This four lettered green-eyed monster is as old as the existence of man. In those days, people only envy those they know; those in their circle of friends, family, neighbours or colleagues at work. But these days, all thanks to social media, we are at liberty to envy someone even if we don’t know their real name! This development has made envy a huge contributor towards mental illness in our internet/social media era.
We have all been there… Wishing or wanting what someone else has. It is a feeling which even the best among us might have dealt with one time or the other. It is a feeling, and feelings are okay until we choose how to act upon them. Let us look at the types of envy according to the scholars of Islam (Source Islam QA);
- Ghibtah; This is when someone wishes for himself another person’s blessing without wanting it to be taken away from him. This type of envy is permitted.
- Hasad; this is ‘destructive’ envy. This is projected by wishing that the blessing which Allah (S) has bestowed on someone be taken away from them. Allah (S) enjoined the Prophet (pbuh) to seek refuge with Him from the evil of the envier when he envies. Allah say in Quran 113;
“Say I seek refuge with Allah, the Lord of the daybreak (2) From the evil of what He has created (3) And from the evil of the darkening night as it comes with its darkness or the moon as it sets or goes away (4) And from the evil of those who practice witchcraft when they blow in the knots (5) And from the evil of the envier when he envies”
How then do we manage to control this feeling of envy (Hasad) before it consumes us and causes us to do that which will make Allah (S) displease with us? First, we need to be one who is aware of our own feelings, one who listens to what is going on inside of them, we need to be willing to acknowledge and process these feelings; even the ugliest aspect of them, only then can we really gain control of our feelings. So next time you feel struck by this ugly feeling, why not try some of these ideas listed below;
- We should remember that we are blessed differently. Allah (S) said in the Quran:
“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:32)
The truth is that we all are blessed by Allah (S), in different ways with different things. Unfortunately, when we feel envious of other people’s blessing and we choose to let those feelings control us, we become blind to our own blessing. Your friend (real or social media) who just got a promotion at work, a new car etc might not have a child of her own, or she is going through a turbulent marriage or you don’t even know the challenges she is quietly dealing with (which is another reality we often forget; everyone is dealing with one or two kinds of challenges in their life). So once you are aware of that feeling, instantly switch into gratitude mode, even if at that moment you can’t think of anything to be grateful for. Consistently say Alhamdulillah in all situations, say Istigfar for heart cleansing; the more you say these, the more Allah (S) will open your heart, and you will begin to see your own blessing. Then make sincere dua for the person and remind yourself that Allah is sufficient for all your needs, wants and wishes!
“Sufficient for me is Allah; there is no deity except Him. On Him, I have relied, and He is the Lord of the Great Throne.” (At Tawbah 9:129)
- When we envy others, the heart automatically wishes evil upon the victim of our envy; so one way to combat this is to do the exact opposite of what the heart is thinking at that moment with the intention to make self-rectification and overcome the evil feelings. What I mean is this; you force yourself to be affectionate with the person, focus on their good virtues, honour them and speak good of them to others. You might feel insincere initially, but with constant efforts, it will become a sincere act which will cure your own heart and remind you that it is the Allah’s (S) who has chosen them for the advantage they enjoy. If you find this difficult to do, you can step away from the person until you are able to work on handling your own feelings better.
Another thing we can do especially when the one we envy is someone we only follow on social media, we should make use of the unfollow buttons to save our own heart from unnecessary turmoil.
- Do you really need that thing? Recently, a friend got something new and that sneaky feeling of envy crept into my heart. I quickly told myself to calm down, and look again. What I found out was that I don’t even need that thing. It is not something I want because it does not align with my values, it is not my style or my taste. Sometimes, we waste our time envying others, wanting and pursuing what they have when it does not even align with our values or life goals; if at the of the day, we got that thing, we will be trading our peace of mind for it. So many people lost themselves in this process and many never find their way back.
- Ask yourself if you are thinking ‘properly’; okay this might sound funny, but it is the truth when you start envying someone who began their journey; entrepreneurial, career, motherhood etc 10 years ago, and you are comparing your new (2-3 years) journey to theirs, seriously… Just give yourself a light slap to wake up into reality! Then work hard, pray harder that Allah (S) should please bless your efforts.
- Also, we need to constantly remember that every blessing is in itself a trial upon the recipient just like trials are blessing in disguise.
“Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope.” (Al-Kahf 18:46)
Your child, wealth, social status etc will bring you no good in this world and hereafter if none were acquired or used in a way that is pleasing to Allah (S). These ‘blessings’ or perceived ‘success’ might put some people in trouble on the day of judgment; you don’t want to be them!We need to constantly remember that every blessing is in itself a trial upon the recipient just like trials are blessing in disguise. Click To Tweet
When you envy others, you will be bringing harm to yourself in 3 ways;
- The envier commits sins because envy (hasad) is haram.
- It is a bad etiquette before Allah (S) because envy (hasad) means hating Allah’s blessing for His slaves and objecting what Allah (S) does.
- The one who envies suffers as a result of too many worries and distress. (Source Islamqa)
Allah (S) said;
“And those who came after them say Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful” (Al-Hashr 59:10)
There is a hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) reported by Abu Huraira reported:
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Beware of envy, for it consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood or grass.” Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4903
May Allah bless us with Qalbun Salim (a sound heart) free from envy and grudges.The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Beware of envy, for it consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood or grass.” Click To Tweet
Umm SOM is a wife and Stay at home Mum living in Lagos, Nigeria. She is a writer who enjoys cooking (sometimes), crafting, reading and being Mum to her bundles of joy. She is also on a journey to self-discovery, self-love and appreciation, and once in a while loves to share some of the lessons she has learned through her journey. You can check out her page on Instagram @soulfulcare where she loves to share wellness tips for Muslimahs, her love for nature, candle, teas and life as Mama of two.