Keeping the heart free from spite
September 09 2021 11:19 PM

Slaves of Allah! Islam encourages making reconciliation between people in order to maintain good relations amongst the Muslims, to spread love and to keep the hearts of Muslims free from spite. Allah Says (what means): “So fear Allah and amend that which is between you” [Qur’an 8: 1]. Additionally, Islam ordains all that which spreads mutual love and frees the hearts from spite, as in the narration of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased, with him who reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), said: “You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I guide to that which would make you love one another? Spread greetings (Salaam) abundantly amongst yourselves” [Muslim]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was asked: “Who are the best type of people?” He replied: “A person who is truthful in his speech and Makhmoom in his heart.” People asked: “We know what is truthful speech, but what is a Makhmoom heart?” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, responded saying: “It is a pure pious heart that does not have envy, evil or spite.” [Ibn Maajah]
Spite has greatly increased amongst people today, resulting in the severing of relations and in people holding grudges against each other. This is in spite of the fact that Allah has made legislations, which would prevent this from happening. For example, a Muslim is allowed to request a fellow Muslim who wants to visit him to return at a later time. In normal situations, people would not appreciate someone not allowing them entry when they visit them, but since Allah The All-Knowing, knows that people might have certain circumstances that would not allow them to receive visitors, He legislated this to protect people’s hearts from holding grudges due to this.
Allah Says (what means): “And if it is said to you, ‘Go back (Or a similar expression showing that the occupants are not prepared to receive visitors)’ then go back; it is purer for you” [Qur’an 24: 28]. This is a way to condole the person who was not granted permission to enter, lest he feels insulted or saddened, and a means to protect the hearts from spite. This is why some of the Salaf, may Allah have mercy upon them, used to be happy when they went visiting someone and were not permitted in, because they sought the consequence of returning mentioned in the above verse – which is the promise of becoming purer (i.e. in their hearts).
Having pure hearts that are free from spite is a bounty and a blessing from Allah which He grants to the dwellers of Paradise upon their entry into it. Allah Says (what means): “And We will remove whatever is in their chests of resentment (i.e. ill will or ill feelings towards one another), [so they will be] brothers, on thrones facing each other.” [Qur’an 15: 47]
In addition to a pure heart being a blessing and a bounty from Allah, it is also a source of comfort. This is why Islam puts great emphasis on purification of the heart from spite, so that people can live together in peace and harmony.
The great importance attached to this issue is because it is a difficult state to achieve all the time. A person may have a strong will which enables him to wake up in the middle of the night to offer optional night prayers, but he may not be strong enough to overcome some of his bad feelings towards his fellow Muslims.
Undoubtedly, this quality is a praiseworthy one indeed; Allah praised the Ansaar (i.e. the residents of Madinah) for possessing such a quality saying (which means): “They [i.e. the Ansaar] find not any [ill] feelings in their chests [i.e. hearts] of what they were given [i.e. the Muhaajireen – emigrants from Makkah] but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation.” [Qur’an 59: 9] When Allah favoured the Muhaajireen with certain things, the Ansaar did not feel any objection to this, nor did they harbour any ill feelings or envy towards their brothers in faith for being distinguished with these favours. Instead, they favoured them over their own selves with whatever they had, even if they themselves were in need of what they offered.
The following great story reflects the rank of possessing a pure heart that is free from spite, and that it is a blessing from Allah. Anas Ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “We were sitting with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, once when he said: ‘A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now’ so a man from the Ansaar (i.e. residents of Madinah) walked in whose beard was dripping from the effect of ablution and who held his slippers with his left hand. The next day the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said the same thing, and the same man walked in. On the third day, the Prophet said the same thing, and the same man once again walked in. When the Prophet left the gathering, ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr followed that man and said to him: ‘I had a misunderstanding with my father and swore not to stay in his house three nights, so if you permit me I would like to spend these three nights with you.’ The man said: ‘Yes, I permit you.’”
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, added: “ ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr told us that he spent three nights and did not notice that the man prayed the optional night prayers during any of these nights, but if he woke up during the night, he would simply mention Allah. Nonetheless, I never heard him utter except good things, so when the three nights finished, I almost belittled his deeds (as they were insignificant) and I said to him: ‘O slave of Allah! There was not dispute between me and my father or anger, but I heard the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, saying thrice: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” and you walked in all three times, so I wanted to sleep in your place to see what you do in order to imitate you, but I did not see that you exert extra effort in performing any extra deeds. How did you reach such status to deserve what the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, , said about you?’ He replied: ‘My deeds are nothing more than what you saw.’ Then when I left, he called me back in and said: ‘My deeds are nothing more than what you saw, but the only thing I do is that I do not hold any grudge against any Muslim or envy anyone for what bounties Allah has granted them’; thereupon ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr said to him: “This difficult quality to obtain is what granted you this rank”.  [Ahmad]
It is not an easy task for someone to maintain a heart free from spite and hold no grudges against anyone. On the other hand, it is not an impossible mission either, and can be achieved with training, practice and constant striving.
The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were very keen to remove any bad feelings from the hearts of their brothers towards them. ‘Aa’ith Ibn ‘Amr al-Muzani, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “Abu Sufyaan passed by Salmaan, Suhayb and Bilaal and some other Companions (after the conquest of Makkah, when he was still a disbeliever). They said to him: “The swords of Allah did not exact their due from the foes of Allah?’’ Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said to them: “Do you speak like this to the chief of the Quraysh and their master?’’ Then he went to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and related this to him. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “O Abu Bakr! Perhaps you have angered them. If so, you have angered your Lord”. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, rushed back to them and said: “O my brothers! Did I offend you?’’ They replied: “No. May Allah forgive you, brother”. [Muslim]
This proves that a person must rush to make amends and apologise for his actions, if he fears that a fellow Muslim was offended or his feelings were hurt, to make sure his brother’s heart remains pure towards him. The one who is being apologised to must accept without delay and comfort his brother, and assure him that he is not holding any grudge against him and supplicate for him as the Companions did with Abu Bakr.

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Avoid spite and spread love instead

When people went to visit Abu Dujaanah, may Allah be pleased with him, in his death sickness, they saw him happy and his face radiant; they asked him about the reason, to which he replied: “I have two qualities I possessed in my life; one is that I never interfered in that which did not concern me, and the second is that I always had a pure heart, free from spite towards my fellow Muslims”.
Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah mercy upon him, was another great example in this matter. Some people of knowledge of his time who envied him, spoke ill of him to the Caliph who commanded him to be imprisoned; yet while he was in prison he, may Allah mercy upon him, sent a letter to his students saying: “You know very well that I do not like to see anyone from the common Muslims getting hurt because of me, let alone the people of knowledge. People are three types: one who strives to do what is correct but fails, and such will be rewarded for striving to do what is right and will be pardoned for failing as he tried; another is one who strives to do what is correct and succeeds, and such will be rewarded twice, once for striving to do what is right and another for achieving such a goal; the third type is a person who is a sinner, and we ask Allah to forgive him. I will not forgive any of you if you start talking about anyone who was the cause of my imprisonment”.
Not only that, but Allah Willed that Sultan An-Naasir, may Allah have mercy upon him, became the Caliph and wanted to take revenge from the people who were the cause of his imprisonment, but Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah mercy upon him, refused and continued to talk to the Caliph and admonish him about the quality of forgiveness and tolerance, until he changed his mind and let them go unharmed.
Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, saying: “The devil has despaired of being worshipped by those who engage in prayer in the Arabian Peninsula but (has not lost hope) in creating dissension among them.” [Muslim]
This was a statement made by the Messenger of Allah while addressing his Companions. Satan strives very hard to instill spite in the hearts of the believers towards one another, hence, we must avoid anything that could be the means or cause of enmity or spite. We must know that Satan is the source of spite and envy.
Moreover, spite, dispute and envy are the reasons for one’s good deeds being rejected: Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “People’s deeds are presented before Allah on Mondays and Thursdays, and then every slave (of Allah) is granted forgiveness (of minor sins) if he does not associate anything with Allah in worship. But the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother, will not be pardoned. With regard to them, it is said twice: ‘Hold these two until they are reconciled’. ‘Hold these two until they are reconciled.’” [Muslim] In fact, this was the reason why the exact night on which the Night of Al-Qadr falls was not disclosed to the people.
The matter is even graver than this, as indicated in the following narration. Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his (Muslim) brother beyond three days; and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter the Hell.” [Abu Daawood]  We ask Allah to purify our hearts from spite and grudges.
One of the main things that leads to having a spiteful heart is backbiting and tale bearing. These two evil qualities often result in hatred and severing of ties amongst people. Therefore, a Muslim must control his tongue and not allow himself to talk about others, backbite or slander them.
Some people refrain from eating certain types of meat before ascertaining their permissibility, yet they have no problems eating the flesh of their fellow Muslim; Allah Says (what means): “And do not backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it” [Qur’an 49: 12]
Another matter that results in spite is disputes and arguments, thus people must beware of this bad quality. People can hold different opinions but do not have to become enemies due to this. Yoosuf As-Sadafi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “I never saw anyone wiser than Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee. I argued with him once about a matter but we could not come to an agreement, so when he saw me later, he took hold of my hand and said: ‘O Abu Moosaa! Can’t we disagree and remain brothers?’” Prejudice and partiality –  whether to one’s opinion, a group or a person – also lead to spite creeping into the heart.
Competing over worldly matters results in spite in most cases; this is why Islam forbade a person from attempting to buy something that his Muslim brother has already started negotiating about, or proposing to a woman who a fellow Muslim has approached earlier. The reason for this is that Islam tries to prevent all the possible reasons that could engender spite and hatred.
The zeal of attaining high posts and positions makes a person envious; Al-Fudhayl Ibn ‘Iyaadh, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Striving to reach high posts and positions and leadership makes people envious and leads them to transgressing other people’s rights.”
There is another matter that people neglect, which has a direct connection to this issue: straightening the rows during prayer. Nu’maan Ibn Basheer, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Straighten your rows (during prayer) or Allah would create dissension amongst you”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Joking too much with people and two people talking in seclusion in the presence of a third are more reasons for spite amongst Muslims, which we must be careful to avoid.
There are certain things a person can do to prevent spite and spread love instead, like supplicating for others and giving them gifts.
Finally, we must differentiate between being kind hearted and simple minded and naive. Not knowing what is plotted against you is not being kind, as this could make a person fall in the trap of others, like those who propagate drugs and immorality. Many people have been dragged into drugs, immorality and other harmful habits due to their naivete.  As Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, stated: “Recognising the evil and not indulging in it is not the same as being naive”.

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Keep away from enmity

The Muslim has a mission in his life, and is required to be effective, active, tolerant and social, mixing with other people and dealing with them with tolerance and in accordance with the worthy Islamic attitudes and behaviour.
Allah Almighty Says (what means): “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. the Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…”[Qur’an 3:103]
Wherever the Muslim is found, he becomes a beacon of guidance, and a positive source of correction and education, through both his words and deeds.
He has a good attitude towards others and treats them well. He is of good and noble character, friendly, humble, gentle of speech and tactful. He likes others and is liked by them. By doing so, he is following the example of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, as Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that he was: “The best of people in his attitude towards others.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
When a quarrel intensifies, when its roots go deeper, its thorns become branches and branches increase in number, then the freshness of the fruits of faith is adversely affected. Softness, sympathy, satisfaction and peace, which are encouraged by the Islamic teachings, receive a setback. Performance of worship loses its righteousness, while the self gets no benefit from it.
Many a time mutual quarrels perturb the persons who claim to be wise. When this happens, they take recourse to lowly and superficial things, and sometimes indulge in dangerous acts which only increase difficulties and bring troubles. When a man is displeased, his eyes become prejudiced and ignore the camel and object to gnat. Such eyes do not appreciate the beauty of the peacock, for they only see its ugly feet and claws. If a slight defect is present, it turns the molehill into a mountain. And sometimes the internal rancour and jealousy affect them so badly that no hesitation is felt in inventing imaginary stories.
Islam disapproves of all these manifestations of ill-feeling and advises to abstain from them. It declares their avoidance as the most virtuous form of worship.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Listen, may I tell you something more important than the fasting, the prayer and charity?” The people requested him to do so. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “To keep the mutual relationship on the right footing, because the defect in the mutual relationship is a thing which shaves a thing clean. I do not mean that it shaves the hair, but that it shaves (removes) the religion.” [At-Tirmithi]
Many a time, Satan is not able to persuade wise men to worship idols, but since he is very keen on misguiding and ruining men, he manages to succeed in driving them away from Allah, so much so that these wise men become more indifferent in respecting the rights of Allah than the idolaters themselves. The best method adopted by the devil for this purpose is to sow the seeds of enmity in the hearts of the people. When this enmity develops into a fire and open hostilities result, he enjoys the scene. This fire burns man’s present and future into ashes and totally destroys their relationship and virtues.
The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The Satan has been disappointed that he would not be worshipped in the Arabian Peninsula, but he has not been disappointed from kindling the fire of fighting among the people.”[Muslim]
It means that when wickedness takes roots in the hearts, when people start hating love and brotherhood, and when these are destroyed, people then revert to cruelty and enmity, and break all those relations and links which Allah has commanded to be kept; thus spreading corruption on this earth.
In order to remedy this disease, the most wonderful thing in a quarrel is to forget it as it had never happened, because remembering it will never be a sort of pleasure, while forgetting it will never be harmless, and a good word is stronger than swords and spears.
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “The origin of the enmity, evil and envy that occurs between people is from the following of Al-Hawaa (the lowly desire). The one who opposes his desire relieves his heart, body and limbs, putting himself to ease and thus relieves others.”
Abu Bakr al-Warraak, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “When the desire prevails, the heart turns dark and when it does so, the breast becomes straitened and when that happens, the moral character deteriorates and consequently people will hate him and he will hate them. Then think of the evil, enmity, neglect of rights, etc. that arise from this mutual hatred.”

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