The Subject of Envy In the Qur’an

Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR

In the Qur’anic verses that deal with this feeling of envy there is a general distinction between two types of hasad —that of individuals and that of societies. Here these two varieties of resentment will be discussed, and we will look at how we can protect ourselves against each of them.

If anything, good happens to you, this grieves them; if any misfortune befalls you, they rejoice at it. Yet if you endure and persevere in your way and act in piety keeping from evil and any injustice, their guile will never harm you. Surely God fully encompasses (with His Knowledge and Power) all that they do.” (Al Imran 3:120)

In the above verse the following ideas have been laid out:

1. Unbelievers who harbour enmity against religion and believers and who wish that believers do not receive any good things from their Lord are greatly grieved and frustrated when the believers are blessed.

2. Similarly, the abovementioned people love to see disaster visited upon the religion and religious people.

3. People who hate believers will also work secretly to prevent them from attaining something good or to cause them trouble.

God has shown us ways to avoid the wiles of such enemies and to protect ourselves against their plots. The verse shows us two basic ways to protect ourselves against them:

1. Strength of patience should be exercised in the face of any cruelty, oppression, or unjust treatment inflicted on us by sinful people or unbelievers.

2. We should also take refuge in God consciousness and act accordingly by following His commands and avoiding what He has forbidden. Elmalili Hamdi Yazir has this to say in the interpretation of the above verse: “Against all these, the duty of a Muslim is to be patient, and this is their protection. Thus, we will not be overcome by their enmity. If a Muslim is patient and perseveres in obeying God’s commands and avoiding doing wrong, the traps and intrigues of the unbelievers and hypocrites will never harm them.” [Yazir, Hak Dini Kur ’an Dili, II, 1164]

The Qur’an also says what will become of those who harbour feelings of resentment and envy:

Many among the People of the Book, out of the envy ingrained in their souls, wish they could restore you as unbelievers after you have believed, after the truth was clear to them (that the Qur’an is God’s Word and Muhammad is the last, awaited Messenger). Yet pardon and overlook them (avoiding useless debates and polemics with them) until God brings in His verdict about them. Surely God has full power over everything.” (Baqara 2:109)

God sets forth the following steps for the Muslim community to prevent these negative feelings and behaviour:

1. To choose the “high road” of forgiving and forbearing in response to provocative stances and incitement;

2. To maintain basic common ground in interpersonal relationships;

3. To refrain from useless debates and polemics with people until God brings in His judgment about them, enabling a way out for the disputes.

In the Qur’an, God says that Muslim communities should pursue dialogue and try to establish ties with groups that have set themselves against them as enemies:

So (O Messenger) call people to that (the way of life God has laid down for you). Pursue what is exactly right (in every matter) as you are commanded (by God). Do not follow their desires and caprices, and say, “I believe in whatever Book God has sent down; and I am commanded to bring about equity among you (without discrimination of race or rank by birth or by wealth or by power). God is our Lord and your Lord. To us are accounted our deeds, and to you, your deeds: (let there be) no contention between us and you: God will bring us all together (and settle any difference between us and you). To Him is the homecoming.” (Shura 42: 15)

The verse shows the necessary approach in nine parts:

1. Whatever happens, continue to exhort people who are opposed to you and invite them to good.

2. It is necessary for the Muslim community to obey and follow the commands and prohibitions it has been given.

3. It is critical not to follow the whims of those who oppose you, nor the ideas of those who believe that strife, discord, and estrangement are the normal state of humankind.

4. It is the sign of a believer to have faith in everything God has put forth in His revelations, in every Scripture He has sent down.

5. It is essential to judge between all people equally and fairly.

6. God is the Lord and Creator of all, whether or not they believe in Him.

7. Every community is responsible for what it does, and every individual will bear their own responsibility; they will not be responsible for the sins of other people.

8. Every person will answer for what they do and, as God will judge them, people should avoid unnecessary arguments.

9. God will be the One to call everyone to account for what they have done.

Translated by Jessica ÖZALP

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