One of the most talked-about traits of the daughters of Eve is jealousy. It is universally considered to be in our genotype but we express it differently…
-It’s resentful envy: when you desire the goodness you see in someone, to the extent of wanting them to lose it.
-It’s selfishness: when you obsessively cling onto something you have so that no one else can benefit from it.
-It’s infatuation: when you love someone so much that your blood starts to boil anytime someone glances at them. There’s a Yoruba word for it – ìgbónára.
-It’s protectionism: when you don’t even want your loved one to be glanced at for whatever reason.
-It’s a sign of “healthy” love: when you feel jealous of a potential or actual rival; albeit moderately and short-lived.
But wait! Men get jealous too, don’t they? I think their jealousy can be worse than ours. It may not be as toxic and prolonged, but they can reach the boiling point at the slightest provocation. For them, the nomenclature is beautified. The coinage: “guard jealously” is reserved for men. When a man is staring at a pretty lady and his wife gets mad, why can’t we call that “guarding jealously”?
Of course, in Islaam, it’s obligatory for a man to guard and protect his wife, daughter and other dependents. At the same time, he should not abuse this privilege and overdo the protectionism. Unless the woman herself is wayward, he should give her some breathing space, some time out with her lady friends and a reasonable degree of freedom to visit her immediate and distant relations. There should be no need to thingify a woman and reduce her life to a prison yard.
A healthy amount of jealousy is good for every relationship. Let’s just keep it that way: healthy!