Green Grass On Our Side Is Green

Troubles in life come when we believe the myth that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. We are taken over by envy, believing that other people have the good stuff and then feeling depressed, anxious, and persecuted by the belief that we have so little. We are taken over by greed, wanting more and more and more, feeling that what we have cannot ever be enough. 

The reason why this attitude undermines mental health is that it leads us to turn away from the main task of life which is to make the most of what we have. By denying the goodness of our very own lives, we believe that we have nothing good to work with nor the capacity to work with it. We lose focus, self-confidence, and hope.

Psychoanalysts spend a lot of time trying to help their patients re-orient themselves to dealing with the life that they have. At first, this can feel very deflating. We must bust the myth that we can have someone else's life, someone else's castle, someone else's lawn. 

No, we only have our own. But that is the pivotal spot. If we can accept reality for what it is, we have the chance to develop it, to improve it, and to grow it. 

Robert Fulghum, author of that classic book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" put it this way: "The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you are." 

Copyright 2011 Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D.

In Islam, the Prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, also warned us against envy and its serious consequences saying: “Beware of envy, because it devours good deeds just like a fire consumes wood, or he said: Al-‘Ushb (grass).” [Reported by Abu Dâwûd]

«إيَّاكْم والحسدَ، فإنَّ الحسدَ يأكُلُ الحسناتِ كَما تأكُلُ النَّارُ الحطبَ أو قال: العُشب» رواه ابو داود

In order to make the Muslim society preserve and maintain its purity and beauty, the Messenger, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, prohibited anything that can destroy such state saying: “Do not hate one another, do not envy one another, do not turn away from one another and do not cut ties with one another. Be, O slaves of Allâh, brothers. It is not permissible for a Muslim to forsake his brother for more than three days.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
Reality of Hasad and its ruling

Hasad means feeling too sad for the blessings in which the people live in. So when Allâh the Almighty bestow a blessing upon one’s brother, one will have one of the following two attitudes:

First: One may hate such blessing and wishing it to be taken away from such person. This kind is called Hasad (destructive envy)

Second: One may not wish it (such blessing) to be taken away but wish for himself a blessing like that which the other person has. This is called Ghibtah and it may be called competition.

As for the first category, it is prohibited in all cases except in the case of a blessing of non-Muslim who used it to cause troubles and harm to the people, then there will be no blame on one to hate it or wish it to be taken away from him for one does not love it to be taken away because it is a blessing but because it is a cause for corruption and mischief. Were one felt safe from his corruption, he would not have made him feel sad of his blessing.

The prohibition of such form of Hasad (destructive envy) can be proved by the texts that we have mentioned before. Furthermore, envy is prohibited for it is a kind of defying and objecting the Decrees of Allâh and His preference of some of His slave over others.

Accordingly, there is no excuse nor permission in such kind for there is no sin which is more grave or wicked than loving harm to one’s fellow Muslims while they do not cause him any harm. The Noble Qur`an has pointed out such fact in the verse in which Allâh the Almighty says: {If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it.} [Surat Al-‘Imrân 3: 120]

{إِنْ تَمْسَسْكُمْ حَسَنَةٌ تَسُؤْهُمْ وَإِنْ تُصِبْكُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَفْرَحُوا بِهَا} آل عمران: 120

Transliteration: In tamsaskum hasanatun tasu`hum wa-in tusibkum sayyi`atun yafrahoo biha.

Such happiness is a kind of gloating over another's grief and misfortune and there is a correlative relation between destructive envy and expressing satisfaction at another’s misfortune.

Amongst the bad repercussions of anger are hatred and envy. If the angry person represses his anger for he is not able to take revenge directly, his anger will reverse back inward him and turn into hatred and destructive envy. Then it will be deeply rooted in his heart. That is exactly what hatred means. It will result in wishing that his blessings be taken away from him (the envied) and transferred to himself (envier) so that he may enjoy them. It also makes one feel satisfaction at the other misfortune, gloat over his grief, abandon him, refuse to deal with him if he comes to you, speak ill of him, scorn and disdain him, and deny him his rights such as maintaining kinship ties with him or restore him his rights. All of such things are grave sins which are strongly forbidden. The least degree of hatred is to avoid such malicious diseases that undermine religion.

It was said:

They envied the young man for they do like him, so they became his enemies
As the co-wives claim that she (one of them) has an ugly face, from envy and hatred.

Pillars of disbelief

Disbelief has four pillars: arrogance, destructive envy, anger and desire.
Arrogance prevents from following right, destructive envy prevents from accepting advice and giving it, anger prevents from being just, and desire prevents from busying oneself in worship.

So whenever the pillar of arrogance is destroyed, it will be easy for one to follow the right, whenever the pillar of destructive envy is destroyed, then it will be easy for one to accept advice and give it, whenever the pillar of anger is destroyed, then it will be easy for one to be just and humble, and whenever the pillar of desire is destroyed, then it will be easy for one to have patience, and chastity, and busy himself in worship.

All of such four pillars are brought about one’s ignorance with his Lord and himself. If he really knows well his Lord, His attributes of perfection and characteristics of majesty, and realizes his apparent defects and shortcomings, he will never feel arrogant, angry, or wishing the blessings of Allâh the Almighty on any one to be taken away.

Destructive envy, in fact, is a kind of animosity toward Allâh the Almighty for the envious person hate seeing the blessings of Allâh the Almighty on His slaves although Allâh the Almighty loves that. Also, he (i.e. the envious) loves them to be taken away although Allâh the Almighty hate that. So the envious person objects to the Decrees and the Preordainments of Allâh the Almighty and what Allâh the Almighty loves and hates. Therefore, Iblees (Satan) was His real enemy for his sin resulted from arrogance and envy. So strive hard to get rid of such two wicked traits through knowing Allâh the Almighty well, worshiping Him alone, feeling sufficient and satisfied with Him, and returning to Him with repentance.

Some wise people said:

The envious fought against his Lord by five ways:

1. He hated every blessing appeared on anyone other than him.

2. He objected to the Decrees of his Lord as if he is saying: Why did You give so and so such grace?

3. He wanted to withhold the graces of Allâh the Almighty i.e. that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He wills and such (wicked) person wants to withhold it.

4. He disappointed the close friends of Allâh the Almighty for he wants them to be disappointed and wishes their blessings to be taken away from them.

5. He helped his sworn enemy upon himself i.e. Iblees, may the curse of Allâh be upon him.

It was said: The envious takes nothing in gatherings except blame and humiliation, receives nothing from the angels except their curse and hatred, feels nothing in seclusion but worry and grief, receives nothing on deathbed but difficulty and horror, receives nothing on the Day of Resurrection except scandal and torture, receives nothing on the Hellfire except heat and burning.

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