Seventy-Two Virgins/Houris

More Israelis and their friends in this country talk about 72 virgins, as heavenly reward, than Muslims. From what I have been able to trace, it all started with the CBS’ 60-Minutes show in 1996 in which two Palestinian “terrorists” were shown perhaps jokingly referring to Abdullah `Azzam’s book, “Join the Caravan,” which had come out just a few months earlier in 1995. One of them stated that Muslims are promised 72 virgins in heaven for martyrdom. From that point onwards, there has been relentless propaganda that suicide bombers have been blowing themselves up so that they can go to heaven and get their 72 virgins. You can also test this theory on Google Groups Advanced Search. Although there have been great many controversies about Islam on Usenet, there is hardly any post that refers to 72 virgins before 1996. So this myth started with CBS’ 60 Minutes, which is an extremely pro-Israeli show and is quite notorious for doing a job on those who are against Israel.

Quran does not say anything about 72 vigins. For other sources one must turn to the six (recognized) books of Hadith, among which Malik’s Muwatta and Bukhari are more reliable. But neither Malik nor Bukhari considered their compilations perfect. Out of the other four Hadith books, Tirmidhi is the main source for the belief that martyrs may get up to 72 Houris. It was only in the sixth century A.H. that Tirmidhi’s “Jami'” was accepted as one of the canonical books on Hadith. Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud and Sunan Nasai all received acceptance before Tirmidhi’s Jami’. The other source is Ibn Khatir’s “tafseer” (commentary) on the Quran. In a recent translation of his work, one can find a note from the publisher saying, “We are aware that Ibn Kathir’s original work does contain some weak narrations as well as a number of Traditions related from the People of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians}.” Therefore, one can say that if a theological issue only has to rest on Tirmidhi and Ibn Khatir’s commentary, it probably wouldn’t be considered as very reliable. [By the way, the number 72 was a significant number in Jewish mysticism and among Christian Gnostics, and that’s probably how it got into Hadith literature. But that’s another topic].

Quran does mention Houris and describes them as beautiful women of Paradise, who will be “married” to those men who make it to Heaven. But the exact number is not given. In Bukhari, there is a Hadith that two Houris will be given to each man, but it’s narrated through Abu Huraira, a man about whose credibility many Muslims, especially the Shiah, have expressed some grave doubts about throughout Islamic history.

Quran makes it certain that people will enter Heaven with their wives and children: “And (as for) those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring…”(52:21). Verse 40.8 also says the same thing, ” Our Lord! and make them enter the gardens of perpetuity which Thou hast promised to them and those who do good of their fathers and their wives and their offspring, surely Thou are the Mighty, the Wise.”

As far as the descriptions of Paradise are concerned in the Quran, the idea is that each person who believes in God and has good deeds would be rewarded in the hereafter with whatever his or her heart desires. [It is expected that a person would be wise and noble before he or she enters Heaven]. There is a well known Hadith, reported both in Bukhari and Muslim, that says, “God has said that for my good and obedient servants, I have prepared that which no eyes have seen, no ears have heard, and no heart has considered.” Ibn Abbas, one of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w), also stated that except for names, there is no comparison between what exists on earth and what will be in the hereafter.

9 thoughts on “Seventy-Two Virgins/Houris

  1. website visualize December 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm Reply

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this site needs a lot more attention.
    I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

  2. sam September 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm Reply

    enemies of islam will stoop to any level to hurt it….talmud ‘a righteous jewish man who dies will find 70 fair maidens awaiting him;

  3. Herman April 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm Reply

    The writer of the original post remarks: ‘Quran does mention Houris and describes them as beautiful women of Paradise, who will be “married” to those men who make it to Heaven.” The quotation marks reflect the writers lack of willingness to accept the will of Allah: In the Koran, there are of course no quotation marks. The Muslim male in heaven WILL have houri-wives, as commanded by Allah:

    Koran 44:54 “Even so (it will be). And We shall WED THEM unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes.”

    Consequently, if the Muslim male is already married to a human female before entering heaven, then that female will just have to get in line behind all the houris in the sky to again have access to her husband (presuming that she too makes it into Islamic heaven).

    You see, it was the Muslim men (and not the women) who fought and died so that Muhammad could have more booty. He had to design his heaven to be most attractive to them.

  4. sincereadvisor April 17, 2014 at 11:11 am Reply

    Of course there are no quotation marks in Quran; the emphasis was mine, as in your quote! My question to you is that since most men do want many women [you might be an exception] and cannot get them in Heaven, after a lifetime of pining, where else can they go? How fair is it that atheists and non-religious men can have as many women as they want in this world with impunity but religious people can have only one in this world and for rest of eternity? If you were living in the puritanical medieval world, your point could have been valid but in an age when most men in the western world are either serial monogamists or polygamists, your sense of outrage is hypocritical and nonsensical! Having said this, I thought I made a point in may article that according to Prophet Muhammad, “here is no comparison between what exists on earth and what will be in the hereafter.” So it seems that it will be more of a virtual reality world in which all desires will come true in some form or another but your relationship with your worldly spouse will remain intact. Now if you are insisting that you want only ONE woman for eternity, I am sure God will accommodate your wish and you will have only one. You will have what you wish for!

    As far as booty is concerned, all Muslims know that Prophet Muhammad did not live in wealth. In fact, he lived rather humbly and he had few possessions. There were times, when his family didn’t have anything to cook and they lived on dates and cucumbers. Whatever he received was mostly shared with the poor and the needy. After his death, his land was sold and the money was distributed among the poor by his best friend and successor, Abu Bakr, which, by the way, is one of the grievances which Shia s have against Sunnis. So, if the purpose of waging Jihad was for booty, he or his family certainly didn’t much benefit from it.

  5. Herman April 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm Reply

    sinceradvisor writes “Now if you are insisting that you want only ONE woman for eternity, I am sure God will accommodate your wish and you will have only one. You will have what you wish for!”

    NO, YOU WILL NOT!!! Read your Koran: “Koran 44:54 “Even so (it will be). And WE SHALL WED THEM unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes.” Are you seriously going to tell us that after Allah marries a Muslim to someone, he is going to file for divorce? Are you going to tell Allah that He made a mistake in marrying this Muslim to all those houris?

    Turning to a different matter, what would you tell a Muslim female who upon arriving in heaven finds her husband married to many houris? Will you say, “You’re just going to have to wait in line to gain access to your husband, you’re Number 47”??? WELL???

    sincereadvisor writes “How fair is it that atheists and non-religious men can have as many women as they want in this world with impunity” This assertion is completely delusional. “WITH IMPUNITY, you say??? As for me, I’ve had, alas, just about zero women in my life.

    What precisely does “serial monogamists” mean?

    sincereadvisor writes, “Prophet Muhammad did not live in wealth.” It would be great if you could tell that nonsense to the slaves Muhammad owned. I do suspect that they lived in notably less wealth than Muhammad, what do you think, sincereadvisor?

  6. Diana August 20, 2014 at 1:06 am Reply

    Um, NO. The quran my husband has (arabic) and my english translated version says “They will be wed to fair maidens with wide, lovely eyes. I fit that description MYSELF. I am a white woman with large blue eyes… Also it is widely known that.large eyes are a marker if beauty. So… I don’t know what version you are reading… but I would suggest you SEEK KNOWLEDGE. As Allah commmands. 😉

    • sincereadvisor August 22, 2014 at 3:12 am Reply

      Diana, I am glad that you have become a Houri for your husband in this world, and your husband is very fortunate to have you. Some of us are not that lucky. I think you did not read the rest of my article and stopped at the first line that you have quoted. If you do read all of it, I think you will agree with me for the most part.

  7. Herman September 16, 2014 at 8:52 pm Reply

    Okay, Diana and sincereadvisor, please explain WHY BEING WHITE (THAT IS “FAIR”) IS PREFERABLE TO YOUR GOD. Can you do that?

  8. PurpleHammer October 30, 2014 at 11:21 am Reply

    Great job brother/sister. keep it up

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