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Chapter 2.6. Blameworthy Jealousy

As for the jealousy that is totally blameworthy then Allah has said with regards to the Jews,

Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):109]

'They wish' meaning that they hope to make you apostasise from your religion out of jealousy. So jealousy was the deciding factor behind their wish even after the Truth has been made clear to them. This is because when they saw you attain what you attained of blessings - in fact they saw you attain that which they themselves had never attained - they became jealous of you. Similarly this is mentioned in another verse,

Or do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His bounty? Then We have already given the family of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom. Of them were (some) who believed in him (Muhammad) and of them were some who averted their faces from him, and enough is Hell for burning (them).. [Surah an-Nisa (4) : 54-55]

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Day break. From the evil of what He has created. And from the evil of the darkening (night) as it comes with its darkness. And from the evil of the witchcrafts when they blow in the knots. And from the evil of the envier when he envies. [Surah al-Falaq (113):1-5]

A group of scholars of tafsir mentioned that this Surah was revealed due to the jealousy of the Jews harboured towards the Messenger of Allah to the extent that they performed magic on him. The magic was done by the Jew, Labid bin al-Asam.

So the one who is jealous, hating the favours bestowed by Allah upon someone else is an oppressor, going beyond bounds due to this. As for the one who dislikes that someone else be blessed and wishes to be blessed in the same way, then this is forbidden for him except in that which will bring him closer to Allah. So if he were to wish for something that has been given to someone else which would help bring him closer to Allah then there is no problem in this. However, his wishing for it in his heart, without looking to the condition of someone else is better and more excellent.

Then if this person were to act, dictated by this jealousy, he would be an oppressor going beyond bounds, deserving of punishment unless he repents. So the one who is affected by the one who is jealous is oppressed and should be enjoined to patience and taqwa. He should be patient of the harm afflicted upon him by the one who is jealous, and he should forgive and overlook, just as Allah said,

Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them. But forgive and overlook until Allah brings about His Command. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):109]

Indeed Yusuf, (alayhis salam) was tried by the jealousy of his brothers:

When they said: Truly, Yusuf and his brother are loved more by our father than we... [Surah Yusuf (12):8]

So they were envied due to their father favouring them over the rest of the brothers, which is why Yaqub said to Yusuf,

O my son! Relate not your vision to your broth­ ers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Indeed! Satan is an open enemy to man! [Surah Yusuf (12):5]

They went on to oppress him by discussing his murder and throwing him in the well, and his being sold as a slave by the ones who took him to the land of the disbelievers, and his subsequently being owned by these disbelieving people. Then after being oppressed, Yusuf was tried by the one who invited him to an indecent deed and attempted to seduce him, and she sought aid from anyone who would help her in this but he was preserved from this. Instead he chose to be imprisoned rather than perform this indecent deed, preferring the punishment of this world rather than the Displeasure of Allah (in the Hereafter).

Hence he was oppressed by the one who desired hi m due to her base desires and her corrupt objective. So this love with which she desired him arose as a result of her succumbing to the vain desires of her heart, and its happiness or sadness lay in his accepting or rejecting the temptation. He was also oppressed by those who hated him with a hatred that led to his being thrown in the well, then his becoming captive and owned without his choice, therefore these people removed him from the absolute freedom that he enjoyed to becoming forced into slavery to the false worshippers. This forced him to seek refuge in the prison out of his own free will, thereby making his trial greater.

His patience on this occasion arose out of his own volition coupled with his fear of Allah, thus differing from his patience at their oppression, which was having patience at the onset of calamities, and if one were not to be patient at the likes of these then he would take to the way of mere animals.

This second type of patience, arising from one's free will, is the more excellent of the two. This is why Allah said,

Indeed he who fears Allah, and is patient, then surely Allah makes not the reward of the doers of good to be lost. [Surah Yusuf (12):90]

Likewise when the believer is harmed due to his faith; and disbelief, transgression and disobedience is sought from him - and if he were not to accept this then he would be harmed and punished - then he should choose this harm and punishment over renegading from his religion - even if it results in imprisonment or banishment from his land - just as was done by the Muhajirin in their choosing to leave their settlements rather than leave their religion for which they were harmed and punished.

The Prophet was harmed in a number of different ways but he was patient through-out this with a patience that arose out of his own volition, and indeed he was harmed in this way only that he may do what he did out of his own choice. So this patience of his was greater than the patience of Yusuf, for only an indecent action was sought from Yusuf, and he was only punished by imprisonment when he did not comply. But disbelief was sought from the Prophet and his Companions, and when they did not do this - then they were punished by being slaughtered and other such harms - the least of which was imprisonment, for the polytheists imprisoned him and Bani Hashim for a time in a mountain pass. Then when Abu Talib died they became more severe against him, and when the Ansar gave him the pledge of the allegiance and when the polytheists came to know of this they tried to prevent him from leaving (for Madinah) and tried to detain him and his Companions. Then all of them emigrated secretly except for Umar bin al-Khattab and those like him.

So what befell the believers came about as a result of their choosing obedience to Allah and His Messenger and it was not from the afflictions that occur without the servant's choice of the type that Yusuf was tried with, and neither of the type of his being separated from his father. So this. patience endured by the believers was the nobler of the two types of patience, and its possessors are greater with respect to ranking. This, even though the one who is tried without his will shall be rewarded for his patience and his contentment with the decree of Allah, and his sins will be expiated. As for the person who is tried and harmed for choosing obedience to Allah, then he will be re­ warded for the actual trial and it shall be written as a righteous action for him. Allah, the Most High, said,

That is because they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue, nor hunger in the Cause of Allah, nor do they take any step to raise the anger of disbelievers nor inflict any injury upon an enemy but it is written to their credit as a righteous deed. Indeed Allah wastes not the reward of the doers of good. [Surah at- Tawbah (9):120]

This contrasting with the case of the one who is tried without his choice, such as being sick, or death, or a thief stealing from him - this person shall be rewarded for his patience only, not for the actual trial itself and what results from it. As for those who are harmed due to their faith in Allah and obedience to Him and His Messenger, and as a result of this they are in pain, or are sick, or are imprisoned, or are forced to leave their land, or their property and family is taken from them, or are beaten and abused, or their position and wealth is diminished, then in this they are upon the way of the Prophets and those that followed them such as the Muhajirin.

So these people shall be rewarded for what has harmed them, and a righteous action shall be written for them due to it just as the mujahid shall be rewarded for the hunger, thirst and fatigue that afflicts him, and for enraging the disbelievers even if these effects are not something he has physically set out to do, but they are resultant from his action (of performing jihad) that he has chosen to do. The people have differed over this: can it be said that these resultant effects are actions of the actor of the reason for these effects, or are they Actions of Allah, or is there no actor for them? What is correct is that they are shared between the actor of the reason and the (Actor of the) totality of the reasons, and this is why a righteous action is written for him.

The purpose behind this discussion is that jealousy is one of the sicknesses of the soul, and it is an illness that afflicts the generality of mankind and only a few are secure from it. This is why it is said:

The body is never free from jealousy, but debasement brings it out, and nobility hides it.

It was said to al-Hasan al-Basri,

'Can a believer be envied?' He replied, 'What has made you forget Yusuf and his brothers, have you no father?' But you should keep (this envy should it occur) blinded in your heart, for you cannot be harmed by that which you did not act upon in speech or action.'