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72 virgins in heaven

By mindovermatter

I was watching a the Larry King show on CNN which was hosting a panel of people from different faiths. The Jewish Rabbi made a comment about how it was reprehensible that a religion could lure men to commit acts of terrorism using 73 virgins in heaven as a bait. The muslim representative gentleman, apparently a well educated physician as well as a senior member on the Board of American Muslims said not a word!!! to refute this. I dialed into the show like a madwoman but could not get through, unfortunately.

My question to everyone out there is this that where and when did this fantasy come from? I'm sure it is a wonderful fantasy for men but why is it becoming part of this American pop culture thing against the muslims, every comedian has a joke about this in their stand-up. If any of you happen to believe in this, let me just say that there is absolutely no such promise in the Quran like this, and nothing supercedes the Quran. Let me quote the the Quran in this regard, the Quran mentions that we will be reunited with our spouses in heaven and they will be restored to a young age, and it makes mention of houris, beautiful gazelle-eyed women, and youthful boys as beautiful as well guarded pearls. I suppose those who never married, or divorced, or whose spouses never made it to heaven will have these men and women as their companions, who knows. But no where is there any mention that martyrs will be gifted with 72 virgins. If you know the source of this fallacy please let me know.

I request anyone who cares about the repuataion of Islam to please spread the word and deny all this emphatically. I am going to try to be proactive and go to my university to the professors who teach religion courses and request them to let me visit their classes and say a few words about this fallacy and some other fallacies I'm concerned about. It would be great if some other students did this as well.

   Comments: 7     Raters: 13     September 16, 2005 at 8:41am         


The opinions expressed in this journal are of the author and not necessarily of Naseeb.

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omar724 (May 16, 2008 at 2:06am)
Dr. Zahid Aziz writes:

The mention of hur in the Holy Quran as among the blessings of paradise, promised to the true believers in the life after death, is much misunderstood. This word and certain other associated terms are mistakenly considered to mean beautiful, young maidens, to be given as reward in the after-life to Muslim men, and on this basis the teachings of Islam are maligned and criticised as pandering to the crude, lustful desires of men.

?They are the fruits of the good deeds of a person, whether male or female;
?Their nature is entirely different from anything that is, or can be, known in this world;
?These rewards are meant for both the male and the female believers equally.

In his new book, Islam Peace and Tolerance, published in November of 2008, he writes:

6. Martyrdom

pp. 54-59

Virgins in heaven as reward for martyrs

The misconceived notion that a Muslim male who dies as a martyr in the hereafter with seventy-two virgins has brought Islam into disrepute and ridicule, and proved a source of much amusement and mockery for those unaware of the teachings of Islam regarding the hereafter. In this booklet we cannot enter into a detailed discussion of the Islamic concept of paradise or the garden of the next life but the following key points are necessary to know.

Firstly, the rewards of the hereafter are not the material things that we enjoy in this physical world. The life after death is in a world that cannot even be conceived by the human mind in this life, and human beings there will have an entirely different existence that cannot be known h ere. The Holy Qur?an says:

?We have ordained death among you and We are not to be overcome, that We may change your state and make you grow into what you do not know.? --- 56:60-61.

Other English translations phrase the second part of this quotation as ?changing the nature of your existence and bringing you into being anew in a manner as yet unknown to you? (Muhammad Asad). ?producing you again in a form which ye know not? (Rodwell), and ?that We may transfigure you and make you what you know not? (Pickthall).

The enjoyments in the gardens of the hereafter are of an unknown nature in this world, as the Qur?an says:

?No soul knows what refreshment of the eyes are hidden for them: a reward for what they did.? ---- 32:17

This is why the description of the garden of the hereafter is called a parable, as in: ?A parable of the garden which is promised to those who keep their duty? (13:35 and 47:15).

Secondly, the Qur?an has made it abundantly clear no less than eight times that men and women are equally entitled to the rewards of the heavenly life. It says:

?And whoever does good deeds, whether male or female, and is a believer --- these will enter the Garden?? --- 4:124

?Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, Gardens, in which flows rivers, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in Gardens of perpetual abode. And greatest of all is Allah?s goodly pleasure. That is the grand achievement.? --- 9:72

?Gardens of perpetuity, which they enter along with those who do good from among their fathers and their wives and their offspring?? ---- 13:23

?O My servants, ? Those who believed in Our messages and submitted (to Us): Enter the Garden, you and your wives, being made happy. ? in there is what their souls yearn for and the eyes delight in, and in them you will abide.? ---- 43:68-71

?On the day you will see the believers, men and women, their light gleaming before them on their right hand. Good news for you this day! Gardens in which flow rivers, to abide in them.? ---- 57:12

Thus the women among the believers will have the same rewards and enjoyments as the men of the believers.

Thirdly, all these rewards are manifestations of the good qualities shown and good deeds done by a person in this life, which are unfolded before him or her. For example, the ?light gleaming before them on their right hand? (57:12) is not a physical lamp of this world, but a representation of their light of faith. In one place we read:

?And those who believe and do good are made to enter Gardens in which flow rivers, abiding in them by their Lord?s permission. Their greeting therein is Peace! Do you not see how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word as a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are high, yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? ? And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth?s surface; it has no stability.? ---- 14:23-25

After mentioning the gardens of the next life, a good word is compared to a good tree, ever bearing fruit. Therefore the trees of the gardens of the hereafter are a person?s good deeds done in this life which appear as trees that bear bruit, just as his good deeds bore fruit.

Likewise, the ?beautiful maidens? of the next life are not as women of this world with whom men will have sexual relations. They are the good qualities shown in this life, such as honesty, purity of character, charity, integrity and faith that are manifested in this form. These maidens are called ?pure companions? (2:25, 3:15, 4:57) because they are the appearance of the pure qualities that were one?s companions in this life.

In fact, in verse 3:15 the desirability of the ?pure companions? is clearly differentiated from the sexual desire for woman in this life. Verse 3:14 refers to the attractiveness of the material desires of this world as follows:

?The love of desires is made attractive to people ? of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well-bred horses and cattle and crop produce. This is the provision of the life of this world. And with Allah is the good goal of life.? ---- 3:14

The next verse then says:

?Shall I tell you of what is better than these? For those who guard against evil are gardens with their Lord, in which rivers flow, to abide in them, and pure companions and Allah?s goodly pleasure.? ---- 3:15

It is clearly obvious from these passages that while sexual desire for women is a craving and a necessity for this material world, better and superior than this is to strive to acquire the qualities that become our ?pure companions? in the next world. This repudiates the very idea that we should wish for our physical desires of this world to be satisfied, as a reward, in the next world.

In many recent articles, published on websites and elsewhere, a saying of the Prophet Muhammad from Tirmidhi is quoted, often by way or ridicule and mockery, according to which a man in paradise will have 72 ?wives? (what these articles refer to as the 72 virgins). But in the same Tirmidhi we find, only a little later, the following report:

?Faith has seventy and something gates, the least of which is to remove from the road a harmful thing and the highest is to say ?There is no god but Allah?.? (5)

It is the ?seventy and something? constituents of faith, two of which are specified here (one high and one low, and another one often mentioned in such reports is modesty) that, for those who possess them in this life, become represented in the next life as ?maidens?.

There is also another explanation of the concept of ?virgins? in the next world, based on the following verses of the Qur?an which refer to some of the rewards to be found there:

?Surely We have created them (as) a (new) creation, so We have made them virgins, loving, equals in age?? ---- 56:35-37.

The pronoun ?them? occurring twice here, is in the feminine. A commonly-accepted meaning is that this refers to the believing women. They will be raised in the next life in a new form of creation corresponding to their purity of character in this world, and thus it is said: We have made them virgins. This interpretation is also supported by an explanation of these verses reported from the Holy Prophet Muhammad, again in the same Tirmidhi:

?And old woman came to the Prophet and said: Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that I will enter paradise. He said jokingly: Mother of so-and-so, no old woman will enter paradise. The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet said: Tell her that she will not enter paradise as an old woman, for Allah says: Surely We have created them (as) a (new) creation, so We have made them virgins.? (6)

Their resurrection as ?virgins? is only a spiritual representation of the purity with which they led their lives in this world. There is no question of sexual relations in the next life as that life is not physical life which requires such relations. The word for ?equals in age? in the above passage can also signify that they are similar in their good qualities to the believing men.

It may be noted that the term ?virgin? has been used in the Bible as a symbolism. The nation of Israel is called a ?virgin? in many places (for example, Jeremiah, ch. 31, Amos, ch. 5). The Gospel of Matthew contains the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, which Jesus begins to relate as follows: ?Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins? (ch. 25, v. 1). Obviously, virgin girls for men?s pleasure are not meant here.

5 Tirmidhi, chapters on Faith.
6 Shama?il Tirmidhi, ch. 35: ?Joking of the Messenger of Allah?, report 230.
gala (November 28, 2005 at 2:16pm)
There are mentions in the quran and sunnah of rewards for the believers and the follower of the righteous path. Yes a true believer should perform the right acts without need of such reward, but it does not hurt to have a reward in a form which we can understand.
I believe the rewards in paradise are much different than what we imagine and expect, but they are described in terms familiar to us to make it understandable.
This 72 virgin stuff is a propaganda tool that the Jews and the new-cons are using to vilify us in the mind of the simpleton American public. We should try in return point out the real aspects of this conflict. The sheer imbalance in power and desperation of the oppressed fighting an enemy superior on a massive scale. People should understand that these people are fighting because it is the right thing to do and because it is the only resort left for them, and no to get the virgin and other material rewards.
waqas72 (October 8, 2005 at 6:41am)
oh Gimmie a !@*$#ing break! Most of you moronic monkies are raised to be sexually repressed & hetrophobic perverts something many have no problems with..and then you go and get all excited about having these massive orgies if you happen to be stupid enough to commit suicide 'for Allah'. I mean just the notion of this idiotic concept completely contradicts everything the basic principles of Islam and morality for that matter teach us.

Even if it did happen to be true I want no part of it. I don't need anyone but the ones I love and why would I want to be with anyone then my wife.. Inshallah I'll get married to someone wonderful one of these days! lol

Even the whole idea of getting an entire planet to yourself, having all the riches in the world, getting anything you want just by asking..!? All of these things encourage greed and selfishness.. No wonder Muslims are such a bloody mess... biggest joke on the planet. All they care about is themselves, all they wanna do is exploit and out do each other.
qrizwan (September 19, 2005 at 8:44am)
Brother Oasis_asu pointed out that the Hadith concerning 70 Houris is authentic and it is reported as regards the one who dies as a martyr in the Cause of Allah.


so it's no longer debatable for me since it's an authentic hadith...often we don't understand the wisdom of Allah and western values teach us that such fantasies are talk of jahiliya, but at the end, we are only answerable for our own actions to ALlah and not to anybody.
mehnazMD (September 18, 2005 at 12:10pm)
Thanks mindovermatter, more power to you! i wholeheartedly agree. Please stop the jahalliya. And weak hadiths with perverted twists will not do much for the islamic cause.
qrizwan (September 16, 2005 at 9:47am)
ok, this is confusing. there is no Quranic ayat that talks of 72 virgins, there are many Quranic ayats that talk of virgins in heaven who will be wed with the companions, etc.

the only hadith I came across online is collected by Imam al-Tirmidhi and also quoted by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (Koranic Commentary) of Surah Rhman (55), ayah (verse) 72:

?It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ?Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa?id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad (Allah?s blessings and peace be upon him) saying, ?The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives, ..."

now there are already 3 narrators in this chain before Prophet Muhammad swas, so that puts a significant doubt on the authenticity of this hadith. I don't have much knowledge on this subject so I won't speculate anything. I would be interested in someone's view who does have knowledge about this. thanks for the post.
force_of_nature (September 16, 2005 at 8:54am)
I too have been baffled by this 'phenomena', for want of a better word:(

.....and would also be interested in hearing what 'scriptures' if any support this 'theory'.