Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Beware of suspicion, because it is the most deceptive kind of speech. Do not meddle, spy, or compete with each other. Do not envy, hate, or cut each other off. Be, O servants of God, brothers.(Muslim)
The Prophet prescribed these words of advice to guide relationships between people. Envy and suspicion are the seeds of terrible problems between people, and they should be stamped out as soon as they appear in our hearts.
Both lead to discontent and restlessness in the heart, and will inevitably drive a person to advance on to greater sins such as hatred, slander, and dissatisfaction with Allah’s blessings.
We should live among people with the highest spirit of peace. We do not envy what they have and do not dig to uncover their sins for others to see.
Why Envy Is Serious
Envy can translate to discontentment with what Allah has portioned for you from His blessings. It eats up your good deeds like fire burns wood. The envier is constantly watching people out of the corner his eyes, comparing their blessings to his, and eventually resenting them against all reason.
If not controlled, envy leads to deep-rooted hatred that is extremely difficult to remove from the heart once it has locked hold.
When you feel envy awakening inside you, race to extinguish it by thanking God for your blessings, thinking good thoughts about the person, and remembering those who have less than you do.
The True Test
It is easy to be at peace with people in times of happiness. When we have what we want, be it attention, friends, wealth, or other sources of pleasure, we will find it easy to get along with everyone.
However, when tempers flare and personalities clash, then comes the true test of character and the true test of brotherly love that is mentioned above.
The reference to not competing includes competing in marketing and trade because it is hardest to maintain an attitude of peace and fairness when there is a limited amount of financial gain to go around.
Imagine a group of very hungry, tired people standing in line to fill their plates with delicious food. If everyone is assured that they will get their fill or are not really that hungry, it is easy to smile, love each other, and be patient.
But what if there is not enough food for everyone?
That is when tempers will rise, people will push or cut in line, or at least the ones further back in the line will watch with resentment as the hungry early-comers heap their plates with food.
Yet this is the exact moments when the Prophet’s words should come into play and the true test of commitment to brotherly love.
Our Attitude Matters
It is better to have a clear, open heart than to perform great deeds that are lacking in kindness. Our attitudes towards our fellow humans may make a huge difference in how we are judged by God, because character and good will toward others are indicative of humility before God.
When we resent others or look down on them, we should remember that it is God who creates them, who feeds them, who clothes them, and who protects them. He is their Guardian, and hence we should deal with them justly and humbly.
Hatred and belittling others is the fire out of which many social evils, such as class, privilege, and racism, were born. Clean out your mind and heart of all the negative, painful baggage we carry against other people in our lives. Let us not be part of the fire that has burned so many people and ruined so many lives.
Taken, with kind permission, from the authors’ Seeking Peace.