It seems that hasad is inclusive of a number of cases, some being worse in degree than others. It includes the case where a person dislikes that Allah should bestow a bounty upon somebody else, even if he himself has more of that same bounty. For example, Allah may have blessed a certain individual with a large amount of knowledge yet, at the same time, he hates it when Allah bestows any amount of knowledge upon others. This is hasad. It is not necessary that the person wishes that the bounty be removed from the other person or that he himself receives that bounty. It is sufficient to constitute hasad that he hates that the other person has even received the blessing in the first place
A Sign That One has the Disease of Hasad
According to ibn Uthaimeen, one of the strong signs that a person is inflicted with the disease of hasad is that he always tries to conceal the virtues and goodness of others. He does not like it when others talk about the good that a person has done. He remains silent and pretends like he does not know of the good that the other one has done. A true believer who is free of hasad likes it when good things are said about others and when the good deeds of others are appreciated and spoken about. He, himself, when he speaks about others always speaks about their good aspects and the wonderful bounties that Allah has bestowed on them. He has no envy in his heart for what Allah has bestowed upon the others and, therefore, he spreads that good news to others.This sign that ibn Uthaimeen has explicitly mentioned should be considered a type of subtle sign that people may not notice in themselves. They must take note of this sign and repel it as quickly as possible as it is a stepping stone to the greater forms of hasad.
The Different Categories of People with Respect to Hasad
With respect to that feeling of hasad, people can be divided into the following categories: (1) There are some people who actively work to remove that bounty from the other person, without necessarily destroying the bounty itself. By their speech and their actions they will wrongly do whatever they can to bring an end to the other person’s blessing from Allah.
(2) There are others who do not just seek to remove that bounty from the other person, but they also work to get the bounty for themselves.
(3) The worst are those who simply wish to destroy the bounty, regardless of whether they themselves get it or if it is simply destroyed. They only want to destroy that blessing because it was not given to them in the first place.
( 4) There are those who cannot remove the feeling of envy from their souls. They cannot control it but they do not like it and wish they could remove it. Those people, Allah willing, are not sinful for their state that they cannot control. According to ibn al-Qayyim, the evil of hasad comes about when the person acts upon his hasad, even if just in his heart. This is why Allah guides the Muslims not to simply seek refuge of the envious one, but to seek refuge of the envious one when he is being envious. Allah says,
“And from the evil of an envier when he envies.”(al-Falaq 5).
( 5) There are also those who, although they do not act upon their hasad, willingly have thoughts of envy, are pleased with them and continue to think in such a manner while putting up no resistance to such evil thoughts as removing blessings from one’s brother. This person is like a person who is dead set upon committing a sin. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars concerning whether this kind of person is a sinner or not. Al-Haitami says that such a person is definitely a sinner. lbn Rajab, furthermore, points out that such a person is rarely safe from doing some wrong act against his brother out of spite and envy. Therefore, in the end, he may definitely become sinful in action, without question.
(6) Another group of people recognize the hasad that exists within them. They do their best to remove that hasad from themselves and to treat the one they are envious of in the best possible fashion. They pray for the person; they tell others of his goodness and of the bounties that Allah has bestowed upon him. They remove that hasad to the extent that they love their Muslim brother and they love that Allah has blessed him and bestowed His bounties upon him. This category of people are among the people of the highest level of faith, they love for their brothers what they love for themselves.
Allah ‘s Pleasure with One Who Frees Himself from Hasad
The following hadith demonstrates Allah’s great pleasure with the one who frees himself from the disease of hasad. Imam Ahmad records in his Musnad that on three consecutive occasions the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that the Companions were about to see a man from the inhabitants of Paradise. On each occasion, the same man entered upon them. Therefore, Abdullah ibn Amr decided to spend some time with that man to see what was the key to his being one of the people of Paradise. He told the man that he had a dispute with his father and vowed not to stay with him for three days. He asked the man if he would host him for three days. The man replied positively. During the three days, Abdullah did not notice anything special about his deeds; in particular, he did not even find him performing the late-night prayers. At the end of the three days, Abdullah was somewhat belittling to himself the man’s actions. Therefore, he told the man what happened, that he did not actually argue with his father but that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had stated that he was a man from Paradise. So he asked him what must be the secret of the matter. The man told him, “All that I do is what you have seen.” Then when Abdullah turned away, he called him back and said, “There is nothing other than what you have seen–but also I find in my soul no act of deception toward any Muslim nor do I have envy toward anyone for the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon him.” Abdullah said, “This is what makes you reach [Paradise].”
How to Free Oneself of the Disease or Effects of Hasad
The disease of hasad is very dangerous for one’s religion and feelings of brotherhood. If a person has such a disease, he should do what he can to remove it. Taataay has suggested the following steps to help remove hasad from one’s heart:
(1) The person should remind himself of the evil effects of hasad, both with respect to this life and the Hereafter. When he sees how it hurts his friendship and interaction with others- how he cannot even approach them with a clean heart- he should realize that he is the person who is losing. When he thinks about how displeasing this quality is to Allah, that should also move him to try to purify himself from this disease.
(2) If the feeling of hasad comes to him, he should do whatever he can to repel it, whether that implies reading the Quran, performing a prayer and so forth.
(3) At the very least, he should realize that if he does not act upon his hasad and limits it to just a thought in his mind that he cannot fight off, he may still remain sinless. Therefore, he must do whatever he can to keep himself from acting upon his feelings of hasad. Indeed, on the contrary, he should improve his actions toward the one that he has such feelings for. In this way, he might even earn Allah’s pleasure.
(4) In addition, the person should realize that the true bounties are the bounties of the Hereafter and not the bounties of this world. If he concentrates on those and works to achieve those, he will be preoccupied with greater bounties and he will not worry about what others are receiving of this world.