The second part of a short article that discusses the sin of envy (hasad), its causes and effects, and presents a cure for it.
The evil effects of hasad
Envy is one of the deadliest diseases of the heart and it produces additional vices such as hypocrisy, backbiting, slandering, abuse, taunting, and torturing, all of which are grave sins. This hideous condition makes the human heart so narrow and gloomy that its effects pervade the realm of one’s inner and outer being. The fears and grief of the hasid revolve around the person of whom he is envious.
The hasad he harbors in his heart blinds him to the virtues of the envied, and he becomes unhappy over the blessings of God conferred upon the mahsud. The spiritual light and the divine spark of faith which makes the human heart greater than anything else in the world cannot go along with the darkness and narrowness caused in it by hasad. The heart becomes grieved and depressed, the chest narrow and suffocated, and the face grim and frowning.
The more this state gains in strength, the more it diminishes the brightness of faith, while this faith is the source of his salvation in the Hereafter and the life and vigour of his heart. Eventually this disease reduces the hasid into a helpless wretch.
- The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Beware! Do not bear enmity with the blessings of Allah.” When asked about the people who bear enmity with the blessings of Allah, he (PBUH) replied: “Those who are envious.”
- Imam Ali (AS) said: “Envy is a great trap of Satan.”
- Imam Ali (AS) said: “A hasid is a sick person though he (may) physically appear to be healthy.”
- Muhammad ibn Muslim reports that al-Imam al‑Baqir (AS) said: “A man may be forgiven for something done in a fit of anger, but hasad devours faith as fire consumes wood.”
- Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (AS) is reported to have said: “Satan says to his soldiers: “Instil hasad and disobedience of Allah among them (bani Adam) as these are equal to shirk (polytheism) in the eyes of Allah.”
- Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (AS) said that Luqman said to his son: “There are three signs of a Hasid:
(1) He is a backbiter at the back
(2) He is a flatterer in front and
(3) He is happy when a misfortune befalls (the envied).
The cure for this disease
If you suffer from this deadly disease, seriously contemplate the enormity of its devastating effects on your faith. Consider taking following steps to purge it from your heart:
- Know that your envy doesn’t harm your mahsud, nor does it make him lose any of his favours and merits. You shall ever suffer in grief, pain, and anguish while the mahsud is in a state of bliss and joy. In the Hereafter as well your envy will benefit your mahsud, especially if it results in backbiting or slandering as your good deeds will be assigned to the mahsud.
- Force yourself to be affectionate with the mahsud. The aim of your kindness should be to cure yourself of envy. Your inner self will ask you to ill-treat or hurt him, but you must act against these inclinations and be friendly to him. You must respect him and gradually convince your heart to respect him.
- Try to see his virtues yourself and think that these are favours of Allah on him. Force yourself to speak in his praise and make his good qualities known to others. Though your behaviour will be unnatural in the beginning, since your aim is self‑rectifications, it will gradually become less artificial. Insha’Allah, day by day this will become a reality and your heart will follow your tongue to appreciate his virtues and good qualities.
- You should convince yourself and make it understand that your mahsud is a creature of God; perhaps it is God’s grace that He has selected him for the advantages and blessings he enjoys that you do not (currently) possess.
- If, God forbid, the object of your envy is a scholar endowed with knowledge or piety, you must understand that he is from the chosen ones of God, blessed by great merit. Try to generate love and humbleness towards him.
- At any stage during your treatment, don’t think that this moral vice is not curable; this erroneous notion is inspired by Satan and the lower self (al-nafs al-ammara), who want to frustrate your efforts of curing yourself. Have hope in God Almighty Who has promised that He will guide those who struggle and help them through His invisible grace and increase their capacities.
Hasad is a disease of the soul that has grave psychological, moral, and social consequences. Fortunately, with faith and, sincere and persistent efforts, it is curable. A faithful person is optimistic, has a hopeful attitude towards God, and is satisfied with the way He has divided His bounties among His creatures.
Imam Ali (AS) said: “The person who gives up hasad is loved by people.”