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Question: I have a very bad habit of feeling jealous. I am a position holder in my university with highest marks. I want that only I should succeed if someone from my university gets marks equal to mine I wish it shouldn't happen. I know its the blessing of Allah. He showers it upon whom HE wants. I have no right to object on it. Still I feel jealous. I want to get rid of my habit. Pls. help me with this.

Hasad (Jealousy/envy) is one of the cardinal sins in Islam; it has been condemned by Allah in the Qur'an; the Prophet (peace be upon him) has also warned us against it.

Allah says:

"Do they, perchance, envy other people for what God has granted them out of His bounty?" (Qur'an: 4: 54)

"Out of their selfish envy, many among the People of the Book would like to bring you back to denying the truth after you have attained to faith - [even] after the truth has become clear unto them." (Qur'an: 2: 109)

The Prophet said: "beware of jealousy; for jealousy consumes good deeds even as fire consumes fire wood."

A sin by itself, jealousy can also lead to other sins: it was his jealousy that led Adam's son to slay his brother; it was, again, jealousy that led many of the People of the Book to reject the Prophet-hood of Muhammad, peace be upon him, although they recognized him as the one prophesied in their own scriptures. Jealousy leads to blood- shed, and aggressions. Even though those who harbor jealousy may think that they are hurting their victim, in fact, it hurts the perpetrator more than the victim.

As Imam Ghazali has pointed out in his esteemed work ihya: jealousy is one of the diseases of the heart, and like all other diseases, we ought to rid ourselves of them, in order to keep our spiritual hearts healthy. As is the case with all treatments, we need to apply both the cognitive and practical methods: the former involves recognizing the enormity of the sin and its adverse effects on the soul. In other words, on a closer reflection of the vice of jealousy, one would come to know that, not only he stands to gain no benefit from jealousy; rather he ends up suffering worse from it, both in this world and the next. Hence he ends up benefiting his enemy instead of harming him. For because of his jealousy, the blessings will not be removed, if Allah has willed otherwise. Pondering this alone would be a sufficient reason for a rational person to get rid of jealousy. As for those who believe in the hereafter, they would be forewarned of unnecessarily targeting themselves to the wrath and punishment of Allah because of indulging in such a heinous sin.

If we were to ponder the above point well, we would certainly realize that a person who harbors jealousy is his own enemy. He is not different from a person who flings a stone to hit a certain target, but instead of hitting it the stone he has flung bounces back and hits his right eye, pulling it out of the socket. He gets angrier; he takes a bigger stone to hit harder; alas, once again, the stone bounces back, this time hitting his left eye too, thus pulling it, again, of the socket.

This is the cognitive method of treatment: it means essentially to know the vicious nature of jealousy, and its dire consequences, in order to convince oneself of its futility and the pain, he is causing himself through it--thus motivating oneself to get rid of such vices altogether.

As for the practical method of treating jealousy: it is to do the opposite of what jealousy demands. So if jealousy forces a person to speak ill of another person, he should force himself to speak well of him; if he is forced to act proudly towards him, he should force himself to act humbly before him; if he is inclined to discontinue his favors towards him, he should force himself to increase them.


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