Islam is a religion of purity and decency. It is a religion of good manners and education. It is a religion that promotes the purification and cleansing of the heart.
Every Muslim needs to actively be of a sound mind and ability to self-audit and guide themselves to the righteous path. We need to be people who think for themselves and not follow the crowd so to speak, especially in the current time and place in which we live.
The imam reminds us of a hadith of the Prophet SAWS in which the key to this is indicated. It is translated to say:
“The disease of the nations before you is creeping towards you: Envy and hatred, it is the Haliqah. I do not speak of what cuts the hair, but what severs the religion. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other. Shall I tell you about what will strengthen that for you? Spread the Salam among each other.”
Dear brothers and sisters, we are being told of a warning. A disease that is creeping towards us. A disease of envy and hatred. And the dire consequences of this is then stated later by informing us that it will sever our religion. We are then told of its consequences not only on us as a community but also on us as individuals. And then if that wasn’t warning enough, we are told of its effect on this life and the severe consequences on the next life.
However, as with all things in relation to our beautiful faith, this warning comes with a clear remedy. A treatment of this disease and that is the spread of love and peace between one another. This, we are told, is the cure to the envy and hatred that we are may have in our hearts.
Before we look into this further, it is worth noting that there is a distinction made between envy and jealousy. Sometimes, we use the words as synonyms for one another but the truth of the matter is that there is a key difference in the two words that we need to know of.
The definition of envy is simply looking at something someone else has and wishing for it to be removed or wishing for us to have it instead. Examples of this may be wealth, happy family home, health, even imaan in the other person.
This is a severe disease of the heart as this can manifest into wishing bad on others or the evil eye which we have discussed in previous reminders.
In comparison the definition of jealousy is wishing you had something that someone else has. Again the examples can be the same things such as wealth, family, heath but the key difference between the two may be that you do not wish bad for the other person nor want that person to no longer have it.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is human nature to compare and want. If we don’t have references in others then how will we know it is something that is desirable within us? In other words, jealousy can be a positive thing if it is understood and dealt with in the correct way.
For example, in our career we may wish we had the job of someone else. This is an example of being jealous but if we following this up by asking Allah SWT of a promotion, not wishing bad for the person we were jealous of and working hard to achieve that status, then this is a positive example.
We may wish to have the energy of our friend. Rather than wish he or she no longer has that energy, we supplicate to Allah SWT, a dua every night in which we wish even more health for our neighbour, telling them that they are an inspiration to us and we work hard to exercise and be fit like they are so that we can have the energy they have. This is a positive example of being jealous.
And the main one we are taught in Islam to compete with one another is in our level of worship to Allah SWT. So this may come about when we see someone doing an act of worship we wish we did. This is jealousy. But again, if we follow the thought with Mash’Allah first for that person and compliment that person, seek advice from that person in doing the same, doing dua to be like that person then this is an example of positivity from jealousy. This is a positive demonstration of love for that person and peace towards that person. Our heart remains pure and free of disease.
Dear brothers and sisters, the bigger lesson from this reminder is the need to correct one’s heart. If we are not reacting to similar examples in our lives to the ones given today then an MOT of the heart is overdue.
The imam reminded us of Sura An-Nisa, ayat 32 which is translated to say:
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.
In this ayat,, Allah SWT is giving us a number of lessons and one reminder can never do justice to the ayat but to summarise one lesson, we are being told that in life we will always encounter something we wish we had in others.
But it’s our heart, and how we deal with this scenario that is the key. Allah SWT is telling us not to wish for that by which he has made the other exceed you. But in the same ayat we are being told to ask Allah SWT from His bounty. Therefore, if we ponder over this, how can the two statements co-exist?
They co-exist because the first is an example of envy, a warning not to want the thing the other person has. That’s envy because you are wanting that thing for yourself. You are wanting it removed from that person who has exceeded you. This breeds hatred and a heart in need of repair.
The second is a positive reaction to jealousy as discussed earlier. And this is directly answered by Allah SWT in that we are told to ask Allah SWT of it. To be like the person we compared ourselves to. He tells us to ask Allah SWT of His bounty. This takes nothing away from the person that exceeds us but gives us a reason to return to our Lord in prayer.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we ponder over this ayat further, we can see that through jealousy we have been given a reason to ask of Allah SWT, to increase of level of worship. To ignore the human nature to compare is not the answer, this is part of who we are. However, it is how we deal with that characteristic is what will make us successful in this life and the next.
By wishing only the best for those who exceed us, by returning to our Lord in sincere dua and asking for something like what we have seen in others whilst wishing for their blessing to continue, we are fulfilling our obligations and we are reacting to our heart in a way that will rid it of the disease of envy and hatred for others and promote love for one another instead.
May Allah SWT enable us to be rid of envy. May Allah SWT enable us to deal positively to jealousy and may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts in healing our hearts of any negativity towards others.