There are many times when we in our lives will look upon a person or group of people with envy. Ok, maybe not envy in the purely evil sense, but we may actually just wish to be in someone else’s shoes, or wish to have the same wonderful opportunities, to have some of the same or all of the same blessings another person may have been bestowed with. However, we are reminded in the Qur’an:

وَلاَ تَتَمَنَّوْاْ مَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُواْ وَلِلنِّسَاء نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ وَاسْأَلُواْ اللّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيماً

And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.

[Surat an-Nisaa’: 32]

Instead of wishing for what others have, and thus eventually harboring evil feelings, we are told to instead go to the source of these blessings and ask Allah for His Bounty.

Along the same lines, there are many instances in the stories of the Qur’an when we might ask, “Couldn’t Allah have just done this instead and then the matter would have been settled in a shorter time? Couldn’t Allah have just saved Musa (عليه السلام) miraculously and have him defeat Pharoah likewise? Why the whole hiding the baby in the basket, sending him upon the Nile River, being raised under Pharoah’s nose, etc.? What about ‘Isa? Why all the pain for his mother Maryam?” And many, many instances like this.

To make it short, it is simply more miraculous. To have gone through the ordinary means appeals to human nature much more powerfully. It reveals the exquisite planning of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), His Wisdom and His far-reaching power. And along the way, the people involved attain virtues which would not have been attained had things been done differently: the patience of the mother of Musa, the wife of Pharoah, and Maryam, mother of ‘Isa, and many more. The struggle of Patience and Perserverence, belief and absolute trust in Allah are probably the most miraculous aspects of the entire story. And only those people who have the true belief are blessed with such virtues, because it is only Belief in Allah which makes such virtue grow, and not belief in any other diety.

So what does this have to do with wishing for what others have? Well, we might wish for the opportunities awarded to others, the blessings, and basically the “ease” that others have, but ultimately, however the fact that we have reached our destinations from sometimes ordinary means is what makes each of our lives so special. None of us is given all that life has to offer in a silver platter–and thus, if we have struggled to reach a goal, it is that struggle and reward for hard earned work which makes it all the more special and “miraculous.” For example, many of young Muslims today thirst for those once in a life time opportunities to study Islam overseas, or to learn the Arabic Language, or to be married to a virtuous spouse, etc. However, if a person were to reach all of these goals of seeking knowledge and raising a good, strong family without these opportunities, isn’t that much more “miraculous”?

And thus, when a person is given the tidings to eat and drink on the Day of Judgment as Allah says:

كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئاً بِمَا أَسْلَفْتُمْ فِي الْأَيَّامِ الْخَالِيَةِ

[They will be told], “Eat and drink in satisfaction for what you put forth in the days past.”

[Surat al-Haaqqah: 24]

…has special meaning to the one who is about to enter the gates of Paradise. To have struggled for it and worked hard, the reward is just…more rewarding. And Allah says many times that He could have just destroyed us for our evil, He could have made us one nation, but all matters are carried out in perfection, and this befitts the Lord of the Worlds.