Skip to main content

Prohibition of envy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

"One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others." (attributed variously to Robert Heinlein & Archibald Rutledge).


The idea of envy (or, covetousness) is an important subject in the Abrahamic faith traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The prohibition against covetousness rounds out the Mosaic moral code, codified as the 10th and final commandment in the Ten Commandments -- the injunction against coveting one's neighbor's property. The rationale behind this is the acknowledgement that all blessings arise from God's sovereign providence and it is not for his creation to question whom and how and when he chooses to bless.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines covetousness as :

1. "feeling or showing a very strong desire for something that you do not have and especially for something that belongs to someone else", or
2. "marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another's possessions"

In the teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount, we see how He elevates and strengthens several Mosaic commandments from being only a behavioural prohibition to a prohibition of even the attitudes/thoughts, using the pattern "You have heard it said...but, I tell you".

In like manner, we see elsewhere in the Bible that the negative obligation "Do not covet..." is superseded by the nobler positive duty to celebrate and rejoice in others' successes, good fortunes and blessings, and to not be happy be when they fall, instead to "weep when they weep".
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" [Romans 12 : 15]
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;" [Proverbs 24 : 17]
Similar principles about the prohibition of envy and divine providence being the source of all blessings are also found in the Quran.
"And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things."  [The Noble Quran, 4:32]
"Cast not thine eyes on the [good things] which we have bestowed on several of [the unbelievers, so as to covet the same; neither be thou grieved on their account. Behave thy self with meekness towards the true believers;"  [The Noble Quran, 15:88]
"Nor strain thine eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendour of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of thy Lord is better and more enduring."  [The Noble Quran, 20:131]

Popular posts from this blog

Migrating from MS SQL Server to MongoDB

The following contains notes from various attempts at migrating 2.5GB of MS SQL Server data to MongoDB, on an 8 GB, quad-core, 64-bit Windows 7 Enterprise machine.
[TERMINATED] http://mssql2mongo.codeplex.com/ : Simple to use. Exponential slowdown observed in migration. For a total of the 50 million records spanning two tables, the following migration times were observed: 1 second for the first 100,000 records,  30 minutes for 1,000,000, 20 hours for 16 million (after which I terminated the process).[DID NOT WORK] http://rubydoc.info/gems/mongify/ : A ruby-based approach. Use Ruby 1.9.3 (tiny_tds dependency causes problems with Ruby 2.0). Install DevKit before installing the mongify gem. Also, use 'sqlserver' as the adapter in the .config file. Then, before running 'mongify check <config-file>', install the gems activerecord-sqlserver-adapter and tiny_tds. At this stage, it fails. 'mongify translation <config-file>' fails as well.[MODIFIED/WORKED!!]…

The moral filth of neo-liberal and neo-conservative statism

or, progressive socialism is not the greater evil.
Introduction
After years of trying to make sense of how the world works, economically and politically, and how, according to some, it ought to work, I have increasingly come to the realization that the libertarian political-philosophical persuasion is the only one consistent with justice. A just society must necessarily be a free society. Specifically, one that is founded on libertarian principles -- private property, NAP, non-initiation of violence, easement & homesteading rights, etc. In fact, the “justness” (righteousness) of a society will increase in concert with and to the degree to which a society moves from totalitarian statism to democratic statism (of the neo-conservative or neo-liberal varieties) to minarchism to anarchism.
After spending a few zealous but misguided and ignorantly happy years occupied with mainstream GOP politics, including loyally and foolishly supporting the Bush-Cheney-Rove regime, despite serious mo…

Diversity in politics

There are so many strains of thought and ideology in secular democracies around the world, exemplified, perhaps best, in contemporary American political life. Some of these strains of thought are compatible with others and may even be subsets of others. Many of them are violently opposed to others. In the American context, we see, at least, the following :  environmentalismcultural progressivismeconomic socialismprogressive-lite Keynesian welfare + neocon warfare hawks = the establishment / moderates / centristscivil libertarianismnon-interventionismsocial conservatismConstitutional conservatismfree-market libertarianismpopulism, protectionism & nativism, anti-progressivism, anti-establishment
A neat left-right divide no longer makes sense. Most people find themselves on a spectrum between very different political philosophies and emphases.
The two major political parties represent uneasy marriages that exist because for historical reasons or current tactical alliances. The fragil…