Possessing knowledge of the different temperaments really enables us to bear with our fellow human beings more patiently.
When we are able to realize that much of what we may consider as “defects” in others is really a consequence of the temperament that Allah has bestowed upon them, we can excuse them more readily and we won’t so easily be excited or angered by them.
Islamic medicine has relied heavily on the concept of temperament since the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The four temperaments again are:
Sanguines are self-composed – seldom showing signs of embarrassment – and can be “forward” or bold. They like to be heard and are eager to express themselves before groups.
Keenly alive to their social and physical environments, they are often easily influenced by those around them or by their surroundings.
Not very selective in choosing friends, they make new acquaintances easily from their wide range of companions.
This temperament type often turns from activity to activity in quick succession, with little perseverance, and experiences many fluctuations of mood. Sanguines are optimistic, overlook difficulties, and are always sure of success.
They seem to remain free of the violent passions of cholerics, and the pusillanimity and anxiety of melancholics.
However, an immature sanguine can lack depth in religion as well as other areas of life, and feels so happy when praised that they are very susceptible to flattery. In their desire to enjoy life, such a person can also be very frivolous.
In the realm of work, sanguines often complain or are unhappy. Not because they are truly dissatisfied, but because everything that requires limits, great perseverance, or a denial of gratification is very hard on sanguines.
They adore activity, but they hate the word “work;” thus, they often try to make their work more “fun.”
In relationships, sanguines are very helpful to neighbors and friends, and are always willing to lend a hand. They are sociable, easily making new contacts. They are entertaining to listen to and usually very willing to please.
In the realm of personal improvement, sanguine persons must give themselves to reflection on spiritual as well as temporal affairs by performing the five prayers each day without fail.
They must continually struggle against those faults to which they are so inclined by their natural disposition such as vanity and self complacency; love of particular friendships; sentimentality; sensuality; jealousy; levity; superficiality, inconsistency and instability.
Sanguine children must be looked after; they must be told that they aren’t allowed to leave their work unfinished.
Their assertions, resolutions, and promises must not be taken too seriously; they must continually be checked on to determine whether they have really carefully executed their work.
These children must be kept under strict supervision and guidance; they must be carefully guarded against bad company, because they can easily be influenced.
Cholerics are people of enthusiasm and passion. They are not satisfied with the ordinary, but aspire after the great and lofty.
They crave great success in temporal affairs – seeking large fortunes, vast businesses, elegant homes, distinguished reputations, and predominant positions.
In spiritual matters, cholerics are swayed with a consuming fire for holiness; they are filled with a yearning desire to make great sacrifices for Allah and for neighbors, and to lead many souls to heaven.
However, cholerics see only one road – often not noticing that another road may be easier.
Cholerics rely too much on their own knowledge and abilities. They refuse the help of others, preferring to work alone; partly, because they do not like to ask for help and, partly, because they believe themselves to be more capable than others, and sure to succeed without the help of others. It’s not easy to convince cholerics that they are in need of Allah’s help – even in little things.
Spiritually, if cholerics develop their faculties and use them for good and noble purposes, they may do great things for the honor of Allah, for the benefit of their fellow human beings, and for their own temporal and eternal welfare.
When striving for personal improvement, cholerics need high ideals and noble thoughts, which they must draw from prayer, khutbah, and the reading of spiritual materials as well as from their own life experiences.
They will make still greater progress if they can learn to humble themselves to ask others – at least, their superiors – for instructions and direction.
In the work force, cholerics are very patient and firm in the endurance of physical pain and are willing to make sacrifices.
This often makes them good workers, but they are also susceptible to being “work-a-holics.” Choleric persons need to make sure they take vacation time to spend with their family and friends.
This article was first published in 2011 and is currently republished for its importance.
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