Jealousy and its Cures
From As-Sunnah Bi-Monthly Newsletter (issue 19)
Compiled by Shawana A. Aziz
“Beware of jealousy,
for verily it destroys good deeds
the way fire destroys wood.”
Hasad (jealousy and envy) is among the most destructive emotions or feeling which a man may have towards his fellow human being. It causes him to wish evil for others and to be happy when misfortune befalls them. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) warned against envy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” [Abu Dawood]
Hasad is a disease of the heart and it causes impurity to the heart, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked who are the best of people? He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) replied: “the one with a clean heart and truthful tongue.” They asked: ‘We understand a truthful tongue, but what does a clean heart mean?’ he answered: ‘It is the heart of one that is pious, pure, and is free of sin, transgressions, hatred and Hasad.” [Ibn Majah]
Hasad is such a dangerous characteristic that Allah revealed verses of the Qur’aan to be recited as a protection from the jealous, “Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawnâ€¦ from the evil of envious when he envies.” [Soorah al-Falaq (113): 1]
At-Tirmidhee narrated from al-Zubayr Ibn al-Awam that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) 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) faithâ€¦” [(Hasan) Jamee at-Tirmidhee (2434)]
Hasad can cause the person to indulge in disbelief because it causes the individual to feel that Allah has not been fair with him; he forgets all the mercy and blessings which Allah has bestowed upon him. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “They are enemies for Allah’s bounties.” They asked: “Who are they?” He said: “Those who envy people for what Allah has given them of Bounty.” [at-Tabaranee]
Allah through His Absolute Wisdom has given some people more wealth, intelligence, beauty, strength, children, etc. than others. The believing Muslim should be content with what Allah has destined for him. Allah says: “Allah favored some of you over others with wealth and propertiesâ€¦ Do they deny the favors of Allah?” [Soorah an-Nahl (16): 71] And: “Do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 54]
“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.” [Soorah az-Zukhruf (43): 32] meaning mercy of Allah is better than the convenience of the world. The materials of this life do not make one superior to another in Allah’s Judgment. True superiority lies in Taqwa (righteousness, fear of Allah). He said: “Surely, the most noble of you to Allah is the most God-fearing.” [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 13] “And the Hereafter with Your Lord is (only) for those who have Taqwa.” [Soorah az-Zukhruf (43): 35]
What belongs to the transient world is of no significance before Allah. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “If this world were worth a mosquito’s wing before Allah, He would not give a disbeliever a drink of water.” [At-Tirmidhee]
The favors of Allah in the world are a test; the more the favors, the more the tests. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: “Umar Ibn Khattab wrote this letter to Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, ‘Be content with your provision in this world, for the Most Merciful has honored some of His servants over others in terms of provision as a test of both. The one who has been given plenty is being tested to see if he will give thanks to Allah and fulfill the duties which are his by virtue of his wealthâ€¦” [Ibn Hatim]
Allah, the Exalted, has therefore forbidden us from desiring what other have, “Do not wish for what we have favored some of you over others.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 32]
In order to discourage envy, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Do not look to those above you. Look to those below you, as it will more likely remind you of Allah’s favors bestowed on you.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim] On another occasion, he said: “If one of you looks at someone wealthier and better built than him, he should also look at someone of lower standard than himself.” [Saheeh Muslim]
Islam permits Ghibtah
What Islam permits in contrast to Hasad (destructive jealousy) is Ghibtah (envy that is free from malice), which means neither loving the loss of the blessing nor hating for it to remain with the person, but desiring the same for oneself without the removal of the blessing from others.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Envy is allowed in two cases, in case of a man whom Allah has given the Qur’aan and who recites it throughout night and day; and a man on whom Allah has bestowed wealth who gives it away throughout night and day.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim] and he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also explained what may be said: “I wish I were given what he was given and did with it what he did.”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The similitude of the people of this Ummah is like four individual. One whom Allah has given wealth and knowledge, so he handles his wealth with the knowledge. One whom Allah has given knowledge but not wealth and he says, ‘Lord, should I have wealth like so-and-so I would have handled it like him.’ So they both have the same reward. Such a person loves to have wealth like others so he can do good like others without wishing that the others lose their wealth. Another man, Allah has given him wealth but no knowledge and he spends his wealth in disobedience to Allah. And last, a man whom Allah has not given knowledge nor wealth but he says, ‘Should I have wealth like so-and-so, I would spend it in the way he does.’ So, both will have the same sin against them.” [at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Majah]
Some Reasons that cause a person to have Jealosy
Anger and Malice: When one is hurt by someone for any reason, he is angered, and his anger produces malice and urge for revenge in the heart. The slave begins to desire harm for the other person, he enjoys when he sees him in hardships and he may further thinks that Allah has done it to him as an evil reward!
And if the person is blessed with a gift, he grieves and this is Hasad, which does not harm the envied person but it hurts and destroys the Hasid (one who has Hasad) himself.
In order to close the door to this evil Islam advises the Muslims to be forgiving in nature and control one’s anger. Allah says in the Qur’aan: “Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men. Verily, Allah loves the good doers.” [Soorah al-Imran (3): 134]
Arrogance, Pride and Love for fame: When a person achieves a high status and position in the society or gains wealth, he hates to see someone other than him compete or go ahead of him or be praised over him. So, he envies the former person.
An example of this can be taken of the Jews and their Hasad towards Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) for the Prophet-hood that Allah entrusted him with. Their envy made them reject the divine message given to him, because he was an Arab and not from the Children of Israel. It was their Hasad which caused them to make statements as such, “It is these that Allah as favored among us?” [Soorah al-Anam (6): 53] “And they say: ‘Why is not this Qur’aan sent down to some great man of the two towns?” [Soorah az-Zukhruf (43): 31] and in Soorah al-Muminoon (23): 34, “If you were to obey a human being life yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers.”
This also shows one of the grave dangers of Hasad that Hasad hinders the person from following the truth and accepting advice from others just as the Hasad of the disbelievers prevented them from accepting Islam.
Evil Nature of the person: Some people, even though they may not be harmed or threatened by other people’s success, grieve when they hear about some good happening to others, and enjoy in their adversities. Neither do they seek progress for themselves nor do they wish others to progress!! Such kind of defect is difficult to cure for the reason behind their evil attitude is the evil nature of the person which does not allow him to accept other people’s success.
Repentance and Getting Rid of Jealousy
Firstly, the believer should have sincerity in repenting from Hasad as Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Three things that every heart of a believer should not hate to have is sincerity in actions, rendering advise to leaders and holding to Jama’ah (community) of the Muslims, for their supplication surrounds everyone with them.” [Ahmad and Ibn Majah]
Second requirement to get rid of Hasad is to get rid of all those means which cause one to have Hasad like anger, hatred, love for the world and discontentment.
Discontentment comes from the slave’s ignorance of his Lord. If he recognizes his Lord with the attributes of Perfection, All-Knowledgeable and All-Just to his slaves, he would not be discontent and as a result would not develop Hasad.
Imam Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) said: “It (contentment) opens the door of peace and security for the slave.” It makes his heart pure from hatred, evil and malice. The more contented the person is, the purer his heart is. However, this does not mean that the slave should not make efforts to improve his situation. A slave should work to gain success and progress but he should not envy those whom Allah has granted more wealth or possession but he should be content with the decisions of Allah.
Thirdly, the slave should turn towards the Qur’aan which is a healing for the diseases of the heart. Allah says: “O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Rabb and a healing for that in your chests.” [Soorah Yunus (10): 57]
Supplicate to Allah to purify your heart. Allah said in the Qur’aan: “And those who came after them say: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.” [Soorah al-Hashr (59): 10]
Give Sadaqah (charity) for it purifies the heart and sanctifies the soul. It is for this reason Allah said to His Prophet: “Take Sadaqah from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it.” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 103]
If thoughts of Hasad cross one’s mind, he should seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytan and busy himself with something that will dispel these insinuating whispers and thoughts.
But if the Shaytan manages to instill Hasad in the hearts, then beware lest you say or do anything which will show Hasad. 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.
Shaikh 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]
If you feel that you are jealous of a specific person, then buy him a gift, shake hands with him and give him salaams for Hasad is the result of hatred and the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Shake hands, for this will dispel rancour, and exchange gifts and love one another, for this will dispel hatred.” [Narrated by Maalik in al-Muwatta (1413)]
Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “By Allah, in Whose Hand is my soul, you will never enter Paradise until you believe. And you will not believe unless you love one another. May I tell you something that if you do, you may love one another? Spread Salaam amongst yourselves.” Ibn Abdul-Barr said: “This proves that Salaam can lift hatred and produce love.” [Saheeh Muslim]
“A Man from the People of Paradise will enter now…”
Anas Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anhu) reported that he and other companions were sitting with the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), who said: “A man from the people of Paradise will enter now.” And a man from al-Ansar entered, with his beard dripping with water from Wudhu (ablution), and holding his sandals in his left hand.
The following day, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said the same thing and the same man entered.
On the third day, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) again repeated his statement and the same man entered with water dripping and holding his sandals.
When the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) left, Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-As (radhi allahu anhu) followed the man and said: ‘I quarreled with my father and I swore I would not go to him for three days and night. Would you shelter me for these days?’ the man replied: ‘Yes.’
Anas said: ‘Abdullah said that he stayed with this man for three nights and he did not see him praying at night, but every time he moved and changed position in bed he would remember Allah saying, ‘Allahu Akbar’ Until Salat-ul-Fajr.”
Abdullah said: ‘I didn’t hear anything from him but good. When the three nights had passedâ€¦ I said: ‘O slave of Allah! I really didn’t abandon my father nor was I angry with him. But, I heard the Messenger of Allah speaking of you on three separate occasions, the Prophet had said that a man from the people of Paradise would enter, and you were the one to enter on all the three times. So, I wanted to stay with you to see what you do so that I could follow you. But I have not seen you doing much. So what is that you do for Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to say what he had said?’
The man replied: ‘It is nothing more than what you saw.’ When it was time to leave, he called me back and said: ‘Yes, it is nothing more than what you saw, except that I have no place in myself for ill-intentions or Hasad towards any Muslim and what Allah has given them.’ Abdullah said: ‘This is what has made you deserving of the praise and this is what we cannot do.” [Musnad Ahmad]