Envy and Jealousy - A disease for heart and mind
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Jealousy is a disease of the heart and mind, it is one of the oldest evils of human beings. Some Islamic scholars say that this is the first sin that was committed.
When Allah ordered the angels to bow down to Adam, Iblis refused to bow because he was jealous of the honor that Allah gave to Adam. He said to Allah,
[Iblees] said, "Do You see this one whom You have honored 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).
Possibly jealousy is one of the fatal illnesses of ethics which cannot be cured. A jealous person grieves when he discovers any goodness and positivity in other people’s lives. It is believed that jealousy is such an illness of soul that no doctor can find the cure for it. For this reason, jealousy is a disgusting moral quality which invalidates and destroys a person’s good deeds.
However it is generally jealousy that causes fights between people and conflicts between colleagues and friends. Indeed, jealousy, as a result of extreme egoism, is the thought of “How can they have something which I do not have”!
Those who live in jealousy live under stress and grief. They often ruin their own health and live a miserable life. They also intend to harm others. Jealous people have never reached their desires and they have never been respected by anyone and anywhere. In addition, jealousy causes despair, hopelessness and shortens lifespan.
According to Bertrand Russell “jealousy was one of the most strong causes of unhappiness. Not only is the jealous person rendered unhappy by his envy, but they also wish to inflict misfortune on others”.
Jealous persons live in constant state of being sad and dejected. It ruins one's character before it is built on ethics and principles.
Imam al-Ghazali, who was a great thinker, philosopher and scholar, said that jealousy is often caused by various acts like; hatred, ambition, superiority and arrogance, astonishment, craving for power and prestige.
Whether it is money, power, fame or lust, all material things are finite. It is for this reason people generally get jealous by each other. Obviously everybody imagines himself to be superior and reflects that his thoughts and manners are better than others.
The Prophet (pbuh) warned against jealousy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He (pbuh) said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” (Abu Dawood)
A jealous person is annoyed because of the blessings other people have got. He is angry with Allah’s way of distributing bounties to individuals. Allah through His absolute wisdom has given some people more prosperity, children, intelligence, beauty and strength than others. The believing Muslim should be pleased with what Allah has destined for him.
Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran:
"Allah favored some of you over others with wealth and properties do they deny the favors of Allah?" (Surah Al-Nahl; 71)
However being jealous does not change Allah’s decision. Therefore, a jealous person grieves and troubles in vain because of his jealousy. Besides, he earns sins which are a burden on him. In truth jealousy affects more damage to the jealous himself than to one whom he is jealous of.
A Muslim must always have in mind that jealousy is forbidden. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
"Do not be jealous of each other, do not boycott each other, do not hate each other, do not contrive against each other. Be all of you brothers to each other, O Servants of Allah”. (Dawood :14 )
Envy and jealousy are sources of dissatisfaction and self-torture, therefore, we are advised in the Holy Quran to seek refuge from the serious effects of such kinds of hateful social evils.
Jealousy is such a dangerous characteristic that Allah revealed verses of the Quran 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.” [Surah Al-Falaq :113)