Gateway to Hadith
Two Enviable Blessings
Mawlana Nasir Jamal Attari Madani
The Final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
‘لَا حَسَدَ اِلَّا فِی اثْنَتَيْنِ: رَجُلٌ آتَاهُ اللهُ مَالًا فَسُلِّطَ عَلَى هَلَكَتِهِ فِی الْحَقِّ، وَ رَجُلٌ آتَاهُ اللهُ الْحِكْمَةَ فَهُوَ يَقْضِی بِهَا وَيُعَلِّمُهَا’
‘Only two [people] can be envied: (i) someone granted wealth by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ and enabled to spend it in the way of the truth; (ii) and a person granted knowledge by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ who then makes decisions according to it and teaches it,’ (Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 43, Hadith 73).
This hadith explains that two blessings are worthy of being sought: charity and knowledge, (Nuzha-tul-Qaari, vol. 1, p. 428; Al-Lam’i-us-Sabih, vol. 1, p. 380, under the Hadith 73). Envy in this context does not refer to the sinful vice with the same name but to a praiseworthy quality termed ghibtah in Arabic.
Ghibtah is to want a blessing that someone else has without desiring for them to lose it - it is a positive quality for a believer. The things of the world that are a source of the displeasure of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ are not worthy of being envied, but money spent in the way of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, knowledge, and wisdom are the source of Allah’s pleasure.
The hadith mentions two qualities:
1. If Allah Almighty grants wealth to someone, it is His bounty, and if He enables him to spend in His way, this is an additional bounty. Spending in the way of the truth means spending on any act that corresponds to the spirit of Islam. Expending wealth for un-Islamic causes is not a virtue and certainly not worthy of ghibtah, (Zia-us-Saari, vol. 2, p. 225).
2. Secondly, the person who has been blessed with knowledge and wisdom, makes decisions in the light of that wisdom, and disseminates it. Wisdom here refers to the Holy Qur'an or anything that removes ignorance and prevents evil deeds, (Zia-us-Saari, vol. 2, p. 225).
Commenting on these virtues, Abdul Mustafa A’zami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states:
Interestingly, only the life of wealthy, generous people and the life of the Ulama are described as being worthy of envy; the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not extend this accolade to rich people, ministers, or kings. Therefore, we learn that the life of the Ulama is enviable for the whole world and since this is the case, there is no reason for them to have an inferiority complex. The scholars of truth are undoubtedly the shining lamps of guidance on Allah’s earth. Allah Almighty has blessed them with His ‘great goodness’ and for this reason, animals, birds, ants in their burrows, and fish in the sea pray for them. The honourable angels spread their wings for the pleasure of these students of knowledge. When the grace and generosity of the Creator of the Universe, the prayers of the creation, and the spread wings of the angels lift the status of the Ulama, it makes no difference whatsoever if some materialistic, lifeless folks look down on the Ulama! Those who look down on the Ulama today have turned away from the teachings of the messengers of Allah. By being arrogant over the riches of this world and by belittling and disgracing the righteous servants of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, they are harming their hereafter. It is necessary for the scholars of truth to be patient when they are harmed by these arrogant, insolent, ignorant people and they should never become discouraged and depart from the glorious position of ‘exalting the word of truth.’ Allah Almighty has commanded His Beloved صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم that:
خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَ اْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَ اَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجٰهِلِیْنَ(۱۹۹)
And, O Beloved; adopt forgiveness, and command good, and turn away from the ignorant.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 09, Surah Al-A’raaf, Verse 199)
(Muntakhab Hadeesayn, p. 106)
Here are some points of benefit taken from the above hadith:
1. To act upon envy is unlawful (Haraam) and leads to Hell, (Hadeeqah Nadiyyah, vol. 1, p. 601).
2. Ghibtah is obligatory for obligatory acts, desirable for desirable acts, and permissible for permissible acts, (Ihya-ul-‘Uloom, vol. 3, p. 236).
3. Wanting blessings to be taken away from others while hoping to attain them for oneself is the primary definition of jealousy – which is a vice. Ghibtah on the other hand is a virtue and one should have it for great matters.
4. It is a great virtue to spend in the way of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ and to make decisions in the light of knowledge after having acquired it and to disseminate and impart it.
5. Remember! This hadith promotes ghibtah, not jealousy. It is crucial to refer to reliable commentaries to accurately understand hadith.
6. Affluent people should support Islam and the Muslims with their wealth, and spend on their families and great acts of worship such as Hajj and Umrah.
7. The Ulama should remain at the forefront of spreading the light of knowledge so that people are encouraged to attain these praiseworthy qualities.
Those with fewer assets may look at their wealthier counterparts spending in the way of Allah Almighty and feel ghibtah. You should spend according to your means and remain hopeful of Allah’s mercy and rewards. Likewise, those who look at people of knowledge with ghibtah should feel motivated to pursue sacred knowledge.