In a ḥadīth, related by Abū Dawūd, Rasūl Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم says “Beware of envy for envy consumes up good deeds just as fire consumes up and devours wood or dry grass.” On one hand we work hard to earn the reward of Allāh by praying, fasting and doing other good deeds, but on other hand we harbour envy in our hearts. This envy leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. Any good we do is destroyed by the raging fire of hasad (envy). Which one us of can say we are free from envy?
As well as destroying their good deeds, envy also consumes the envious person. It destroys their quality of life. A poet says ‘May the wisdom of envy belong to Allāh. It begins with the envious person and kills him’. The envious person is not only deprived of the thing that they are envious of, but at the same time they destroy the quality of their own life, peace of mind and contentment of their own heart by harbouring envy. It consumes and kills them before it harms the person whom they are envious of.
When a person is envious, he is merely objecting to Allāh’s division and distribution. Allāh says in the Qur’an:
أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ النَّاسَ عَلَى مَا آتَاهُمُ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
Do they envy the people for what Allah has bestowed upon them of His grace? [An-Nisā, 4/54]
Differing grades and divisions amongst the people are part of His distribution and by being envious of others we are objecting to that. Everyone is unique in their own way. But no one is no greater than the other person. This is Allah’s wisdom in His creation.
We should not waste our time and consume ourselves trying to be like someone else.
[This short excerpt is based on a spiritual gathering held by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 16th November 2014].