Envy: A very bad heart disease
Fatwa No: 86114

  • Fatwa Date:14-8-2003 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 16, 1424
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Question

I have a very big problem which I tried to solve many times but unfortunately I couldn't. I hope that you could help me solve it. I am an ordinary Muslim, neither very good nor very bad. I pray regularly and recite the Qur'an, but the matter that disturbs me most is my bad habit of excessive jealousy. I have heard of a Hadith that says that envy eats up (destroys) good deeds as fire does to wood. I feel really that this jealousy (envy) destroys my heart, so I urgently need your advice as to what should I do and what should I read so as to get rid of this fire (jealousy).

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is in the nature of most human beings to aspire to superiority over others in terms of wealth, beauty, and status.

People, on this issue, are divided into two groups. The first group comprises those who are in the habit of being always satisfied with what Allah provides them and try to get it through legal means. They never envy others for any favor that Allah grants them, or wish that that favor or privilege be lost from them.

They may blamelessly wish and aspire to have the same property or position as others but without wishing to see them (other people) lose that property or position. This aspiration or craving is viewed as mere innocent and blameless wishfullness, not envy, for a true Muslim does not envy.

The second group includes those who are not satisfied with what Allah has given them and they know no way to achieve their goals and wishes except through envying others for what Allah has given them. They are always discontent with Allah's Will and Wisdom in distributing His Sustenance, and they are overwhelmed by pungent malevolence, so much so that they burden themselves with grave sins.

Ultimately, they get nothing more than what Allah has bestowed upon them. This egregious defect is the very one, Satan (may Allah curse him) and his followers are stained with.

Hence, for one to seek and pine for wealth and high rank within the limits of the Sharee’ah (Islamic law) is by no means condemned. It is one of the instinctive attributes man was created with. What is strictly condemned legally and logically, however, is discontent with and objection to Allah's way of distributing sustenance and provision. Furthermore, what is equally rejected is to endeavor to achieve one's ambitions through ways other than those approved by Allah.

Among the tips that can help believers be content and satisfied with their share of sustenance are:

1) Everything in this life is dependent on and connected to Destiny and Predestination which are in the Hands of Allah Alone. It is Allah and Allah Alone Who decrees whatever none can object to, and gives what none can prevent. His sustenance can never be got or increased by man's skill and keenness.

2) One should take into account the condition of those who are inferior to him in terms of the mundane (worldly) affairs, and should not look at those who are superior to him.

It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Look at (consider the condition of) those who are inferior to you, but do not look at those who are superior to you, so as not to disdain Allah's favor upon you." [Narrated in the Sunan and the Musnad]

3) One should keep in his mind that the kind of superiority which is worth to contest is that which involves obedience to Allah Almighty and closeness to Him. Hence, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "No envy (is pardoned) except in two cases: a man whom Allah has given wealth, all of which he spends in goodness (good cause), and a man whom Allah has given wisdom by which he judges (among the people) and teaches it to them." [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

4) Envy destroys the envier's heart but does not affect the envied person. It (envy) is a clear indication of a weak and mean self. The envier wastes his time, harms himself, and blurs his thinking, so much so, that he degrades himself among other people. Thus the aphorism goes: "the envier is willy-nilly doomed to failure".

5) Among the remedies one may adopt to overcome the bad effects which envy causes, is to engage in one's own affairs such as planning for one's future, lending a helping hand to others, and participating in philanthropic projects. One must also keep in mind that philanthropy and envy are never paralleled; the real opulence is that of a content self, and that wealth does never solely mean the multitude of money and estates.

Allah knows best.

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