Treatment of Envy
By: Sayyid Mahdi as-Sadr
Envy stands for the wish that amenities of others were to lapse and move to the envious. To hope for having the same amenities of somebody is called emulation, and it is not ill-favored. It is a hideous vice that leaves the worst influence on morals. The envious in fact lives in incessant grief since he dissatisfies himself with acts of God. As the envious feels horrible malice towards the envied, all his endeavors came to nothing. He therefore encounters the results of his envy alone: “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. (Muhammad), say, "I seek protection from the Lord of the Dawn against the evil of whatever He has created. I seek His protection against the evil of the invading darkness, from the evil of those who practice witchcraft and from the evil of the envious ones (113:1-5).”
The Prophet (S) said to his companions: “Surely, the malady of the past nations has crept to you. It is envy. It is shaving not the hair, but the religion. To be saved of it, you should control your hand power- and tongue wording-, and you should not insinuate evil into your faithful brother1.”
“Envy consumes the good deeds in the same way as fire consumes wood2”
Amirul-Mu'minin (a) said: “I have never seen like the wrong envious who is most similar to the wronged. The envious lives in endless care with grieved heart and inherent sorrow3.”
Incentive of Envy
Some individuals have ill will and malignity as natures. Thus, you notice them feel miserable when others are happy, and feel happy when others are grieved. They envy the others for that which God has given to them out of His graces, even if there is no hostile situation between the two the envious and the envied, but only because of ill will.
Enmity is within the strongest incentives of envy.
The competition of the owners of common interests and purposes is another incentive that arouses envy. Under this title lies also the envy among sons for the favor that one, or some, of them enjoy with fathers. The retinue of the ruling authorities also envy each other for the favor that some of them enjoy with the authorities. In few words, envy is common among the individuals of the same goals. It is absent among the individuals of divergent trends. The merchant, for instance, does not envy the engineer or the farmer.
Envy may control some people because of their feelings of precedence and selfishness that prompt them to precede others and enjoy exclusive standings.
Envy may be arisen in the inner self of a person who despises others and regards as too much the graces that God confers upon them.
It happens that all the previous incentives of envy gather in the personality of an individual to change him into a volcano of oppression.
Disadvantages of Envy
Exclusively, envy is the most serious moral defect that inflicts the religion and the life of the individuals that they carry.
The worldly disadvantage of envy is that it roils the life and brings about care and grief. This is because the envious is disturbed when he notices graces of God shade people. Moreover, such scenes inflict him with disastrous mental and physical defects. Envy, too, influences badly the dignity and reputation; therefore, we notice that the envious are the subject of dispraise. Besides, envy inflicts the moralities; hence, it is noticed that the envious does not refrain from trapping others by various nasty means of false accusations. The envious, also, does not spare any effort for arising seditious matters.
The famous and excelling personalities are the subjects of envy, because their standings are resented by the envious. This is the secret beyond the wrong treatment and deprivation of appreciation that most of the virtuous individuals have to suffer. It frequently happens that the envious does not hit the target; therefore, his share becomes only agony and grief, while the targeted individual wins good reputation and respect.
The religious disadvantage of envy is that the envious uses all wrong and nasty means for trapping the envied so as to impute dishonor to him. This will certainly make him encounter the wrath and punishment of God. In addition, the behaviors and feelings of the envious, such as rage and dissatisfaction with acts of God, are spiteful spunk.
Treatment of Envy
(1) One must avoid looking forward to gaining the graces enjoyed by those who are of higher ranks than he is, so that he will feel the divine care. Such feelings will surely alleviate the tendencies of envy.
(2) It is necessary to keep in mind the worldly and religious disadvantages of envy in addition to the various sorts of crises and misfortunes that it results.
(3) It is also necessary to keep God in mind, believe in the wisdom beyond His acts, submit to His plans, and beware of the initiatives of envy.
Fathers must avoid making any distinction among their sons in fields of custody so as to avoid seeding envy in their mentalities.
1. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 15/3/131 (as quoted from al- Majalis and al-Amali).
2. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 15/3 (as quoted from al- Majazat un-Nabawiyya).
3. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 15/3/131 (as quoted from al- Karajaki’s al-Kenz).