Question

I suffer from a lot of envy of people my age who get everything in life, most of my friends are getting married and beginning their own lives, one already owns her own home. I’m 25 and haven’t achieved anything. How do I get over feel jealous constantly of everyone? I also hate how I look and feel envious of girls who are attractive, why does Allah give others everything and I get nothing? I’m 25 and never been in a relationship and can’t find anyone who is interested in marrying me.

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Response

Assalaamu ‘alaikum – peace be with you,

JazakAllahu Khairan for the question; a much-needed issue within our current society.

Jealousy and envy are very normal feelings and reactions; everyone feels it from time to time, especially when we are surrounded by those who we feel are ‘better off’ than us, or have certain qualities that we may not possess. There are many reasons why one may feel jealous or envy, some of which you have mentioned, but the most common reasons for us today seem to be wealth, appearance and relationships. It is, however, important to note the difference between jealousy and envy, as they are not the same concept:

Jealousy is the feeling when there is a threat of losing something that you have.
Envy is the feeling when we desire an attribute of someone else.

The feelings that you have described would classify as envy, again, a very normal reaction to have. Envy can be linked to the perception we have of ourselves and the state of our own self-esteem. Constantly comparing ourselves to others may have a negative impact on other aspects of our lives: irrational thoughts of others, feelings of inferiority and unconsciously behaving in ways that we would not normally behave. Eventually, it may cost us important relationships and hold us back from achieving our fullest potential, as we are so focused on what others may have, that we do not realise our own successes. We have also learnt from the stories of the Prophets (AS) that envy/ jealousy could lead to worse outcomes: the jealousy of Yusuf (AS)’s brothers drove them to wanting to kill him, jealousy of Adam (AS) drove Iblis (Shaytaan) to disbelief, etc. However, you have noticed this as a problem and are seeking advice, and this is a very brave step to take.

The most important next step revolves around the concept of ‘reframing’. This is when you come up with a different interpretation of an event or experience. This is a cognitive behavioural technique that helps you to change the meaning of something and, therefore, changes the way you feel about it. It can help completely change the way you think about someone or something. For example, in your case, it is not that Allah has given others everything, and you nothing. He has distributed his provisions amongst all His creation. So, He has opened the doors of blessings for some in certain aspects, and you in others. People measure achievement and success in different ways. You may measure it according to what you are seeing in those around you, such as marriage and appearance, but others may measure it according to the numerous blessings that you have in your life, whether education, job, family, etc.

“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others… And ask Allah of his bounty” [Qur’an 4:32]. We need to refrain from focusing on, and making ourselves victims to, the things that others have, and ask Allah to grant us with His bounty. This website also has some practical tips on the way you can use reframing to change your mindset and the way you think about others.

The Prophet (ﷺ) also said, “When one of you sees someone who has been blessed more than him in money or appearance, then let him look at someone lesser than him, whom he has been preferred over” [Bukhari]. We need to be in a constant state of shukr (thankfulness). Allah does not leave us with nothing, He has granted us with an infinite number of blessings, so perhaps keeping a gratitude dairy could help identify what these blessings are, and say Alhamdulillah for each and every one of them on a daily basis.

There are further practical tips on how to remove envious thoughts in general here. There is also a dua (supplication) that is specific to these kinds of feelings: “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts any resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed, You are Kind and Merciful.” [Qur’an 59:10].

On a final note, with regards to your marriage prospects, men have different reasons for marriage and not all look to appearances as their sole criteria. The Prophet (ﷺ) said “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed.” [Bukhari]. Ultimately, our discomfort comes from the uncertainty of the unknown, so we try and mitigate for this by excessively planning or pre-occupying ourselves with the comparison of others. However we all must remind ourselves that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ so perhaps our time is be better spent working on our relationship with Allah and have faith, as Allah is the best of planners.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further support.
Allah knows best and we hope this helps insha’Allah,
Duas always,
IM Support Team

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