Wanting What Others Have
Let’s be honest: we all have been envious at one point in our lives. If you cannot relate to that statement then say alhamdullilah, you’re definitely on the right track. If you can relate to the statement, then I’m here to say that you’re not the only one to be inflicted by this common and terrible spiritual disease.
It’s important to educate ourselves on what envy is because if we are unaware that we have it in our hearts, we’ll do nothing to purify our hearts from it. Perhaps, the worst case scenario when it comes to envy is when we justify our feelings and think it’s ok to feel such a way. May Allāh safeguard us from the test of envy and if we have already been afflicted by it, may He purify our hearts from it and replace it with contentment instead. Amiin.
In Arabic, the word for envy is hasad and Malays refer to it as hasad dengki. Envy is NOT the same as jealousy although people mistakenly use it to mean the same thing. Envy and jealousy are different from each other but sometimes both of them do coincide.
ENVY is when you want something someone has. The second level to envy is when you want that particular thing to be taken away from them because you want it for yourself or because you think it’s unfair. For example: you wish for someone to lose their job position because you believe you deserve it more.
JEALOUSY is a fear that something will be taken away from you. A classic example of jealousy: when you think that girl who’s talking to yo man is gonna steal him from you.
Small amounts of jealousy is said to be healthy especially in a relationship because when you love someone deeply, you would naturally fear losing them to someone else. Jealousy can be put into several positive contexts but envy on the other hand, is generally negative. In Islam, we are only allowed to envy someone’s level of piety in hopes that we, too, can become better. However, in hoping to become like them, we should not have any negative emotions towards them.
ENVY MADE EASY
The struggle with envy is very real in this day and age because it’s so easy to flaunt what we have with the help of social media. Not only that, it’s become so easy to catch a glimpse into the lives of others and see what they have which we DON’T. Before the days of social media, people would have to leave their house and attend certain events so that they could be seen by the public.
These days, you don’t even have to leave your bed! With a few clicks, you can show the world how your house looks, what you have and even how every inch of your body looks. Isn’t this what social media has become—a race to show off what we have? It may not always be our intention to show off but to the one who doesn’t have what you enjoy, it’s easily seen that way.
No One Is 100% Safe From Envious Eyes
You can be the most humble and even most hardworking person in the world, but in the eyes of an envious person who cannot accept nor understand the wisdom behind why Allāh gives to whomever He pleases, you will never be deserving of what you have to them.
A person’s struggles are often kept private—no one wants to show off what they lack. People aren’t as transparent with their problems and because of this, we only have limited understanding of what an individual actually goes through. At the end of the day, even if a person has a life that’s far better than ours, it should not be a reason for us to be dissatisfied with ours because another person’s blessings does not mean we have less.
‘Oh, that person’s so attractive, has a great family, many friends, great job—that’s not fair!’ Those things do not necessarily add up to make the perfect life because behind every blessing lies a test. How does one TRULY know if a person has it all? It’s not like we have CCTV footage of every moment of their lives, only God has that vision.
The happiest-looking person alive could easily be the most broken-hearted but they’re so used to plastering a smile on their face that everyone just assumes they have it together all the time.
A person blinded with envy can no longer think straight and instead of focusing on their lives they busy themselves with constant comparisons which only serve to fuel their unhappiness.
It’s a clever tactic by shaytan to disempower us because if we were to remain focused on our lives and have faith that all rizq (provisions) are dispensed appropriately according to His Knowledge of all things, then we would find greater ease in having redha (contentment and acceptance in Allāh’s Decree).
I don’t always find it easy to accept what I think my life is missing but what I believe with all my heart is that Allāh is fair but our intellects do not comprehend how His Justice works. I also believe that in life we are always given a choice on how to respond to things and I choose to do what brings me peace. No matter how difficult life gets, I hope you love yourself enough to choose peace because your tired heart deserves it.