The legal consequences of the Hoor

I realised that I should have posted the two excerpts from Moghissi separately. There is connection between them but the flow was disconnected. Anyway, I am not particularly asking any questions here; merely explaining what I had meant to convey in the last post.

I understand that Muslims, especially women, have often not taken the concept of Huris very positively. Their concerns are more linked to jealousy. However, Moghissi, through Sabah, shows a more dangerous side of the belief in Huris.

In the comments to the last post, we saw a few different reactions. The most common reaction is that Huris are a metaphor. Certainly if you compare translations of the Quran they are seen as metaphorical from the beginning of the 20th century. Mohammad Asad believes they are the earthly spouses, ‘revirginated’ and raised as Hoor al ain. I have often compared the Hoor al ain with the metaphorical woman in the Zoroastrian text of Arda Viraf. Read this from Chapter 4 of Arda Viraf, verses 18-25:

18. And there stood before him his own religion and his own deeds, in the graceful form of a damsel, as a beautiful appearance, that is, grown up in virtue; (19) with prominent breasts, that is, her breasts swelled downward, which is charming to the heart and soul; (20) whose form was as brilliant, as the sight of it was the more well-pleasing, the observation of it more desirable. 21. And the soul of the pious asked that damsel (22) thus: ‘Who art thou? and what person art thou? than whom, in the world of the living, any damsel more elegant, and of more beautiful body than thine, was never seen by me.’ 23. To him replied she who was his own religion and his own deeds, (24) thus: ‘I am thy actions, O youth of good thoughts, of good words, of good deeds, of good religion. (25) It is on account of thy will and actions that I am as great and good and sweet-scented and triumphant and undistressed as appears to thee.

Now read these passages from the Quran:

They will have maidens with large, lovely black and white eyes. Like pearls preserved in their shells. As reward for their deeds. (56:22-24)

We shall unite them to maidens with big black and white lovely eyes. (44:54)

They will have with them loving wives with big black and white eyes. Who are as chaste as sheltered eggs. (37:48-49)

There will be well-disciplined, beautiful maidens. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny? Pure ones confined to the pavilions. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny? Whom no man or Jinn before them has touched; Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny? They will be reclining on plain green and beautifully printed carpets. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny? (55:70-77)

Reclining on thrones set in lines, and We will unite them to large-eyed beautiful ones. (52:20)

Gardens and vineyards, and maidens with swelling breasts, of equal age, and a cup that is overflowing (78:32-34)

Arda Viraf categorically calls this voluptuous “damsel”, a believer’s religion personified. This is not so clear in the Quran; in fact it has been accepted literally for fourteen centuries. Moreover, at least in Surah Rahman, Hoor Al Ain are a promise of Allah for the believer with the rhetorical question – “Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?”  To treat it as a mere metaphor or an illusion to allure men to do good deeds, (I can sympathize with the traditionalists), would be a deceptive promise.

However, why I quoted Moghissi is because she links the promise and belief in Huris with fundamentalism. She writes:

The promises made to the believer of the ‘good life’ awaiting him in Paradise, a space in which sexual indulgence with ‘eternally young’, ‘fair’ and ‘wide-eyed’ women seems to be man’s only activity, can, perhaps, expose what constituted ultimate happiness for the Muslim believer (Sabbah, 1988:91-7). Decoding Islamic Paradise, Fatna Sabah, suggests that the Paradisal female model, the huri, represents the ideal female and, at the same time, the ideal society for the Muslim believer. The huri ‘is created to be consumed as a sexual partner, her value comes from her physical beauty, which God gives as a gift to the believer’. She is passive and is stripped of the human dimension. ‘She has been created for one sole destiny: to be consumed by the male believer.’ Given the fact that religious instructions in Islamic societies are at the same time state legislation, this concept of sexuality has specific legal consequences for women.

While approving of sexual pleasure, the Islamic orthodox view develops, at the same time, a justification for sexual hierarchy, with women as sexual objects at the service of men.

I’m not concerned here with how Huris have been linked to jihad. I am more concerned with their effect on the lives of earthly women. They have become the ‘ideal female’ – passive and stripped of the human dimension. They teach women to be submissive, quiet, “well-disciplined”, like “well-guarded pearls” that no man has ever touched. Huris teach women to wait for the men, eagerly reclining on cushions. They teach women to desire youthfulness, full figures and big black eyes.  This concept of sexuality also has effects on ‘legal consequences for women’ by creating a ‘sexual hierarchy, with women as sexual objects at the service of men.’

Even if Huris are only metaphorical (which I am certain they are), their effects on human females are very real and so we have books like The Ideal Muslimah (some poignant excerpts here) teaching women to be obedient, pleasing, respectful, pleasing, cheerful, secretive, obliging, eager, forgiving, and one who tries to look good.

The Huri is creating the need for Muslim feminism.

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55 thoughts on “The legal consequences of the Hoor

  1. sarah says:

    Metis, I do understand the point made here and which you made in a comment on the previous post. Even if the Houris are metaphorical their depiction as passive has led many to believe that such behaviour would be pious in this life from real Muslim women.

    However, if we look at some of the female companions who were praised by the prophet and told that they were dwellers of heaven, then we see that their behaviour was not passive or restrained at all. Umm Salama who was present in the battle of Uhud and took up a sword to defend the prophet, Hadhrat Asma, etc. The female companions used to even dig the graves of the martyrs. So my point is that the depiction of the Houris was not the behaviour of the female companions who were openly praised by the prophet. It is only men at a later date (I feel) trying to limit the influence of women and using the Houri imagery to ‘brainwash’ them into passive obedience.

  2. Sumera says:

    I think even if the hoori’s are metaphorical, they certainly provide the incentive to those looking for it! I’ve mentioned before in my blog on this topic, that the hoori’s much alongside everything else stated in the Quran re paradise (gardens, wine, fine clothing, mates of equal age, youthfulness etc) are incentives, or at the most promises to those who are “true” believers. For some people, this is what they need to do good deeds – which IMO is like bribing a child with chocolate if they do what you ask them to do; it is meaningless if done purely for this sake. As Muslim men do view women as sexual objects, hence their desire to have them cover or out of public eye – this is more to do with their incapability of looking past the physical because their brains are in their pants.

    Now the effect of these Brat type women on us normal ladies, well it doesnt really bother me if im terribly honest because they may represent the ideal for many men in terms of servitude because men like to think they deserve being treated like kings and that is what these hoori;s give them – they provide them the illusion that they are lofty and deserve to be pampered.

    Yeah well, some of us ladies get our pampering on earth so we dont need to wait until popping our clogs for it! 😉

  3. Salaam Alaikum,

    This is just my thoughts, but it seems like there are two narratives of jannah:

    1)The spiritual narrative, where one is in the presence of Allah and is filled with light.

    2)The sensual narrative, where all the senses are pleasured: sight, taste, sound, touch. The Islamic sources are very plain that sex is a wondrous, pleasurable act, it’s just the lust surrounding the obtaining of sex that needs to be controlled. So in that light, I see no problem with sex being mentioned as a heavenly delight.
    But then I also seem to be the only person here who quite likes the idea of male houris, so who am I to judge? 😉

  4. Metis says:

    Sarah, I agree completely. I think the first Muslim women were quite strong and bold. In fact I have been told several times that they were so bold that they had to be humbled. The hadith in which Prophet said that women will outnumber men in Hell and that women are deficient in religion and intelligence, I have been told, was addressed to a group of very strong-minded women. One can thus argue that this submissive and obliging Paradisal model serves the purpose of showing what women should be like – Arabs didn’t have enough water, were not allowed wine, couldn’t enjoy tasty fruits and fowl meat, thus these became the promises of heaven; I think similarly they lacked submissive partners which became their promise. I completely understand that but I hadn’t realised before how these promises can lead to fundamentalism.

    Sumera, “Brat type”; that is a perfect description! Now I know why I never liked Bratz – they are so unachievable. “…it is meaningless if done purely for this sake” I feel like that too although I was afraid to say it!

    Salaam, Safiya! OK, I have already lost the argument now 😀

  5. mariam says:

    salam 🙂
    I dont know about other countries but in Iran Huries had no effect just preventing young men( barely 20 years olds) in Iran -Iraq war from fear of dying and make them laugh.in one scence of a Iranian war movie , in a truck full of young men , their commander is singing that beautiful Huries are waiting for you, and all of those soldiers just laugh.both commander and soldiers know very well that one hour later most of them are dead.
    mariam-Iran

    • Metis says:

      Mariam, that is quite interesting since the word Houri itself is borrowed from ancient farsi and the idea is definitely Persian. But time changes so much. Really enjoyed that bit of info. Thanks!

  6. Shawna says:

    I see them now as metaphorical, but I was raised to see them as literal. My thoughts fall in line with what Safiyah is saying. The Zoroastrian text is illuminating and beautiful. And if I were to interpret a female houri for myself, she would be a muse . . .

    • Metis says:

      Me too! I really liked the Zoroastrian idea. You can read it here (http://www.avesta.org/mp/viraf.html). The book narrates the story of the Zoroastrian prophet riding a flying horse into Heaven for a night. There he meets many other prophets and angels who take him on a tour of heaven and hell. He stop at every station and asks the arch angel questions about what he sees. He then narrates what he saw including what people will experience upon death. There is also a mention of the Bridge.

  7. unsettledsoul says:

    My husband was raised in religious boarding schools in Malaysia (islamic schools) until he reached pre college. He was never taught about huri’s in this way. he said the only thing he was ever taught as far as “huris” was that when a man dies he and his wife live eternally together. Possibly Malaysian boarding schools believe/teach as Asad describes:

    “Mohammad Asad believes they are the earthly spouses, ‘revirginated’ and raised as Hoor al ain.”

    I guess that makes me lucky. My husband has no concept of huris as is described above. Something to be jealous of?! We are huris! LOL…

    Jokes aside, I know one person’s experience certainly cannot speak for an entire country, but I would like to believe that even the translation of huri is cultural. It could mean so many things, depending on how you translate it.

    • Metis says:

      Wow, that is interesting. I never knew that. I thought every Muslim knows about it. It is even part of hadith actually:

      Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 54, Number 476:

      Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “The first batch (of people) who will enter Paradise will be (glittering) like the full moon, and the batch next to them will be (glittering) like the most brilliant star in the sky. Their hearts will be as if the heart of a single man, for they will have neither enmity nor jealousy amongst themselves; everyone will have two wives from the houris, who will be so beautiful, pure and transparent that the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh.”

      and

      Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan. Vol. II

      “A houri is a most beautiful young woman with a transparent body. The marrow of her bones is visible like the interior lines of pearls and rubies. She looks like red wine in a white glass. She is of white color, and free from the routine physical disabilities of an ordinary woman such as menstruation, menopause, urinal and offal discharge, child bearing and the related pollution. A houri is a girl of tender age, having large breasts which are round (pointed), and not inclined to dangle. Houris dwell in palaces of splendid surroundings.”

      Or

      Ibn Kathir emphasises the literal nature of sexual intercourse in Paradise by the following Hadith: “The Prophet was asked: ‘Do we have sex in Paradise?’ He answered: ‘Yes, by him who holds my soul in his hand, and it will be done dahman, dahman (that is intercourse done with such shove and disturbance.” (Ibn-Kathir, vol. 8, 11, commentary on Q. 56:35-37.

      • susanne430 says:

        Interesting thoughts about sex in heaven. When Jesus was asked something about marriage in heaven, he said no, there was no marriage there. But, of course, no marriage doesn’t equal no sexual intercourse! Perhaps it’s a free-for-all and we can all play the part of the promiscuous Westerner: oo la, la…the variety should make it fun! (half teasing 🙂 )

        I’d never thought of earthly women trying to live up to houris qualities. How exactly does one become a virgin after she’s already had sex? Don’t the houris miraculously revirginate every time? People always say how Western women have to live up to these idealized standards of movie star looks and weight yet here are religious women trying to live up to the standards of some heavenly beings! Argh!

        I prefer the Zoroaster metaphor of the beauty of women equaling the beauty of your good deeds. Maybe women were the most beautiful things imagined/known so it was the symbolic way that spoke the clearest to its followers. In the Bible, wisdom is described like a woman. Not in these luscious, sensual ways. But maybe women were often used as religious metaphors. Also we collectively are considered “the Bride of Christ” according to New Testament writers.

        Maybe the Quran writers/ compilers just took this approach to women more literally since they wanted women — wanted them pretty, submissive, numerous, what have you. Maybe it was an attempt to make men want to be Muslims. I can’t help but feel it’s a longed-for, anticipated reward for *some* Muslim men out there. I wish I could do a poll and find out!

        I thought Mariam’s comment was telling. This is what we hear often — Muslim men are promised 72 women in heaven if they will fight for the cause of Allah. It’s like their reward for blowing themselves up. 😦

        • Metis says:

          I don’t know where that 72 number came from! I think it is some weak Ibn Majah hadith or something. See, early Muslims were by and large all mujahideen. It wasn’t an isolated Muslim man waging a holy war. The whole new community fought wars together so even IF that promise was truly made, it was for all Muslim men.

          It is both ways – Arab men imagine beautiful white women with alabaster skin and large eyes and Arab women really want to be white and have enormous eyes; it is a never-tiring battle. This skin colour complex developed in Indians after colonisation of India, but it existed in Arabs since the beginning. There are numerous traditions where people’s skin colour is pointed out and people with fair skin were admired.

        • susanne430 says:

          I don’t know where 72 came from pertaining to the number of virgins, but it’s often a “joke” here that this is why some (few) Muslim men are willing to commit suicide. Heck, if I were a young man promised instant paradise with no grave life and no possibility of hellfire PLUS instant sex with 72 women…wow! Do men really believe this? I guess some do not or I think more would be joining the ranks. It’s better than having to struggle through life here, isn’t it? (These are things I have pondered in the past.) Now I’m curious where that started since you say it’s not such a well-known number. I need to talk to Samer and see if that number is familiar with him or if it’s just a western invention… a number pulled out of a hat maybe. 🙂

  8. Salaam Alaikum,

    Metis – I’ve not heard of that back story behind that hadith before. Was it in relation to the event with his wives over the honey? I’d love you to discuss it in more detail.

    • Metis says:

      Salaam Safiya, which “back story” are you referring to? Did I write it here? Sorry, I am lost.

      • Walikum Salaam,

        The ‘women are deficient’ hadith. You mentioned it was aimed at strong willed women. Were they his wives or the wider community?

        • Metis says:

          Safiya, I have heard that the hadith was addressed to Ansari women who were very strong-willed and bold and was an attempt to mellow them down. It wasn’t addressed to his wives.

  9. Lat says:

    The Zoraastrian text is pretty interesting and I’ve read a little about that prophet.And this only confirms what I’ve believed all along about borrowed translations.

    It seems that the houris are not the only way the martyrs will enjoy paradise.

    Related by Ahmad,al-Hakim,

    “Ibn Abbas reported that the prophet said,” When your brethen were killed (battle of Uhud),Allah placed their souls inside the bodies of green birds which came to the rivers of paradise,partake of its fruits,then retire to golden lamps hanging from the shade of the throne.When they taste the goodness of their food,drink and shelter,they cry,” Who will inform our brethren that we are alive and are provided sustenance in paradise so that they may not desist from fighting and not abstain from jihad? So Allah,the Alimighty,the Majesty said,”I will inform them about you.’ So Allah revealed the verse 3:169″.

    So it seems that green birds were not really appetizing enough for some other hadith narrators! They got ‘abrogated’ by houris! 😀 Poor green birds!

    Rumi mentions about sex being a way how God sees you. To me it’s more like returning to our original makeup,becoming one soul again.Thru’ sex this is possible.

    I understand the similarities by comparing the Zoraastrian texts and the Quranic surahs.I basically do not accept the traditional view of houris in the female being of a woman..Because if I do,then I’ll have to accept that they are scandal-mongers and rapists or like thereof in heaven.Otherwise why do they need to be submissive,to restrain their glances and keep themselves off by living in a tent in paradise? What’s the need for it if paradise is for the righteous who are freed from the chains of earthly evil?

    In the sense of Mother Earth,Mother Board or Mother Ship, I can accept the garden imageries mentioned in the verses in a similar manner,like the earth and the moon are dealt with feminine characters.Furthermore the verses do not deviate from the natural creation process or setup of gardens on earth.But swelling,voluptous breasts and revirginating hymens are just not part of garden features! We only need to observe nature to know that there’s more that God can offer that is more blinding and precious in magnitude in love that we humans ever can imagine.

    And I agree on your last para totally and esp so with this, “The Huri is creating the need for Muslim feminism.” All thanks to the Huri!

    • Metis says:

      “why do they need to be submissive,to restrain their glances and keep themselves off by living in a tent in paradise?”

      Great point! Maybe that is the ideal?

      How do you understand Houris? What do they mean to you? Even if they are the earthly humans, made young again, “why do they need to be submissive,to restrain their glances and keep themselves off by living in a tent in paradise?”

  10. sarah says:

    I think the whole idea of the Houris as a metaphor fits in with the concept that heaven is a place without earthly considerations or emotional functions. Perhaps it is a place where the spirit is liberated from the burden of managing emotions and behaviour. It will be a place of peace. This is shown through rivers of wine which do not intoxicate and women which do not feel jealous or answer back.
    They are not human and do not function like here on earth. Perhaps that is the point women need to understand. It is not physically possible – nor is it expected by God – that we women on earth should be like Houris. They do not function within the framework God gave to us and we should not live up to them as ideal.

  11. That book, The Ideal Muslimah was given to me as a high school graduation gift. I remember reading it being sincere because at that time I wanted to be an Ideal Muslimah. However, halfway through it became “The Ideal Muslim that I could never become” because I just wasn’t as pleasing, respectful, cheerful, secretive, obliging, eager or forgiving as the ideal Muslimah is supposed to be.

    I get that the Hoor are not human but I’ve actually heard men say things such as; “You women are so disagreeable when I go to heaven I’ll enjoy with the hoor, at least they know how to treat a man.” It is frustrating and annoying on several levels. I still don’t see why anyone would want to compare the Hoor to us earthly women. I feel it’s just a way to bring us down, make us feel bad and yes, it does create the need for Muslim feminists.

    I remember at some point reading a description of the Hoor that described them as light-skinned and it was at that point that I just rolled my eyes and decided not to bother anymore.

    • susanne430 says:

      “You women are so disagreeable when I go to heaven I’ll enjoy with the hoor, at least they know how to treat a man.”

      Makes me wonder why men would prefer sex with a robot. Really! Are men really this shallow?

      “it was at that point that I just rolled my eyes and decided not to bother anymore.”

      You’re so funny! I wish these men could see how it feels to be compared to the ideal person. I say we rewrite life and make THEM live up to standards of beauty, kindness, servanthood, submissiveness that they expect from the women in their lives. Bah…who needs a submissive little animal unable to think and express her thoughts?

      • “Are men really this shallow?”

        I’d like to think they are not but sadly the men I grew up around with were fond of threatening women with stuff like the Hoor and their “right” to four wives.

        And I’m glad my sense of humour got through online! It’ll be so lovely if we could rewrite things and turn the tables.

    • Metis says:

      ECC, this made me sad. See, I am surrounded by women who are raised in understanding and accepting both Quran and hadith. Yes, we can say it is Arab culture, but Islam grew out of this culture and Arab Muslims grow up not disassociating hadith from Quran. They use the former to understand the latter because they know the language, they just need to understand the context which can’t be understood without hadith or the seerah.

      Hadith is sadly quite explicit about the Houris and I think we try to walk around it. But Arabs don’t and I have heard Arab men talking to women about Houris like you mention. It is definitely done to put earthly women down. I am also surrounded by women who are dark-skinned but who do everything possible to become fairer. It is un*fair*!

      • I’ve also tried to be a Quranist. I didn’t mention that one collection of Bukhari hadith was also given to me as part of my high school graduation present. While in high school, I never really cared about Islam but by graduation time, I was ready to find my identity through Islam. This turned out to be very difficult as I discovered that most of my personality and my dark-skin apparently was contrary to what was presented to me as ideal. I’m forever thankful of the blogosphere where I got to learn more about Muslim feminism and feminists.

        It is unfair which is why we have to try as hard as possible to change things.

  12. wafa' says:

    A man refered to me in a sexual way once and when i answered him back harshly, he simply asked me to shut up cuz it’s wrong for a woman to let her voice be heard in the presence of a man !! funny, huh? . this is the mentality of lots of men btw, women should not talk back, or object or even be a being of her own.
    All in the name of being a good wife , mother or daughter.

    I have seen this happening over and over again in all walkd of life . Women have been denied their basic rights simply in the name of being GOOD and OBEDIENT. Women themselves can not talk or complain because they are afriad to be against Allah’s order to be obident to your man (father, son, brother… and the rest of the clan). While it’s ok for a man to leave a wife that she wont obey him and even hit her, but a woman has to sacrifice and be patient.

    If “hoor Al 3een” is a myth, then it must be created by a man.

    • susanne430 says:

      Wafa’, you are my hero for speaking up to these stupid men! It’s wrong for a woman to speak in a man’s presence, but it’s NOT wrong for a man to refer to a woman in a sexual way? HAHAHAHAHAH! Silly, stupid men!

    • Metis says:

      “If “hoor Al 3een” is a myth, then it must be created by a man.”

      Definitely!

      Loved your comment, Wafa!

      As a Saudi woman and an educated Muslim, what do you think about the hoor Al 3een? Do you think it is just a myth or a promise in the Quran? I don’t know any Arab Muslim woman who thinks the Hoors are a myth, actually. I once wrote an article ” الحرب ضد هور العين ” for my Arab students and none of my readers thought I was talking about a mythical creature.

      • Wafa' says:

        Seriously i am re-learning my religion now, so i have no absolute opinion about hoor al3een, though it was not that attractive idea for me before and the way they are described is too “sexual” for any one’s taste i guess, unless they are pervert.
        what is against it in my mind i guess is the idea that they are portrait as a reward , and i don’t believe any one should be a reward -since they are Allah’s creation and with a soul ,right? -. So why would men have this reward and women don’t. Don’t forget the mention of young men there too, so are these men a reward for women ? or men ? so what about homosexuality !!! . it’s a lot of contradiction to me.
        one day i will have an exact opinion of them , i am sure of that 🙂 , but until now everything is debatable and in question 🙂

  13. unsettledsoul says:

    Wow, I am so sorry you guys have had to go through this, all because of this concept of what women will be like in heaven, right? I guess this explains where all of this “Ideal Muslim Woman” comes from.

    I am thankful my husband and I do not follow hadith.

    I definitely think it is cause enough for feminism. Ridiculous.

    • Metis says:

      US, how do you and your husband read the verses that are related to and categorically call these creatures “Hoor Al Ain”? I am very interested because I didn’t know there are Muslims who don’t know about the Hoors. To me, Moghissi’s passage was very straightforward (even if shockingly honest!) and I didn’t think that there were Muslims who wouldn’t relate to it.

      How do you understand these heavenly beings who are described in the Quran as submissive, controlling their glances and eagerly lying on their silk carpets/cushions secluded in pearl tents?

  14. Sara says:

    Interesting post!

    My issue with huris is that only men get them. Why don’t we get lots of sex with hot men? But then again, most of the Qur’an seems to be addressed to men.

    In Tarif Khalidi’s translation huris are not women but “spouses.” So it’s more about being with someone you love in heaven. Which makes more sense, unless we see human nature as essentially

    • Zuhura says:

      Good question, Sara!

    • Metis says:

      Sara, Asad thinks the term is gender neutral and so men and women both will be given heavenly spouses! But I am not sure how that collocates with male Houris guarding their glances and lying in pearl tents waiting for us! Sounds too good to be true. Haha!

  15. Sara says:

    Oops here’s the rest:

    As essentially wanting nothing but physical satisfaction.

  16. Lat says:

    You asked,”Maybe that is the ideal?”

    Is the huri the ideal woman? A hur who breaks the spirit of true muslim woman is not an ideal and never could be.What’s an ideal hur doing sitting in a tent sheltered in paradise hoping to achieve for muslim women on earth, who undergo various hardships in her name? She’s more of an obstruction,a liablity than any benefit to a muslim woman.

    A hur that comes between the muslim woman and her God is not an ideal.Let the muslim woman decide who and what is ideal for her.She can speak for herself.It”s those who chains her voice and desires her utter submissiveness in any circumstances are the ones who are trapped in the hur and chained by her.Wafa has made this point very clear.

    Then how do we convince the religious muslim men and women who think contrary to this view? Who daily imprision muslim women with the unattainable hur? Be it polygamy or qawwama status.For centuries ,muslim women had accepted their status of trying to be good muslimahs according to this absurd hur. What did they achieve by this? If a muslim man attaining paradise,will get a hur for himself,what is stopping his believing wife to be disobedient? He’s getting the hur anyway.

    “Even if they are the earthly humans, made young again, “why do they need to be submissive,to restrain their glances and keep themselves off by living in a tent in paradise?”

    Maybe we’ll be made young and virgin,I don’t know but I sincerely believe that we won’t have to conform to any social standards we experienced on earth.If not then what’s paradise for me or you? If the Quranic verse that we can have whatever to our hearts’ contend is to stay true,then many women who atttained to paradise will want nothing to do with an imaginary hur.I think I can safely assume that. Believing women in paradise don’t have to wear or live in tents.We have so much better homes now or maybe in the future.Peace is the word of paradise.So only bliss and awareness of God is present.

    Yes,Sarah is right.

    “They are not human and do not function like here on earth. Perhaps that is the point women need to understand. It is not physically possible – nor is it expected by God – that we women on earth should be like Houris. They do not function within the framework God gave to us and we should not live up to them as ideal.”

    If muslim women are not allowed the power,authority or rather to use their agency of mind and heart to re-interpret the texts as truthfully as possible without the need to depend heavily on past centuries social and mental setups,how will muslim women be able to let go of a humanized hur? One thing is clear and that it lies in power.It was this power that muslim men had and are still having now in terms of religion that made them semi-gods unable to be questioned.So we need power to prove the truths that religious men( who knows women too)
    had abused.

    • Metis says:

      I really enjoyed your comment, Lat, because it is so full of emotion against the Huris that I have seen in Muslim women around me. I can only say that I can understand your stance.

  17. Lat says:

    Should be *only bliss thru’ awareness of God*

  18. susanne430 says:

    I was talking to my Syrian friend earlier this evening and told him some about these comments. I remembered to ask where the number 72 came from (yes, he was familiar with this specific number) and he said hadith.

    As soon as I mentioned the houris, he joked as he remembered our last discussions of this months ago – “Susie, why do you want to take the houris from the men?”

    I asked if they expected their women to live up to houris standards and he said they never really discussed the houris much except to joke. They DID believe they were a reward for believing men in paradise, but it was one of those things almost too unrealistic that they didn’t want to contemplate or analyze too much. So it wasn’t like the SEA Muslims who – according to Lat and Unsettled Soul – don’t make much mention, if any, of the houris.

    I told him what eccentricyoruba said about men threatening women with houris and how they know how to treat men and he seemed appalled. Really Samer is a nice guy. I don’t think he’d treat a woman in such a horrid way, but I know – sadly – there are many who would.

    BTW, our talk of houris brought up a discussion of how women are treated in the West and he asked if I felt inferior to men in any way in my culture. I told him I didn’t although there may be a few issues that someone else might bring to mind that I would agree “oh yeah!” I think often men are portrayed as bumbling idiots on TV moreso than women. To that Samer said, “But everyone knows men ARE more immature than women so that’s only normal portrayal.”

    Like I said, he’s a good guy. 😀

    • Metis says:

      Susie, the number 72 is from hadith of Tirmidhi in “Sunan” (Vol. 4, The Features of Heaven as described by the Messenger of Allah, Chapter 21: , hadith 2687).

      Ibn Kathir quoted this as well in his Tafsir of Surah 55:72. The hadith is:

      Narrated by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard the apostle saying, ‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a.

      So yes, there is the number (oddly it is even!) but it is for all people of the Heaven not the mujahid only.

  19. sana says:

    SALAM,

  20. sana says:

    I am sorry I think I am very late in commenting:)
    I was always told a different meaning of “houris”
    Mostly people would say that they are a reward to the pious men, mostly who lived and died in the name of Allah.
    Then my mother would say that they are not meant for sexual pleasure or love making but to serve us (men and women alike) in the heaven.
    and my favourite one is that women would be recreated that way for their husbands. (I would never like the other 71 though!)

    Alhumdolillah because of you I am always learning 🙂
    Thanks:)

  21. unsettledsoul says:

    Interesting.. There are so many different ways people view the huri. Obviously this is something vague in the Quran that people make what they will of it. Hadith interpretations are just that, men’s interpretations of what the Quran is trying to explain.

    To answer your question Metis, I do not put much weight on what the Quran means in that statement. Maybe it is not for me to know. I think there are some things in the Quran that we just will never fully understand, some of it coming from the fact that the language of the Quran used to not have the Kasrahs or vowels, meaning interpretations have changed once these were added.

    This may be controversial for some, but there is strong evidence that the Quran did not have Kasrahs when it was first written, and therefore the meanings of certain words could have had multitudes of translations.

    I don’t consider myself a scholar though, I am merely an ordinary woman navigating Islam.

    Anyways,

    I would never teach my children about Huris, they have too many meanings and interpretations. I wouldn’t want my children to get hung up on something that honestly doesn’t really matter.

    I can see why scholars may want to pull it apart and figure it out, as for me, I choose to leave it be because it is obviously rife with negative connotations for women.

    Like what Cairo, Lusaka, Amsterdam said, patriarchy is so normal for us, we may not even see it. I choose not to take part in anything, religious or otherwise, that calls for the degradation or disrespect of me as a woman.

    For me it is simple, for scholars and those interested in literal interpretation of the Quran, I can see how this would be a difficult subject.

    • Of course, if one believes the evidence that the Quran has been changed, then it is quite hard to know what the original meaning was, before a man came and decided to add these things to the Quran based on……. what he remembered…….

      This could explain much about patriarchy/sexism found in the Quran.

      Plus, even today people interpret Arabic Quran differently. I have a Quran from Indonesia, a Quran from Saudi Arabia, and one from an American scholar.

      The controversial verse about whether a woman is supposed to wear hijab or not is different in each of my Qurans.

      My Saudi Quran’s english translation explicity says to cover ones hair.
      My American and Indonesian versions say to cover one’s adornments.

      My Qurans have very different verses. One Quran is very different in what it portrays. As a woman, I choose not to read my saudi version, I don’t agree with it and the verses about tapping a woman lightly with a stick is utterly heinous in my opinion.

      Translation and interpretation matters. It makes a huge difference.

  22. Sorry my name changed from unsettled Soul to Almost Clever… Both are the same person 🙂

  23. Metis says:

    Thank you so much US for your reply. I agree with you completely. I too have decided not to talk to my children about the Houris. The problem is that they are growing up in the ME so they are exposed to a very blunt version of Islam. It is out of my control. They are taught stuff in school – compulsorily because they are Muslim – which I wouldn’t want to teach them. Eventually I think they will be taught about Houris too.

    “Translation and interpretation matters. It makes a huge difference.”

    They do! I agree. Someone was arguing on another blog that they don’t matter – that there is the good translation and the bad but there is nothing like something can’t be translated. I disagree. For example, in Farsi there is a word ‘Taruf’; it just can’t be translated because it is linked with the Persian culture and how people behave in social situations. It is most closely related to the Urdu word ‘Takalluf’ but even that has a different meaning altogether. I read the Quran in Arabic but there are still many places where I get stuck and I have still to look for translations.

    “if one believes the evidence that the Quran has been changed, then it is quite hard to know what the original meaning was … This could explain much about patriarchy/sexism found in the Quran.”

    You are the second person who said this to me today! Do you think that it has been changed? Please ignore it if it’s too intrusive on a public forum.

    Yes, I realised that unsettled soul is also almost clever! LOL

    • sana says:

      May Allah forgive me if I am wrong, but I too think that it has been changed. Even if a punctuation mark is moved or changed it may change the entire meaning of a sentence. Once even my mother had such doubts but then immediately asked for forgiveness :)).

    • Sumera says:

      This is off -topic…: My father although kind of religious in that he does the salah, sawm, been hajj and is involved in the mosque committee is quite liberal Metis…He has a few gripes with Islamic law which he voices lol

      He often comments that in Islam a woman is left with nothing if her husband dies (if he has brothers who survive him) and daughters gain little in inheritance if they have brothers – so you can probably assume his will isn’t the conventional one nor is his outlook! Im assuming Islamic law supposes family dynamics don’t change so the rule remains the same regardless of era – but thats quite rigid.

      • Metis says:

        I agree with your father.

        My Islamic Studies teacher in school was quite an honest man. He once commented that he felt the Islamic inheritance system works well if the man who leaves behind the inheritance is the only child whose parents were dead and if he had no sons!

        Sadly even the Prophet’s daughter was denied her right to inheritance. So I guess even if we do have rules, it seems like the world is too cruel to let people live in peace.

        • Sumera says:

          I think Fatima was denied her inheritance because there is this notion that whatever wealth a prophet has becomes part of the bait-ul-maal, so his kin cannot receive any of it (hence why none of the wives received any of it either). So prophets do not have any inheritance to pass on.

          My father isnt impressed with the islamic inheritance system either, suffice to say he has alwasys assigned everything very fairly between I and my brothers – without outside interference from my uncles (chacha’s) who have no business, interest or right to dictate in what we do, how we run our family matters and in any decisions we make ; so whats the use of them inheriting anything from my father?

          I respect your choice of not telling your children about hoor – for their is no benefit in doing so (IMO – I wouldnt either, its irrelevant to their day to day lives). Of course they’ll probably come to know one day at which point you can direct them to this blog! 😉

          • Metis says:

            Yes, there is much on it in Tabari and Ibn Saad and also the sahih hadith. However, Fatima was not even given an allowance whereas all the wives of the Prophet received regular allowance which was doubled when Uthman became the caliph. I understand Fatima’s argument that if a prophet is allowed to demand 1/5th of the booty and is allowed to own lands (Fadak and Khaiber in question) then they should leave behind inheritance as well.

            Your father is a wise man.

            That is a good idea – they can learn their Islam from all the bright and brave women here 😀

            • Lat says:

              I wonder maybe Fatimah didn’t get anything could be due to the hostility bwt the companions over the Caliphate issue? Ali being the rightful ‘heir’ and so on.As for the wives no problem.They didn’t produce any children from the prophet.I think the Arabs are quite particular about this,aren’t they? Just some thoughts.

  24. unsettledsoul says:

    Metis,

    I can understand how this issue would be close to your heart, it is too bad that culture has to have such negative impacts on our children. When I read your story about your children my heart ached. I am so sorry this has to be a worry for you. This is what angers me so much, that the degradation of women, the concept of huris, the racism and superiority complex and the blunt, literal concepts of the Quran are practiced in this world! It is an injustice, and I hate knowing that our children are susceptible to this “version” of Islam simply because they are Muslim. That a culture can call it’s own hang ups and negative aspects “religion.”

    I could rant about that for days!! LOL =) haha

    Do I think it has been changed? Well, I will say my mind is open to accepting that allegation. I think the evidence is there, yet I also am open to other thoughts and ideas. I think the concept of investigating the Quran in these ways is still quite new, so I think the discussion is still open for debate.

    But I will say this, I lean towards that idea. It makes sense to me. I think it explains many of the hangups and ineligible verses of the Quran.

    But that idea is certainly a radical notion among most Muslims.

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