National Grand Mufti of Australia

Envy

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تحاسدوا، ولا تباغضوا، ولا تقاطعوا، ولا تجسسوا، ولا تحسسوا، ولا تناجشوا، وكونوا عبادا لله إخوانا
Abu Hurayrah (r.a.a.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: “Do not envy one another, do not hate one another, do not cut off ties with one another, do not spy on one another, do not bear suspicion against one another, and do not cheat each other, but be servants of Allah and brothers.”

This Hadith makes it clear that the only way to form a cohesive and united brotherhood is to abandon mutual jealousy, anger, greed, rivalry and individualism. If care is not taken to avoid these evils, they will undermine the relationships between the believers and cause the Ummah to be divided. They are poisons and diseases which must be avoided.

The disease of envy is one of the most destructive of social diseases. Envy makes a person call to evil and it deters him from goodness and from faith. It leads him to follow his desires so that he strays and leads others astray also.

Envy causes a person to desire what Allah has not ordained for him. The person becomes heart-broken and miserable when he sees that somebody else has a thing or quality that he himself desires but does not have. At the incitement of his Shaytan and his nafs, the person grieves and complains that Allah, who perfected His creation, did not divide His bounties fairly among His servants. It will be clear that the good of such a person is little, his evil is great, his tongue is long, and his vision is short.

The first case of envy that ever took place was when Iblis was envious of Adam (a.s.) and refused to prostrate to him as a mark of respect, even though Allah had ordered him to do so.

وإذ قلنا للملئكة اسجدوا لآدم فسجدوا إلا إبليس أبى واستكبر وكان من الكافرين
And when We said to the angels: “Prostrate to Adam”. So, they all prostrated except Iblis: he refused and became arrogant, and he was among the ungrateful.

Envy led him to disobey Allah and to lead Adam (a.s.) and his wife into disobedience as well.

فأزلهما الشيطان عنها فأخرجهما مما كانا فيه
So, the Shaytan made them slip therefrom, and made them leave that which they were in.

It was envy that caused the first murder of a human being, when Qabil the son of Adam (a.s.) killed his brother Habil.

واتل عليهم نبأ ابني آدم بالحق إذ قربا بقربان فتقبل من أحدهما ولم يتقبل من الآخر قال لأقتلنك
And recount to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth when each offered a sacrifice: it was accepted from one of them, but it was not accepted from the other. He said (to his brother): “I will surely kill you.”

It was envy that caused the Mushrikun of Makkah to reject the Prophet (a.s.), and it was envy that caused the Jews and Christians to hate Islam.

ود كثير من أهل الكتاب لو يردوكم من بعد إيمانكم كفارا حسدا عند أنفسهم
Many of the People of the Book desire that you returned after your Iman to being disbelievers, out of jealousy from their own selves.

Envy is more common amongst scholars and high-ranking individuals than among other people. They think: “You have a good car, while I have none. You are strong, while I am weak.”

No greedy person will ever have everything that he wants, for although he may be the richest, he may not be the most handsome. Or he may be the most handsome as well, but he may not be the most intelligent. Even if he had all that he wanted, eventually old age would rob him of it, and he would envy those who still possess youth.

The envier utters disbelief, conceals treachery, commits evil and thinks deception. If he sees the truth, he will call it falsehood, and if he sees falsehood, he will call it truth. If he sees a scholar, he will call him ignorant, and if he sees an ignorant person, he will call him learned. If he sees good, he will call it bad, and if he sees bad, he will call it good.

Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi:

إن من عبادي لفقير لو أغنيته لكفر، ومنهم لغنيا ولو أفقرته لكفر
There are among My servants’ poor people who, if I made them rich, would become disbelievers. And there are rich people among them who, if I made them poor, would also become disbelievers.

Why does envy spread throughout society like wildfire? Love of the Dunya is the reason. Those whose hearts are attached to the Dunya envy others’ portions of it. Therefore, it is said that the love of the Dunya is the beginning of every sin. The Muslims must realise that this world is not for us. Once one realises that he will keep quiet, and he will be patient because he knows that true success is not to be found in the Dunya. He will then be free from envy, and he will no longer ask himself: “Why does so-and-so have so many things and I have none?”

Envy will only leave us alone when we run towards our Lord. If envy has left you, it is a sign that you are running to your Lord.

Envy destroys and undermines brotherhood. It makes way for the disintegration of the Ummah. May Allah give us the guidance, understanding and ability to avoid such an abominable and destructive evil. Ameen.