Discussing Ghayra in Abbasid Literature: Jealousy as a Manly Virtue or Sign of Mutual Affection

In: Journal of Abbasid Studies
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  • 1 University of Gothenburg, Sweden

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Jealousy is a thriving theme in Abbasid poetry and narratives, but it is not confined to the realm of storytelling and poetic motifs; its meaning and boundaries are discussed from various points of view of Abbasid scholarship. In this article, explanations and definitions of ghayra as an emotion as well as cultural practice are investigated on the basis of a selection of Classical Arabic literary sources. It is a study of attitudes towards jealousy in literature that is predominantly normative, and hence excluding subjective experiences as they are expressed in poetry and anecdotal literature.

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  • 9

    Ibn al-Nadīm, Fihrist, 287. I am most grateful to Everett Rowson for sharing his knowledge about this book. He concludes that it was written not later than the middle of the fifth/eleventh century. See his excellent overview in Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature: Arabic: Middle Ages to Nineteenth Century. For the chapter on ghayra, I rely on two mss; Aya Sofya 3837 (634 ah) and Fatih 3729 (582 ah).

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  • 12

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 306. There are a few variants to this ḥadīth, e.g., lā tarudd instead of lā tamnaʿ, and “enjoy her”, instead of “keep her”; cf. Suyūṭī, Sharḥ Sunan al-Nisāʾī, 67-68. The ḥadīth is found in Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, 545; Shāfiʿī, Umm, 37. The different versions, opinions and arguments around its interpretation are summarized by Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, who argues that yad lāmis must indicate zināʾ, and that the husband suspects that his wife would be able to commit an adulterous act, but that he has no evidence. I found al-ʿAsqalānī’s text, where the ḥadīth is debated, online in a transcript of a short Azhar MS entitled Risāla fī ḥadīth lā tarudd yad lāmis li-bn Ḥajar, http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vb/showthread.php?t=87233.

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  • 14

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 306.

  • 16

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 312; also Ibn Ḥabīb, Adab al-nisāʾ, 275.

  • 17

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 312.

  • 18

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 310-311.

  • 24

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 310. According to Kulaynī, Kāfī, V, 537, it could “make the healthy among them sick.” See also Ibn Ḥabīb, Adab al-nisāʾ, 276.

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  • 28

    Ibid.; Ibn Ḥabīb, Adab al-nisāʾ, 275.

  • 29

    Ibn Abī Shayba, Muṣannaf, 54; also in Ibn Qutayba, Uyūn, IV, 77, where ʿUmar advises: “Do not let your women stay in the upper rooms and do not teach them the Scripture. Take help from nakedness against them. Say ‘no’ to them frequently, as a ‘yes’ would urge them to continue asking.” This khabar is elaborated in ps.-Jāḥiz, Maḥāsin, 274-275. Ibn Qutayba and ps. Jāḥiẓ also provide a variant attributed to ʿAqīl b. ʿUllafa; Uyūn, IV, 77; Maḥāsin, 273.

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  • 34

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 311; Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, VII, 2003. The wives of the Prophet were given the honorific title ummahāt al-muʾminīn, “Mothers of the believers,” in Q 33:6; see Stowasser, Women in the Qurʾan.

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  • 35

    Kharāʾiṭī, Iʿtilāl, 311.

  • 42

    Ibn Ḥabīb, Adab al-nisāʾ, 277; the expression is also found in Kulaynī, Kāfī, 505.

  • 44

    Kulaynī, Kāfī, 505. Al-Nasāʾī (Suyūṭī, Sharḥ sunan al-Nasāʾī, 69) claims that the Prophet advised the Muslims not to marry jealous women (i.e. from the Anṣār).

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  • 51

    Tawḥīdī, Hawāmil, 235.

  • 52

    Ibid., 237.

  • 54

    Tawḥīdī, Hawāmil, 236.

  • 55

    Ibid., 237.

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