While hunting for reference to the narration mentioned here I stumbled upon this quote by Imam Ali(s.a.) in Nahj al-Balagha:

Jealousy in woman is unpardonable but in man it is a sign of his faith in religion (because Islam has permitted polygamy and prohibited polyandry).

I fail to comprehend the following thing in regards to jealousy:

  1. why is it unpardonable for women?
  2. conversely, why is it a sign of faith in religion for men?
  3. what has 1. and 2. got to do with the permission and prohibition of polygamy and polyandry respectively in Islam?

4 Answers 4


Although @Fatemeh's post already contains the answer but maybe this post could help better understand her answer. The Ahadeeth of Imams of Shia, those which are known as authentic and many that are not proved to be authentic, all support and explain each other and verses of Quran. This is a claim that I make mainly based on my study of Shia literature, but many others have the same claim as well.

Now about your question:

Let me start by saying that every state that is created in the human being has its own right position. Anger, jealousy, desire for eating, desire for sleeping, desire for having sex, not easily spending money, being arrogant and etc. all can be good or bad and as always it depends who is such and in what situation. For example being arrogant is among the worst state one can be in, it is the main reason for people not going by the laws of Allah and rejecting Him as the only God, but still in Shia Hadeeth a poor being arrogant in front of a rich is encouraged! Being angry for our own benefit is discouraged but for the sake of Allah with the enemies of Allah it is encouraged (remember the verse about it in Quran?). Easily spending money by a man for his family is among the very good prays of Allah he can do, like jihad, but the same is discouraged for a woman that is to spend from his husband's money! The same is true about jealousy, but this needs a further explanation. Jealousy (غیرت، حمیت) that is good for all human beings is about their religion and other values, people should defend Islam e.g. and this should be an important issue in their mind, they should care about it, but women are discouraged to have jealousy about their husbands, at the same time that the husbands are encouraged to be jealous about their wives. Another example is pudency which is quite encouraged for women in front of the strangers of the opposite gender, but at the same time this is quited discouraged for them in front of their husbands. You see, no adjective is really bad if is given to us by Allah, but we should manage it and keep control of it in our everyday lives.

As far as I have seen some adjectives are counted in our Ahadeeth that are good for women and bad for man, e.g. one not being Jealousy (about their husbands, not their religion, their children and etc.), one being scary (in her social communications mainly not while defending her religion or her virginity or else), and one easily spending money (from her husband or father's wealth not her own wealth of course). For example see this Hadeeth from Imam Ali peace be upon him again from Nahjul Balaqeh that counts three most important of such adjectives:

قَالَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع خِيَارُ خِصَالِ النِّسَاءِ شِرَارُ خِصَالِ الرِّجَالِ الزَّهْوُ وَ الْجُبْنُ وَ الْبُخْلُ فَإِذَا كَانَتِ الْمَرْأَةُ ذَاتَ زَهْوٍ لَمْ تُمَكِّنْ مِنْ نَفْسِهَا وَ إِذَا كَانَتْ بَخِيلَةً حَفِظَتْ مَالَهَا وَ مَالَ بَعْلِهَا وَ إِذَا كَانَتْ جَبَانَةً فَرِقَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْ‏ءٍ يَعْرِضُ لَهَا

The best adjectives that a woman can possess are the worst that a man can possess, being arrogance, scary and stingy, if a woman is arrogant will not let the strangers of the opposite gender to enter her own private zone, when she is scary will stay away from anything that will disrupt her respect, and when is stingy will keep the wealth of her own and her husband.

The following Ahadeeth all are from the most authentic Hadeeth book of Shia, Usul-e-Kaafi (V. 5, p.p. 504-506), all saying the same thing that you read from Nahjul Balaqah:

... عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ لَمْ يَجْعَلِ الْغَيْرَةَ لِلنِّسَاءِ وَ إِنَّمَا تَغَارُ الْمُنْكِرَاتُ مِنْهُنَّ فَأَمَّا الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ فَلَا إِنَّمَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ الْغَيْرَةَ لِلرِّجَالِ لِأَنَّهُ أَحَلَّ لِلرَّجُلِ أَرْبَعاً وَ مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُهُ وَ لَمْ يَجْعَلْ لِلْمَرْأَةِ إِلَّا زَوْجَهَا فَإِذَا أَرَادَتْ مَعَهُ غَيْرَهُ كَانَتْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ زَانِيَةً.

Narrated from Imam Sadiq peace be upon him: Verily Allah --عز و جل-- has never put jealousy for women ... verily Allah has put the jealousy for men since they are allowed to have four wives and those their right hands possess while women are not allowed to have more than one husband at a time and if a woman seek for more than that in the view of Allah she will be a wrongdoer.

قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ ع غَيْرَةُ النِّسَاءِ الْحَسَدُ وَ الْحَسَدُ هُوَ أَصْلُ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّ النِّسَاءَ إِذَا غِرْنَ غَضِبْنَ وَ إِذَا غَضِبْنَ كَفَرْنَ إِلَّا الْمُسْلِمَاتُ مِنْهُنَّ.

Imam Baqir peace be upon him said: Jealousy (غیرت) of women is the kind of jealousy (حسد) which is the root to Kufr. The women when become jealous will become angry and when became angry will deny what is right and commit Kufr, the exceptions are those who yield to submit for Allah.

The above are not the only such Ahadeeth there in that book.


It is the translation mistake. As Jealousy is forbidden for all Muslims, Even men and women should not be jealous. But the jealous which is the sign of faith of the man is called. "غيرة". This word cannot be translated as jealous. It is an Ibadah for men and it is forbidden for women.

Why is it forbidden for women?

Because it could make women to refuse her husband take more than one wife and help others in life. (All of us know that many women want their husband just for themselves. Even a husband doesn't have an authority to love his mother or sister!!!)

Why is it the sign of the faith for men?

This dimension of the men characteristic helps them to defend their family and their religion. It is very important for a man to be brave enough to not let strangers come and ruin his life. But it's better not to confuse the religious fervor with prejudice! A religious fervor man always observes his family to do the righteous and support them to have a good life in the world and Etc.

It is better before saying that an important book is invalid, search and find the reason.

Also you can find all things about jealously (حسد) Here

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    I don't follow. If a man is doesn't need his wife's consent (source) then I don't see how the prohibition follows. What's Even a husband doesn't have an authority to love his mother or sister!!! supposed to mean? So you're saying women shouldn't have "religious fervor" i.e. no "غیرت"? Then why is it advisable to marry a religious women? I find this answer to be self-contradictory and misleading. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 18:25
  • Almost the same. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 20:49

I have never see any reference in Islamic literature allowing jealousy in a man or woman. Jealousy is forbidden for all Muslims and is a great spiritual sickness that can cause untold miseries for all involved. If you found a book written by Ali radhialloho anho permitting jealousy in men, that is something not written by him in that book. Period.

  • 1
    Reference for "Jealousy is forbidden for all Muslims.."? Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 9:34

The Hadith you mentioned in your question, Ali never said it, and it is in of it self incorrect. Now in regards to jealousy, there is jealousy that is praised and good and part of Iman, this is equal for both men and women, and then there is a jealousy which Allah does not like/hates and this is equal for both men and women.

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

مِنَ الْغَيْرَةِ مَا يُحِبُّ اللَّهُ وَمِنْهَا مَا يُبْغِضُ اللَّهُ فَأَمَّا الَّتِي يُحِبُّهَا اللَّهُ فَالْغَيْرَةُ فِي الرِّيبَةِ وَأَمَّا الْغَيْرَةُ الَّتِي يُبْغِضُهَا اللَّهُ فَالْغَيْرَةُ فِي غَيْرِ رِيبَةٍ

There is jealousy which Allah loves and jealousy which Allah hates. That which Allah loves is jealousy regarding a matter of doubt, and that which Allah hates is jealousy regarding something which is not doubtful

سنن أبي داوود (Abi Dawood)

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    Due to Shia scholars however the book contains lots of knowledge absent in many other books, it is not a comprehensive collection of Imam's sayings but an authentic collection of some of them which are literally interesting more than some others, like a whole speech not containg Alef, and etc
    – owari
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 21:01
  • Given that the question isn't about the authenticity of Nahj al-Balagha at all, rather about an interpretation , I question whether the first two sentences even belong in the answer.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 22:36

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