Virgins in Paradise
“Suicide-bombers blow themselves up because they are promised 72 virgins in Heaven”
Oh, how this statement makes my skin crawl!
Critics of Islam like to describe “Virgins in Paradise” (“Houris”) as base, sex-objects and motivation for Muslim suicide-bombers, because it helps promote hate and fear towards Islam and Muslims. The tactic works because of the negative connotations for sex in the ‘Christian’ part of the “Judeo-Christian Civilization”.
Suicide-bombers of different faiths (they include Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus), go to their destructive ends for myriad reasons, ranging from oppression, desperation, manipulation and perhaps, nothing left to look forward to. This is an ENTIRELY different, very complex subject and must be reserved for later discussion.
The Quran , the holy book of Islam, is considered as the written word of God in Classical Arabic, whose validity cannot be argued but, its meaning can still vary, depending on the nuances of interpretation and translation. It is possible for a translator to read an original Arabic Quran text, select a certain interpretation (out of the many different interpretations possible) and emphasize different nuances, which readers might interpret yet differently from the intent of the translator; in some cases, the entire intent and meaning of the passage can open to broad dispute. As comparison, consider the many arguments made in US courts, about different articles of law and the constitution…all in the same language!
We can look up any Quran verse in The Quran Browser and compare it side by side with up to six different sources of translations and interpretations. Sometimes, interpretations can be significantly different, but thankfully, there are not too many such complex topics. Different versions and commentaries of Quran translations can offer a truly deep understanding of a subject, when one combines reading with reason and rationale.
The Quran describes “Houris” as companions, “pleasing to behold, with deep, dark eyes” with no quantity for such companions for the Heaven-bound. Their gender is undefined because they are meant for men and women. The Quran defines Houris (44:51-55 and 52:20) not as “virgins”, but as “virgin-chaste”, companions for both Humans and Jinns (supernatural beings), a definition that, while it goes beyond the narrow, sexual aspect of “virgins”, permits marriage to a Houri.
To leap from these references and suggest that people are killing themselves and other innocents, just so they can get started with unlimited sex, can only be attributed to a sick imagination, hostile to Islam and Muslims. It also ignores Quran’s repeated commands to “keep peace, show mercy and forgiveness and be not the aggressor”. Not to mention the absolute ban in the killing of innocents…even killing of a guilty person requires vast amounts of evidence and even then, God says it is better in His eyes, if the person is forgiven; “Vengeance is Mine” is a strong statement, in the Bible AND in the Quran.
We also know from current suicide-bomber actions, that they include men, women and children between 13 and 16 years of age; they include Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.
Some insist there are Hadith (sayings of the prophet Mohammed) that promise virgins in Paradise to good Muslims, but those and many other Hadith are disputed by some as not being as reliable as one would like. Quite aside from the differences in translations from their original Arabic. Hadith provenance can be disputed because they were compiled by scholars, the earlist Hadith compilation being about two hundred years after the death of the prophet Mohammed and went through continued modifications over time. As such, Hadith cannot be considered nearly as reliable as the Quran, which is looked upon as the word of God.
One could wonder, is God being coy in the Quran, about the sexual aspect of the Houris?
He can simply say something like, “the Houris are for your sexual enjoyment and you can have eternal sex with them because in Heaven, you do not even need to stop for sleep or food“.
God is perfectly clear about sex in the Quran and in the Bible; when to have it, with whom, under what circumstances and when it is banned; the subject is discussed often and clearly. Why should God suddenly become overcome with modesty and not be clear in His statement in describing Houris?
Legitimate sex is not considered sinful in Islam so, if there are “rivers of milk and honey” and lots of other things of pleasure, why not lots of sex?
One could also argue about “Virgins in Paradise”; why would anyone need more than one if they were such perfect sexual creatures?
If one were so virile and sexually desperate that one would need more than one, then why “only” 72?
What is wrong with a hundred?
The thought-process gets a little scattered and quite confusing. Except for those with lascivious minds or, those who wish to promote hate towards Muslims, there is no verse in the Quran, promising sex with virgins in Heaven.
Finally, it must also be kept in mind that, people looking for sex and willing to do commit crimes forbidden in the Quran, to get Heavenly Orgies, are unlikely to be found in Heaven.