The dangers and evils of envy (Hasad) in society

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By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Dear brothers and sisters! Actually, Allah the Almighty made the truthful love among Muslims the strongest bond of loving for the Sake of Allah the Almighty Who will gather those who loved each others for His Sake under the Shade of His Thrown (on the Day of Resurrection) because of that love. Moreover, Islam substantiated such fact by establishing the obligation of preserving the wealth of the Muslim individual, his reputation, his life/soul etc, i.e. no one should harm him nor hurt him in any way.

However, some people love to sail in swamps. They love to envy those whom Allah the Almighty has provided from His favours and blessings. So this will bring about nothing but evil and bad repercussions such as backbiting (Ghibah), tale-bearing (Namimah), scorning and the like.

Respected servants of Allah! Today’s sermon discusses the topic of Al-Hasad (destructive envy/jealousy); the disease that many believe that it began to penetrate the rows of Muslims, and heading to their destruction. May Allah the Almighty purify our hearts from grudge and envy, and to render us beloved brothers, ameen.

My beloved people! Hasad (Destructive jealousy/envy) means wishing that a blessing that Allah has bestowed on the envied person be taken away, whether it is a blessing in religion or in the worldly affairs. Hasad is an abhorrent manner. It harms both body and religion. It inflicts harm on Muslim individual, the thing that is prohibited by Allah the Almighty and His Messenger.

Jealousy/Envy refers to the desire that a person feels for the destruction or removal of a blessing that another person has – a destruction which the bearer of this feeling would himself carry out if he had the power to do so. This is quite different to wanting such blessings for oneself while not wishing for them to be removed from others, for that is, indeed, a positive and commendable desire that leads to competition. Competition is not considered blameworthy in general, rather it is considered to be praiseworthy if it is in pursuit of righteousness; Allah the Most High says:

“Indeed, the righteous will be in pleasure. On adorned couches, observing… You will recognise in their faces the radiance of pleasure. They will be given to drink [pure] wine [which was] sealed. The last of it is musk. So for this let the competitors compete.” [Qur’an, 83:22-26]

Allah Almighty mentions in the Qur’an the envy of the disbelievers, the hypocrites and people in general. Speaking about the disbelievers, Allah Almighty says:

“Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them…” [Qur’an, 2:109]

Allah Almighty also says:

“Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty?” [Qur’an, 4:54]

Envy (Hasad) is an evil disease of the heart that leads to foul conduct and bad behaviour. It leads to animosity, thinking evil of the intentions of others, backbiting, tale-bearing, lying, and the abandonment of other Muslims. It may lead its possessor to inflict physical harm on the person whom he envies and can even lead to murder. It is considered to be among the most dangerous and destructive of internal diseases and is the most destructive to a person’s religion and worldly life.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Do not envy one another; do not hate one another; do not turn your back on one another (in discontent); (but) be servants of Allah as brothers.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

And Allah orders the believers to seek refuge from the evil of the envious person and envy in general when He says:

“And from the evil of the envier when he envies.” [Qur’an, 113:5]

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) also said:

“Indeed envy eats up good deeds just as fire consumes firewood.” [Ahmad]

And there are many stories in the noble Qur’an that highlight the dangers and evils of envy (Hasad). When we read the story of Prophet Yusuf may Allah exalt his mention and his brothers, we realise the danger of envy, how it blinds, how it snatches mercy away from the heart, and how it drives its possessor to inflict terrible physical pain on the envied person. Allah Almighty says:

“When they [i.e., the brothers of Yusuf] said: ‘Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, while we are a clan. Indeed, our father is in clear error. Kill Yusuf or cast him out to [another] land; the countenance [i.e., attention] of your father will [then] be accessible to you, and you will be, after that, righteous people.'” [Qur’an, 12:8-9]

Another story that shows the danger of envy is the story of Habil and Qabil: The Qur’an tells us about the first son of Prophet Adam may Allah exalt his mention, who murdered his brother out of envy (Hasad), which constituted the first crime ever in which blood was spilt. He envied him because Allah accepted his brother’s sacrifice but not his; Allah the Most High says:

“And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter]: ‘I will surely kill you.’ Said [the former]: ‘Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear him]. If you should raise your hand against me to kill me – I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds.’… And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.” [Qur’an, 5:27-28 and 30]

Dear servants of Allah! The blameworthy type of envy is an unrestricted dislike of the blessings bestowed upon the envied. Therefore, when one despises something, he is hurt and grieved by its very existence, and this becomes a sickness in his heart, to the extent that he derives pleasure from the removal of the blessings from the envied – even if this does not result in any benefit to him except having the pain that was in his soul removed.

This pain is not removed except as a result of the envier continuously monitoring the envied so that he would find relief when the blessing is removed, but it can become more severe, as is the case of the one who is suffering from a physical sickness, in that the blessing, or one similar to it, may return to the envied. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“I swear by the One in whose Hands is my soul! none of you will believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

He (Peace be upon him) also said:

“There is to be no envy except in two cases: (towards) a person whom Allah has granted wisdom, and who rules by this and teaches it to the people, and (towards) a person whom Allah has granted wealth and property along with the power to spend it in the cause of the Truth.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Ibn Umar may Allah be pleased with him, added to this from his own narration:

“(And) a person whom Allah has given the Qur’an and who recites it night and day, and a person whom Allah has granted wealth and property from which he gives in charity by night and day.”

Envy (Hasad) may occur as a result of enmity, pride, self-admiration, love of leadership (Hubbur-Ri’asa) or impurity of the soul. Of these, enmity is the most serious cause, as it leads to malevolence and this, in turn, causes man to thirst for revenge and drives him to gloat over any calamity that may afflict his enemy. Imam Al-Ghazali, may Allah have mercy on him, said in his book Al-Ihyah:

“Be aware that envy is one of the deadliest diseases of the hearts, and there is no medicine for the diseases of the heart except through knowledge and deeds. The knowledge that will treat the disease of envy is to know, without any doubt, that envy is lethal for a person’s worldly life as well as his religion, and that there is no danger from it to the envied person regarding his life or his religion; on the contrary, the envied person will actually benefit from it. The fact is that envy is actually dangerous for the envier’s religion because it is through this envy that he hated Allah’s predestination and the blessings that He divided among his servants; he also hated His justice that He established in this world due to His Wisdom; therefore, the envier contested that and objected to it. This is contrary to belief in the Oneness of Allah. Additionally, the envier would share with Shaitan (Satan) and the rest of the disbelievers a love for crises to befall the believers and for blessings to leave them. These are evils in the heart that devour good deeds and erase them like the night erases the day. The person who suffers from envy in his life is tortured by it, and will always be in sorrow every time he sees the blessings of Allah upon the envied person.”

Dear brothers and sisters! Know that, jealousy/envy (Hasad) is not only a great sin in Islam but it is considered as the most discouraged and destructive emotion in any religion. Psychologically also, it is one of the major illnesses to human health that destroys a person’s mental peace and happiness. Jealous person can cross any limit just to make people unhappy and to make people lose what Allah endowed upon them.

Jealousy (Hasad) is a kind of feeling that leaves the heart of a jealous person impure and empty of faith (Iman). In regard to the purity of the heart, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was asked, who are the best people? He (Peace be upon him) replied, “the one with a clean heart and truthful tongue.” He (Peace be upon him) was then again asked that a truthful tongue is understandable but what does a clean heart mean? Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) answered, “It is the heart of one that is pious, pure, and is free of sin, transgressions, hatred and Hasad (envy/jealousy).” [Ibn Majah]

Zubair Ibn al-Awwam narrated that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 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 (religion and Iman).” [Tirmidhi]

A jealous person is affected more than the person whom he is jealous of. Jealousy not only spoils the peace of mind but it also weaken the faith in Allah; because when a person gets jealous to another person he thinks that Allah has not fair enough with him, though he does not know what blessings Allah has given to His each servant and indeed, Allah does justice better than anybody can think of! Allah the Most High mentioned in Surah Al-Nahl, verse 71:

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“And Allah has favoured some of you over others in provision. But those who were favoured would not hand over their provision to those whom their right hands possess so they would be equal to them therein. Then is it the favour of Allah they reject?” [Qur’an, 16:71]

Jealousy (Hasad) is not only discouraged in Islam but the following Hadith states clearly that the jealousy factor burns all the good deeds of a person. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“Beware of jealousy (Hasad), for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” [Abu Dawud]

Jealousy (Hasad) can turn a good person into an evil, same as happened to Iblis/Shaitan. When Allah ordered Angels and Iblis to prostrate to Adam in respect and honour, but Iblis directly refused the order of Allah because he was jealous of the status and position Allah has given to Adam. Iblis said to Allah:

“Do You see this one whom You have honoured above me? If You delay me until the Day of Resurrection, I will surely destroy his descendants, except for a few.” [Surah Al-Isra; 62]

Jealousy (Hasad) also gives birth to so many other sins in society, like back backbiting (Ghibah), accusation (Tuhmah), general insecurity killing and bloodshed. If a jealous person cannot do anything to harm that person with whom he is jealous of, then he tries to talk about him at the back, usually with the intentions to spoil his image. Sometimes, the intensity of jealousy gets too much high that a person does not satisfy with backbiting, then he reaches to accusation, which is no doubt a major sin considered in Islam.

Therefore, jealousy not only destroys a victim but also harms the attacker up to a greater extent. We as a Muslim should seek help from Allah to keep us away from this dangerous illness-jealousy. To keep ourselves protected from jealousy, we should recite the following chapter of the noble Qur’an, Surah Falaq, verses 1-5:

“Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak, from the evil of that which He created, and from the evil of darkness when it settles, and from the evil of the blowers in knots, and from the evil of an envier when he envies.” [Qur’an, 113: 1-5]

All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Muharram 25, 1443 A.H. (September 03, 2021).

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