An Enigmatic and Corrupt Desire!
Man lives in constant movement between waves of problems and miseries in this unstable life. He struggles to reduce the strain of hardships on his soul and body, so he may harvest the roses of hope, and manifest them in his life one by one. As long as man’s relationship with life is not amputated by the danger of death, and he sees a path to hope, he will always endeavor to achieve happiness. In conclusion, it is the light of hope that grants man life, and makes its bitterness sweet.
Some of us hope to become rich and to obtain wealth, and struggle to achieve them in a manner that knows no boundaries. While others seek fame and position. People’s deeds are related to their bodily wants and the degree of spiritual and psychological integrity they reach. Desires also vary just as ways of thinking vary. But we have to realize that hopes bring happiness to our lives when they conform to our spiritual needs, fulfill our mental requirements, develop our information level, light up the paths of our lives, and rescue us from hardships and miseries.
Instincts, such as stinginess or conceit may be the root of miseries in life. Envy is one such instinct which diverts men from the straight path and imprisons the conscience to prevent men from reaching realistic hopes. The envious can not begin to see others in the shadow of happiness. They feel great pressure on themselves that stems from their pessimistic outlook towards other’s goodwill. It is reported that Socrates said:
“The envious spends his days destroying himself by feeling sorry for that which he could not achieve but others have. He feels sorry and regretful, and desires all people to live in misery and infliction while plotting to deprive them of their happiness.”
A leading writer, wrote:
“Our souls are like a city located in the middle of a desert without a fort or a wall to protect it, they are the victims of the thieves of happiness. The smallest winds can send the waves of the sea of our souls clashing, and more than one enemy of the soul enters the depths of our spirits to command and forbid until the last breath. Every layman knows that he should go to a doctor if he is inflicted with a headache. but he who is inflicted with envy will deny it and will never find anyone to treat him”.
The envious make the fortunes of others their goal, they apply every method to deprive others of their fortunes. They are prey to their lowly wants without realizing it. The envious manifest their evil intentions by spreading accusations and lies about the envied ones. And if they feel that their lusts are not satisfied by doing this, they may even go as far as to encroach upon their freedom or even deprive them of the right to live, just to fulfill their endless wants.
Indeed these are the inclinations Do these inclinations conform to the real goal of human life? And are they natural?
Not only do the envious lack the title of humanitarian, but they are lower than animals. For he who does not care about the pains of others can not be a real manifestation of humanity.
The Envious Burn in the Fire of Failure and Deprivation
One of the most effective element in advancing and developing in the arena of life is to penetrate the hearts of others hearts and influence them. Those who have the ability to control other’s hearts by their maneuverability and noble traits can enjoy the support of the members of society during their advancement in life; hence obtaining the keys to success.
Good people are like lights in a society, they shine and lead the thoughts of its members leaving deep effects on their behavior.
On the other hand, envy causes the destruction of good traits and noble manners, and prevents the hearts of people from allowing valuable spaces for their companions, or to discover the star of love shining in the skies of their lives. Therefore, envy deprives the envious from enjoying the feelings of cooperation and help. Moreover, when the envious manifest their feelings with their tongues or actions, and display the nakedness of their filth to the public, they gain only the waves of harted and public resentment. The apparent anxiety and deep sadness which he inflicts upon himself by being envious pressures his soul and lights a fire within himself that burns his beloved soul.
The reason that the soul of the envious burns in the flames of anxiety and restlessness is clear. Because the divine substinense is constantly increasing despite his hopes, he constantly suffers from sadness and pain that overshadows his heart. Envy is like a destructive storm which pulls the trees of morality from their roots in a manner that the envious can find no way to stop.
When Cain saw that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted rather than his own, he envied him and planned to kill him. Envy had planted its claws in Cain’s heart and deprived him of the brotherly and human feelings. It lead him to crush his brother’s head with a huge rock and drown the holy body with blood. Cain did this for no reason other than the fact that Abel (his brother) had pure intentions and conduct. The quiet universe had witnessed the very first crime of envy, as a result of a despicable crime committed by the very son of Adam (A.S.). After Cain had committed this terrible crime, he felt regretful; but the sorrow that Cain experienced never helped him for he fell victim to the reprehension of his conscience for the rest of his life. If Cain had pondered on the realistic and accurate way of thinking, he would have sought the reason for his deprivation of Divine Blessings for…
“Allah only accepts from the pious.”
According to Shcopenhauer:
“Envy is the most dangerous of human feelings. So it is necessary that man considers it his arch enemy, and works to eliminate it from the path of his happiness.”
Furthermore, if envy becomes widespread in a society, many unwanted phenomena appear among people such as arguments, etc. In a society that is full of pain and problems, every individual becomes an obstacle in the way of the happiness of others, instead of becoming an element of perfection and social integrity. When envy enters a society it prevents social salvation, hence the spirit of cooperation, comfort and confidence between the members is eradicated, a matter which leads them to destruction despite their civilization and development.
According to Dr. Carl:
“Envy is responsible for our stinginess, for it is an obstacle in the way of spreading the achievements of the industrial countries to the Third World. Envy also prevents many capable people from leading their countries.”
Most violent crimes which occur these days stem from envy. This becomes apparent with a careful study of social events.
Religion Verses Envy
Allah, the Almighty, has said in the Holy Quran: Despite the fact that it is in man’s nature to love and achieve benefits for himself, he is requested to comply to the jurisprudential laws, the logic of reason, and the social welfare when he attempts to respond to his said nature.
Therefore, when Allah grants someone a benefaction, no one should encroach upon or deprive him of this gift for the one reason of fulfilling his envious lust or in order to take advantage of him. Rather man is expected to follow a reasonable and accepted path to his hopes in life. Allah, the Almighty, said:
“And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things.”
Quran 4: 32
Thus we should do our best and supplicate to Allah to grant us from His eternal treasures, to make our difficult matters easy for us, and to bring us closer to our goals and hopes. Had the envious, who spends his thoughts and feelings in other than their legitimate field, directed them towards the path of his goals and pursuing his wishes, then the rays of happiness shall inevitable light his way.
Many traditions have been narrated to us by the Imams (A.S.) that warn us about this resentful trait (envy) and call us to guard against its dangerous effects. The following narration from Imam Sadiq (A.S.) shall suffice for now. He pointed out two spiritual factors which lie behind envy when he said:
“Envy originates from the blindness of the heart and the refusal of Allah’s blessings (glory be to Him) which are (the two factors) two rings of infidelity. It is with envy that Adam’s son fell victim to the sorrow of eternity and became afflicted with eternal damnation from which he shall never be rescued.”
One of the elements which cause envy is ill-upbringing at home. If the parents love one of their children and bestow him with special love and affection while depriving the others of the same treatment, the children who were left out will establish a sense of humiliation and rebellion. The type of envy from which many people suffer generally originates at home and causes sorrow and misfortune for a large portion of the society. Such an outcome is a natural matter when the basis of rulership is built upon injustice, oppression, racism, sectarianism, nationalism, etc, in any society. The members of this type of society will be overwhelmed by dissension, and the flames of hatred and envy will kindle in their hearts.
The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W ) forbade Muslims from diversion of justice between children to prevent the sins of envy and other sins from polluting their lives. He said:
“Treat your children equally when giving them presents.”
Nahj al-Fasahah p.366
Professor Bertrand Russell quoted the author of the book The Fairchild Family when he wrote the chapter reparding the method of avoiding concealed sins, as saying:
“Lucy was given a small notebook to record any ill thoughts which may enter her heart. Her parents gave a glass to her brother and a cassette tape to her sister at the breakfast table in the morning, without giving Lucy anything. Lucy wrote in her notebook that a bad thought had crossed he mind at the moment. She thought that her parents loved her less than they loved her brother and sister…”
Imam Ali (A.S.) pointed out the harm which envy can cause to the body when he said:
“Amazes me the ignorance of the envious about the soundness of their bodies.”
Ghurar. al-Hikam p. 494
Dr. Frank Haurk also said:
“Protect yourselves and thoughts from the pains of psychological feelings. for they are the satans of the soul which are not satisfied with destroying the system of thought in man but also cause poisoned cells to grow. These feelings cause fatal harm to the body. Such pains slow down the blood circulation, weaken the nervous system, inhibit bodily and spiritual activity, deprive one of reaching his goals and hopes in life. and downgrade man’s level of thinking.
“Man must free his environment of these enemies, for they are fatal. They must be imprisoned in isolation away from human life. Those who do this will discover that their will is strengthened, and will become triumphant over any probable obstacle in life.”
Imam Ali (A.S.) is quoted as saying:
“Envy inhibits the body.”
Ghurar al-Hikam p. 32
He also mentions its psychological harms as:
“Safeguard yourselves against envy for it ridicules the soul.”
Ghurar al-Hikam p. 141
According to a psychologist:
“Intense envy is one of the acute psychological pains which create many pains, unamendable mistakes, oppression and injustice to the soul. Let it be known that many of the envious’ actions are not done by his will but in accordance to the commands of the evil of envy.”
We should not allow lowly hopes and lusts which transform the sweetness of life to bitterness, erect an invisible dam toward noble goals and hope to achieve the highest and most excellent human traits. Such traits that are capable of guiding our thoughts to the right path, will eventually lead man to his noble goals.
Source: YOUTH AND MORALS, By: Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari, TRANSLATED BY: Odeh A. Muhawesh, from http://www.followislam.net/books/youth/08.htm