Envy constitutes a disease of the heart and it is one of the flaws inherent in human characters that can damage the well being of the family and the community in general. In order to understand its true nature and convey a beneficial understanding, a single definition of this malady will not be sufficient.
So envy is:
“To wish for a blessing from the person it was bestowed on, regardless of whether the envious person wants the blessing for himself or not.” (lbn Hajar AI-Asqalani-Fath-u/ Bari)
“When a person feels sad at seeing a blessing bestowed on his Muslim brother, and hoping that the brother is deprived of it.” (Al – Hulaymi)
“To hate and have resentment towards the apparent good condition of the envied.” (lbn Taymiyyah)
“Wishing for a blessing to vanish.” (An-Nawawi)
“Hating a blessing and hoping that the blessed be deprived of it.”
In Surah Al Falaq, Allaah enjoined in His Prophet ﷺ to seek refuge with Him from the evil of the envier when he envies.
When envy becomes widespread amongst a people, it might eventually cause their destruction because it will irrigate and nurture ill feelings.
The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ 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 love between you? Spread (the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.” (at-Tirmidhi, hasan hadeeth).
Concerning the meaning of the phrase “it shaves (destroys) faith”, al-Tayyibi said: “i.e., hatred takes away faith like a razor takes away hair.” (Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jaami’ al-Tirmidhi).
Ibn Al-Qayyim stated that the envier may unintentionally envy others; meaning, he envies them by means of his nature, and this is one of the worst traits that a human can possess.
VARYING DEGREES OF HASAD
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 Allaah to bless anyone else and that upsets him. This level is the most dangerous and the most impermissible.
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. This is also impermissible.
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.
A Subtle Sign of the Presence of Envy
When you come across a person who always tries to conceal the virtues and goodness of others and he does not like it when others talk about the good that a person has done and he is always quiet and pretends like he does not know of that good, and he tries to put down the other person then this is a subtle sign of envy. A true believer free from envy likes it when good things are said about others and when others are appreciated and spoken about and when he speaks about them, he recounts Allaah’s bounties upon them and spreads the good message.
SOME EXAMPLES OF THE EVIL CAUSED BY HASAD
Shaitaan disobeyed Allah out of jealousy to Adam A.S.
In the heavens, the first sin to be committed was as a result of this great disease – envy; the envy of our father Aadam A.S. by the Shaytaan. This would later lead him to add pride and arrogance to his crimes.
“What prevented you (0 lblees) that you did not prostrate, when I commanded you?” lblees said: “I am better than him (Aadam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (AI-A’raaf : 12)
“O lblees! What is your reason for not being among those who prostrated?” He said: “I am not the one to prostrate myself to a human being, whom You created from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud.” (AI-Hijr : 32-33)
For all of the honours and blessings done to Aadam A.S., the rage and envy of Shaytaan that he had been concealing became exposed. So when he was asked why he refused to prostrate, his response was laced with grudge, jealousy, hatred, pride and arrogance.
People of the book rejected the message out Hasad
“Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy for their own selves”. (Surah al-Baqarah, verse 109)
“Neither those who disbelieve among the people of the book nor the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah, idolaters and polytheists like that there should be sent down unto you any good from your Lord. But Allaah chooses for. His Mercy whom He wills. And Allaah is the Owner of Great Bounty.” (AI-Baqarah : 105)
Envy is always accompanied with hatred. So the person starts by being envious of the other person or party and it gradually turns into hatred especially when such blessings abound and increase. The People of the Book – the J e w s and the C h r i s t i a n s – and the rest of the unbelievers are people of envy. Similar to them are hypocrites who feign lslaam; they go a step further by having hatred for the bounties Allaah has bestowed upon the Muslims. It therefore follows that whoever from amongst the Muslims’ picks up this trait, he is by that resembling those whom Allaah is angry and displeased with.
Brothers of Yusuf A.S. tried to get rid of him and Sons of Adam A.S. fought because of Hasad
The evils of envy can also erupt within blood ties, which are considered one of the strongest ties amongst mankind. When this occurs, jealousy and rank hatred will appear between them and the desire to eliminate the envied is very likely. Allaah informs us about the brothers of Yusuf A.S. (envied their brother for the love of the father Yaqub A.S.) and the two sons of Aadam A.S. (one killed the other out of envy and jealousy of the fact that his own sacrifice was rejected while that of his brother was accepted by Allaah).
Causes of Envy
DISCONTENTMENT WITH QADAR
Lack of contentment with what Allah has given to him from the affairs of this world. Envy in most cases is an expression of dislike, opposition and discontent for what Allaah has decreed, since the blessings been envied can only come from Allaah alone or by His permission from other people. You will find such a person is always angry: Why does so and so have wealth and I do not? Why is it that so and so has a better job than me?
Allah says, “Is it they who would portion out the Mercy of your Lord? It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and we raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the Mercy of your Lord is better than that which they amass (of this life).” (Az-Zukhruf : 32)
AN UNSOUND HEART
Envy is an indication of an unhealthy heart. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “Verily! In the body is a morsel of flesh which, if it is rectified then the whole of the body will be rectified and which if it diseased then the whole of the body is diseased. Certainly it is the heart.” (Bukhari)
Being envious is a sign that a person’s heart and soul is evil and is far away from the level of faith that is desirable for it to achieve. Indeed, he is far from the complete and perfect faith since he dislikes good for his brother whereas The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said : “None of you would have believed until he loves for his brother what he loves for his own soul.” (Bukhari)
As a Muslim, you should be happy and glad that good is happening to your brothers in faith. So, ask Allaah for yours and do not wish to have what is with him or that if you don’t get it, it should just be destroyed.
The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “The following two persons do not exist together in hell: a Muslim and a disbeliever whom the former killed and then rectified his conduct and tried to be near perfection. The dust in the cause of Allaah and the odour of hell do not co-exist in the chest of a believer. And belief and envy do not occur together in the heart of a believer. (Nisaii, Hasan Hadeeth)
Envy can result from being haughty – which is behaving in an unfriendly manner out of the feeling that you are better than another person. The haughtiness of Shaytaan – indeed his pride – made him not to prostrate for Aadam A.S. The proud person dislikes being with words of truth and may go to the extent of despising the people of truth. However, the reality is that whoever has a grain of pride in him and thereby rejects the truth (of lslaam) will not be admitted into Paradise. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.” A person amongst his listeners said: “Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. The Prophet ﷺ remarked, “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth due to self-conceit and contempt for the people.’ (Muslim)
The reason why pride prevents the arrogant from entry to Paradise is because the arrogant man is vying with Allaah in one of His unique qualities. The Prophet ﷺ said: Allaah Most High says: “Pride is my cloak and majesty is my lower garment, and I shall throw him who vie with me regarding one of them into Hell.” (Abu Dawood)
RIVALRY & COMPETITION FOR THIS WORLD
The presence of rivalry between certain groups in society, such as a businessman being jealous of other businessmen; this is impermissible.The Prophet ﷺ said,
“…I fear that you will compete with one another for them (the treasures of the earth).” (Bukhari & Muslim)
“Look at those who are lower than you but do not look at those who are higher than you, lest you belittle the favours Allaah conferred upon you.“(Bukhari)
Envy can also result when a wealthy man refuses to help his close associates, families and the rest of the people in dire need. So you will find that a poverty-stricken man who sees those around him enjoy the luxuries of life without even the crumbs getting to him and not receiving any helping hand will have a hateful envy for the society where he lives. The purification lies in paying the compulsory charity called Zakaah and giving voluntary charities too.
Envy will grow where there is the practice of treating certain individuals less fairly than others. This could happen amongst co-wives, children, and workers to name a few. The inability to rectify the perceived or apparent unfairness could lead those at the receiving end to resort to envy. So be just in all that you do, that is nearer to piety.
Effects of Envy
ON THE ENVIER
The envier harms himself in the following ways:
He earns sin because hasad is haraam.
It is bad etiquette before Allaah, because what hasad really means is hating Allaah’s blessing His slaves, and objecting to what Allaah does.
He suffers because of too much worry and distress, since he is dissatisfied with Allaah’s decree. The envious person will continue to be in this state since he has forgotten the Bestower of the blessing he is envying and instead prefers the perishable goods of this life.
Loss of good deeds, since he ceases to work and strive, and depends on wishful thinking.
ON THE SOCIETY
Jealousy is the disease of all nations, as the Prophet ﷺ said: “The illness of those nations before you has spread to you: jealousy and enmity. ” (Tirmidhi)
When jealousy becomes apparent in a society it splits, becomes weakened, lacks in motivation, its members plot against one another, and the members of such a society continuously compete with and hate one another; thus life in such a society becomes unbearable. So, it is the duty of the Muslim to fear Allah, wash his heart from the evils of hate and jealousy so that he may become upright, and be good in his dealings with others. The Prophet ﷺ said:
“The believer to the believer is like a building, each part of it supports the other.” (Bukhari)
“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari)
So it is necessary for the jealous, those who inflict the evil-eye, and others similar to them to know that these are dangerous diseases which not only harm them, but harm society as a whole.The jealous and those who give the evil-eye are more in need of a cure than others.
Cure to Jealousy
Now that we know that jealousy is a grave illness, what is its cure? For those who want to get rid of this blameworthy characteristic, here are some solutions:
The jealous should know that they have participated with the enemies of Allah in their hatred of the believers, for the enemies dislike that the blessings of Allah should be bestowed upon the believers. The one who has jealousy is similar to them in this regard.
To know that their jealousy does not harm anyone except themselves, for they are the ones who feel anxiety, despair and sadness. Were Allah to answer the wishes of the jealous, no-one would receive any blessings.
Know that Allah is Just and we need to be content with His Qadr. Be fully content with what Allah has given, for one does not grieve over what has passed from this world, for it will all be destroyed one day. He should know that this jealousy and lack of contentment is in opposition to what Allah has ordered.
Know that every Muslim is obliged to do is to love for his brother what he loves for himself of good things, and to hate for his brother what he hates for himself of bad things. This does not mean that you cannot like for yourself what you like for others. If you see that your brother has something that you do not possess, and wish that you have it too, this is the good envy that is free from malice.
Know that as a Muslim, you need to strive against your own self so that your heart will be free of jealousy towards your Muslim brothers. If you sincerely love your brothers, most of these problems from which you might be suffering will disappear.
ACTIONS THAT CAN CURE
1. Make du’aa’ (supplication) to Allaah and ask Him to rid you of this problem. For verily Dua is a weapon of the believer and a great sheild.
2. Recite and ponder on the meanings of the Qur’aan and reading it frequently, especially the verses which speak of hasad (destructive jealousy), because reading the Qur’aan brings one a great deal of hasanaat (reward for good deeds). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (Hood 11:114)
3. Reading the seerah (biography) of the Messenger ﷺ, seeing how he kept away from hasad and how he loved good for others, even for his enemies. (The Sealed Nectar is a highly recommended book by scholars, it is available online for free)
4. Reading the biographies and stories of the Sahaabah
5. Saying Aoudhubillah, If any such thoughts (of hasad, etc.) cross your mind, then seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan , and keep yourself busy with something that will make you forget these insinuating whispers and thoughts.
6. Learn about the virtues and rewards of loving for the Sake of Allah, When you realize how great your virtue and status will be when you love your brothers and love good things for them, and when you know how great your reward will be if you treat them well, this will motivate you to treat them well in all ways, and to strive to benefit your brothers and sisters instead of being preoccupied with jealous thoughts of what they have and you do not have.
7. Do not show or take action, If the Shaytaan manages to instil hasad in your heart, then beware lest you say or do anything which will show that hasad. Every person has his or her share of hasad. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “Nobody is free from hasad, but the noble person hides it whilst the base person shows it.” (Amraad al-Quloob). A person will not be brought to account for whatever crosses his mind, but he will be brought to account for what he says and does. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Allaah will forgive my ummah for their mistakes, what they forget and what they are forced to do.” (al-Bukhaari).
8. Buy gifts & shake hands, If you feel that you are jealous of a specific person, then buy him a gift and shake hands with him. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Shake hands, for this will dispel rancour, and exchange gifts and love one another, for this will dispel hatred.” (Maalik). Hasad is the result of hatred, whose opposite is love, the way of which is giving gifts and spreading (the greeting of) salaam, because the Prophet ﷺ said: “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 love between you? Spread (the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.” (Narrated by Muslim, 81).
9. Saying Salam, Hasad is the result of hatred, whose opposite is love, the way of which is giving gifts and spreading the greeting of Salaam, because the Prophet ﷺ said: “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 love between you? Spread (the greeting of) Salaam amongst yourselves.” (Muslim)
10. Repentance, As mentioned earlier, Hasad comes from an unhealthy heart, which perhaps was made dead by sins, no matter how small they may be.By repenting from these sins and turning to Allaah, the evil of this destructive hatred will lnSha Allaah be removed from your heart.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Amraad al-Quloob (diseases of the heart):
“Whoever find in himself any hasad towards another has to try to neutralize it by means of taqwa (piety, consciousness of Allaah) and sabr (patience). So he should hate that (the feeling of hasad) in himself… But the one who does wrong to his brother by word or deed will be punished for that. The one who fears Allaah and is patient, however, is not included among the wrongdoers, and Allaah will benefit him by his taqwa.”
Prophet’s ﷺ advice to the Ummah
He ﷺ said, “Do not be envious of one another and do not nurse grudge against one another. Do not artificially raise prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not turn your back on each other; do not undercut one another in business transactions. And be, 0 servants of Allaah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He does not oppress nor wrong him. He does not fail him when he needs him. He does not lie to him. And he does not show contempt for him. Piety is here.” And he (the Prophet ~ } pointed to his chest three times. “It is enough of evil for a person to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All of a Muslim is sacred and inviolable to another Muslim: his blood, his wealth and his honour.” (Muslim)
May Allah save us all from this evil characteristic and cure those who suffer from it, We seek refuge in Allaah from taking up characters likened to that of the accursed shaytaan and those who angered Allah by disbelieving.