Question: What does ghayrat of Allahu ta’âlâ mean? If ghayrat means jealousy, can Allah be jealous?
Ghayrat is different from jealousy. Ghayrat means one’s not consenting to share one’s rights on a person with others. For example, a man’s not wanting his wife to be with other men is ghayrat.
Desiring that those who use religious knowledge to obtain worldly gains should lose their knowledge is also ghayrat. Wishing destruction of the wealth and possessions of those who use them to promote forbidden or oppressive things or to spread bid’at or to destroy Islam, would not be jealousy, but it would be religious ghayrat. Desiring that others should not have harmful things would be ghayrat, too. Rasűlullah states in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(Allahu ta’âlâ has ghayrat for a Mu’min [Believer] and Mu’min has also ghayrat for other Mu’mins.) [Muslim]
The meaning of ghayrat of Allahu ta’âlâ is His not consenting with human creatures’ committing sins. What devolves on a human creature is not to lead a life at will, but to be a true slave to Him, which in turn means to obey His commandments and prohibitions. The right to act at will is confined uniquely to Allahu ta’âlâ. As far as human creatures are concerned, performing their desires or committing sins would mean violating the right of Allahu ta’âlâ, i.e., having a share from the right of Allahu ta’âlâ. Committing fornication, for instance, is to violate Allahu ta’âlâ’s right. The purport of two ahâdîth is as follows:
(There in no one who has more ghayrat than Allahu ta’âlâ in getting angry with His slave’s committing fornication.) [Bukhârî]
(As Allahu ta’âlâ’s ghayrat is much, He prohibited fornication.) [Bukhârî]
A human’s performing ghayrat for his or her relatives is not jealousy, but a praiseworthy act. The purport of a hadîth-i sharîf is as follows:
(Ghayrat for chastity is from îmân.) [Daylamî]
There were exemplary occasions when Allahu ta’âlâ disciplined His beloved and even not beloved slaves with this ghayrat of His. For example:
1. Prophet Dâwud “alaihis-salâm” was praying as follows, “O my Rabb! There is no night that some of my children do not perform salât and there is no day that some of my children do not fast. Allahu ta’âlâ replied, “If I would not decree and give strength and opportunity, none of those could be accomplished.” This statement of Dâwud “alaihis-salâm” offended Allahu ta’âlâ, and he suffered all of those undesirable things that are written in the history books.
2. Prophet Yűsuf’s “alaihis-salâm” asking a person who was going to see the Ruler of the time that he should mention his name in the presence of the Ruler caused ghayrat of Allah, and therefore caused him to stay in prison for many years.
3. Prophet Ibrâhîm’s “alaihis-salâm” joy upon the birth of his son Ismâîl caused ghayrat of Allahu ta’âlâ and ordered him to sacrifice his son.
4. There was a man who did not accept the superiority of Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî. One day this man invited one of the disciples of Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî for a meal. During the meal, he spoke ill of this Imâm. Those statements of his worried the disciple. The moment when he was standing up to leave the meal, this event caused ghayrat of Allahu ta’âlâ, and the limbs of that man became paralyzed. (M. Ahmadiyya)
5. The purport of a hadîth-i sharîf is as follows:
(There was a conceited person among the ummat [community] of one of the prophets. He would sashay around, his skirts sweeping the ground. His arrogant behavior offended Allahu ta’âlâ, so that the earth swallowed him up.) [Barîqa]