Strictly speaking, envy (hasad) is hatred and disliking the good condition of the envied one. This of two types:
1) Unrestricted dislike of the blessings bestowed upon the envied. This is the type of jealousy which incurs blame, so when one hates something he is then hurt and grieved by the existence of what he hates, and this becomes a sickness in his heart such that he takes pleasure in removal of the blessings from the envied even if this does not result in any benefit to him except for the single benefit of having the pain that was in his soul removed . But this pain is not removed except as a result of his continuously watching the envied so that the jealous person finds relief when the blessing is removed, but then it becomes more severe as is the case of the one who is sick, for it is possible that this blessing, or one similar to it, returns to the envied. This is why this second group said:
'It is a desire to have the blessings removed,'
for indeed the one who dislikes the blessings bestowed upon other than him desires to see them removed.
2) That he dislikes the superiority of that person over him, and he desires to be like him or better, so this is jealousy and has been called ghubta, and the Prophet called it hasad in the hadith reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith of Ibn Masud and Ibn Umar, (radu Allahu anhum), that the Prophet said:
There is no envy (hasad) except in two cases: a person to whom Allah has granted wisdom, and he rules by this and teaches it to the people, and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property and along with this the power to spend it in the cause of Truth. [Bukhari and Muslim]
This being the wording of Ibn Masud. The wording of Ibn Umar is,
A person to whom Allah has given the Quran and he recites it night and day, and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property from which he gives in charity night and day. [Bukhari and Muslim]
Al-Bukhari also reports this hadith from Abu Hurairah and its wording is,
There is no desirable form of jealousy except for two types: a person to whom Allah has given the Quran and he recites it day and night, so when a
person hears him he says, 'If only I were given the likes of what he has been given so that I may act upon it the way this person is.' And a person to whom Allah has bestowed wealth and he spends in the cause of Truth, so a person says, 'If only I were given the likes of what he has been given, so that I may act upon it the way this person is.' [Bukhari]
So the Prophet forbade hasad, with the exception of two cases which are referred to as al-ghubta, meaning that a person love the condition of someone else and dislike that this person be superior in this way (without his wishing that it be removed from that person).
So if it is asked: 'Then why is this called envy when he loves only that Allah bestows these blessings upon him?' It is said, 'The starting point of this love is his looking towards the favours Allah has bestowed upon someone else and his disliking that this person be favoured over him. So if this other person were not present then he would not have desired these blessings. So because the starting point of this love is this dislike that someone else be made superior to him, then this is called envy due to the love following the dislike. As for desiring that Allah bestows favours upon him without consideration of people's material conditions then this is not envy at all.'
This is why the generality of mankind have been tried with this second type of envy that has also been called al-munafasah (competition) because two people compete in a single desired matter, both of them trying to attain the same good. The reason for their trying to attain it is that one of them dislikes that the other be blessed with this matter over him just as any one of two competitors dislikes that other beat him.
Competition is not considered blameworthy in general, rather it is considered to be praiseworthy when competing for righteousness, the Exalted said,
Indeed the pious will be in delight. On thrones, looking on.. You will recognize in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine. The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of Musk, and for this let those compete who want to compete. [Sarah ai-Mutaffifin (83):22-26]
So one is commanded to compete for these delights and not to compete for the delight of this fleeting world. This is in total agreement to the hadith of the Prophet, for he forbade envy except of the one who has been granted knowledge and he acts according to it and teaches it, and the one who has been bestowed wealth and spends it (in the way of Allah). As for the one who has been granted knowledge but does not act upon this knowledge, or the one who has been bestowed wealth but does not spend this is obedience to Allah, then such a person is not to be envied and neither is his condition to be hoped for, for he is not in a state of good that is desirable, rather he is being presented with punishment. He also allowed jealousy for the one who has been given a responsibility and he fulfils it with knowledge and justice, and fulfils the trusts of its owners, and judges amongst the people by the Quran and Sunnah.
The station of such a person is lofty but this only comes after a great amount of effort (Jihad) - the same is true of the mujahid. But the souls do not envy .the one who is in severe hardship and this is why the Prophet did not mention it even though the mujahid, fighting in the Way of Allah, is superior to the one who is spending wealth. The opposite is true for the teacher and spender for they have no enemy in the physical world, but in the case that there were an enemy that they would have to perform Jihad against, then their ranking is more superior (than their station without having an enemy to fight). Similarly the Prophet did not mention the one who prays, fasts and performs the pilgrimage, because there is no tangible benefit attained from the people for these actions by which the person can be exalted or disgraced, as can be attained in teaching and spending.
Concerning the Ailments of the Hearts and their Cures
Between Sickness And Death
The Quran Is A Cure For The Hearts
Righteous Actions Are A Cure For The Heart
Leaving Indecent Actions Are A Cure For The Heart
The Effect Of Sins Upon The Purity Of The Heart
Types Of Zulm
The Life Of The Heart
The State Of The Dead Heart
The Need For Beneficial Knowledge
The Reality Of The Life Of The Heart
Envy Is A Sickness Of The Heart
The Types Of Envy (hasad)
Between Hasad And Ghubta
The Competition Between Abu Bakr And Umar
Moses Displays Ghubta
Whoevers Ranking Becomes Lofty, He Is Secured From Ghubta
The Cure For Jealousy
The Causes For Jealousy
Between Jealousy And Miserliness
The Disease Of Desires And Passionate Love
Between Jealousy And Desires
The Reality Of Passionate Love (ishk)
The Natural Inclination Of The Heart Is To Love Of Allah
Preventative Measures From Passionate Love
Some Cures For The Heart
Appendix One The Types Of Hearts
Glossary Of Arabic Terms