Envy, Part 3

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You cannot appease the envy of the envious person. Even if you show him, or her, greater kindness or remove that to which his (or her) envy is directed, such as a possession, you will find the envy directed to some other possession, or to some good trait or quality you have.


It is an uncreative quality. It has no redeeming features. One writer stated that envy is:“…insidious and secretive … burrowing away and undermining. Some of the most eminent people in the world are filled with envy because others have a little more glory than they. You can see envy in the theatrical and film professions, among artists, writers, politicians–even in the Church.”

Envy is an emotion or a state of mind that hinders the good the envier could do for himself or for others. It is an obstacle that obstructs its owner in the way of self benefit.

Envy is a disturber of the peace. It could never be among the qualities on which you could build a lasting society.

Envy indicates a weakness of the character. Where envy is, there is the absence of generosity, charity and brotherliness. In fact, it is impossible to feel both envy and kindness towards the same person at the same time. Love, in the fullest and best sense of the term, is the opposite of envy. Love and hate can have redeeming features, depending on what is being loved or hated and why. Envy, however, has nothing in it to recommend it under any circumstances.

No one wants to be seen as envious. Yet many are. There are many instances in which envy is revealed. For example, a person may not want you to enjoy the same privileges he has. He may be in some higher position than you. He may also have control over some items that would make life easier than you now have it. But this person withholds the items from you that you may have had a right to. Your comfort is not his objective. He wants you to be uncomfortable. This illustrates the evil nature of envy.

You have just purchased four new tires for your car. Another may have a better or worse car than you. He may not have new tires. That is not the question. The fact is that you have a car and especially, four new tires.

The envier envies you for those tires. When you are not aware, he cuts holes in your tires. Or, as may just as likely occur, the envier may do nothing about your tires. Yet he, or she, wishes you did not have them. In addition, the envier dislikes you for buying them with your own money. This also is envy and depicts its inner nature.

What is envy? Envy is that which distorts a person’s perception of reality to the extent that the envier sees no merit in whatever is the object of his envy despite its merit. Envy makes a person speak evil of that towards which his envy is directed to help him live with himself. Actually envy does not “help” the envier, he only deludes himself into thinking this, while not seeing that he is envious, nor its evil.

Ill-will, begrudging others that which is theirs are central factors making up envy.

The above does not cover all that can be written to define envy. Nor was it intended to do so. On the other hand, the above is not mere theory. There are many more people than you can count who have been robbed, mutilated and murdered because someone else envied them.

Innocent people have been sent to death or to prison because of the envy of others. Many have served as witnesses in trials, for example, who persuaded themselves that their self-distorted views and information was true. Their accusation of the guiltless was based on their envy-distorted observations.

Judges, too, have misused their power due to envy. On the other hand, it has been established that envy is a major factor in many crimes and occupies a large place in the make up of the “criminal” personality.

Often the envier is passive, either in not doing what could be done to help the envied (in some situation requiring it), or in the sense of repressing envy so it finds no outlet in actions.

It is when the envier acts from his or her envy and harm, or great harm comes to the envied that the foul nature of envy comes into focus.

At the start of this chapter, some instances of envy were mentioned from the Bible. From those examples it is clear that it is when one compares himself to another in the wrong way that envy is produced in the heart. It is a perception distorting quality. The envied one may or may not ever know that another envies him.

Envy is an act of perception that is totally irrational, unreasonable and malicious. It is unproductive of any value for anyone, except as it serves the ultimate purpose of Allah.

It is a tendency in a person’s heart to see with dislike the good of another, whose good or goods do not take away from the envier. It is an unwillingness to allow one’s own good to be overshadowed by another. This unwillingness comes from a wrong evaluation of the relative worth of one’s own good (or goods) in comparison to that of another. As long as there is no action taken by the envier, his or her attitude can be termed ill-will, or the like. When, however, the envier takes action to reduce or eliminate the good of the envied, his or her malevolent frame of mind becomes a moral evil of the first rank.

Consider the envy of someone who envies some personal characteristic you have that is good, or some skill you have worked to develop for years. The envier is hating you for being what you are of good. The envier is denying part of or the whole of your very being. The envier is saying, in effect, that he wishes that part of you or the whole of you did not exist. Your very existence becomes a reproach, a continuous source of irritation to the envier. This could lead to a desire in the envier to murder you.

More next issue, Allah willing.