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I Sense Envy From My Friend: What Do I Do?

23 December, 2016
Q I know there is a hadith about types of halal jealousy. Like you can be jealous of people who are rich and give a lot of money in charity and you can be jealous of people who are smart and have lots of religious knowledge, or something like that. But I have a friend who keeps telling me she is “halal jealous” of me for things that are not included in those categories of halal jealousy. They are not even things that people would normally be even “haram jealous” of. For example, I had to travel to a city to take care of some family business that was really hard for me, and my friend said she was halal jealous of that. I told her that this makes me uncomfortable, but anything I tell her about my life, she keeps saying she is “halal jealous of”. It is really strange. It makes me uncomfortable and kinda mad that she would turn something hard for me into something to be jealous of. I worry that she is giving me the evil eye. So, I guess my question has two parts: is there such a thing as halal jealousy outside of these two categories mentioned in the sunnah? And how do I deal with my friend who is making everything I do into something to be jealous of?


Asalamu Alikaum sister Hanan,

Thank you for your question.

First, let me say a few words about the hadith you referred to in your question that mentions the issue of envy.

`Abdullah ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him-PBUH) said:

There is no envy except in two cases: a man whom Allah has given this Book so he stands to recite it during the day and night, and a man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it during the day and night. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The word “envy” does not carry the real meaning of the word used in this hadith. It is a kind of rhetorical language. The real meaning is admiration, i.e. you admire these two kinds of people who are blessed with knowledge of the Quran and have been given wealth.

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Islam teaches that a Muslim loves for his brother what he loves for himself and hates for his brother what he hates for himself.

If you have something that your friend does not have and she loves you sincerely, she must wish that she has what you have. This is called ghibtah (envy that is free from malice).

If your friend wishes that the blessings you have be taken away from you, this is called hasad (destructive jealousy). This kind of envy is prohibited, and it is considered an abhorrent act.

The Prophet (PBUH) has warned us against these diseases of the heart. He is reported to have said:

Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the falsest of speech. And do not look for others’ faults and do not spy on one another, do not envy one another; do not forsake one another; do not hate one another. O slaves of Allah! Be brothers. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

Beware of envy, for it consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood or grass. (Abu Dawud)

Not envying people and wishing that the things they have would be taken away is one of the reasons for admitting one to Paradise.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and he said, “Coming upon you now is a man from the people of Paradise.” A man from the Ansar came whose beard was disheveled by the water of ablution, and he was carrying both of his shoes with his left hand.

The next day the Prophet repeated the same words, and the man came in the same condition.

The third day the Prophet repeated the same again, and the man came in the same condition. When the Prophet stood up to leave, `Abdullah ibn `Amr followed the man and he said, “I am in a dispute with my father and I have sworn not to enter my home for three days. May I stay with you?” The man said, yes.

`Abdullah stayed three nights with the man but he never saw him praying at night. Whenever he went to bed, he would remember Allah and rest until he woke up for morning prayer.

`Abdullah said that he never heard anything but good words from his mouth. When three nights had passed and he did not see anything special about his actions,

`Abdullah asked him, “O servant of Allah, I have not been in dispute with my father nor have I cut relations with him. I heard the Prophet say three times that a man from the people of Paradise was coming to us, and then you came.

 I thought I should stay with you to see what you are doing that I should follow, but I did not see you do anything special. Why did the Prophet speak highly of you?”

 The man said, “I am as you have seen.” When `Abdullah was about to leave, the man said, “I am as you have seen, except that I do not find dishonesty in my soul towards the Muslims, and I do not envy anyone because of the good that Allah has given them.”

`Abdullah said, “This is what you have achieved and it is something we have not accomplished.” (Ahmad)

What has been mentioned above makes it clear that your friend has to stop focusing on your affairs. She has to remember the number of blessings that Allah has bestowed on her, and thank Allah for that.

Your friend should remember that there is wisdom in whatever Allah decrees for us. She has to accept what Allah has decreased for her and not interfere in your affairs.

Your friend should keep in mind that what others go through might be a test from Allah. If she goes through this test, she may not choose to be in your situation.   

From your part, you should not tell your friend about the details of your life. Keep something for yourself. Set boundaries for your relationship. Decide on what to tell and what not to tell. 

You have to protect yourself from your friend if you feel that she is feeling jealous of you. Your best protection is making dua that your friend’s heart is purified, and that she will not harm you by her envy.

Never let jealousy or envy kill your friendship or negatively impact it. You have to open a dialogue with your friend.

Help her understand that you feel her jealously, that it is a passing feeling, and you will remain there to help her. Remind your friend that nobody has it all.

Tell her that everyone experiences problems and trials and this is what makes us all human. Tell your friend to focus on the goodness in her personal life and ask her to be grateful to Allah for that.

We pray to Allah the Almighty to ease the tension between you and your friend and protect you from the evil eye of people. Always recite the two chapters of the Quran (Al-Mu`awwidhatayn).

I hope this answers your query. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

4 Ways to Break Free from Envy

What Do You Do If You Sense Jealousy/Envy From Someone?

Watch Out! These Pitfalls Destroy Brotherhood Relationships

Six Actions to Take against the Evil Eye

The Evil Eye On Social Media