Severe Warning to the students of knowledge (Shaykh Uthaymeen)
In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen stated whilst addressing some of the mistake committed by some of the students of knowledge:
From them (i.e. those mistakes) is envy, and it is to harbour hatred for that which Allaah has bestowed upon another person. It is not merely wishing that Allaah’s blessings (bestowed) upon another person should cease, rather it is merely hating that which Allaah has bestowed upon others. This is envy regardless whether one wishes that (the blessing) should cease to exist or whether it should remain but still hating it, as Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said: ”Envy is a person’s hatred of what Allaah has bestowed upon other than him.”
The souls are not free from envy, rather it may be something imposed and that is why it has been transmitted in a hadeeth: ”If you become envious do not transgress and if you presume something do not ascertain it.” [Note this hadeeth was declared weak by Imaam Albaanee in Daeef Al-Jaami 2527. Also see Kitaab al-Ilm of Shaikh Uthaymeen in which he has mentioned other versions of the hadeeth and their sources].
This means that if a person finds envy in his heart for another person, then it is obligatory upon him not to oppress (him) through speech or action, because that is from the traits of the Yahood about whom Allaah has stated:
[أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ النَّاسَ عَلَى مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ فَقَدْ آتَيْنَا آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَآتَيْنَاهُمْ مُلْكًا عَظِيمًا]
”Or do they envy men (Muhammad and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty? Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah – Divine Inspiration to those Prophets not written in the form of a book), and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” [Soorah An-Nisaa: Ayah: 54]
The envious one falls into the (following) perils:
First Peril: Harbouring hatred for that which Allaah has decreed; because harbouring hatred towards what Allaah has bestowed upon a person is (deemed to be) hatred for that which Allaah has decreed universally, and it is an opposition to what Allaah has pre-decreed.
Second Peril: Envy eats away good deeds just as fire eats away fire wood; because in most cases the envious one transgresses upon the one who is envied by uttering speech that is hateful to the (envied person), making the people turn away from him, lowering his status and other (actions) similar to that. This (action of the envious one) is from the major sins by way of which good deeds are lost.
The Third Peril: It is that which resides in the heart of the envious one of pain, contempt and extreme negative sentiment which completely overcomes him. So whenever he sees a blessing of Allaah (bestowed) upon the one envied, he becomes disheartened and his heart is constricted. So he attentively observes this (envied) person and whenever Allaah bestows His blessings upon him, he becomes grieved, disheartened and the worldly life becomes distressful for him.
The Fourth Peril: In envy there is a resemblance to the Yahood; it is well known that the one who possesses a characteristic from the characteristics of the disbelievers becomes (similar) to them in that characteristic, and this is due to the statement of the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam): ”Whoever imitates a people is from them.’’ (i.e. in relation to that trait he shares with them)
The Fifth Peril: Regardless of what his envy is and its severity, he will never be able to remove the blessings of Allaah bestowed upon another person. And if it is the case that this is not possible, then why should envy enter into his heart.
The Sixth Peril: Indeed envy negates perfection of Eemaan due to the statement of the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam): ‘’None of you will truly believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’’ and this necessitates that you you hate that Allaah’s blessings should reach your brother. And if it is the case that you do not hate that Allaah’s blessings should reach you, whilst you do not love for your brother what you love for yourself, then this negates perfection of Eemaan.
The Seventh Peril: Envy causes a slave to turn away from asking Allaah for His Favours. So you always find him concerning himself with the blessings that Allaah has bestowed on other than him and he does not ask Allaah for His Favours. Indeed, Allaah (The Most High) said:
وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ
”And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty.’’ [Soorah An-Nisaa: Ayah:32]
The Eighth Peril: Indeed envy necessitates that the (envious person) is one who shows disrespect to the blessings Allaah has bestowed upon him—and that is because he considers himself as one who is not in a state of blessing and that the one envied is in a state of greater blessings; so in that case he belittles the blessing Allaah has bestowed upon him and does not give thanks; rather he remains aloof.
The Ninth Peril: Envy is a blameworthy characteristic; because an envious (person) living in a society pursues the blessings Allaah has bestowed upon His creation, and he attempts as much as he can to corrupt the (relationship) between the envied one and the people by lowering his status at times, and sometimes showing contempt for that which he carries out of good and other than that.
The Tenth Peril: In most cases when the envious one envies, he transgresses upon the envied one; so in such a case the envied one takes away from his good deeds. And unless he (i.e. the envious one) has some remaining good deeds, he is given from the evil deeds of the envied one and thereafter flung into the hell fire.
To conclude: Envy is a blameworthy characteristic and unfortunately it is found a lot amongst the scholars and the students of knowledge, and it is (also) found between the traders. They envy one another and everyone with an occupation envies the one who shares the same occupation; but unfortunately it is more severe amongst the scholars and the students of knowledge despite the fact that it is more incumbent and appropriate upon the people of knowledge that they are to be the ones more distant from envy and the people closest to perfection in good manners.
So O my brother! If you see that Allaah has bestowed a blessing upon a slave, then hasten to be like him and do not hate the one upon whom (Allaah) has bestowed His blessings, but say: ”O Allaah! Increase your favours upon him and give me something better than it.” Indeed envy cannot change anything in a situation, but as we have mentioned it contains these ten perils and affairs of corruption. And it may be that the one who ponders will find more than these (ten affairs) and Allaah’s aid is sought.
[Source: Kitaab Al-Ilm: page 55: Paraphrased and Abridged]