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

Is it Bad Manners to Be “Cold” to Protect Yourself from Developing Feelings for Someone?

Answered by Ustadha Jameela Jafri

Question: Assalaamu alaykum,

I stopped talking to a Muslim guy I know from work because I developed feelings for him.  Now if I see him, I’ll only give greetings and nothing else.  I don’t behave like this towards anyone else. Am I being a bad person by ignoring him and minimizing the contact? Is it bad adab to be a bit “cold” when speaking with him?


Answer: Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

Dear Sister,

Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh. InshAllah this finds you in the best of states.

In itself, there is nothing inappropriate or wrong with speaking to a person of the opposite gender. In everyday situations, such as school, work, or business, men and women often have to interact with one another. As long as this is done with good manners, a sound heart, and respectful conduct, then one should not feel “bad.” In fact, when there is obvious need, then it is not disliked to speak to someone of the opposite gender.

It is normal that, at times, two people will be attracted to one another or that one person is attracted to another. There is nothing inherently wrong with this natural feeling. This feeling of attraction to a person of the opposite gender is a gift from Allah Most High and facilitates people getting married for the sake of pleasing Allah and following the sunnah of the Prophet ‘alay salatu wassalam. Again, one should not feel “bad” when one is not married and is attracted to someone and desires marriage. Like any situation, however, what matters is how we behave and conduct ourselves in these circumstances.

If one is attracted to someone but steps are not being taken to facilitate marriage, then it is important to safeguard one’s heart and soul. This caution is recommended in our deen and it is the reason why the Sharia has guidelines for the way that men and women should interact with one another. In your situation, there is romantic interest but it seems that steps are not being taken towards marriage. Given this, your inclination to avoid needless conversation is best for you. There is no need to be rude or harsh to the other individual, but if there is no obvious benefit in speaking with him and if conversing only causes more confusion or heightens romantic interest, then being cautious is best. In public spaces, it is fine to exchange salams and have minimal conversation to avoid being rude. Private conversations between the two of you should be avoided completely.

As we know, it is very difficult to remove memories and feelings from one’s heart. Allah Most High reminds us in the Qur’an, “Tell believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them for them. Verily, Allah is aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest.” (24:30-31). Avoiding needless conversation when one has romantic interest is a way to lower one’s gaze and be modest. It will inshAllah protect your heart.

Place your full reliance on Allah Most High that He will provide you with a caring and righteous spouse when the time is right. Although avoiding this person and protecting your heart may be difficult right now, find comfort in the promise of Allah Most High that “verily with hardship comes ease” (94:6).

I hope this helps,

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani