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 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 Quraan to be recited as a protection from the jealous, "Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn 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) faith" [(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 Allahs 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 properties, 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]
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 wealth" [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]