Do not covet that in which God has preferred some of you above oth- ers. To men a share from what they have earned and to women a share from what they have earned. And ask God of His bounty; God is ever Knower of all things.
In terms of one's moral behavior (lisān al-muʿālama), the command is to toil, not covet. In terms of declaring God's unity (lisān al-tawḥīd), the command is to the [divine] decree and judgment, not [human] desire and wants. It is said, “Travel the road of those who precede you in upholding the right of God but do not demand to obtain what they have been selected for from the favor of God. Concern yourselves with the right of your Protector (mawlākum), not with following your personal whims (hawākum) and preferring what you desire (munākum).”
It is said, “do not covet the station of [spiritual] masters without travel- ing their paths, cleaving to their course, and doing what they do, for this way of thinking [that is, coveting] is an outrageous deviation from what is right.”
It is said, “Be a seeker of [God's] rights, not a seeker of your portion or your rights. For if you seek the portion you wish for yourself in this world or the next, you have unconsciously added partners to your profes- sion of God's unity.”
It is said, “do not covet stations of men, for each has a station appropriate before God.” There are only so many [men with stations] and until someone has died, his place will not be inherited by another. God most high said, “He has made you successors” [6:165, 35:39] and the successor is the one who succeeds the one who came before him. If you covet the station of one of the friends [of God], it is as if you are seeking to hasten his passing in all or in part of what you covet, and this is not a harmless attitude.
It is said that your extinction beneath the streams of His decree accord- ing to what has already been established by His choice is more fortunate for you than [your] seeking to obtain your desires since your ruin may lie in the object of your desire.
It is said that if one's outward nature has not been refined through the different kinds of moral behavior (muʿāmalāt), one's inward nature has [likewise] not been refined by the different aspects of the mutual waystations (munāzalāt).45 How, then, could one hope to obtain intimate communications (muwāṣalāt)-that would be preposterous!
And ask God of His bounty: The distinction between coveting and asking for His bounty has several aspects: Coveting something is accompanied by heedlessness of your Lord, so you covet in your heart the existence of that thing without anticipating it [as coming] from God. But when you ask God, it is impossible for you not to remember Him. Another [sense of the verse] is [the notion that] the questioner does not consider himself entitled to anything. Rather, what causes him to implore and beseech is purely spiritual desire (ṣidq al-irāda)-the one who covets is not included in this group. Another [sense of the verse] is [the idea] that God prohibits coveting the favor He has granted to someone other than you, for this would mean that He would take what He has given your companion and give it to you. But He does allow you to ask of His bounty in giving you the like of what He has given your companion.
It is said, “do not covet the gift but ask God to give you from His bounty contentment with not receiving the gift. That is more perfect than the gift, for surely emancipation from the bondage of things is better than owning them.”