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The Scourge of Envy

Definition of Envy
Envy is a “psychic state when someone has a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc… and wishes that such advantages, success or possessions are taken away, whether this person feeling covetousness owns such advantages, success or possessions or not, or wants the same to himself or not”. This is contrary to admiration since a person who looks up to grace that is found with others wishes that he would have the same without wishing it would be taken away from them. This is why it is mentioned in the Holy Hadith, “A believer admires and never envies whereas a hypocrite envies and never admires.”

Influence of Envy in Life
Envy has significant influences that are evident in his the life of an envious person. As the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) says, an envious person leads a life of discomfort and disappointment and he never enjoys life, “… always feels discomfort…”. Imam Ali (A.S.) also says, “He lives in psychiatric dreariness that looks like the dullness and narrowness of the grave since the narrowness and vastness of the grave depends on the narrowness and expansion of the chest.”

Influence of Envy in the Hereafter
Stories communicated from the Descendents of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) that envy and believing, which constitutes the capital in the hereafter, do not meet. Envy, as the Descendents of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) are reported to have said, is “the devastator of religion”," and it roots out the advantages just as fire swallows up wood" and as reported by the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself, “… it kills man as water does to ice…”. Imam Ali (A.S.) and Imam Al Sadeq (A.S.) are also reported to have said, “Three are the pillars of atheism: tightfistedness, arrogance and envy.”

Why Envy is among the Pillars of Atheism?
Holy Hadith reported has pointed out that envy is spurred by a dangerous ideological background which is denying the justice of Allah. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) says, “Allah the Majestic told Moses, “O Son of Omran! Do not envy people on the graces I granted to them. Neither do you reach out with your eyes to this nor with your soul. An envious person is an indignant person with my grace who rebuffs my oath that I swore among my servants. He whoever is the same is not of me and I am not of him.”” Imam Khomeini commented on this Hadith saying, “We do not know what Allah’s disavowal and denying would doom us with!? He whoever exits the worship to Allah shall never has a hope in deliverance no one shall intervene for him. Who would interpose for someone doomed by Allah. O Lord! Have mercy on us. Messengers kept on yelling in our ears to wake us up, but we keep getting more forgetful everyday.”

Curing Envy
Knowing this plagued immoral principle must be enough to cure it. Nonetheless, Imam Khomeini suggested a practical treatment that is summarized in, “An envious person should display the opposite of what his soul wants to show; he must show love, respect and mention good qualities about him in front of people. Let an envious person say to himself, “This person is among Allah’s servants. Allah may have looked at him with kindness and granted him some graces that He never gave to others.””

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