Something strange has happened over the past few years in Laudium. There are very few BMWs and Mercs left on the road. All the exclusive shops and boutiques have closed down and we mostly see R699- cars (or used to), Toyotas and Tuk Tuks around. Wimpy has been replaced by a dozen foreign restaurants and our Masjids remind us of India and Pakistan. Down shops look like the allies of Bangladesh and our children are finally learning Gujerati and Urdo again!
So, where are all the people gone to? Well, they have all relocated to Eldoraigne and Centurion! Why did they go there? Many have relocated because there are just too many people who are jealous of them. They prefer high walls and an anonymous suburb – away from prying eyes and wagging tongues. Sadly, many good people have left this beautiful suburb of ours, not due to crime and murder, but due to the evil eyes of their own neighbours. A man, because he drives a BMW and lives in a mansion, should not make him bad or a target of envy. Islam has not prohibited us from using the good things of this world. We are only prohibited from allowing the love of this world entering our hearts and corrupting our souls.
Envy, or hasad in Arabic, ranks the highest in category of the most destructive of spiritual diseases. Hasad motivated Satan, the one with the most piety and knowledge, to refuse bowing down to Sayyadina Adam. He then went on to tempt our grandmother Sayyidah Hawwa to eat from the forbidden tree – an action that caused her expulsion, along with our grandfather Sayyadina Adam, – from paradise. Hasad caused Qabil – the son of Sayyadina Adam – to kill his own brother Habil, in order to marry his beautiful bride, and hasad caused the cursed Jewess to poison our Master, the last Prophet, Muhamad al-Mustpaha (peace be upon him). Today hasad has driven people to even work jadoo (black-magic) on their own family members, and has caused untold problems in society.
Satan, the first person to harbour jealousy on this earth, did not repent from his sin when reprimanded by God. Instead, he justified his actions by saying: “Adam is created from clay, and I’m made of fire. I’m superior to him.” He then continued with his mission to mislead mankind, fully knowing that his end will be in the fire. Likewise, envious people generally develop a lifelong vendetta to harm the next person. They will never admit that they are wrong and will spend all their energies in giving vent to their jealousy – just like the devilish satan, – not caring of their evil end or the consequences. Wars can start and end, but an envious person’s envy will only come to an end with his own death.
Hasad is actually the desire of the loss of others may be big or even small. A worker can become envious at his co-worker for being promoted, a Maulana can become envious of his counterpart for teaching better than him, an aunt can become envious of her niece because her grades are higher than her own daughter’s in school, and a wife can become envious at the husband of another to such a degree that she will work towards breaking her marriage. Businessmen can become envious at their competitors and start cutting their prices and hijacking their delivery trucks. The examples are endless, and the readers may know more examples than myself, but the common thread in all this is the desire for harm and loss for the next person.
If not checked, envy can take an ugly form where the envier will take steps to actually physically harm the person like murdering him, demoting him, or smearing his reputation…and land himself in real trouble. Envy, unlike other spiritual diseases like anger and vanity, always increases. It never decreases with time. Sometimes, the envied one may never even know that he is envied so strongly. The envier will burn himself to death in anguish as the blessings of the envied increases. The more biryani the envied eats, the more the envier will burp!
The surprising part of envy is that whilst it is believed that the envier may be able to harm his victim, he is, in reality, harming himself more. Envy, in reality, is when one desires that another person lose the blessings that God has bestowed him with. It is like telling the Al-Mun’im (the Bestower of Blessings): “God, you made a mistake in giving Khalil Intelligence and a booming business. I disagree with Your decisions on how to run the universe. I want Khalil to lose everything, become a pauper, and all his blessings must be transferred to me. I deserve it more than him.” Can anyone question the supreme intelligence of the Almighty? God, in His infinite wisdom, gave everyone different blessings. He decides how much a person must eat a day, how intelligent he should be, what position in the community or company he should hold, and how handsome he should look. Our tests are in these same blessings, as also the ability to overcome these tests. So, a wealthy person may become proud and corrupt by his wealth, but he will have the ability to overcome it. If we desire his wealth, we may become also become proud and corrupt, but we may never be able to conquer it. We may even desire the post of the president, but only God knows how much more corrupt we will be than the present one! The world is a place of illusions. Nothing is really what it seems.
Envious people, or hasideen, normally suffer from arrogance, low self-esteem and an inferiority complex. They are never satisfied with their position in life. You will always see them questioning authority, spreading rumours and planning underhand. They lack contentment and are fighting against their own destiny. It is as if they wanted to create themselves and place themselves in this world in the way they want to. This can never happen. And due to this, the envious one is always battling life with no victory in sight. Such a person stands in the way of his own success.
With this mindset, the hasideen will start living the life of the envied – mostly an artificial one. If he envies an intelligent one, he will act like he is more intelligent than everyone else. If he envies a rich person, he will live like the wealthy, even if it means landing himself into debt. Nowadays, especially in Ramadaan, everyone wants to portray that they are very wise and holy, and so they will just automatically e-mail, tweet, retweet, BBM and WhatsApp any hadith or saying they come across the internet. Without even understanding it or verifying it, they will send it off in to the digital world just to give the impression that they too, are as learned as the Shaikh of Al-Azhar.
Many people condemn the Middle East for squandering huge amounts of wealth, or criticise the West for their technological advancements and compare their position to them. This comparison is nothing but envy. When studying the writing of Karl Max, one will find that he had a deep-seated resentment for the wealthy, and so he introduced Communism to steal their wealth.
After having identified the causes of hasad, the first step is for all of us to recognise this sickness of the heart within ourselves and put an immediate stop to it. God praises those who resist the caprices of their souls and promises them Paradise (Qur’an 79:40). However, for those who give in to the caprices of their souls, there is a special place called Haawiyah for such people (Qur’an 101:9), and it’s a place none want to be even close to. Let us know that envy causes more harm to oneself than the envied, and let us consciously rebuke ourselves for acting in such a foolish way.
The second step to get rid of hasad is to actually do the opposite of what hasad tells you to do. Instead of harming the envied, let us rather benefit him. Take a gift to him and invite him for a meal. This is not an exercise in hypocrisy, it’s an exercise in defying the whims of the carnal self
Every culture acknowledges the envious eye. The ancient Arabs would dress their male children in girl’s clothing and pierce their ears for the first five years of their life, since male children were much desired. The Chinese place mirrors on walls to deflect or return evil looks from their homes, whilst many Hindus wear a string on their wrist for protection. The disease is as ancient as the universe itself, and will never come to an end. We should, therefore, guard from being affected by it, or worst still, being guilty of doing it.
Our Master Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us that the evil eye is true, and he recommend that we daily recite the four quls thrice and blow upon ourselves for protection. He (peace be upon him) also told us to recite the following prayer daily thrice to save ourselves from envious people: “Bismillahi ‘Alaa Deeni, Wa Nafsi, Wa Ahli, Wa Waladi, Wa Mali.” We can also recite: “A’oozu bi-Kalimatillahi at-Taamati min Sharri Ma Khalaq. Bismillahilladhi La Yadurru Ma Ismihi Shay’un fil-Ardi wa la fis-Samaa’I Wa Huwas Samee’ul ‘ Aleem.” A mother too, can have sweet envy for her own child, so it’s important that she guards from staring and admiring at her own children intently or praising them lavishly in the presence of others.
Let us start taking our existence to the next level of spirituality, and start with the process of self-reformation.