Ghayrah (Arabic: غَيْرَة) (sometimes transliterated as ghayra, ghira, gheerah or gheera) is an Arabic word which means a person’s dislike of another’s sharing in a right (which belongs to the former). It has a sense of earnest concern or zeal over something and can be considered a kind of protective jealousy. In Islam, there are different kinds of ghayrah: that which relates to Allah and which relates to a Muslim. Allah's discontent is with sharing the obedience of his servant which rightfully belongs to him. For a Muslim it is the uneasiness in his heart which moves him to guard his family from indecency.
The term is based on the following Quran verses:
- "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women" (Quran - Surah An-Nisa: 34)
- "Oh you who believe, Protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones." (Quran - Surah At-Tahrim: 6):
Men who do not have ghayrah are known as a dayyuth (Arabic: دَيُّوث). Being a dayyuth is a major sin and a description of what is deemed an evil characteristic can be found in Az-Zahabi's book of Major Sins (Al-Kaba'ir). Mohammed and his companions were known to have very strong ghayrah.
Although it is claimed that the concept of ghayrah is the source of honor killings in the Islamic world, Salafi scholar Muhammad Al-Munajjid asserts that punishment of any crime is reserved for the Islamic ruler noting that the penalty for fornication (unmarried sexual relationships for unmarried people) is 100 lashes. As it is a Muslim man's role as the guardian of his family, he is responsible for those in his custody and it is his duty to observe the conduct of his wife and children; although this does allow him to be overly suspicious or exceed the acceptable standards of supervision. For conservative Muslims, the enforcement of the wearing of the hijab by a Muslim man's wife and daughters and the prevention of the free mingling between the sexes for those under a Muslim man's guardianship are necessary actions under the concept of ghayrah to preserving one's honor. Per Salafi scholar Al-Munajjid, if a Muslim man suspects that certain family members will commit an immoral act, he is allowed to tie up or otherwise detain them in order to prevent the action.
Salafi scholar Muhammad Al-Munajjid indicates that the concept also applies to protecting Muhammad from blasphemy although the determination of guilt and application of the penalty (execution) is to be solely applied by Islamic authorities.
Hans Wehr's Arabic dictionary defines ghayrah as: jealously; zeal, fervor, earnest concern, vigilant care, solicitude (على for); sense of honor, self-respect. It can be defined as a person’s dislike of another’s sharing in a right (which belongs to the former).
Ghayrah in the Hadith
- Narrated By Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “Indeed, Allah has ghayrah, and the faithful believer has ghayrah, and the ghayrah which Allah has is provoked when a believer commits that which Allah has forbidden.” [al-Bukhari (4925) and Muslim (2761)]
- Asma' relates, "When az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land nor wealth nor slave", so Asma' 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 had endowed him and it was a distance of two miles from Madinah. One day, as I was carrying the date-stones upon my head, I happened to meet Allah's Messenger, 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 ghayrah and he was a man having the most ghayrah. The Messenger of Allah understood my shyness and left. I came to az-Zubair and said, "The Messenger of Allah 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 ghayrah." So Asma' declined the offer made by the Prophet. 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 Sahih Bukhari)
- Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Masud: RasulAllah said: “There is none having a greater sense of ghayrah than Allah. And for that He has forbidden the doing of evil actions (illegal sexual intercourse etc.).” (related in Sahih Bukhari)
- "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.” (Ibn Qayyim, Ad-Daa’ Wad-Dawaa’)
- Al-Mugheerah mentions that Saʿd ibn ʿUbaadah said: "If I find a man with my wife I will take this sword and smite his neck". And the Prophet said, "Are you amazed about Saʿd’s ghayrah?" He said: "By Allaah, I have more of this than Saʿd, and Allaah has more of it than me". (related in Sahih Bukhari)
- the Messenger of Allah said: "There is a kind of protective jealousy that Allah loves and a kind that Allah hates. As for that which Allah loves, it is protective jealousy when there are grounds for suspicion. And as for that which He hates, it is protective jealousy when there are no grounds for suspicion." (Sunan ibn Majah Book 9, Hadith 2074)
- Seekers Hub: "The Protective Jealousy (Ghayra) of Spouses" January 18, 2012
- Saudi gazette: "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women" May 15, 2015
- World of islam Glossary: Gheera retrieved January 2, 2014
- Islam QA Fatwa 49024: "He wants to look at women in the street with the intention of proposing marriage" retrieved February 12, 2014
- Daniel Akbari and Paul Tetreault Honor Killing: A Professional's Guide to Sexual Relations and Ghayra Violence from the Islamic Sources Jan 8, 2015
- OnIslam: "Are Muslim Men Jealous or Selfish? - Selfish Jealousy Vs. Honorable Protectiveness" by Zainab bint Younus 10 February 2015
- "The Trigger for ‘Honour Killing’ – Islamic cleric Said Rageah on Manhood, ‘ghirah’ or ‘jealousy’" by Tarek S. Fatah December 4, 2014
- Islam QA Fatwa 101972: Ruling on honour killings retrieved December 2, 2014 |Even if we assume that she deserves to be executed (if she was previously-married and committed zina), no one should do that but the ruler.
- OnIslam: "Husband’s Moderate Jealousy" retrieved February 12, 2015
- Saudi Gazette: "Beauty, virtue and obligation of Hijab" 12 February 2015
- University of Essex Islamic Society: "The Virtues of Hijab" retrieved February 12, 2015
- IslamQA: Fatwa 8980: "Who is the one who should carry out the hadd punishment for zina?" retrieved February 12, 2015 | The family of the woman should prevent her from committing immoral actions and should prevent the things that lead to that, such as going out, speaking to non-mahram men, and everything that may enable her to commit evil. If the only way is to detain her and tie her up, then they have the right to do that, so they should detain her in the house. But as for killing her, they should not do that
- Islam QA Fatwa 14305: It is essential to respond to those who defame the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) retrieved February 12, 2015 | If we leave the kuffaar and atheists to say whatever they want without denouncing it or punishing them, great mischief will result, which is something that these kuffaar love.... Whoever hears the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) being insulted and does not feel any honor or get angry is not a true believer – we seek refuge with Allah from humility, kufr and obeying the Shaytaan
- Al BaSeerah: "My Family, My Home, My Jannah" by the Shaykh Abdullaah Al-Ghudyaan Mar-Apr 2009 ~ Rabi` al-Awwal-Rabi` ath-Thaanee 1430