For instance, nowadays some of materialist scientists like Bertrand Russell suggest: if performing an action, whatsoever it may be, does not cause a loss for the others, we do not have any reason for condemning it, and we cannot condemn an action only for being tabooed (something which religion or custom regards as forbidden with no reason) and called obscene by an old religion. We shall only consider profit and loss of the action. 2
Following this belief, he prescribes a lot of obscene moralities and actions of not being harmful for the others (including adultery and homosexuality if both parties agree).
Some other materialists like communists believe that most of ancient moral principles have been caused by capitalism economy, and since it is abolished, these principles are eliminated, and so they restrict ethic to the affairs which help in creation or continuation of proletarian revolution (proletariat)
Thus, we shall see what the evaluation scale in these cases is and how we can recognize that an action has a moral and virtuous aspect or is immoral and a vice.
If we want to discuss this with a religious view, our duty is exactly clear, because after recognizing Islam's legitimacy and rightfulness for definite reasons, we shall refer to definite evidences in Qur’an and practices of the Prophet (S) for evaluation of principles of moral virtues and vices.
And in intellectual view, we shall consider this principle that any moral factor supporting man's perfection is a virtue, and any factor degenerating him, is a vice.
But it is noteworthy that a man should not be studied only in view of material aspect and primary requirements in this life. Rather, the spiritual and immaterial aspects in which most of man's honours are summarized and the material life to which is a means of attainment to it, should be exactly noticed.
Therefore, an evil and undesirable action may not cause any difficulty for others, but may result in degeneration of the doer in humanistic and spiritual aspects. Certainly, such action will be a vice.
Those who consider only material aspects, have actually known half of man's existence (the lesser and smaller half), while the ethical principles should be studied based on knowing man's overall existence (including body and soul).
And even worse is communistic ethics, which not only has ignored man's spiritual aspects, but also has focused merely on one part (economic part) in material aspects and has studied man in this respect.
It goes without saying that since such moral doctrines are not accompanied with correct realism and anthropology they cannot cause correct effects, and surely they will involve in great mistakes in distinction of moral virtues and vices.
Therefore, as it was already told, the correct intellectual and logical basis in studying moral principles is man's perfection in all aspects, and recognizing whatsoever helps it, and studying the virtues and vices accordingly.
Some believe that more seclusion for man means healthier morality for him, because a lot of deviations and moral vices and or most of them appear when facing others. Envy, pride, lies, slander, calumny, hypocrisy, grudge and such like are all caused by association with others. The one who does not associate with people, neither slander nor hears it, neither envies nor is envied, neither dissimulates nor is involved in lie, grudge and suspicion.
They say: when a man secludes, he can better worship God, and pray Him heartily, can better mediate and reflect on the mysteries of creation and different fields of science and distinguish the realities. In seclusion, there is less love and hatred as well as debate and disputation hindering comprehension of facts and realities, and on this account most of great thinkers live in seclusion and dissociation.
Moreover, when associating and communicating with people, a man often faces the events which create heavy duties for him and it happens that a man neglects in performing his duties and consequently is deviated. For example, in association and living in the society, we often encounter unlawful things and sins and breach of duties that the obligation of bid to good and forbiddance of wrong necessitates to oppose, while we are not sure of performing always our duty in this part. So it is better to select seclusion and escape the responsibilities.
In addition, there are some verses and traditions encouraging seclusion and dissociation. For example, pay attention to the following verses and traditions:
1- The first point clarifying importance and value of association is that acquiring most of virtuous moral habits is only possible in the society and not in solitude, because most of these habits are concerned with the way of relations with each other. Courtesy, modesty, kindness, self-devotion, forgiveness, remission, bravery, patience, suppression of anger, affection, pity and soul appropriation, appear in the relations and associations of men and we surely have to live in the heart of society to acquire these virtues.
On the other hand, being secure from moral vices including envy, pride, lies, slander, through seclusion and dissociation is not actually a virtue and honour, rather it is a kind of "waive by waiver of subject", and it is just like a person who excludes himself from sexuality by any means for being saved from taint to adultery.
Although such person is protected from this stain, but this chastity is not a virtue, rather it is only a safety. The virtue is when a man lives in the society and goes ahead to the edge of crag in the critical moments like Joseph, and preserves his mastery on his soul and returns (of course not creating such events deliberately and on purpose).
Thus for acquiring virtuous habits which are considered as the scale of humanistic values, there is no alternative save living in the society and associating with people.
And in the other words, such typical attributes are achieved through challenge with desires and vicious factors, as resistance and strength of forest wood is due to growing in the hard storms of events, and if they are grown in seclusion and in a closed and restricted environment they lose their resistance, similarly, secluded and dissociable individuals will also gradually lose their spiritual and moral powers. The following tradition may refer to this reality:
At the time of Prophet (S) one of the Muslims went to the mountain for worship and secluded himself. He was brought to Prophet (S) The Prophet said him:
2- Solitude and seclusion is the source of several mental deviations as well as taste of distortion, because even if a man is brainy, virtuous and tasteful, he still has some mistakes, which are only revealed when encountering others. In association, man finds his mistakes very soon, but in seclusion, since there is not any way of correcting them, he continues his deviated courses, and like the one who is going astray, the more he proceeds, farther he becomes from the main road, and sometimes he finds other deductions based on that deviated thought and gradually a mass of mistakes will occupy his brain, devaluating his thoughts in general.
Meanwhile, this is another reply to the advocators of seclusion who say meditation in seclusion is better possible, as the danger of deviation is much more in seclusion.
3- The other big fault, in which man is involved in seclusion, is vanity and selfishness. Based on self-love instinct, man is usually very interested in himself and his works, and "self-love" instinct is in fact like a magnifier which through its magnification power, shows man's thoughts and actions greater than what they actually are. On other hand, it shows man's faults smaller than what they actually are, and the sum of these two aspects is "vanity and selfishness".
Seclusion and dissociation is a very favourite environment for culture of this vicious attribute. But man knows himself as he actually is, through association with others, he is informed of the real degree of his perfection and virtues, and becomes aware of his faults, and also faces individuals who are more prominent and perfect than himself, and consequently finds his fault, and this cuts the root of vanity in him and or minimizes it. And on this account, it is widely seen that secluded and dissociable persons have made big and sometimes odd claims all showing their deep vanity and selfishness.
Moreover, another great advantage of association with people is clarified herein, that is recognizing one's own faults. People, parti