We have discussed magic, and before we, finish the discussion we must also speak about envy. That is because envy, like magic, is one of the hidden forces in existence. If it had not been that Allah Almighty has mentioned envy to us in the Noble Qur’an, we would know nothing about it. It is hidden from us in all its forms.
Envy is wishing for a blessing to be removed from someone without the envier benefiting from it. You might hope that a bless-ing will leave someone so that you can have it or act to remove a blessing from a man so that you can have it for yourself. But that is not truly speaking envy. Envy is to wish a blessing to leave someone without the envier gaining any benefit at all.
Envy is a fact and a reality whose existence is confirmed by the fact that it is mentioned in the Noble Qur’an. It is one of the evil forces of the Unseen which can harm man. That is why Allah Almighty asks us to seek refuge with Him from it, saying:
“And from the evil of the envier when he envies.” (113:5)
We cannot see envy but the fact that something is so small that it cannot be seen by the eye does not mean its effect is any the less. In fact its effect may be all the greater. The smallest germs, for instance, are the’ ones which have the most severe effect on the body. They are the strongest in resisting treatment. As science pro-gresses and we are able to enlarge things hundreds of thousands of times or millions of times, we discover germs and very small things whose effect is very severe. So the fact that we cannot see
envy does not necessarily mean that it has no effect or that its effect is weak.
To make this easier to grasp, we say that as science advances, many types of rays have been discovered. They include laser beams which were discovered recently. These laser beams have many practical uses. They are among the most precise means of measurement. They are used in delicate surgical operations. Operations can take place using laser beams without the need of any scalpel and without shedding a single drop of blood. These beams penetrate the finest and hardest things. Modern medicine has now begun to rely on laser beams in many areas. Yet can the sick person see what he is being treated with or does the one who carries out the operation see the laser beams? No, but their effect on the body is greater than that of a scalpel.
So why should you suppose that the eye of the envier does not emit rays more deadly than laser beams? They enter your body and do things in it while you are not aware of it. The concept of laser beams makes it easier for us to grasp what is said about the eye of the envier. They give us a picture of a sensory event. It approxi-mates for us a form of the unseen which is neither sensed nor per-ceived.
Do you not find that when a man is angry, we say that his eyes are blazing or giving off sparks, or that he is looking daggers and other similar expressions? Where did these metaphors come from? Are there real sparks or any actual daggers we can see in his eye? Is there not a sensation which we are aware of, even if we do not see anything physical in front of us which leads to it? No one has actual sparks coming out of his eye nor do any real daggers issue from his eye. But this feeling we express indicates that we fully sense the effect of something non-physical -just as a sick person senses the effect of the laser rays, but does not see them.
Envy is Real
It is established from the Noble Qur’an that envy is real and that it inflicts evil on man. We do not see anything physical. As we
said, the smaller a thing is, the greater its severity sometimes is. The severity is not connected to the size. It is connected to the depth of the effectiveness and its power. Envy and magic are both among the evils which cannot seen, but which are on a par with visible evils. The harmful rays only come from the envier in states of malice and envy.
Allah Almighty says:
“And from the evil of the envier when he envies.” (113:5)
From this we know that man can be injured by envy and that envy is an evil from which we must seek refuge with Allah. Everybody has spiteful, grudging impulses and, when they are pro-voked, envy occurs. Allah -glory be to Him and may He be exalt-ed! – as a mercy to us, commanded us to seek refuge from hidden evils like malice and envy.
When our belief in Allah is strong, we turn to Him and seek refuge with Him and He protects us from the evil of all ofthis. But those who perpetuate these. things do not seek refuge with Allah. When harm befalls such a person, he tries to seek refuge in mortal powers; When a man is afflicted by the harm of magic, he goes from one magician to another magician to another magician, attempting to nullify the effect of magic. If he had turned to Allah with a sincere heart, the action of the magic would have been nul-lified immediately.
It is the same with envy. People try to seek refuge in talismans or amulets or other things, like seeking the help of green pearls . These talismans neither harm or help nor do they remove envy or nullify magic. This is a type of shirk against which we caution people because all power to act in existence belongs to Allah Almighty alone. No one exists who does all that be wills, except Allah Almighty. When we seek refuge with other than Allah, we seek protection or the removal of harm or whatever through that thing and that is a type of shirk.
Allah Almighty commands us in His Mighty Book to seek refuge with Him alone from all these things. He says:
evil of what He has created, from the evil of the darkness when it gathers, from the evil of the women who blow on knots, from the evil of an envier when he envies.” (113:1-5)
And the Almighty also says:
“Say: ‘I seek refuge with the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men from the evil of the slinking whisper-er who whispers in the breasts of men, of jinn and men.” (114:1-6)
Allah Almighty commanded His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by using the word, “Say”. When we read this ayat, we say what the Messenger of Allah said.
We must note that in Surat al-Falaq we are turning to Allah and seeking His help in matters in which our will plays no part and in respect of which we cannot repel harm from ourselves.
In Surat an-Nas we turn to Allah Almighty and seek refuge with Him in matters in which our will does play a role, but confronting of which we fear we will be weak.
Seeking Refuge with Allah
Allah – glory be to Him and may He be exalted! – says,
“Say: ‘I seek refuge with the Lord of Daybreak.”
“Daybreak” signifies morning or the light which comes to obliterate the darkness. So it is as if we were seeking refuge with the Light of Allah Almighty to drive away the darkness of evil and falsehood from ourselves and to illuminate the Path of Truth.
Seeking refuge here is turning to Allah Almighty from every-thing which alarms man and threatens his security and safety and which man cannot confront with his own power. That is why he seeks refuge with the One who has the power to repel evil.
So Allah Almighty tells us to seek refuge with Him. When we do that, we are following the Path of Allah, The Path is light and guidance for man in his life. “Daybreak” is that light which drives away the darkness.
Allah -glory be to Him and may He be exalt-ed! – is the Light of the heavens and the earth. He is the one who brings light into our hearts to guide us to belief and certainty. He is the One who brings light into all His existence to guide us on our way.
Allah -glory be to Him and may He be exalted! – says, “from the evil of what He created.” Here we must pause. Allah did not create evil in relation to man, but rather He created that which ben-efits our life, and man himself chooses that which brings evil into existence and brings disobedience into existence and brings into being what corrupts existence.
Allah gives us an example of the meaning of evil in the Noble Qur’an in His words:
“And from the fruit of the date-palm and the grape-vine you take both an intoxicant and wholesome provision. In that there is certainly a sign for people who use their understanding.” (16:67)
The noble ayat shows us that Allah Almighty created dates and grapes so that we can eat them, but we have transformed them from being wholesome provision into evil since from them we have made wine. When we look around us we find that evil springs from man’s bad usage of things, and not from the things in themselves. For instance, we have many benefits and uses in knives, but we can change this to evil by killing people with them.
Our tongues enable us to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and to read the Qur’an, but we can change this to evil by using our tongues to speak words of disbelief. We seek refuge with Allah! And we can use them to bar people from the path of Allah and to give false testimony and other things. The hands have innumerable beneficial uses, but we can tum them to evil by using it for murder, injury and committing unlawful actions.
Thus evil comes from people’s evil utilisation of that which Allah Almighty created for their benefit. So we know the meaning of the noble verse, ”from the evil what He created.” He continues by saying, ”from the evil of darkness when it gathers,” Part of the evil of the darkness of the night is “when it gathers.” This means when its darkness begins. On account of its darkness, night renders us powerless to defend ourselves because we cannot see in the dark what is plotted against us. An enemy may conceal himself in the darkness and kill us. We might step on a snake or a harmful insect which we do not see in the dark and so it injures us. Night is stillness, rest and sleep. When a man sleeps, he is powerless to defend himself. That is why he needs someone to protect him and guard him. This is why guards are increased at night. The police are told to stay awake to keep the peace. In the day a man can pro-tect himself. But at night, he needs someone to stay awake to pro-tect him.
“The Women who Blow on Knots”
His words, “women who blow on knots,” means from the evil of the devices of magicians. “Women who blow on knots” means magicians in general. It is said that some of the magicians used to make knots and then blow on them and the magic would thereby afflict people.
His words, ”from the envier when he envies,” refer to the evil of that hidden force which inflicts harm on man and which fills hearts with malice. The envier with malice can do anything ruinous thing, like burning the house of the one for whom he feels malice and envy, or injuring him or his property or his children. There is nothing like malice and envy to destroy and harm.
Envy is incompatible with belief because it entails lack of contentment with the decree of Allah and lack of contentment with what Allah has allotted you and lack of contentment with the decrees of Allah in general. Allah – glory be to Him and may He be exalted! – has distributed blessings to people with justice, but unfortunately we only notice the blessing of wealth and we over-look
everything else, even though there are blessings many times more important than the blessing of wealth.
The blessing of health, for instance, is one of the greatest of Allah’s blessings to His slaves. There is no use in all the wealth in the world if you are ill and powerless on your bed, unable to move. Around you are all blessings, but you cannot enjoy them. What is the use of wealth if Allah deprives you of the blessing of sight and you cannot see any of this splendid existence nor take a single step without someone helping you? When people leave you by your-self, you bump into things which injure you.
What is the use of wealth if you are not given the blessing of hearing and you become unable to understand what is around you, powerless to speak and to learn and advance in life? What is the use of wealth if you lose the benefit of understanding and, you become mad or afflicted with mental ‘illness? Your life becomes a hell however much wealth you possess. What is the use of wealth when you are afflicted by the disasters of life and all your children die and everyone hates you so that you cannot live in safety?
Do you not see rulers and kings whose people overthrow them going off seeking asylum to save themselves from being killed? Most of the world’s nations refuse to grant them the right of asy-tum and the earth becomes constricted for them after having been vast and, they live abject in exile or in constant fear. They cannot sleep at night for fear that one of their enemies will overpower them. Wealth can be also be a curse leading to corruption, drug addiction, and other depravities.
Envy for Blessings
We should not envy people their wealth, for Allah can bless us in such a way that a little wealth becomes enough for us. He may bless-us, in our children so that they are a delight to us while the children of the rich may be a punishment and source of exaspera-tion for them. Allah may give us a peaceful calm life while He gives the wealthy a life of constant irritation.
In any case, envy “is lack of contentment with the decree and power of Allah. We are asked to be content with Allah’s decree and to praise Allah for all that He brings about for us. Allah – glory be to Him and may He be exalted! -calls our attention to the fact that we should not be sorry for anything that passes us by because that thing might contain an evil which Allah has kept far from us. We should not exult in what comes to us because the thing which which comes to us and which we exult in may be bad for us. That is in conformity with the words of Allah Almighty:
“Nothing happens, either in the earth or in yourselves, but that it is in a Book before We bring it into being. That is an easy matter for Allah. [He says this] that you may not be grieved about the things that pass you by nor exult in the things that come to you. Allah does not love any” vain or boastful man.” (57:22-23)
When man is content with the decree of Allah, Allah blesses him both in His deen and in his worldly affairs.
This brings us to the end of this book. We know that although magic and envy are among the hidden forces of existence they are forces whose existence is very real and about which Allah Almighty has told us. In His Noble Qur’an, Allah has told us all we need to know about the evil of these two forces. He asks us to seek refuge with Him from both of them. Whoever recites the two Suras of refuge, which are Surat al-Falaq and Surat an-Nas, every night, Allah will protect him and guard him.
Similarly, the Ayat al-Kursi (2:255) is protection for all who recite it against every evil. We should know that we must turn to Allah Almighty because He alone has the power to protect us and guard us. We pray to Allah Almighty to protect us from evil in this world and the Next World and to give us success and bless us in our deen and in this world. He hears and answers our prayers.