Envy: The Forever Self-Destroying and Self-Blazing Act
Since the first creation of human species, there has been no sin so annihilating, so self-destructing, so resentful to God, and so detrimental to the individual and society like: envy, grudge and rancour, words alternately and synonymously used to more or less convey the same meaning.
All the sufferings and ill fate of mankind stemmed from the first ever envious and grudging act that Satan displayed when, after the creation of the first human being, Adam, he unabashedly rejected God’s command to bow to Adam. The Holy Quran shows that Satan refused to respect Adam due to the unprecedented honour and reverence that God accorded to the human being. More so, due to his deep-rooted envy for mankind, Satan believed that he was superior to Adam; because, as he claimed, Adam was made of clay, whilst he was made of fire, thereby arrogantly believing that fire is better or stronger in its nature than clay.
Because of that Satan’s first ever committed sin, and because of the unwitting challenge that he disobediently put up with God, he was eternally removed from the fold of angels, and, as a consequence, forfeited the enormous rewards of all the thousands of years he had spent worshipping God, the Almighty. What a big loss!
Thinking that his rejection of his Creator’s command was not good enough, Satan went further to put up another more fierce challenge that he would use all his God-given might to mislead mankind and the devils into disobeying the commands of God, except those God-chosen slaves, as he admitted.
To continue displaying his grudge for mankind, Satan cajoled Adam and Hawwa ( Eve) to disobey Allah’s warning against eating the fruits of the tree in an aim to evict them out of the endless bounties and the cool life they were enjoying in the Paradise. Hence, after committing the first human sin, which was eating the forbidden fruits, the Almighty ordered Adam and Hawwa to land on earth which, according to Him, would be their new settlement and the worldly abode of their offspring and offspring of their offspring until the world comes to an end.
Undoubtedly, it was because of that singular act of hatred that Satan demonstrated to Adam when he refused to bow to him as God had commandeered him to do ; and because of his pursuit of the same hatred that he displayed against Adam and Hawwa in the Paradise when he lured them to eat the forbidden fruits, mankind has been suffering from untold enmities, atrocities, betrayals, treacheries, agonies and woes since the moment Satan hated Adam for the honour and superiority accorded to him (Adam) and his offspring by the Almighty.
The cause of the first human murder crime was also due to envy when Cain envied Abel for the Almighty’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice. In the history of mankind, Cain was the first murderer who killed his brother in cold blood owing to jealousy and envy. Immediately after killing his brother, he had a bite of the conscience as a result of the lethal crime he perpetrated against his brother; a crime that he would eternally regret to have committed.
The above two historic malevolent and resentful acts have been recurring in the human history on various scales amongst people and nations. Wars have erupted due simply to personal grudge among leaders or nations; brothers have ostracized one another; friends deemed to be close have betrayed each other, and compatriots have pulled one another down by the Pull Him Down Syndrome (PHD); the list would go on and on, and it is all due to that cancerous disease called grudge and envy. Sadly, grudge is basically caused by the gross lack of self-satisfaction and contentedness with what one has at hand. As the old adage goes, “A bird in the hand is worth ten in the tree”.
When people fail to appreciate what they have been endowed with and start eying at what others have, that is definitely when anarchy starts to bite the inner part of the hateful beings, which oftentimes culminates into forbidden acts of undermining, plotting, smearing, petty jealousies, character assassination and betrayals; and it sometimes results into horrendous crimes and atrocities.
Envy takes a number of forms to harm the very individual who practices it. The resentful and envious minded person is the worst enemy to himself, because he inwardly annihilates himself by fruitlessly fuming at the bounties someone else has been endowed with. Many a time such envious-minded people land themselves into profound trenches of self-torturing and inwardly self-blazing, for they despise people for what they have and wish that they get stripped of whatever bounties they have been provided with by the Almighty. This is the sort of envy which is totally resented and forbidden by God.
The only kind of envy allowed is when one admires someone for a talent (education, riches or power etc.) and wishes to enjoy the same talent so that he would utilize it in a positive manner, without wishing its removal from the individual that he admires. That is the only kind of envy that is acceptable.
However, what is often observed and practiced in the human communities is that people get into the practice of not only tarnishing the image of whoever possesses certain qualities that they do not have, but they would rather tirelessly endeavor to ensure that such an individual is by all means eliminated from their midst. To achieve this end, they would devise various vicious schemes, popular among which is the common PHD Syndrome. PHD here is not that most coveted educational height; rather, it is the inhumane and destructive practice of bringing down people of high caliber on their knees so that they would cease to enjoy the admiration and respect of member of their communities. Ironically, envied people are oftentimes the most progressive, the most educated, the most result-oriented, the wealthiest, and the MOST in almost all walks of life. Sadly, these are the sort of people who are not wanted by the vicious and resentful individuals of the society. What a shame and irony!!
However, what is most exhilarating and most relieving is the fact many a time people infected with the cancerous disease of envy and grudge end up dishonourably failing in their devilish mission and end up getting themselves engulfed in shame, for they are the worst enemies of Almighty God. They incur the wrath of God because they try to undo what He has done; and who are they to challenge God? What such ungodly people should know is that Allah dispenses His divine bounties and grace as He so wishes. Hence, no one should have the audacity to object to or question His destiny. He unquestionably does what He wills at His absolute discretion. He ordains certain people to be at the sublime, some people in the middle, and others at the bottom of the ladder. However, what many fail to realize is that Allah has provided every individual with a certain gift in his own right. But the worst sin often committed by people is their gross failure to appreciate what they have been provided with. Instead, they grudgingly stare at what others of higher heights have acquired. By so doing, they become the most ungrateful creatures of God’s creation, thereby making themselves liable to Allah’s wrath and condemnation because of their unwarranted and unjustified challenge of His authorities.
The above vicious practice is more or less the norm in almost every society. Nevertheless, the practice is more prevalent and rampant in our black communities. It is not farfetched to conclude that envy has invariably been one of the most malignant and most regressive causes of our backwardness and miseries in Africa.
Daydreaming, as opposed to hard work and realism, is what many Africans are extremely good at. They wish to live in castles enjoying life at the highest level, but without working hard for it; they want to attain heights without struggling; their sole wish is to have all their dreams and wants presented to them in a silver plate. This is often the true nature of Africans, and that is why we painfully find ourselves at the end tail of every progressive or developmental step.
Now what ironically and sadly takes place in black communities is that those Africans amongst us who strive so diligently to attain heights and become a face-lift for their fellow Africans oftentimes become the obvious targets of grudge and vice by those who blindly regard themselves as being dwarfed by their brethren who are in the limelight. Now whenever such a situation arises, people, instead of supporting their successful brothers in concerted efforts, individually or collectively put hands on deck to ensure the destruction or failure of such progressive compatriots. Needless to say, the African history, modern and ancient, is full of such awful stories where heroes were plotted against and got eliminated, in one way or another, by their own very people. It is like grudge is engraved in our psyches to the extent that it is totally against our nature to accept our talented, progressive and successful fellow citizens simply because we feel worthless in their presence, woefully failing to realize that, by the divine ruling, we have our individual differences and capabilities. For instance, look at the mighty ship transporting tons of goods from one country to another, from continent to continent. However, you will be totally baffled to realize that the ship, with all its might, cannot do the job of the needle. That shows the various or, sometimes, the enormous differences that we do have. These differences can either be absolutely God given or acquired by the individual’s selfless efforts. At any rate, these variations in our characters should not be a cause for us to grudge and crucify one another for no justifiable reason. No doubt, we would be better off if we accepted each other for what we are and how we are, for we must realize that the divine hands are in the making and molding of every one of us.
By so saying, I am not precluding that white societies are completely devoid of envy. Rather, they have learned to use their fellow brothers’ successes in a positive way. Instead of a white man thinking of destroying a fellow white man because of their progress, they use them to shepherd or propel them to the greatness that the latter has achieved. This way, the white society is in the upward bound, while Africans with their pattern of destructive envy propel the African society downwards. Destructive envy existed in European societies during the Shakespearean days. Examples of this could be seen in Plays like Julius Caesar and Coriolanus. Nevertheless, that was then; as civilization has taught them that learning from someone‘s achievement is better than annihilating him.
Can we Africans, therefore, imbibe and practice or even emulate the white man’s noble practice, as far as avoiding envious practice is concerned? Islam provides us with the noblest practice as far as loving good for one another is concerned. Our black societies would absolutely be better off when we cease to hate an individual for a height that he/she has attained, and rather emulate, or even support him/her so that, at the end of the day, we might even be able to reach a higher height than that of the individual we have emulated. A food for thought! Can we see the sense that it makes so that we can become better humans, as Allah the Almighty wants us to be?!!!
By Ibrahim Sillah, Saudi Arabia
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