We live in societies in which most men and women have lost their sense of modesty.
Women are obsessed with their appearances and wear clothes to be seen by others and to attract the attention of other men, even if they are married! They have lost their sense of shame.
Marriage is often looked upon as old-fashioned, and short term affairs and frivolous relationships are the norm: everyone waiting to attract a better partner and feeling totally justified to dump one partner for another at the drop of a hat. Feminism too has reached its peak and men and women are told to suppress their natural emotions.
Men are not even embarrassed when their wives are dressed up and attract the attention of other men; they do not mind if another man sees, chats, laughs and even dances with their womenfolk – and if they do mind, they are told not to be so possessive!
In Islaam, we have a concept of Gheerah
. Gheerah is an Arabic word which means protectiveness or jealousy.
It is a good type of jealousy; like when a man feels jealous or protective over his wife or sisters and other-womenfolk and does not like other men to look at them. It is a natural, inbuilt feeling that Allaah has given men and women.
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) had the most Gheerah for his wives and all of the companions were known for their Gheerah.
All Muslim men should have a collective sense of protectiveness for Muslim women
as Allaah says in the Qur’aan:
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means…”
[Soorah an-Nisaa’: 34]
Men who do not care about how their women behave and appear in front of other men, and do not enforce hijaab upon their wives or women-folk, are called Dayyooth.
[Being a Dayyooth is a major sin and a detailed description of this evil characteristic can be found in adh-Dhahabee’s book of Major Sins (Kitaab ul-Kabaa’ir).]
The Dayyooth: The Most Vile of Allaah’s Creation
and “A dayyooth will not enter Paradise.”
A Story of Gheerah
To further understand the quality of Gheerah, we can look at an incident that Asmaa’ (radiallaahu anha) the daughter of Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq (radiallaahu anhu) and sister of ‘Aa’ishah (radiallaahu anha), relates about herself. Aboo Bakr was a wealthy merchant and he married his daughter Asmaa’ to the great companion az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam (radiallaahu anhu), who was a very poor man but a man of great piety and one of the companions who was promised Paradise.
Asmaa’ relates: “When az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land, or wealth, or a slave”
; so Asmaa’ had to work very hard kneading dough, going far off to get water. “And I used to carry it on my head,”
“the date stones from the land of az-Zubayr which Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) 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 Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), 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-Zubayr and his Gheerah and he was a man having the most Gheerah. The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) understood my shyness and left. I came to az-Zubayr and said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) 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 (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam).
Upon this az-Zubayr said:
“By Allaah, 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 Bukhaaree]
Look at the sense of dignity and modesty of Asmaa’! See how she felt shy in front of men? See how careful she was about her husband’s feelings? She knew that her husband had a lot of Gheerah so she did not want to upset him by accepting the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) help, even though the Prophet was the purest of men and even though it meant bringing hardship on herself! And look at az-Zubayr (radiallaahu anhu); even though he had a lot of Gheerah, he did not want to inconvenience his wife. What a beautiful relationship they had!
Here is another beautiful example…
On this topic, a famous historical incident is mentioned, so that males and females with a sense of honor and enthusiasm may know how the pious predecessors despised a woman unveiling her face before men,
although in the following instance it was permissible to unveil the face.
During the third century Hijree, the Qaadee (judge) of Rayy and Ahwaaz, Moosa bin Ishaaq, sat to adjudicate people’s disputes. Among the litigants was a woman who claimed five hundred dinars Mahr from her husband. The husband denied the claim. The Qaadee said to the husband, “Bring your witnesses.”
The husband said, “I have brought them.”
The Qaadee said to one of the witnesses, “Look at the wife so you may point her out during testimony.”
The witness stood up and said to the woman, “Stand.”
Upon this, the husband said, “What do you want from her?”
The husband was told, “It is necessary that the witness sees your wife unveiled so that he may know that it is your wife.”
The husband detested his wife unveiling her face for the witnesses in public.
He screamed, saying, “I make the Qaadee my witness that this Mahr of my wife is an obligation on me, and she must not unveil her face!”
When the wife heard this, she thought it was wonderful that her husband disapproved of her unveiling her face before the witnesses, and was protecting her from the sight of people. She too screamed at the Qaadee, “I make you a witness that I have granted my Mahr to him, and have absolved him in this Dunya and the Akhirah!”
The Qaadee said to those around him, “Record this as a moral standard.”
[Taken from Tarbiyat al-Awlaad Fil Islaam]
Nurturing Our Sense of Gheerah
Sometimes Muslim women do not understand if their menfolk want them to cover their faces or if they ask them to change something about the way they dress or speak in public, thinking that the men are being over-protective. But my dear sisters! If your husband asks you not to wear a certain colour of khimaar because it brings out the beauty of your eyes, or if he wants you to cover your face – by Allaah, be thankful!
Be proud of the fact that your husband has a sense of Gheerah for you and that he values you and cares for your hereafter. He knows what men can be like more than you do, and so never try and suppress his Gheerah in these types of matters.
And his concern for you should incite your own sense of honour!
Why should any man be able to see your beauty and think indecent thoughts about you? We must nurture our own and our menfolk’s sense of Gheerah by behaving and dressing modestly ourselves and paying attention to their valid opinions.
We expect certain behaviour from them and they expect it of us. And besides, if our husband asks us to do something that it not haraam, we must do it.
And Brothers! How can you allow your wife or sister to walk around attracting the attentions and evil-thoughts of other men? How can you not mind if she smiles as she talks to other men? Nobody has the right to enjoy her and her company but you and her Maharim men.
You are not being overbearing if you first encourage and then enforce the hijaab on your womenfolk because you will be asked about it on the Day of Judgement, and it is also a major sin upon you! It is upon the men to enforce these things in their homes; and you cannot use the excuse that your wife did not want to.
Women need a firm, balanced, guiding hand from their men, so with wisdom you must enforce hijaab in your home. You are a shepherd and are responsible for your flock!
Allaah reminds us all in the Qur’aan, the meaning of which is:
“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allaah, but do that which they are commanded.”
[Soorah Tahrim: 6]
There is a big difference between how Islaam values and protects women and how cheaply women are treated outside of Islaam!
As Muslims we have to be careful that our Hayaa’ (sense of modesty and shame) and Gheerah do not wear out in a society in which people have lost it.
By Sister Fatima Barakatullah [Al-Mu’minaat Press – Volume 1 Issue 7 – February 2010 – Rabi al-Awwal 1431]
See also: Gheerah: Protective Jealousy