Envy a disease of the heart
February 15 2019 01:25 AM
Mosque, amman
A mosque in Amman, Jordan

Strictly speaking, envy (hasad) is hatred and disliking the good condition of the envied one. This is of two types:
1) The blameworthy type of envy is unrestricted dislike of the blessings bestowed upon the envied. This is the type of jealousy that incurs blame, so when one hates something he is then hurt and grieved by the existence of what he hates, and this becomes a sickness in his heart such that he takes pleasure in the removal of the blessings from the envied even if this does not result in any benefit to him except the single benefit of having the pain that was in his soul removed.
But this pain is not removed except as a result of his continuously watching the envied so that the jealous person finds relief when the blessing is removed, but then it becomes more severe as is the case of the one who is sick, for it is possible that this blessing, or one similar to it, returns to the envied. This is why the second group said: ‘It is a desire to have the blessings removed,’ for indeed the one who dislikes the blessings bestowed upon other than him desires them to see removed.
2) That he dislikes the superiority of that person over him, and he desires to be like him or better, so this is jealousy and has been called ghubta, and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, called it hasad in the hadith reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith of ibn Mas’ood and ibn `Umar, radiallahu ‘anhumaa, that he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “There is no envy except in two cases: a person to whom Allah has granted wisdom, and he rules by this and teaches it to the people, and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property along with this the power to spend it in the cause of Truth.”
This being the wording of Ibn Mas’ood. The wording of Ibn ‘Umar is, “A person to whom Allah has given the Qur’an and he recites it night and day, and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property from which he gives in charity night and day.”
...So the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, forbade hasad, with the exception of two cases which are referred to as al-ghubta, meaning that a person loves the condition of someone else and dislikes that this person be superior in this way (without his wishing that it be removed from that person).
So if it is asked: ‘Then why is this (ghubta) called envy when he loves only that Allah bestow these blessings upon him?’ It is said, ‘The starting point of this love is his looking towards the favours Allah has bestowed upon someone else and his disliking that this person be favoured over him. So if this other person were not present then he would not have desired these blessings. So because the starting point of this love is this dislike that someone else be made superior to him, then this is called envy due to the love following the dislike. As for desiring that Allah bestows favours upon him without consideration of people’s material conditions then this is not envy at all.’
This is why the generality of mankind have been tried with this second type of envy that has also been called al-munaafasah (competition) because two people compete in a single desired matter, both of them trying to attain the same good. The reason for their trying to attain it is that one of them dislikes that the other be blessed with this matter over him just as any one of two competitors dislikes that the other beat him.
Competition is not considered blameworthy in general, rather it is considered to be praiseworthy when competing for righteousness. The Exalted said:
“Indeed the pious will be in delight. On thrones, looking on. You will recognise in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine. The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of musk, and for this let those compete who want to compete.” [Al-Mutaffifeen (83):22-26]
So one is commanded to compete for these delights and not compete for the delight of this fleeting world.
...The souls do not envy the one who is in severe hardship and this is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, did not mention it even though the mujaahid, fighting in the Way of Allah, is superior to the one who is spending wealth.... Similarly, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, did not mention the one who prays, fasts and performs the pilgrimage, because there is no tangible benefit attained from the people for these actions by which the person can be exalted or disgraced, as can be attained in teaching and spending.
Fundamentally, envy occurs when someone else attains power and authority; otherwise the one who is performing these actions is not normally envied, even if this person be blessed with far more food, drink and wives than others, as opposed to these two blessings of power and authority, for they cause a great deal of envy.
...Allah praised the Ansaar with His saying, “And they have no jealously in their breasts for that which they have been given (the muhaajiroon), and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that.” [Al-Hashr (59):9]
As for the jealousy that is totally blameworthy then Allah has said with regards to the Jews, “Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them.” [Al-Baqarah (2):109]
‘They wish’ meaning that they hope to make you apostatise from your religion out of jealousy. So jealousy was the deciding factor behind their wish even after the Truth had been made clear to them. This because when they saw you attain what you attained of blessings – in fact they saw you attain that which they themselves had never attained – they became jealous of you.
Similarly this is mentioned in another verse, “Or do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His bounty? Then We have already given the family of Abraham the Book of Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom. Of them were (some) who believed in him (Muhammad) and of them were some who averted their faces from him and enough is Hell for burning (them)...” [An-Nisaa’ (4): 54-55]
“Say: I seek refuge with 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. And from the evil of the witchcrafts when they blow in the knots. And from the evil of the envier when he envies.” [Al-Falaq (113):1-5]
...So the one who is jealous, hating the favours bestowed by Allah upon someone else is an oppressor, going beyond bounds due to this. As for the one who dislikes that someone else be blessed and wishes to be blessed in the same way, then this is forbidden for him except in that which will bring him closer to Allah. So if he were to wish for something that has been given to someone else which would help bring him closer to Allah then there is no problem in this. However, his wishing for it in his heart, without looking to the condition of someone else is better and more excellent.
Then if this person were to act, dictated by this jealousy, he would be an oppressor going beyond bounds, deserving of punishment unless he repents...
Jealousy is one of the sicknesses of the soul, and it is an illness that afflicts the generality of mankind and only a few are secure from it. This is why it is said, “The body is never free from jealousy, but debasement brings it out, and nobility hides it.” It was said to Al-Hasan Al-Basree, “Can a believer be envied?” He replied, “What has made you forget Yoosuf and his brothers, have you no father? But you should keep (this envy should it occur) blinded in your heart, for you cannot be harmed by that which you did not act upon in speech or action.”
So the one who finds that he harbours jealousy in his soul towards someone else, then it is upon him to treat it with patience and taqwaa of Allah, and dislike it being in his soul... As for the one who actually takes a stance against the envied, either with words or actions then he will be punished for this, and the one who fears Allah and is patient and does not become one of the oppressors – Allah will benefit him for his taqwaa.
...In the hadith there occurs, “There are three sins from which no one can be saved: jealousy, suspicion and omens. Shall I tell you of what will remove you from this: When you envy do not hate, when you are suspicious then do not actualise your suspicions, and when you see omens then ignore them.” Reported by Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya from the hadith of Abu Hurairah.
In the Sunan from the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, “You have been afflicted with the illness of the nations that came before you – jealousy and hatred. They are the shearers, I do not mean the shearers of the hair, rather they are the shearers of the religion.” [At-Tirmidhi, at-Tabaranee and al-Hakim who said it was saheeh].
So he called jealousy an illness just as he called miserliness an illness in his saying, “And what illness is worse than miserliness.” [Ahmad, Hakim and others, saheeh]
...In the first hadith jealousy was mentioned along with hatred. This is because the envier, first of all dislikes the bounty bestowed by Allah upon the one who is envied, and then begins hating this person. This is because the hatred of the thing being bestowed leads to hatred of the one upon whom it is bestowed, for when the blessings of Allah are bestowed upon an individual, he would love that they go away, and they would not go away except by the one who is envied going away, therefore he hates him and loves that he not be there.
Jealousy necessarily leads to desire and hatred just as Allah informed us of those that came before us that they differed, “After there came to them knowledge out of mutual hatred and desire.” [Aal ‘Imraan (3):19]
“Do not envy one another, do note hate each other, do not oppose each other...” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
“By the One in Whose Hands is my soul, none of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Greed is a sickness as is miserliness, and jealousy is worse than miserliness, as occurs in the hadith, “Jealousy eats away at good deeds, just as fire eats away at firewood.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
This is because the miser only stops himself from having good but the envier dislikes the favours of Allah bestowed upon His servants.
[Excerpted and adapted from Imam Ibn Taymiyyah’s Diseases of the Hearts and Their Cures]

Eye of the envier

1. Envy is one of the major sins which is bound to destroy good deeds as fast as the fire burns the wood and dry grass to ashes. “Jealousy eats away at good deeds, just as fire eats away at firewood.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
2. Envy was described as a sickness by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
3. Envy is hating that good happens to others.
4. Envy is displeasure with Allah’s decree and His granting blessings upon others.
5. “Faith and envy do not go together in the heart of a servant.” [Ibn Hibban, saheeh]
6. “The people will be fine as long as they do not envy one another.” [At-Tabarani with trustworthy narrators]
7. Envy is a characteristic the Jews displayed towards the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, causing them to inflict him harm.
8. Envy leads to hatred.
9. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, described envy as a shearer of the religion.
10. Muslims are commanded in Surah al-Falaq to seek refuge from the evil of the envier when he envies.
11. Envy is worse than miserliness; this is because the miser only stops himself from having good but the envier dislikes the favours of Allah bestowed upon His servants.
12. No one attains true belief until one loves for one’s brother what one loves for oneself.
13. It is said that the people who have the greatest degree of restlessness are the envious. Such a person has no peace and is continuously grieved.
14. The greatest harm from envy comes to the envier, who with one’s displeasure with Allah’s decree attains a great loss to oneself.
Al-Mubarrad recited the following lines:
The eye of the envier always sees scandal,
bringing out faults and hiding the good.
He meets you cheerfully, with a smiling face,
while his heart conceals his true feelings.
The envier’s enmity comes without provocation,
yet he accepts no excuses while he attacks.

‘Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not from me’

Anas, radhiallah ‘anhu, reported that: “Three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and asked how his worship was. When they were informed, they considered their own worship to be insignificant and said: ‘Where are we in comparison to the Prophet when Allah has forgiven his past and future sins?’ One of them said: ‘As for me, I shall offer prayer all night long.’ Another said: ‘I shall observe fasting perpetually, never to break it.’ Another said: ‘I shall abstain from women and will never marry.’ The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then came to them and said: ‘Are you the people who said such things? I swear By Allah that I fear Allah more than you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still, I observe fasting (sometimes) and break it (at others); I perform (optional) prayer (at night sometimes) and sleep at night (at others); I also marry. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah (i.e., my way) is not from me.’” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Anas also reported: “A few of the companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, inquired from his wives about his worship when he would be alone. When they found out, one of them said: ‘I shall abstain from women and will never marry.’ Another said: ‘I shall never eat meat.’ Another said: ‘I will always offer the night prayer and shall never sleep.’ Later, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, ascended the pulpit, praised and thanked Allah, and then said: ‘Why are some people saying such things? I perform (optional night) prayers (sometimes) and sleep at night (at others); I observe fasting (sometimes) and break it (at others); and I marry. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah (i.e., way) is not from me.’”
“A few of the companions” in the narration means that there were between three to nine of them, and their asking: “Where are we in comparison to the Prophet when Allah has forgiven his past and future sins?” means that since they did not have this assurance that He  had, then it followed that they would have to exert more effort in order to try to attain it; however, he  explained to them that one may do the things that these men wished to refrain from and still be fearful of Allah and obtain a great reward.
The second narration of this story includes different things that the companions stated that they will abstain from, which proves that they were more than three in number.
Also, the speech of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in the first narration reflects that he spoke to them directly, whereas the second one indicates that he  spoke generally, without directing his speech to them in particular. It may be that he first spoke to everybody in the congregation and explained that such abstention is impermissible, and then spoke to the men concerned in private, addressing them personally so as not to expose their identity to others, which may have caused them embarrassment.
The fact that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, took an oath was in order to show these men that despite him being forgiven by Allah, he  did not do what they planned to do, which was to exaggerate in their worship, and that reward from Allah could be attained without such exaggeration; this is because he who is moderate in his worship is more likely to continue whereas those who exaggerate will eventually become too weak to continue and give up.
His saying: “…my Sunnah…” did not refer to the Islamic categorisation which refers to recommended acts rather than obligatory ones. Rather, it refers to his complete manner in life and his approach to every matter. He  instructed them that the one who worships in any way other than his is not from him, meaning, that he does not follow him; here, he  was alluding to the methods that monks have, who innovated extreme ways of worship for which they have been dispraised by Allah.
The one who worships in a way other than that of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has not left the fold of Islam if he did it in ignorance or was mistaken in his interpretation of the Sunnah, but if he does it due to wishing to deliberately shun the way of the Prophet  and thinks that his way and method is better, then he has committed an act of disbelief.
The following are some of many benefits that we can extract from this narration:
*The recommendation of imitating the ways of one’s seniors and following in their footsteps, and that if one is unable to find out about their way of doing things by means of inquiring from men, then it is permitted to inquire from women, provided that nobody will be subjected to temptation.
*The virtue of marriage and an encouragement of it.
*One may do righteous deeds openly and inform others about them, provided he feels secure from thereby becoming arrogant.
*Deeds that are Islamically permitted may become recommended, disliked or prohibited, according to one’s intention.
*Imaam At-Tabari  said: “This narration refutes the claim of those who forbid eating lawful foods and wearing permissible clothing, claiming that it is better to use harsh clothing and refrain from eating good food.” But, Imaam Ibn Hajar  added to this saying: “The fact of the matter is that the one who gets himself accustomed to always consuming fine things (i.e., food and clothing) may become too habituated to them and therefore cannot live without them, and consequently, when he is deprived from them, he may commit prohibitions in order to attain what he is accustomed to. On the other hand, refraining from them from the perspective of prohibiting them for oneself contradicts the saying of Allah in the verse of Surah Al-A’raaf (which means): “Say: ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of [i.e., from] Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?...” [Qur’an 7: 32]
*The good deeds that are continuous are the dearest to Allah, even if they are few.
*The method of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is the very best one, whereby he would sometimes eat in order to preserve his strength, and fast at other times; he would also sleep at night sometimes in order to have the strength to pray at night on other occasions; also, he would marry in order to fulfil his desires, save himself from following his lusts, maintain his chastity, and increasing the number of Muslims.
*A warning against exaggeration in the matters of the religion because this leads to one stopping the deeds that he is performing. Also, one who exaggerates in acts of worship will eventually become apathetic, which may cause him to stop his obligatory acts of worship and not only the optional ones that he performs. Also, one who only performs the obligatory deeds is also in great danger; if he loses interest, he may abandon worship altogether; so the best way is to be moderate.
*Finally, There is an indication in this narration that knowing Allah and His rights and commandments is of a higher rank than simply worshipping Him without it, and that the deeds of the heart are essential for practicing servitude to Allah.
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