In the Arabic language, the word for second wife is “ضَرّة” (pronounced ‘thra’) which when translated actually means harm. Haha! Now whether that name was given to the second wife by the first I have no idea but what it indicates is that the Arabs knew something about the psychology of multiple marriages and that the second wife will bring in some sort of harm to the first wife. Now am sure you are wondering just what the heck am on about this time.

But truth be told I’ve been reading/listening to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s ‘Purification of the Heart’ and it is something that blows my mind every time I pick it up. Primarily because I see so much of myself in it; the actual book and lecture series talk about the inherent diseases of the heart and their cures. By diseases I don’t mean Atherosclerosis but I mean diseases of the spiritual heart such as miserliness, hatred, oppression, extravagance, love of praise and leadership, arrogance etc. And one of those sections deals with envy which oddly enough is sometimes referred to as the disease of second wives in traditional Arab culture. So when I stumbled on that section I was like I have to find a way of sharing this with people and hence the following article.

So I take no credit what so ever for the meaningful substance in this article, I am in this case but a messenger.

So Envy!

Envy is one of those things we all harbor. No matter who you are or how good you are as a person, at some point in life you will see something that someone has and wish you had it. As with the saying of the Prophet (SAW) “Every possessor of a blessing {any blessing} is envied”. In fact envy is such a strange and powerful thing that it permeates human culture and society. For example, 2 street sweepers. One has a carpet to put his things on and the other has a donkey. For you it’s completely insignificant, for the one without the donkey he looks at the one with the donkey and he envies him.

Now how might one describe envy? Well describe your desire for someone’s loss of their blessing as envy and you would have correctly described it. It can be anything as a matter of fact; a house, a car, a job, a husband, a wife, a promotion or even something as petty as when someone looks (dresses) better than you. There are many variations of it (envy) but ultimately it involves desiring the loss of another’s blessing.

From an Islamic point of view, we believe that Allah (God) is the giver of blessings and He distributes His blessings to whoever, and in which ever way, He wills. When taking that into consideration what you are doing with your envy is that you are in a way judging Allah’s wisdom in placing a particular blessing with someone else. Which not only counts as a sin but is a completely insane thing to do, because it is absolutely none of your concern.

But the very nature of envy is that it involves harm, and the strange thing here is that the person who has envy, his envy harms him first before it harms the object of his envy. Why? Because he/she becomes obsessed with the object of his/her envy and that eventually is what leads to his downfall. The Arabs have another very powerful proverb which says “The one who envies can’t get into a position of leadership“. Given, it does sound better in Arabic but what it means is that the fact that you have this resentment is what is stopping you from achieving your goals.

And the second part of the problem is that with envy comes arrogance because many times the envier sees someone else as unworthy to have a particular blessing. And for that type of individual it is extremely difficult to admit their mistake or repent.

Then how might one go about dealing with envy? Well there are two steps according to Islamic scholars, the first part is that if you do feel envious, DON’T HARM! or OPPRESS! the person you are envious of. The other step is by doing the direct opposite of what your envy desires. So instead of harming the person then you do the direct opposite, be good to the person. e.g. be polite, say something nice or even give them a gift. Praise the person when it would appear good for you to say something bad about someone. It is always possible to find something good to say about someone.

So in conclusion whether the above has helped you or not I would highly recommend that you give the book a read or the lecture series a listen because it is so eye opening (personal opinion). And with that I’m gonna have to love you and leave you.


5 thoughts on “The Disease of Second Wives

  1. This reminds me of our conversation at Casa Tropicana! You were so serious at that time. Hmmm… I wonder what a guy like you would be envious of? You could write about that, your own experience. 😉


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