The Protective Jealousy (Ghayra) of Spouses

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I am really confused about a spouse’s ghayrah for each other. I know they want to protect each other from harm; but what about the spouse disliking their significant other when they talk to na-mahrams without a need? And they feel jealous and feel as if the spouse is not theirs but the na-mahrams. It hurts them deeply.

Can you please give some naseehah and clarification?


Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and spirits, insha’Allah.

Jealousy (ghayra) is linguistically defined as a person’s dislike of another’s sharing in a right (which belongs to the former). [Birgivi, al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya; Nahlawi al-Durar al-Mubaha]

It has a sense of earnest concern or zeal over something. Moreover, it can be considered as a kind of protective jealousy.

The Types of Protective Jealousy (ghayra)

There are different types of protective jealousy (ghayra):

[1] That which relates to Allah: is His discontent at sharing the obedience of His servant which rightfully belongs to Him, alone;

[2] That which relates to the believer: is the uneasiness in his heart which moves him to guard his family from indecency;

The Protective Jealousy (ghayra) of Spouses

One naturally has a protective jealousy (ghayra) over one’s spouse and there is nothing wrong with that.

Asma’, the daughter of Abu Bakr, (Allah be pleased with them both) relates that, “al-Zubayr married me, and he had no wealth, no slaves, nothing except his horse. I used to feed his horse, looking after it and exercising it. I crushed date-stones to feed his camel. I used to bring water and repair the bucket, and I used to make bread but I could not bake it, so some of my Ansari neighbors, who were kind women, used to bake it for me. I used to carry the dates from the garden that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had given to al-Zubayr on my head, and this garden was two-thirds of a farsakh away. One day I was coming back with the dates on my head. I met Allah’s Messenger who had a group of his companions with him. He called me, then told his camel to sit down so that I could ride behind him. I told (al-Zubayr), ‘I felt shy, because I know that you are a jealous man.’ He said, ‘It is worse for me to see you carrying the dates on your head than to see you riding behind him.’ Later, Abu Bakr sent me a servant, who relieved me of having to take care of the horse; it was as if I had been released from slavery.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

When it comes to the issue of speaking with unrelated members of the opposite sex, it becomes problematic when there is no need. Though one should have a good opinion of one’s spouse and, if need be, sway them, by means of wisdom and gentleness, to avoid situations in which they end up speaking to others without reason.

Furthermore, if one feels somewhat hurt by such situations, one should speak to one’s spouse about it, tactfully, in a manner that is positive and beneficial in one’s relationship; both in the short, and long, term.

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani