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Protective Jealousy (Ghairah)

Definition of Ghairah: This arabic word covers a wide meaning – self-respect, jealousy (as regards women) and it is a feeling of fury with great anger when one's honour and prestige is challenged or injured.


Ghayrah (الغَيْرَةِ) carries the meaning of protective jealousy, honour, and earnest concern. It is a positive trait, especially in a man in regards his female family members. The dayyuth (الديُّوث) is its opposite, generally referring to a man who has no protective jealousy and honour over his female family members.

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The Ghairah of Allah


The attribute of ghayrah and the ‘setting of boundaries’ due to it, is also affirmed for God and the Prophet ﷺ, as the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘By Allah, I am more jealous than him [Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah], and Allah is more jealous than me. It is because of His protective jealousy that Allah forbade immoral deeds, both open and secret’ [al Bukhari],


He ﷺ also said, ‘Allah has protective jealousy, and the protective jealousy of Allah is provoked when the believer does something that Allah has forbidden.’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]

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Ghairah of Sayyidina Zubair bin Awaam رضي الله عنه and Asma bint Abi Bakr رضي الله عنها 


To further understand the quality of Gheerah, we can look at an incident that Asmaa' (RA) the daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (RA) and sister of Aisha (RA), relates about herself. Abu Bakr was a wealthy merchant and he married his daughter Asmaa' to the great companion Az-Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam (RA) who was a very poor man but a man of great piety and one of the companions who were promised Paradise. Asmaa' relates: "When az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land nor wealth nor slave…", so Asmaa' had to work very hard kneading dough, going far off to get water. "And I used to carry on my head," she continues, "the date stones from the land of az-Zubair which Allah's Messenger (SAW) had endowed him and it was a distance of two miles from Madeenah. One day, as I was carrying the date-stones upon my head, I happened to meet Allah's Messenger (SAW), along with a group of his Companions. He called me and told the camel to sit down so that he could make me ride behind him. I felt shy to go with men and I remembered az-Zubair and his Gheerah and he was a man having the most Gheerah. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) understood my shyness and left. I came to az-Zubair and said: "The Messenger of Allah (SAW) met me as I was carrying date-stones upon my head and there was with him a group of his Companions. He told the camel to kneel so that I could mount it, but I felt shy and I remembered your Gheerah." So Asmaa' declined the offer made by the Prophet (SAW). Upon this az-Zubair said: "By Allah, the thought of you carrying date-stones upon your head is more severe a burden on me than you riding with him."


(Related in Saheeh Bukhari)

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Ghairah of Sayyidina Umer رضي الله عنه 


Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (رضي الله ) narrates: "While we were in the company of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), he said, 'While I was asleep, I saw myself in Paradise and there I beheld a woman performing ablution beside a palace, I asked, "To whom does this palace belong?" They said, "To 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab (رضي الله عنه)." Then I remembered 'Umar's ghayrah (i.e. jealousy over women), and so I hurried away from that palace.' (When Sayyiduna 'Umar (رضي الله عنه) heard this from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)), he wept and said, "Do you think it is likely that I would have feeling of ghayrah because of you, O Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم)?"'"


(Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

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Ghairah of Sa'ad bin 'Ubadah رضي الله عنه 


Saad bin Ubadah (RA) once said:

“If I saw a man with my wife, I would strike him with my sword, and not with the flat side of it.” News of that reached the Prophet (PBUH) to which replied:

“Are you surprised at the jealousy of Saad? By Allah, I am more jealous than him, and Allah is more jealous than me. It is because of His jealousy that Allah forbade immoral deeds, both open and secret.” (Al-Bukhari 7416).

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God tells us in the Qu’ran, ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women.’ [4:34]. Out of His infinite wisdom, this is the general and natural order that God has chosen for the mutual co-existence of the sexes in this world.

The word ‘قَوَّامُونَ’ in the verse carries the meaning of protector, caretaker, and guardian. To be a protector or guardian over someone necessarily demands a strong sense of responsibility, and is associated with the qualities of honour, dignity and correct moral conduct. These are essentially intertwined with the attribute of modesty, which in turn, is a fundamental aspect of one’s very faith, for the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Modesty is a branch of faith.’ [Muslim].

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Ibn al Qayyim al Jawziyyah, summarised the meaning of ghayrah in the following words, ‘The foundation of the religion is ghayrah, and the one without ghayrah is one without religion, for ghayrah protects the heart and enlivens the limbs and shields one from evil and lewdness, and lack of ghayrah kills the heart so that the limbs die, so that there remains not even shielding from [the minor things]. And the example of ghayrah in the heart is the example of the strength that shields one from sickness and fights it off, so if the strength leaves, he will be faced with the sickness, and will not find anything to protect himself from it, so it will establish itself [within him] and destroy him.’ [Al Da’ Wal Dawa]

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Could you mention the source of this incident?

On one occasion a lady made a claim of five hundred gold coins against her husband in the court of Judge Musa ibn Ishaq, which the husband denied. The wife’s lawyer proved the claim by producing witnesses. However one of the witnesses insisted that he has to see her face (which was veiled) in order to give witness in her favour. Therefore he stood up to see her face and she stood up as well.

Witnessing this, the husband’s self honour and dignity drove him to exclaim: ‘Why should a strange man’s eyes be allowed to gaze at my wife? I personally confess in the presence of the judge that I do owe my wife five hundred gold coins as her dowry, but I will never allow my wife to reveal her face to a strange man.’ Hearing this self honour and dignity of her husband, the wife replied that I make those present as witness that I have gifted the entire amount to my husband.

The judge Musa ibn Ishaq exclaimed that this should be included among the incidents of exemplary character.


Imam Bayhaqi (rahimahullah) has recorded this incident with a reliable chain of narrators.

(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 10313) And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

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Hadhrat Moulana Husain Ahmad Madani (RA) lived in the house of his ustaadh, Sheikhul Hind (RA), when he was a young boy.

Being a minor, purdah [hijab] was not observed between him and the wife of his ustaadh.

When Hadhrat Sheikhul Hind (RA) returned from Maalta, his wife was overjoyed to hear that Hadhrat Moulana Madani (RA) had taken care of and served her husband in prison.

She requested to meet him so that she could pass her hand over his head in appreciation for what he had done.

When she put forward this request to Hadhrat Sheikhul Hind (RA), he broke down in tears and said, “I also wish that you could express your feelings to him in this way. I guarantee you that if we had our own son he would not have served me as Moulana Husain Ahmad has done. But the Shari’ah has not permitted him to come in front of you.”

Source: Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (Rahmatullahi Alayh) – His life and works, pp. 11 – 12

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