“You always want what you can’t have.” We’ve all heard that expression, and have experienced it at some point in our lives as well. This feeling of wanting what we don’t or can’t have is a big reason why we envy those who do have that thing.
A poor person may envy a rich person. Someone with average looks might envy someone who is considered to be very beautiful. If someone is single, they might envy people who are married. Those who don’t have children might envy those who do have kids. These are only a few examples.
But the poor person doesn’t know that the rich person they envy is only befriended for their money, and constantly feels used by disloyal people. The average-looking person doesn’t realize that the beautiful person they envy often pushes people away because of how conceited they are. The single person doesn’t realize that the married person they envy is abused every day by their spouse, even though things appear to be perfect on social media. The childless person doesn’t know about how the children of the person they envy are their biggest source of pain.
At the same time, those who envy people are envied by others, too. We all have something that another person only wishes they could have, but we may not realize it. This is not something to become arrogant about, but just a point of reflection. Sometimes we start to feel like everyone else’s life is better than our own in some way, but other people might be thinking the same about us. Rather than coveting what others have, we should try to count our blessings and pray that Allah (swt) will protect us from the trials that many others are facing without our knowledge.
Allah tells us: “If you are grateful, I will increase you” (Qur’an 14:7). Maybe He will reward us for our gratitude through His favor, by granting us that which we don’t have. Or maybe He will increase us in contentment, so we’re happy and at peace with what we already have, rather than constantly wishing for more. Either way, we can’t lose if we think about our blessings and what we do have, but we risk losing our peace of mind if we’re constantly focused on what we don’t have.
May Allah (swt) make us grateful to Him in all conditions, free us of envy, and grant us the best in this life and the next. Ameen.