What Is Jealousy and Overcoming it.
Jealousy is a disease of the heart. It is, perhaps, one of the oldest problems of human beings. Some Islamic scholars say that this is the first sin that was committed. When Allah said to 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,
قَالَ أَرَءَيۡتَكَ هَـٰذَا ٱلَّذِى ڪَرَّمۡتَ عَلَىَّ لَٮِٕنۡ أَخَّرۡتَنِ إِلَىٰ يَوۡمِ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ لَأَحۡتَنِكَنَّ ذُرِّيَّتَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬
“Do You see? This one whom you have honored above me, if You give me respite to the Day of Judgment, I shall surely bring his descendants under my sway, all but a few.” (Surah Al-Isrâ’ 17:62)
He then tempted Adam and his wife (AS). They repented and Allah forgave them, but then when they came to this earth they had two sons, Abel (Habil) and Cain (Qabil). Cain killed his brother because of jealousy. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says:
وَٱتۡلُ عَلَيۡہِمۡ نَبَأَ ٱبۡنَىۡ ءَادَمَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ إِذۡ قَرَّبَا قُرۡبَانً۬ا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنۡ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمۡ يُتَقَبَّلۡ مِنَ ٱلۡأَخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقۡتُلَنَّكَۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
“But recite unto them with truth the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (The one) said: I will surely kill thee. (The other) answered: Allah accepteth only from those who ward off (evil). Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:27).
Jealousy is called Hasad in Arabic and in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW) there is ample guidance to save us from jealousy and its harmful effects. Jealousy is that you hate to see anything good in or with another person and you wish to see that person lose that good thing. However, if you see something good in or with another person, and you also want the same thing for yourself, without hating the other person or wishing that person to lose that good thing, then this is not called jealousy in Islam. Islam allows competition in goodness. Islam allows that people try to excel and do things better, but without getting involved in hatred and jealousy and without wishing bad things for others.
Whether it is money, power, fame or lust, all material things are finite. It is for this reason people normally get jealous about material things. One should try to pay less attention to material things and more to spiritual things. The spiritual things are infinite and unlimited. There is no fear that if one has something spiritual then the other may not have it, or may have it less. So there is no jealousy in spiritual things. That is why it is said that there will be no jealousy in Paradise.
Causes of Jealousy:
Imam al-Ghazali, who was a great Muslim ethical thinker, philosopher and scholar, said that jealousy is often caused by:
- Enmity: One has animosity for a person or group and does not want to see anything good happen to that person or group.
- Ambition: It hurts a person to see someone else ahead or above him/her.
- Pride and Arrogance: When a person is self conceited and arrogant, he/she feels very jealous to see anyone else going ahead or doing better.
- Astonishment: Some time a person feels astonished that another person could do better than him/her. He/she feels surprised: “How come that person became so rich, so successful, so popular, etc.?”
- Fear: Fear that if another person would have such and such thing, then he/she may not have it.
- Desire for power and prestige: Sometimes a person becomes jealous because he/she want to make oneself great by putting others down.
- Evil nature and avarice of the heart: Some people just do not like to see others happy. They want to see the whole world in misery and difficulty except their own selves.
Normally jealousy occurs among people who know each other. It happens among siblings, among family members, people of the same profession and age. A Muslim must always keep in mind that jealousy is forbidden. Rasulullah (SAW) 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.”
How to Overcome Jealousy:
In order to overcome jealousy, first of all, we must remember that it is Haram and it displeases Allah. A jealous person is a sick person and he/she must try to get rid of this sickness. One action that helps overcome jealousy is that if you feel jealous of some person, try to do good to that person, especially in the matter in which you feel jealous of him. For example if you feel jealous of a person’s good reputation, try to praise him more. If your jealousy tells you to harm some person or to wish him/her bad things, try to do good, show more kindness, give some gifts and try to make that person happy. It is not easy, but do this to please Allah. You will avoid a sin and at the same time make your heart healthy and happy. You will live longer.
Those who live in jealousy live under stress and unhappiness. They often ruin their own health and live a miserable life. If you feel that someone is jealous of you and may try to harm you, then take your precautions and pray to Allah to protect you from the evil of the jealous people. Rasulullah (SAW) used to teach Surah al-Falaq to protect from jealousy. It is good to recite this Surah and the following Surah al-Nas before you go to sleep. Also read it to your children and dear ones and ask Allah’s protection for them from every evil.
A beautiful du’aa’ (supplication) that Rasulullah (SAW) used to teach for this purpose: “A`udho bi-kalimatillah al-tammah, min sharri kulli shaitanin wa hammah wa min kulli `ainin lammah.”
Translation: “I seek the protection by the most perfect words of Allah, from the evil of every devil or creature and from every evil look.”
May Allah guide us to the straight path, and guide us to that which pleases Him, Ameen.