The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم has mentioned in one Hadith:
إِذَا نَظَرَ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَى مَنْ فُضِّلَ عَلَيْهِ فِي الْمَالِ وَالْخَلْقِ، فَلْيَنْظُرْ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَسْفَلُ مِنْهُ
When one of you (intends to) look at a person who has been blessed in wealth and health, then he should look towards him who is inferior to him (in these respects).
Similarly, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم has mentioned this same notion is some greater detail in another Hadith. He صلى الله عليه و سلم has stated:
خَصْلَتَانِ مَنْ كَانَتَا فِيهِ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا شَاكِرًا ، وَمَنْ لَمْ تَكُونَا فِيهِ لَمْ يَكْتُبْهُ صَابِرًا وَلا شَاكِرًا ، مَنْ نَظَرَ فِي دِينِهِ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ فَوْقَهُ فَاقْتَدَى بِهِ ، وَمَنْ نَظَرَ فِي دُنْيَاهُ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ دُونَهُ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ عَلَى مَا فَضَّلَهُ بِهِ عَلَيْهِ ، كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا شَاكِرًا ، وَمَنْ نَظَرَ فِي دِينِهِ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ دُونَهُ ، وَنَظَرَ فِي دُنْيَاهُ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ فَوْقَهُ فَأَسِفَ عَلَى مَا فَاتَهُ ، لَمْ يَكْتُبْهُ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلا شَاكِرًا
There are two qualities which if they are found in a person Allah سبحانه و تعالى will write him down as a patient and grateful person. And whoever does not possess these two qualities will not be written down as a patient and grateful person. (Firstly) a person who looks, in the matter of his religion, towards one who is superior to him and follows his example; and (secondly) a person who looks, in worldly matters, towards one who is inferior than him and thus he praises Allah for those things which he has been blessed with above this person. Allah سبحانه و تعالى will write him down as a patient and grateful person. And a person who looks, in his religious matters, upon a person who is inferior to him; and looks, in his worldly matters, towards a person who is inferior to him, and thus he shows regret upon those this which have not been given to him, Allah سبحانه و تعالى will not write him as a patient and grateful person.
The above Ahadith are a clear explanation of how an individual can acquire two such qualities which are beloved to Allah سبحانه و تعالى. These qualities, patience and gratitude, are such qualities upon which a person is rewarded with not only Jannah (paradise) but also the pleasure of Allah سبحانه و تعالى is gained through them. A person can only imagine his situation when the King of the kings is pleased with him and is ever ready to fulfil his needs in this world and the Hereafter.
Our beloved Nabi صلى الله عليه و سلم has explained that a person, in his religious matters, should always look a person who more persevering in the path of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, more devoted, dedicated and observing. He should not be content by his own actions but instead, by looking at a person who is superior to him in worship, he should feel a void which he aims to complete by imitating such an observant servant of Allah سبحانه و تعالى and competing in surpassing him.
By doing this, not only will he excel in his worship and gain proximity with Allah سبحانه و تعالى but he will also save himself from become relaxed and falling into the ploy and trickery of Shaytaan. For Shaytaan will not devoid him from any worship, but instead will make him look at those who are less observant and obedient to Allah سبحانه و تعالى and therefore make him have a sense of satisfaction which ultimately results to complacency and distancing one’s self from Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
On the contrary, when a person wants to observe someone in his worldly matters then he should observe one who is less fortunate and less blessed than him in these matters. In this manner he will feel a sense of gratitude and gratefulness in those blessings which he has but may have overlooked.
The trickery of Shaytaan is that he has made it human nature to be ungrateful and has made man jealous of the people who are around him by making a person observe those who are above and superior to him in the matters of this world.
We see today that no matter how many luxuries we have, we are always competing with one person or another; we find one excuse or another to be jealous and competitive in the materialistic matters. We compare the number of items we have in comparison to others, we then look at the make and quality of their products to that of ours, we compete in brands, in looks, in houses, cars, clothing, status, ranks, jobs and all those things which are going to come to an end; in actual fact those are all the things which have no value in the sight of Alllah سبحانه و تعالى.
We fail to look at those people who are deprived of homes, family, health and even have physical impairments of disabilities. We fail to see the grief of those families who have lost a beloved, we fail to see those family who are sitting by the bedside of a terminally-ill family member, we fail to see those people who eat grass and bugs as their only form of survival, we fail to see those individuals to lose their children because they couldn’t provide treatment for them which costs a mere few Pounds. Yet we are quick to ask Allah سبحانه و تعالى why an individual has got more money than us, why is s/he better looking than us, why are they more happy and content than us.
These are all the ploys of Shaytaan and the lack of spiritual effort we make on our Self. This is an indication that a person is in great need of reformation and also towards the guidance of his knowledgeable elders.
“I cried because I had no shoes,
until I met a man who had no feet”
May Allah سبحانه و تعالى give us all the inclination, ability and desire to be grateful and patient upon all matters; May He سبحانه و تعالى give us such sight which focuses on His blessings and a sight which allows us to see how fortunate we are from amongst His creations. May He give us the ability to observe those who are superior to his in acquiring His proximity by exceeding in worship, gratitude, patience, perseverance, dedication and through focus on that which really matters, the Hereafter. Aameen.