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The Disease of Envy

By Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah

Extracted with slight modifications from “Diseases of the Hearts & their Cures” compiled by Ibraaheem bin ‘Abdullaah al-Haazimee © 1998 Al-Hidaayah Publishing & Distribution


Some people said while explaining its meaning: ‘Envy (hasad) is a grievance that befalls one due to knowledge of the good condition of the wealthy.’ So in accordance with this it is not possible that the person upon whom the blessings have been bestowed be jealous of these blessings and is accustomed to them.

A group of people said: ‘It is a desire to have the blessings removed from the one who is envied even if the one who is jealous does not attain the likes of these blessings.’ This is different from ghubta (also meaning envy) because it refers to a desire to possess the blessings bestowed upon the one who is envied but without the desire to see them removed from him.

Strictly speaking, envy (hasad) is hatred and disliking the good condition of the envied one. This of two types:

1) Unrestricted dislike of the blessings bestowed upon the envied. This is the type of jealousy which incurs blame, so when one hates something he is then hurt and grieved by the existence of what he hates, and this becomes a sickness in his heart such that he takes pleasure in removal of the blessings from the envied even if this does not result in any benefit to him except for the single benefit of having the pain that was in his soul removed. But this pain is not removed except as a result of his continuously watching the envied so that the jealous person finds relief when the blessing is removed, but then it becomes more severe as is the case of the one who is sick, for it is possible that this blessing, or one similar to it, returns to the envied. This is why this second group said: ‘It is a desire to have the blessings removed,’ for indeed the one who dislikes the blessings bestowed upon other than him desires to see them removed.

2) That he dislikes the superiority of that person over him, and he desires to be like him or better, so this is jealousy and has been called ghubta, and the Prophet () called it hasad in the hadeeth reported by both al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the hadeeth of Ibn Mas‘ood and Ibn ‘Umar, radiyallaahu ‘anhumaa, that he () said: “There is no envy (hasad) except in two cases: a person to whom Allaah has granted wisdom, and he rules by this and teaches it to the people, and a person to whom Allaah has granted wealth and property and along with this the power to spend it in the cause of Truth.”[1]

This being the wording of Ibn Mas‘ood. The wording of Ibn ‘Umar is, “A person to whom Allaah has given the Qur’aan and he recites it night and day, and a person to whom Allaah has granted wealth and property from which he gives in charity night and day.”[2]

Al-Bukhaaree also reports this hadeeth from Aboo Hurayrah and its wording is, “There is no desirable form of jealousy except for two types: a person to whom Allaah has given the Qur’aan and he recites it day and night, so when a person hears him he says, ‘If only I were given the likes of what he has been given so that I may act upon it the way this person is.’ And a person to whom Allaah has bestowed wealth and he spends in the cause of Truth, so a person says, ‘If only  I were given the likes of what he has been given, so that I may act upon it the way this person is.’”[3]

So the Prophet () forbade hasad, with the exception of two cases which are referred to as al-ghubta, meaning that a person love the condition of someone else and dislike that this person be superior in this way (without his wishing that it be removed from that person).

So if it is asked: ‘Then why is this called envy when he loves only that Allaah bestows these blessings upon him?’ It is said, ‘The starting point of this love is his looking towards the favours Allaah has bestowed upon someone else and his disliking that this person be favoured over him. So if this other person were not present then he would not have desired these blessings. So because the starting point of this love is this dislike that someone else be made superior to him, then this is called envy due to the love following the dislike. As for desiring that Allaah bestows favours upon him without consideration of people’s material conditions then this is not envy at all.’

This is why the generality of mankind have been tried with this second type of envy that has also been called al-munaafasah (competition) because two people compete in a single desired matter, both of them trying to attain the same good. The reason for their trying to attain it is that one of them dislikes that the other be blessed with this matter over him just as any one of two competitors dislikes that other beat him.

Competition is not considered blameworthy in general, rather it is considered to be praiseworthy when competing for righteousness, the Exalted said,

Indeed the pious will be in delight. On thrones, looking on. You will recognize in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine. The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of Musk, and for this let those compete who want to compete.[4]

So one is commanded to compete for these delights and not to compete for the delight of this fleeting world. This is in total agreement to the hadeeth of the Prophet (), for he forbade envy except of the one who has been granted knowledge and he acts according to it and teaches it, and the one who has been bestowed wealth and spends it (in the way of Allaah). As for the one who has been granted knowledge but does not act upon this knowledge, or the one who has been bestowed wealth but does not spend this is obedience to Allaah, then such a person is not to be envied and neither is his condition to be hoped for, for he is not in a state of good that is desirable, rather he is being presented with punishment. He also allowed jealousy for the one who has been given a responsibility and he fulfils it with knowledge and justice, and fulfils the trusts of its owners, and judges amongst the people by the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

The station of such a person is lofty but this only comes after a great amount of effort (jihaad) – the same is true of the mujaahid. But the souls do not envy the one who is in severe hardship and this is why the Prophet () did not mention it even though the mujaahid, fighting in the Way of Allaah, is superior to the one who is spending wealth. The opposite is true for the teacher and spender for they have no enemy in the physical world, but in the case that there were an enemy that they would have to perform jihaad against, then their ranking is more superior (than their station without having an enemy to fight). Similarly the Prophet () did not mention the one who prays, fasts and performs the pilgrimage, because there is no tangible benefit attained from the people for these actions by which the person can be exalted or disgraced, as can be attained in teaching and spending. 

Fundamentally, envy occurs when someone else attains power and authority; otherwise the one who is performing actions is not normally envied, even if this person be blessed with far more food, drink and wives than others, as opposed to these two blessings of power and authority, for they cause a great deal of envy. This is why you find envy directed at the People of Knowledge, who have a following amongst the people that you will not find directed to others who do not have such a following. Similarly for the one who attracts a following due to his spending his wealth, for the people benefit this person by nourishing his heart, and this person brings benefit to them by nourishment of the bodies. Mankind is in need of that which will correct them in both these matters, this is why Allaah, the one free from imperfection, has propounded two parables,

Allaah puts forward the example: a slave under the possession of another, he has no power of any sort, and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed a good provision from Us, and he spends thereof secretly and openly. Could they be equal? (By no means, not). All the praises and thanks be to Allaah. Nay! (But) most of them know not. And Allaah puts forward another parable of two men, one of them dumb, who has no power over anything, and he is a burden to his master, whichever way he directs him he brings no good. Is such a man equal to one who commands justice, and is himself on the Straight Path?[5]

These two parables were propounded by Allaah for His Own Holy Self and for that which is worshipped besides Him, for indeed the idols are not capable of performing any actions that would be of benefit, and neither of saying anything that would be of benefit. So when a completely powerless slave under the possession of someone is considered, and another to whom Allaah has provided a goodly provision from which he spends in secret and in the open, can this slave, incapable of doing good, and this person capable of doing good for the people in secret and open, ever be equal? And He, free is as He from defect, is able to bestow good upon His servants, and as He is continuously doing so. So how can this incapable slave (i.e. the idol) who cannot do anything, be likened to Allaah to the extent that he is worshipped alongside Him? So this is the parable of one to whom Allaah has bestowed wealth from which he spends day and night.

The second parable: when two people are considered, one of them is dumb, he does not understand nor speak, and is not capable of anything and is in fact a burden upon his master, for whichever way he directs him he brings no good and hence he is of absolutely no use. The other is a just scholar – enjoining justice and acting justly, and is upon the Straight Path. This person is then like the one upon whom Allaah has conferred wisdom and he acts according to it and teaches it. And Allaah has propounded this parable for Himself, for He is All-Knowing, All-Just, All-Powerful, commanding justice, He is maintaining His creation is justice is upon the Straight Way as He, the Exalted said,

Allaah bears witness that there is none worthy of worship but He, and the angels, and those having knowledge; (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. There is none worthy of worship but He, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.[6]

And He said upon the tongue of Hood,

Indeed my Lord is upon the Straight Path.[7]

This is why the people used to exalt the home of al-‘Abbaas ‘Abdullaah used to teach the people and his brother used to feed them, and so they used to exalt them due to this.

Mu‘aawiyah, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, saw the people asking Ibn ‘Umar about the rites of Hajj and Ibn ‘Umar would give them the verdicts, to which Mu‘aawiyah said, ‘By Allaah this is nobility’ or something similar.


The Competition between Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq and ‘Umar

So here is ‘Umar bin al-Khattaab, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, competing with Aboo Bakr, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, with respect to spending in charity as is established in the Saheeh (of al-Bukhaaree) from ‘Umar bin al-Khattaab, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, that he said: “The Messenger of Allaah () commanded us to give in charity, and this coincided with my possessing some wealth. So I said (to myself): ‘If there is a day that I can better Aboo Bakr than it is this one.’ So I went with half of my wealth and the Messenger of Allaah () asked me, ‘What have you left for your family?’ I replied, ‘The same amount.’ Then Aboo Bakr came with everything that he possessed and the Messenger of Allaah () asked him, ‘What have you left for your family?’ He replied, ‘I have left Allaah and His Messenger for them.’ So I said, ‘I will never be able to better you in anything!’”

So what ‘Umar did here was competition and the permitted type of jealousy (ghubta), but the state of as-Siddeeq was better than his, and thus he would generally be the victor in such competition due to his indifference to the condition of others.

Likewise is the case with Prophet Moosa as is mentioned in the hadeeth of Mi‘raaj that he competed and felt jealousy towards the Prophet () to the point that he, “Cried due to the extent to which the Prophet () has surpassed him. So it was said to him, ‘Why are you crying?’ He replied, ‘I am crying because there is a servant who shall be sent after me, and more of his nation shall enter Paradise than mine.” [Reported by both al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].

This hadeeth is also reported in other than the Saheeh with a different wording, “We passed a person while he was saying in a loud voice, ‘You have blessed him and honoured him (over me).’ So we were raised to him and gave him our salaam, he replied to our salaam and said, ‘Who is this with you O Jibraa’eel?’ He said, ‘This is Ahmad.’ He said, ‘Welcome O Illiterate Prophet who has conveyed the Message of his Lord and sincerely advised his nation.’ Then we moved on and I said, ‘Who was this O Jibraa’eel?’ He replied, ‘That was Moosa bin ‘Imraan.’ I said, ‘And who was he censuring?’ He replied, ‘He was censuring your Lord with regards to you.’ I said, ‘He was raising his voice to His Lord?’ He replied, ‘Indeed Allaah knew his truthfulness.’”

So in this ‘Umar resembled Moosa, and the condition of our Prophet () was superior to that of Moosa for he did not possess any of this permissible jealousy.

Similar to this from amongst the Sahaabah were Aboo ‘Ubaydah bin Jarraah and those like him who were free from these types of concerns and due to this they were of a more exalted rank than those who would compete and display jealousy (ghubta) even though it was permitted. This is why Aboo ‘Ubaydah deserved to be called, ‘The trusted one of this Ummah.’[8] For if the one trusted does not have any rivalry and desire in his self for the things that he is entrusted with, then he is the most deserving of having the trust placed in him. The one who is known to possess no rivalry in greater matters in entrusted with the smaller matters, and the one is known to have no reason to steal from the wealth is entrusted with the wealth. As for the one who finds in himself treachery that resembles that of a wolf entrusted with sheep, then he is not able to discharge the trust placed in him due to his having in his heart a desire for what he is entrusted with.

It is reported in the Musnad of Ahmad from Anas, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, that he said, “We were sitting in the presence of the Messenger of Allaah () one day and he said, ‘A person is about to arrive from this mountain path who is from the people of Paradise.’ So a person from the Ansaar arrived, his beard dripping with the water of wudoo and holding his sandals in his left hand, and he gave us the salaam. The next day the Prophet () said words of similar import and the same person appeared in the same condition. On the third day the Prophet () again said words of similar import and again this person appeared in the same condition, so when the Prophet () left, ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Amr al-Aas followed this person and said, ‘indeed I have abused my father and I swore that I would not go to him for three days so if you would let me stay with you until those three days expire, I would do so.’ He replied, ‘Yes.’”

Anas continued saying, “So ‘Abdullaah told us that he spend three nights with this person yet he did not see him stand for the night prayer at all. All he did was when he turned sides on his be he would mention Allaah and make takbeer and would do this until he stood for the Fajr prayer. ‘Abdullaah said, ‘Except that I never heard him speak except good’. So when the three days wee over I was eager to make little of his actions. I said, ‘O servant of Allaah there was no hatred or disassociation between my father and me but I heard the Messenger of Allaah () saying on three occasions, “A person is about to arrive who is from the people of Paradise,” and you arrived on those three occasions, so I wished to stay with you so that I may look at your actions and emulate them. But I have not seen you perform a great deal of actions, so what is it that has reached you to make the Messenger of Allaah () say what he said?’ He replied, ‘It is nothing more than what you have seen, except that I do not find in myself any disloyalty of any of the Muslims, and neither do I find any jealousy for the wealth that Allaah has bestowed upon them.’ Abdullaah said, ‘This is that which has reached you and is something that we cannot endure.’”[9]

So in the saying of ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Amr to him, ‘This is something that has reached you and something that we cannot endure’ lies an indication of his lack of jealousy and his being secure from all types of jealousy. This is why Allaah praised the Ansaar with His saying,

And have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (the muhaajiroon), and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that.[10]

Meaning that which has been given to their brothers from the Muhaajiroon. The scholars of tafseer have stated: “They do not find in their breasts jealousy and hatred for what has been given to the Muhaajiroon”. Then some of them said, “What has been given to them from the war booty.” And others said: “What has been given to them of precedence and blessings” – so they find no need of that which has been given the Muhaajiroon of wealth and rank even though jealousy arises over these sorts of things.

Between the Aws and the Khazraj there existed competition in matters of religion, such that if one tribe were to do something for which they were regarded favourably by Allaah and His Messenger then the other tribe would desire to do the same. So this is competition in that which would bring them closer to Allaah. Allaah says,

Then for this let those who compete, compete![11]

As for the jealousy that is totally blameworthy then Allaah has said with regards to the Jews,

Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them.[12]

‘They wish’ meaning that they hope to make you apostasies from your religion out of jealousy. So jealousy was the deciding factor behind their wish even after the Truth has been made clear to them. This is because when they saw you attain what you attained of blessings – in fact they saw you attain that which they themselves had never attained – they became jealous of you. Similarly this is mentioned in another verse,

Or do they envy men for what Allaah has given them of His bounty? Then We have already given the family of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom. Of them were (some) who believed in him (Muhammad) and of them were some who averted their faces from him, and enough is Hell for burning (them)…[13]

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak. From the evil of what He has created. And from the evil of the darkening (night) as it comes with its darkness. And from the evil of the witchcrafts when they blow in the knots. And from the evil of the envier when he envies.[14]

A group of scholars of tafseer mentioned that this soorah was revealed due to the jealousy of the jews harboured towards the Messenger of Allaah () to the extent that they performed magic on him. The magic was done by the Jew, Labeed bin al-A‘sam.[15]

So the one who is jealous, hating the favours bestowed by Allaah upon someone else is an oppressor, going beyond bounds due to this. As for the one who dislikes that someone else be blessed and wishes to be blessed in the same way, then this is forbidden for him except in that which will bring him closer to Allaah. So if he were to wish for something that has been given to someone else which would help bring him closer to Allaah then there is no problem in this. However, his wishing for it in his heart, without looking to the condition of someone else is better and more excellent.

Then if this person were to act, dictated by this jealousy, he would be an oppressor going beyond bounds, deserving of punishment unless he repents. So the one who is affected by the one who is jealous is oppressed and should be enjoined to patience and taqwaa. He should be patient of the harm afflicted upon him by the one who is jealous, and he should forgive and overlook, just as Allaah said,

Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them. But forgive and overlook until Allaah brings about His Command.[16]

Indeed Yoosuf, ‘alayhis salaam, was tried by the jealousy of his brothers:

When they said: Truly, Yoosuf and his brother are loved more by our father than we.[17]

So they were envied due to their father favouring them over the rest of the brothers, which why Ya‘qoob said to Yoosuf,

O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Indeed! Satan is an open enemy to man![18]

They went on to oppress him by discussing his murder and throwing him in the well, and his being sold as a slave by the ones who took him to the land of the disbelievers, and his subsequently being owned by these disbelieving people. Then after being oppressed, Yoosuf was tried by the one who invited him to an indecent deed and attempted to seduce him, and she sought aid from anyone who would help her in this but he was preserved from this. Instead he chose to be imprisoned rather than perform this indecent deed, preferring the punishment of this world rather than the Displeasure of Allaah (in the Hereafter). Hence he was oppressed by the one who desired him due to her base desires and her corrupt objective. So this love with which she desired him arose as a result of her succumbing to the vain desires of her heart, and its happiness or sadness lay in his accepting or rejecting the temptation. He was also oppressed by those who hated him with a hatred that led to his being thrown in the well, then his becoming captive and owned without his choice, therefore these people removed him from the absolute freedom that he enjoyed to becoming forced into slavery to the false worshippers. This forced him to seek refuge in the prison out of his own free will, thereby making his trial greater.

His patience on this occasion arose out of his own volition coupled with his fear of Allaah, thus differing from his patience at their oppression, which was having patience at the onset of calamities, and if one were to be patient at the likes of these then he would take to the way of mere animals.

This second type of patience, arising from one’s free will, is the more excellent of the two. This is why Allaah said,

Indeed he who fears Allaah, and is patient, then surely Allaah makes not the reward of the doers of good to be lost.[19]

Likewise when the believer is harmed due to his faith; and disbelief, transgression and disobedience is sought from him – and if he were not to accept this then he would be harmed and punished – then he should choose this harm and punishment over renegading from his religion – even if it results in imprisonment or banishment from his land – just as was done by the Muhaajiroon in their choosing to leave their settlements rather than leave their religion for which they were harmed and punished. The Prophet () was harmed in a number of different ways but he was patient through-out this with a patience that arose out of his own volition, and indeed he was harmed in this way only that he may do what he did out of his own choice. So this patience of his was greater than the patience of Yoosuf, for only an indecent action was sought from Yoosuf, and he was only punished by imprisonment when he did not comply. But disbelief was sought from the Prophet () and his Companions, and when they did not do this – then they were punished by being slaughtered and other such harms – the least of which was imprisonment, for the polytheists imprisoned him and Banee Haashim for a time in a mountain pass. Then when Aboo Taalib died they became more severe against him, and when the Ansaar gave him the pledge of the allegiance and when the polytheists came to know of this they tried to prevent him from leaving (for Madeenah) and tried to detain him and his Companions. Then all of them emigrated secretly except for ‘Umar bin al-Khattaab and those like him.

So what befell the believers came about as a result of their choosing obedience to Allaah and His Messenger and it was not from the afflictions that occur without the servant’s choice of the type that Yoosuf was tried with, and neither of the type of his being separated from his father. So this patience endured by the believers was the nobler of the two types of patience, and its possessors are greater with respect to ranking. Thus, even though the one who is tried without his will shall be rewarded for his patience and his contentment with the decree of Allaah, and his sins will be expiated. As for the person who is tried and harmed for choosing obedience to Allaah, then he will be rewarded for the actual trial and it shall be written as a righteous action for him. Allaah, the Most High, said,

That is because they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue, nor hunger in the Cause of Allaah, nor do they take any step to raise the anger of disbelievers nor inflict any injury upon an enemy but it is written to their credit as a righteous deed. Indeed Allaah wastes not the reward of the doers of good.[20]

Thus contrasting with the case of the one who is tried without his choice, such as being sick, or death, or a thief stealing from him – this person shall be rewarded for his patience only, not for the actual trial itself and what results from it. As for those who are harmed due to their faith in Allaah and obedience to Him and His Messenger, and as a result of this they are in pain, or are sick, or are imprisoned, or are forced to leave their land, or their property and family is taken from them, or are beaten and abused, or their position and wealth is diminished, then in this they are upon the way of the Prophets and those that followed them such as the Muhaajiroon. So these people shall be rewarded for what has harmed them, and a righteous action shall be written for them due to it just as the mujaahid shall be rewarded for the hunger, thirst and fatigue that afflicts him, and for enraging the disbelievers even if these effects are not something he has physically set out to do, but they are resultant from his action (of performing jihaad) that he has chosen to do. The people have differed over this: can it be said that these resultant effects are actions of the actor of the reason for these effects, or are they Actions of Allaah, or is there no actor of the reason and the (Actor of the) totality of the reasons, and this is why a righteous action is written for him.

The purpose behind this discussion is that jealousy is one of the sicknesses of the soul, and it is an illness that afflicts the generality of mankind and only a few are secure from it. This is why it is said: “The body is never free from jealousy, but debasement brings it out, and nobility hides it.” It was said to al-Hasan al-Basree, “Can a believer be envied?” He replied, “What has made you forget Yoosuf and his brothers, have you no father?” But you should keep (this envy should it occur) blinded in your heart, for you cannot be harmed by that which you did not act upon in speech or action.”

So the one who finds that he harbours jealousy in his soul towards someone else, then it is upon him to treat it with patience and taqwaa of Allaah, and dislike it being in his soul. Many religious people do not take a stance against the one who is envied and neither do they help the one who would oppress him, but neither do they establish what is obligatory with respect to his rights. Rather when someone censures the one who is envied they do not agree with or aid him in the censure but neither do they mention his praiseworthy qualities. Likewise if someone were to praise him they remain silent. So these people are responsible for their leaving what is commanded with respect to the rights of the envied, and they have exceeded the proper bounds in this even though they may not have taken a stance against him. The reward of these people is that their rights in turn will be neglected and on some occasions they will not be treated fairly, and neither will they be helped against the one who oppresses them, just as they did not aid the envied who was oppressed. As for the one who actually takes a stance against the envied, either with words or actions then he will be punished for this, and the one who fears Allaah and is patient and does not become one of the oppressors – Allaah will benefit him for his taqwaa.

This is what occurred with Zaynab bint Jahsh, radiyallaahu ‘anha, for she used to be one who would vie with ‘Aa’ishah from the wives of the Prophet (). The jealousy displayed by some women to others is great, and is especially true of those who are married to one husband. The woman will go to great extents to get her allotted time from him for sometimes some of her allotted time will be missed due to his sharing with other wives. This jealousy commonly occurs amongst those that share authority or property[21] in the case when some of them take a share from it and others are left with none. It also occurs between those that debate, due to their hatred that their opponent gets the better of them, such as the jealousy of the brothers of Yoosuf, or the jealousy of the two sons of Aadam one to the other for in this case the brother was envied by the other due to Allaah accepting his sacrifice and not the other’s, this leading to his murder. Also, the jealousy displayed towards the Muslims by the Jews. It was said, “The first sins by which Allaah was disobeyed were three: covetousness, arrogance and jealousy. Covetousness was displayed by Adam, arroagance by Iblees, and jealousy from Qaabeel when he killed Haabeel.”[22]

In the hadeeth there occurs: “There are three sins from which no one can be saved: jealousy, suspicion and omens. Shall I tell you of what would remove you from this: when you envy then do not hate, when you are suspicious then do not actualize your suspicions, and when you see omens then ignore them.”[23] Reported by Ibn Abee ad-Dunyaa from the hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah.

In the Sunan from the Prophet (), “You have been afflicted with the illness of the nations that came before you – jealousy and hatred. They are the shearers, I do not mean shearers of the hair, rather they are shearers of the religion.”[24]

So he called jealousy an illness just as he called miserliness an illness in his saying, “And what illness is worse than miserliness.”[25]

And in another hadeeth, “I seek refuge with You from the evil morals and manners, vain desires and illnesses.” Mentioning illnesses alongside with manners and vain desires. Manners are those things that the soul becomes accustomed to such that they become its nature and disposition. Allaah said in this regard,

And indeed you are upon an exalted standard of character.[26]

Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn ‘Uyaynah and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, radiyallaahu ‘anhum, said in commentary to this: “Meaning ‘upon a great religion.’” And in a variant wording of Ibn ‘Abbaas: ‘The religion of Islaam’. This was similarly stated by ‘Aa’ishah, radiyallaahu ‘anha, “His manners were the Qur’aan,” and Hasan al-Basree, “The manners of the Qur’aan is ‘the exalted standard of character.’”

As for ‘vain desires’ then they are temporary anomalous conditions, and ‘illness’ is sickness – this is an affliction that harms the heart and corrupts it. In the first hadeeth jealousy was mentioned along with hatred. This is because the envier, first of all dislikes the bounty bestowed by Allaah upon the one who is envied, and then begins hating this person. This is because the hatred of the thing being bestowed leads to hatred of the one upon whom it is bestowed, for when the blessings of Allaah are bestowed upon an individual, he would love that they go away, and they would not go away except by the one who is envied going away, therefore he hates him and loves that he not be there.

Jealousy necessarily leads to desire and hatred just as Allaah informed us those that came before us that they differed,

After their came to them knowledge out of mutual hatred and desire.[27]

So their differing did not arise due to the lack of knowledge, rather they knew the Truth, but it was due to some of them hating others, just as the envier hates the envied.

In Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, Anas bin Maalik, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, reports that the Prophet () said, “Do not envy each other, do not hate each other, do not oppose each other, and do not cut relations, rather be servants of Allaah as brothers. It is not permissible for a Muslim to disassociate from his brother for more than three days such that they meet and one ignores the other, and the best of them is the one who initiates the salaam.”[28]

He () said, in the hadeeth that is agreed to be authentic, reported by Anas also, “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, none of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”[29]

Allaah, the Most High, said,

There is certainly among you he who would linger behind (from fighting in the Way of Allaah). If a misfortune befalls you, he says: ‘Indeed Allaah has favoured me in that I was not present among them.’ But if a bounty comes to you from Allaah, he would surely say – as if there had never been any ties of affection between you and him – ‘Oh! I wish I had been with them; then I would have achieved a great success.’[30]

So these people who lingered behind did not love for their brother Muslims what they loved for themselves, rather if the Muslims were afflicted with a calamity, they were overjoyed that it only afflicted them, and if they met with blessings they were not happy for them, rather they wished that they too had a portion of this blessing. So they would not become happy except if they received something of this world or some evil of this world was diverted from them. This was due to them not loving Allaah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, for if this had been the case they would have loved their brothers, and loved what they had received of His blessings and they would have been hurt by the calamity that had afflicted them.

As for the one who is not made happy by what has made the Muslims happy, and is not grieved by what has made the Muslims grieve then he is not of them. In the Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from ‘Aamic ash-Sha‘bee who said: “I heard an-Nu‘maan bin Basheer delivering a sermon and saying: I heard the Messenger of Allaah () saying, ‘The similitude of the believers with respect to their mutual love, mutual mercy and mutual kindness in like that of one body. When a part of it suffers, the whole body suffers with fever and sleeplessness.’[31]

In the Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the hadeeth of Aboo Moosa al-Ash‘aree, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, who said: “The Messenger of Allaah () said, ‘The Muslim to another Muslim is like a building, one part of it strengthens another’ and he interlaced his fingers.”[32]

Greed is a sickness as is miserliness, and jealousy is worse than miserliness as occurs in the hadeeth reported by Aboo Daawood[33] from the Prophet () that he said, “Jealousy eats away at good deeds, just as fire eats away at firewood, and giving charity extinguishes sins just as water extinguishes fire.”

This is because the miser only stops himself from having good but the envier dislikes the favours of Allaah bestowed upon His servants. It is possible that a person give to those lesser than him who would help him achieve his objectives and yet display jealousy to those of the same level as him just as it is possible for him to be miserly without displaying envy to others. Greed is the basis for this as Allaah said,

And whosoever is saved from his greed, such are they who are successful.[34]

In the Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim[35] the Prophet () said, “Beware of greed for it destroyed those that came before you: it commanded them to be miserly and they were, it commanded them to be oppressive and they were and it commanded them to break the ties of kinship and they did.”[36]

‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf[37] used to frequently say in his supplication while make Tawaaf, “O Allaah! Save my soul from greed.” So a person said to him, “Why is this your most frequent supplication?” He replied, “When I safeguard myself from greed, I safeguard myself from greed, miserliness and from severing the ties of kinship.” And jealousy necessarily leads to oppression.



[1] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 1/62 no. 73], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 2/389 no. 1779].

[2] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 6/500 no. 543], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 2/388 no. 1777].

[3] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 6/501 no. 544].

[4] Soorah al-Mutaffifeen (83):22-26.

[5] Soorah an-Nahl (16):75-76.

[6] Soorah Aal ‘Imraan (3):18.

[7] Soorah Hood (11):56

[8] Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim

[9] Its isnaad is saheeh.

[10] Soorah al-Hashr (59):9.

[11] Soorah al-Mutaffifeen (83):26.

[12] Soorah al-Baqarah (2):109.

[13] Soorah an-Nisaa’ (4):54-55.

[14] Soorah al-Falaq (113):1-5.

[15] As is reported by al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and Ahmad. Refer to the tafseer of Ibn Katheer (4/584).

[16] Soorah al-Baqarah (2):109

[17] Soorah Yoosuf (12):8.

[18] Soorah Yoosuf (12):5.

[19] Soorah Yoosuf (12):90.

[20] Soorah at-Tawbah (9):120.

[21] Or those that share knowledge, this is why the scholars of hadeeth do not accept the reports of scholars criticizing their contemporaries.

[22] Da‘eef, reported by Abu ash-Shaykh and at-Tabaraanee from Hasan al-Basree as a mursal report.

[23] Reported by Ahmad (1412, 1430) and at-Tirmidhee (2512). Its chain of narration contains unknown narrators, but the hadeeth has witnesses reported by Aboo ad-Dardaa and Aboo Hurayrah that strengthen it. Rather to Mujma az-Zawaa’id (10/8) whose authors also refer this hadeeth to al-Bazzaar. Al-Mundhiree said that is isnaad is good.

[24] Reported by at-Tirmidhee, at-Tabaraanee an al-Haakim who said that it was saheeh and it as he said.

[25] Reported by Ahmad, Haakim and others. It is saheeh. Refer to: Saheeh al-Jaami‘ [no. 7104] and the notes of Shu‘ayb al-Arna‘oot upon Sharh Muskil al-Aathaar of at-Tahaawee [14/151-154]. [Translator’s Note]

[26] Soorah Qalam (68):4.

[27] Soorah Aal ‘Imraan (3):19.

[28] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 8/58 no. 91], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1360 no. 6205, 6210].

[29] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 1/19 no. 12], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/31 no. 72, 73].

[30] Soorah an-Nisaa’ (4):72-73.

[31] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 8/26 no. 40], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1368 no. 6258].

[32] Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 8/34 no. 55], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1368 no. 6257].

[33] This is an error from Ibn Taymiyyah, for the hadeeth in this complete form with this wording is reported by Ibn Maajah (4210). As for Aboo Daawood then he reports only the first sentence and in the isnaad of this hadeeth there is an unknown narrator.

[34] Soorah al-Hashr (59):9.

[35] This is also an error from Ibn Taymiyyah for this hadeeth has not been reported by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, rather it has been reported by Aboo Daawood and al-Haakim (1/11) and its isnaad is saheeh.  

[36] Sunan Aboo Daawood [Eng. Trans. 2/445 no. 1694].

[37] As far as I know from what is preserved is that it was Sa‘d bin Abee Waqqaas.

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