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, may Allah be pleased with him, 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’s mercy be 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’s mercy be 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 of 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 became the Caliph and wanted to take revenge from the people who were the cause of his imprisonment, but Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah’s mercy be 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 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 the companions, may Allah be pleased with them. 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 Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah 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 rancor 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 Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah 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”
(Quran 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 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 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 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 naïveté. As Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim stated: “Recognizing the evil and not indulging in it is not the same as being naïve”.