In this contemporary world today, some Muslims find it difficult to control or strive against their own selves (Jihaad al-nafs) so that their heart will be free of jealousy towards their Muslim brothers. Amongst the disease of the heart is envy, desiring and wishing that a blessing that Allah has bestowed on the envied person be taken away. Some people desire to see someone harmed in something with which Allah has blessed them. Allah (the Most Exalted) said: Do they envy people for what Allah has given them of his bounty? (An-Nisā 4:54)
Envy (hasad) also known as destructive jealousy is a feeling of discontented or resentful towards someone because of their success, that is, longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or advantages.
“Envy is the desire for someone who has a blessing to be deprived of it, whether it is a religious or worldly blessing.”(Sharḥ Riyāḍ al-Sāliḥīn)
In Islam envy or jealousy is of two kinds: permissible/good jealousy, and destructive envy. The Prophet, peace, and blessings are upon him, said,
“There is no envy but in two cases: a man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it rightly, and a man whom Allah has given wisdom and he judges and teaches with it.”(Al-Bukhārī and Muslim).
According to an authentic Hadith,
“There is no envy but in two cases: a man whom Allah has given the Quran and he recites it by night and day, so it is said: If I were given the likes of this, I would act as he has. And a man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it rightly, so it is said: If I were given the likes of this, I would act as he has.” .(Al-Bukhārī)
In the above hadith, the word “envy” does not carry the real meaning. It is a kind of rhetorical language. The real meaning is admiration, i.e., you admire these two kinds of people who are blessed with the knowledge of the Quran and have been given wealth. In this case, it is permissible.
Regarding the destructive envy, The Prophet, peace, and blessings are upon him, said,
“There has come to you the disease of the nations before you, jealousy, and hatred. This is the ‘shaver’ (destroyer); I do not say that it shaves hair, but that it shaves (destroys) faith. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of that which will strengthen the love between you? Spread (the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.”(Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi)
As Muslims, we should be mindful of envy because it is a spiritual disease that is the root of numerous sins. It is opposed to true faith and it could nullify a person’s good deeds. The Prophet, peace, and blessings are upon him, said,
Beware of envy, for it consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood or grass.(Abu Dawud)
A true believer cannot achieve a pure heart until it is emptied of all envy, hatred, and malice. Ibn Uyainah, May Allah have mercy on him, said: Ibn Taymiyyah in his Majmū’ Fatāwá relates said, “The reality of envy is that it is the hatred and contempt a person feels when seeing the good condition of the one who is envied.” Brother and sisters in Islam, The Prophet commanded us not to envy and hate others. Rather, we should wish for good and love others what we love for ourselves.
The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said:
“Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of Allah as brothers. It is not lawful for a Muslim to boycott his brother for more than three days”
The best of people that would be saved on the Day of Judgement is the ones with a pure heart. On the other hand, a Muslim with an envious mind, cannot be free from this disease until he strives against his own self. The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said,
“One with a heart swept clean and truthful in speech.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, we recognize truthful speech, but what is a heart swept clean?” The Prophet said, “One that is Godfearing and pure, in which there is neither sin, nor transgression, nor envy.” We said, “Who shows a sign of it?” The Prophet said, “One who despises worldliness and loves the Hereafter.” They said, “And who shows a sign of it?” The Prophet said, “A believer with good character.”(Shu’ab Al-Imān)
We should also realize that Faith and envy never coincide in the heart of a believer. This could be seen in one of the authentic hadith, The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Faith and envy are not combined within a believing servant.” (Al-Nasā’ī). So, this is a call to every faithful Muslim to be careful of becoming an envier Meanwhile, Allah enjoined His Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to seek refuge with Him from the evil of the envier when he envies. Allah says :
“Say: ‘I seek refuge with (Allah), the Lord of the daybreak, ‘From the evil of what He has created, ‘And from the evil of the darkening (night) as it comes with its darkness; (or the moon as it sets or goes away), ‘And from the evil of those who practice witchcraft when they blow in the knots, ‘And from the evil of the envier when he envies.’”[Al-Falaq 113]
What is meant by “when he envies” is when he manifests what he feels of envy in his heart and acts on it, and his envy makes him do something bad to the one whom he envies.
CATEGORIES OF ENVY
- When a person wants the blessing to be taken away from his Muslim brother, even if it does not come to him; rather he does not like Allah to bless anyone else and that upsets him.
- Where he wants the blessing to be taken away from someone else because he wants it, in the hope that it will come to him.
- Where he wishes for himself a blessing like that which someone else has, without wanting it to be taken away from the other person. This is permissible and is not called hasad rather it is called ghibtah because you admire these kinds of people who are blessed by Allah.
Envy could be harmful to the envier in different ways, envier harms himself in the following ways:
- He earns sin because hasad (envy) is haram.
- It destroys his good deeds; envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood or grass.
- It is bad etiquette before Allah because what envy really means is hating Allah’s blessing His slaves, and objecting to what Allah does.
- He suffers because of too much worry and distress throughout the envious act.
Islam teaches that a Muslim loves for his brother what he loves for himself and hates for his brother what he hates for himself. If you have something that your friend does not have and she loves you sincerely, she must wish that she has what you have. This is called ghibtah (envy that is free from malice). On the contrary, If your friend wishes that the blessings you have be taken away from you, this is called hasad (destructive jealousy). This kind of envy is prohibited, and it is considered an abhorrent act.
CAUSES OF ENVY
- Vying for another’s affection or attention or love: We see this in the story of Prophet Yusuf (‘alayhis-salam) and His brothers, and there are so many of them.
- Arrogance or pride: An envious person feels that they are more deserving of something than others and that they are more entitled to something than others might be. Like the envy of shaytan toward Prophet Adam(‘alayhis-salam).
- Bellittling one self-esteem and forgetting Allah’s blessings upon you
“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam.” ( Al-Israai’:70)
As a Muslim, you should realize how great his virtue and status will be when he loves his brothers and loves good things for them, and when he knows how great his reward will be if he treats them well, this will motivate him to treat them well in all ways and to strive to benefit his brothers instead of being preoccupied with jealous thoughts of what they have and he doesn’t. Allah (Most Exalted) says: “That is the Grace of Allaah which He bestows on whom He wills” (Al-Maaidah:54)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Amraad al-Quloob (diseases of the heart):
“Whoever finds in himself any hasad towards another has to try to neutralize it by means of taqwa (piety, consciousness of Allaah) and sabr (patience).
In addition, The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said,
“Whoever would love to be delivered from Hellfire and admitted into Paradise, let him meet his end with faith in Allah and the Last Day, and let him treat people as he would love to be treated.”(Muslim).
May Allah ‘Azza wajall protect us from the evil of the envier when he envies.