BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

A few years ago, I wondered to myself about some of the secrets that lie in the Quran, especially the greatness contained in the chapters and verses that are recommended for daily supplications/invocations/recitations. I figured it was probably best that I take some time to think about the meanings of some verses, and I began (without much more progress) with suratul Falaq, the second-last chapter of the Holy Quran.

The Daybreak, Dawn
1. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn
2. From the mischief of created things;
3. From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;
4. From the mischief of those who practise secret arts;
5. And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy.
It was the last verse that especially caught my attention, and I wondered what envy contains so that God, in His glorious knowledge and wisdom, would send these words for the benefit of humankind. What dangers are contained in hasad, envy, to which we are oblivious? I wasn't sure, but kept these thoughts at the back of my mind hoping that at some point I would have some insight into its importance.

A few months later, my father was sharing stories of his father's days and said that my grandfather (Allahu yarhamuhu) once told him that the biggest problem in the community was hasad or envy. SubhanAllah, perhaps that's one reason why we seek God's protection from it, I thought. I couldn't yet appreciate the depths of the Quranic words, and again tucked these thoughts away for further reflection.

In recent months, I was blessed with the chance to attend a few classes in a series of classes given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (may Allah preserve him) about the ahlil bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He spoke about the hierarchy of creation (refer to the book "The Man and the Universe" by Dr. Mostafa Badawi for an excellent explanation of this among many other insightful and necessary explanations), and went on to explain that there are two fundamental aspects of a human:

1) 'Ubudiyyah in which case humans are passive in relation to Allah
2) Khilafa in which case humans are active in relation to Allah, people, and the cosmos.

Thus, humans are both active and passive, but success ultimately lies in submitting to Allah. Anyone who submits will be successful for the doors of Heaven are open to all, but we have to maximize our potential. And Allah gives us all different potentials.

He continued by speaking about the fadhal (bounty, grace) of Allah and mentioned that Allah will give His bounty to whom He pleases, and that the middle way in dealing with Allah's bounty is (roughly) "Do not desire what Allah has favoured to some and not others."

This of course leads into the topic of hasad, envy. And it was then that I understood, to some extent, the words in suratul Falaq. He explained that hasad is bad (excuse my lack of a better word) because we impose our will on the will of Allah who has given of His grace as He wills. We need to avoid hasad, and give shukr (thanks, gratitude) to Allah for His fadhal.

How often do we think "I wish I had that like so-and-so" or "if only I were blessed with such-and-such like so-and-so, then I'd be able to achieve xyz" or "so-and-so is so blessed with/because of such-and-such, it'd be nice if I could have it too" or many other varieties of things that we desire for ourselves that are simply inaccessible though it may seem like 'everyone else' is privileged to possess them. It's not greener on the other side, and while some people may have some things they are bereft of some other things that others are blessed with.

My mother was recently telling me stories about people who utilize black magic to harm others as a result of seeds of envy. SubhanAllah, I could barely believe it, but it's true. And the scary thing about it all is that we can harm people, even unintentionally, by our envious ways. May Allah protect us from this, ameen!

Envy is a vile disease of the heart that most of us are guilty of harbouring to some extent. It only seems natural now to speak of ways of dealing with it. Imam Mawlud writes about it in the book "Purification of the Heart" which has been published with a translation and commentary by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Refer to this website for some excerpts about envy from the above-mentioned book.

Envy is really a battle to overcome, but like all diseases of the heart, we have to first try to identity them in our hearts and then work toward curing them, bi ithniLlah! May Allah help us all, ameen.

Please correct me where I err... may Allah forgive me, ameen.

‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’ud said the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

"Let there be no envy, except in two things:
1. A man whom Allah gave a wealth and guided him to spend it in righteous way.
2. Or a man to whom Allah gave wisdom and he acts wisely and teaches it to others."
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim; See An-Nawawi, Riyad As-Salihin)


UmmUmarNY said...

Yes, that Hadith is also on Faza'il e A'maal.... and Sheikh Zakariyah explains further the difference between 'jelousy' and 'envy'... where jelousy means you DO NOT want the other person to retain/keep such qualities/material possesions, etc. and 'envy' is when you would like to have 'such traits/things' without depriving the other from them... That's why in those two examples the Hadith states, the 'envy' is allowed... you merely would like to 'be' like those people without them loosing out on their Blessings... (If I'm wrong, please correct me!!!) Wa Salaams!!

Sketched Soul said...

As-salaamu'alaykum wa Rahmatu Llahi wa Barakatuhu ya Farzeen,

Excellent post!

Yes.. I recall reading about it in Purification of the Heart, which has lots of good advice on that and other topics.

Wa'alaykum as-salaam
Love Farhana

Hajar said...


A truly admirable post. All this while, I felt that being envious of others that results to the betterment of one's own self is seemingly acceptable as long as it doesn't tread beyond the teachings of Islam.

Farzeen said...

Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakaatuh

Umm Umar, thanks for the clarification. I wasn't sure on the distinction between the two. JazakiLlahu khayr :).

Farhana, thanks for sharing your thoughts :).

Hajar, thank for stopping by... perhaps that is true based on what sister Um Umar has said above. I honestly don't know. I just know envy, such as is manifesed in the evil eye, is a dangerous thing. And Allah knows best. Please correct me where I err.

"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]