You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 6:00), watch it below, or read the summary below.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ
Wamin sharri hasidin itha hasada
And from the evil of an envier when he envies.”
(Surah Al-Falaq, Quran 113:5)
All praises are due to Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his beloved Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Allah has given us so many blessings. And it’s important for us to recognize him as الْمُنْعِم (Al-Mun‘im), that He is the One who is the Bestower of Ni’mah. He is the Bestower of Blessings. He is Al-Mun‘im. That is one of His beautiful names. To realize that the blessings that He has placed in your life and the blessings that he has placed in others’ lives. It is a decision from him. It is within His infinite wisdom that He proportions accordingly. It’s important for us as believers to appreciate that fact.
Today I’d like to talk about this verse that I recite to my children every night when I put them to bed. We have them recite the last three surahs of the Quran and among them in Surah Al-Falaq, the believer asks Allah for protection:
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ
Qul aAAoothu birabbi alfalaqi
Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak
(Surah Al-Falaq, Quran 113:1)
The believer asks Allah for protection from all kinds of evil and at the end of that surah specifically-
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ
Wamin sharri hasidin itha hasada
And from the evil of an envier when he envies.”
(Surah Al-Falaq, Quran 113:5)
from the envy of the envier or from the evil of the envious one – إِذَا حَسَدَ – when they are envious. So I’d like to talk today about envy. This is something which the scholars of Islam referred to as a disease of the heart. It is an illness in the heart, just like you can have a physical illness, just like you can have a mental illness, you can have a spiritual illness. Envy is something that is related to different things as we will discuss today. It is something that is embedded within the spirit. It is a disease of the heart. It’s important for us to understand this, especially in our context today because of social media. By social media, I don’t just mean what your kids use. I mean WhatsApp, Facebook, and so on. It’s important for us to understand – حَسَدَ – envy, the dangers of it, the causes of it, and the cures for it.
When we make that dua, that is something which we all read. Surah Al-Falaq, one of the last surah, is a short surah, and it’s something we teach our kids. It’s a surah which Allah knew when He revealed it that it would be recited very often. That gives it particular important that there is evil in this world and that we do seek refuge in a Allah, and we do seek His protection. So Allah talks about the envious person.
Imam Maulud, a famous scholar of the diseases of the heart, explains that envy is exhibited when one desires that another person lose a blessing he or she has. The intensity of that jealousy is such that you wish that that person didn’t have it and that you had it instead. This loss of blessing that one desires could be anything big or small. It could be a house, a car, a job, family member, friend, promotion, whatever it might be. An envious person becomes resentful that, oh, their coworker got promoted and they didn’t get promoted. Their brother has purchased this beautiful house or this beautiful car, or just got married. And they are still waiting for that to happen to them. They are still waiting for those blessings to come to them.
A person may envy another person because of their marital bliss and wishes that the married couple splits apart. This has happened. A young man many years ago came to me and said, “you know, the sister that I wanted to propose to just got engaged and I make dua that Allah splits the engagement.” No brother, you can’t make that dua. Actually I said, “what do you think?” But this actually happened so much so that it comes out in our actual words and our actions. Allah tells us to seek protection – وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ – from the evil of the envious one, and that evil could come out in different kinds of ways.
Once we understand what envy is, the next thing is, what are the causes of envy? Now this is really important. What would you say is the number one cause of envy? I will give you a few-
The first one that Imam Maulud mentions is enmity or animosity. The feelings of animosity towards another person. The more animosity you give into, the more hasad you begin to feel. Your bias against a certain person increases your envy over the blessings that they might have.
Another cause of envy that he mentioned is vying for another’s affection or attention or love. This can actually eventually become vicious. We see this in the story of Yusuf (as). His brothers, and there’s so many of them, become jealous of his connection to Allah. They become jealous of his connection with their father. It leads them to something which is an ultimate act of betrayal. They leave their younger brother behind and they leave him abandoned with no way to return home. And we know the story of Yusuf what happens thereafter.
Another cause for envy is arrogance or pride. An envious person feels that they are more deserving of something than others and that they are more entitled to something than others might be. This is something that the Quraysh felt when the Prophet (pbuh) received prophethood. What did they say? “Who is he to receive prophethood? Who is he? He is just an orphan boy. He’s the nephew of Abu Ta’lib, a poor man. Yes, Abu Ta’lib is a respected man, but he is a poor man. He is not the wealthiest amongst them. He does not come from that lineage that some of us come from.” They became arrogant and that’s what led to their envy of the Prophet (pbuh)’s prophethood. That is what led to their denial even though they saw the miracle of the Quran right in front of them, understood the language of the Quran, and witnessed its miraculous nature. However they denied it and they rejected it and went back to their arrogance and their sense of entitlement over who should receive the prophethood.
Another very important cause and the cause that I’d like to focus on today is self-esteem, self-value, self-worth. How much do you value yourself? How much do you value yourself and what Allah has given you? On the day of judgment, a person will come and on one side of his scale, the bad side of the scale, this person will have scrolls and scrolls of misdeeds on that side of the scale. And on the other side of the scale will be one small statement, which says – لآ اِلَهَ اِ لّا اللّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوُل اللّهِ – There is no God, but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. That one line will outweigh all the misdeeds and will be enough for Allah to forgive that person subhanAllah because that person had a genuine belief. So for us to value ourselves is so important and to realize what it is which makes us valuable. Allah says in the Quran –
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ
Walaqad karramna banee adama
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam
(Surah Al-Isra, Quran 17:70)
We have honored the children of Adam (as). We have honored them. We have blessed them. We have been generous to them. We have raised them over all of creation. Part of your value is because you are a human being which Allah has bestowed with the blessing of consciousness which He has blessed us with and blessed no other creation with. Even over the angels who are perfect in their actions, in their beliefs, who do exactly what Allah commands. Allah had the angels bow down to Adam (as), knowing that Adam (as) was going to make a mistake, eat from the tree, him and his wife. Knowing that that was going to happen, still Allah had the angels bow to him. That value is there in every human being. Allah has willed it. So when we seek this value from outside, then we will realize that that is a hole which can never be filled. The Prophet (pbuh) tell us that if you give a valley filled to the brim with gold and silver, then a person who is seeking that will simply want another one and another one and another one and another one.
There’s a concept in psychology called disqualifying positive. What does that mean? That means you demean and you belittle the positives in your life compared to others. “We both got the promotion, but I worked harder. I had to work so hard. It was so hard for me. Yes, I have a family and I have everything that I could possibly want. My brother has a Lamborghini. What do all these things mean in front of a Lamborghini?” We begin to belittle and think less of the blessings which Allah has given us. There was a friend of mine who posted about how he always wanted to have a Lamborghini. He was driving on the road in his truck and he saw parked on the side was a Lamborghini. He went to help the person because it was very late at night. He got out and he said, “I don’t know how to get this thing going and stop.” It was brand new and stopped on the side of the road. Of course there’s Lamborghinis that work, but it made him think about how something which is an apparent blessing can actually be a trial and a test for that person.
When you see someone else’s blessing, you might think about that blessing in your life when in fact that person could be going through so many other things that you have no idea about. Where we have to place our trust is in Allah’s wisdom. The blessings which He has bestowed as Al-Mun’im, He has done as the Bestower of Blessings. He is also Al-Hakim, the All-Wise. Hikmah means to place every single thing in its appropriate place. Allah has placed every single thing in its appropriate place. A lot of times you might see someone that has something, but you only see that one small window of their life.
That is why a huge cause of envy nowadays is social media. When do people post on social media? Generally speaking, 99% of the time, it’s when something good is happening in their life, something they want to show to others. Just those curated moments of “look at the life that I’m living” but all of the other moment are missing from that piece. It’s important for us to understand that and to not allow that to infest our hearts with envy and to realize that this is just one piece of this person’s life.
Before, this has never happened in the existence of humanity. If you had something good happen to you, you would share it with your immediate friends, maybe your family, that’s it. Now you can see what anyone is doing. Any stranger, anyone who you have never met and will never meet, and you think, “wow, look at that. Look at what this person, look at this amazing thing.” What’s ending up happening is, and Shaykh Yasir just mentioned this last week, is when we live in this culture of “oh this, and this, and this,” we’re never satisfied. There’s never enough time to complete all these experiences. There’s never enough time to do everything. You feel like there’s so much you could be doing, because look at what other people are doing. You should be able to do that too. Why can’t you do it? Why can’t you experience that or have that and so on.
It was important for us to understand that a huge cause of envy is self-esteem and our own value of ourselves, not only in our physical realm, but also in our spiritual state. On the day of judgment, every single human being will come to that realization that imaan was the most important thing. Now, whether you like it or not, once you leave this world, there will come that period. There will come that moment where all of the ghafla, all of the heedlessness is removed. That period of realization that actually, this was the most important thing in my life and all the other things did not matter. All the things that I thought mattered didn’t actually matter. All the things which everyone was talking about and showing off about, all of those things did not matter. What actually mattered were my beliefs and my action.
So we understand the causes, now what are the dangers of envy? How does it actually impact your life? The Prophet (pbuh) said, “certainly envy eats up good deeds.” It eats up good deeds, burns them away “just as fire consumes firewood.” That’s such a perfect analogy because envy needs fuel, just like a fire needs firewood. It needs fuel, like when we engage in that endless indefinite scroll. I’m not saying all social media is bad or that it’s haram. There’s good things in social media as well. It’s a tool just like any other tool. But the way the algorithms work, we know the effect. Let’s be honest with ourselves. So when you feed that envy you’re just feeding it with that. May Allah protect us. So envy eats up good deeds, just like fire consumes firewood.
Number two. The scholars talk about envy in terms of it being hasad, in terms of it being a gateway sin. Like you have gateway drugs. There’s a smaller drug you try and it leads you to taking the bigger one and the worst one because you can’t achieve the same high. You keep going leveling up each time until you’re in a very, very difficult situation. So envy is a gateway sin. It leads to other things. The most extreme examples of that are mentioned in the Quran. With the story of Yusuf (as), his brothers felt that envy, they felt that hasad to such an extreme that they completely abandoned him to die in the middle of the forest in the bottom of the well with no chance of returning home.
Look at the story of Habil and Qabil, Cain and Abel, the two sons of Adam (as),
إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا
ith qarraba qurbanan
when they both offered a sacrifice
فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا
fatuqubbila min ahadihima
[to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them
Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.”
(Surah Al-Ma’ida, Quran 5:27)
They both put forward a sacrifice yet it was accepted from one. It was accepted from one and not from the other. The other felt jealous so much he killed his brother. That was the first murder. That was the first killing. He made his brother the first martyr and he was a son of Adam (as). That envy led him to something so much worse than the envy itself.
What does our envy lead us to do? If we hold envy in our hearts, we have to ask ourselves, what does it lead us to do? Does it lead us to overwork ourselves and neglect raising our children? We all know that doing the bare minimum is not enough where we live. If we want to raise our children as Muslims, you have to do more than the bare minimum. You can not just meet the basic needs of education and food and drink and shelter and safety. You have to do so much more, but if envy has infested your heart and you feel like you need to overwork yourself, just to keep up with the Joneses, just to keep up with everyone else, then what effect is that having on your life? What effect is that having on your family, on your children, on your mind, on your heart, on your connection to Allah? I don’t have time for salah because I have to get this project done. If I get this project done earlier, it means that this will happen and this will happen and this will happen. And then I’ll have more than my brother. Then I’ll have more than my sister. So how does that actually affect our life? It’s important for us to understand.
And finally I will discuss the cures for envy.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah for me and you from every sin.
Now that we have an understanding of envy and we have an understanding of hasad, how do we cure it? I realize that the time is not much so I’m going to go through this as quickly as I can. It’s very important that we of course discuss the cure.
So the first thing that’s important for us to understand is our self-esteem. I talked about our self-esteem and how important it is for us to work on our self value, our self worth. Part of it is a mental thing. Part of it is our own thinking. Part of it is also to understand where so low self-esteem can come from. What are the causes of low self-esteem? It could come from emotional neglect in childhood. I’m not saying that the parents are the cause of everything. I am not saying that, but it is one cause. If you felt that you were competing for emotional attention as a child, then that goes into your own life in adulthood where you feel the need to please others and you feel the need to have enough so that others will respect you eventually.
Another thing which causes low self-esteem is a negative feeling. It’s important for us to realize that that is not only on an individual level, but it is also on a communal level. When our community faces racism, when our community faces Islamophobia, this has an impact on our self-esteem. It’s important for us to recognize that a lot of our young generation, as well as our older generation, the effects of colonialism, the effects of racism, the effects of Islamophobia have an impact on us. It’s all related. In the recent situation in between Russia and Ukraine, we want justice. We pray for the refugees and those that are affected by this war, of course. But in some of the coverage of that situation, journalists in normal media outlets were saying things like “these are civilized people. This is not like Iraq and Syria.” You can see this on the headline. This has an effect on us when we hear things like this, and it’s important for us to speak out against that kind of thing. I heard one person say, “oh, these are people with blonde hair and blue eyes.”
This has an effect on our children. It’s important for us to discuss this. It’s important for us to realize what is happening and to realize that this has an effect on our hearts. It has an effect on our mind. Of course we condemn that kind of language. Of course we should speak out about it and of course we should discuss that with our children, but it doesn’t remove us as Muslims standing up for justice no matter the situation, no matter the condition, no matter the words that may be flung around.It is a conflicting thing. But it’s important for us to realize that. We, as a community have gone through a lot. Our different myriad of nations and cultures have gone through a lot as an ummah. That affects our esteem and it affects our hasad. It does. It affects envy, such a global thing and also on an individual level. That if you face that failure, you face some kind of rejection. that has an effect on yourself. How can you improve that? How can you work on that? It’s important for us to go back to the number one cure for envy, which the ulama say is gratitude, which is thankfulness.
لَىِٕنْ شَكَرْتُمْ لَاَزِيْدَنَّكُمْ
lain shakartum laazeedannakum
‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor];
(Surah Ibrahim, Quran 14:7)
That if you are truly grateful, I will increase you, Allah says. So how can we be grateful? How can we serve those that are in need? How can we look at those that have less than us? How can we take our children to volunteer in places where they get to know how others live? They can see what it’s like. They can be grateful for what they have. That they can dedicate their lives, not just to earning money, but serving Allah and helping others.
How can we go about doing that? We must take action to be grateful. It’s not enough just to say alhamdulillah. There must be changes in our life, with our salah, with our connection to Allah, with our connection to our community, in order for us to feel gratitude. When we feel gratitude, the envy disappears. The low self-esteem and the low self-worth disappears. We must be grateful. We must show gratitude.
Another thing which the scholars say is focus on the things which you can control and not on the things which are out of your control. You cannot control your looks. You can not control how tall you are. But there are things which you can control. You cannot control how much money your parents had. You can not control where you came from. But focus on the things we can control.
And finally, understand Allah’s wisdom, that He is Al-Hakim and He gives to everyone what He wants and what is according to His wisdom. And to realize that what He has given you is best for you and is the test which you can handle. And to realize that someone’s blessing, which you perceive to be such a blessing, may in fact, be a huge test to them. They might be having such a nice mansion, but it is an empty mansion. You might have a small home, but it is a full home. So it’s important for us to realize that.
Another thing is to look forward to the month of Ramadan as a time where we can work on it. A month of Ramadan where we’re not only doing the bare minimum of eating and drinking, but we are also working on our spirit. We are also working on ourselves, our anger, our envy, and so on. May Allah help us to do that.
May Allah remove from our hearts, envy. May Allah cure us for that. May Allah improve the situation of our hearts. May Allah connect to Him. May Allah help us to follow the way of his Prophet (pbuh). May Allah help us to have the character of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). May Allah help us to realize our own worth and our own value before his eyes. May Allah help us to realize the value of our imaan, the value of – لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ – May He help us that our last words on this earth be – لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ – We ask Allah that He fulfills the needs of those that in need. If anyone needs a job, may Allah give them the best job. If anyone is in need of a spouse, may Allah give them the best spouse. If anyone is in need of children, may Allah give them righteous children. I ask Allah that He forgives our shortcomings and accepts our good deeds. Ameen.
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِیعُ العَلِیمُ وَتُبْ عَلَیْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِیمُ
عِبَادَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.
And, establish the prayer.