if there’s anything that reveals the ugliness of a person, it’s envy. when a person doesn’t control his envy, spite, hatred, and malice come out of him. i think a wisdom that is greatly ignored today (i’m not sure of the authenticity of this hadith, but i think it holds a lot of truth) is the following; “envy eats up good deeds like fire eats up firewood.” to me, this statement is so spot-on because when one allows his envy to manifest itself, he hurts the person whom he envies, much more than if he allows his simple dislike of or anger towards that person to manifest itself. if someone shows his dislike for a person, the intelligent person whom he dislikes would simply move on with his/her life-dislike doesn’t usually entail serious harm to a person. and anger is usually justifiable (unlike spiteful envy, in which the other party has done nothing to encure the malice of the envier), as well as a fading emotion (so the harm done to the second party wouldn’t last that long). but envy-real, strong envy-is different. envy, along with the actions done by the envier in reaction to it, can really destroy a person. whether it’s a cruel word said to a person by an envious individual, slander, or plots to hurt or wound the person of whom one is envious of, the person at the receiving end of the malevolent actions will suffer. “Say; I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn….from the envious one as he practices envy,” the holy Qur’an teaches us (Surat al-Falaq; the Dawn. 113).
at the end of the day, it’s not about not envying anyone (because, in all honesty, who could truly accomplish that?)-it’s about restraining ourselves from acting in an ugly way towards people who we envy. i guess it comes down to what our beloved messenger said to the world, 1400 years ago; “I have not come but to perfect the best of character.” may Allah help us all with our struggles to obtain the best of character, free from negative feelings and attitudes ~ameen.