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Houris and Some False Hadiths


There is a popular rumor that Muslim men believe that if they blow themselves up and kill a lot of Jews and Christians while doing so, they will receive 72 virgins in Paradise. There is much criticism among Christians about Muslims having such an overly sensual view of life in the hereafter. Some of these views are based on hadiths written down over 200 years after the death of the Islamic prophet. Some of these views are based on verses from the Koran. Actually, many of the views of Muslims regarding wives in the afterlife contradict the Koran. The hadiths upon which they base these beliefs are innovations and fabrications. They should not be trusted.

The Arabic word, hurun, appears four times in the Koran. It is usually translated “companions” or “houris.” Pickthall translated the word “fair ones.” From the context of the passages in which this word occurs, it appears that these “houris” will be spouses of those who are allowed to enter Paradise. Here are the four Koranic passages about houris.

Even so (it will be). And We shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes. (Koran 44:54, Pickthall)

Reclining on ranged couches. And We wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes. (Koran 52:20, Pickthall)

Wherein (are found) the good and beautiful –
Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? –
Fair ones, close-guarded in pavilions –
Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? –
Whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them –
Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?
Reclining on green cushions and fair carpets.
Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? (Koran 55:70-77, Pickthall)

And (there are) fair ones with wide, lovely eyes, like unto hidden pearls, reward for what they used to do. (Koran 56:22-24, Pickthall)

Muslims have different explanations regarding these houris. Irshad Manji, a progressive Muslim, thinks that the houris are raisins. Here is a video showing an interview that she had on CNN.

 David Wood, a critic of Islam, produced a video ostracizing this interpretation of this Arabic word.

 A Koranist, on the other hand, produced a video which supports Irshad Manji’s interpretation.

There is a hadith that says that martyred Muslim men will receive 72 wives in Paradise. It is in Sunan ibn Majah.

It was narrated from Abu Umamah that the Messenger of Allah  said:
“There is no one whom Allah will admit to Paradise but Allah will marry him to seventy-two wives, two from houris and seventy from his inheritance from the people of Hell, all of whom will have desirable front passages and he will have a male member that never becomes flaccid (i.e., soft and limp).”  (Sunan ibn Majah , Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4337)

This hadith is graded daif. It is weak and Muslims are supposed to ignore the weak hadiths and not base interpretations of the Koran on them. (I think that all of the hadiths are hearsay. I do not trust any of them.)

According to the passage in Koran 55:70-77, the houris have never been touched by man or jinni. They are virgins. The number of the houris each Muslim will receive is really not given in the Koran.

There are two hadiths in Sahih al-Bukhari about houris.

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.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3254)

Narrated Abu Huraira:  Allah’s Messenger said, “The first group of people who will enter Paradise, will be glittering like the full moon and those who will follow them, will glitter like the most brilliant star in the sky. They will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be of gold, and their sweat will smell like musk. The aloes-wood will be used in their centers. Their wives will be houris. All of them will look alike and will resemble their father Adam (in stature), sixty cubits tall.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3327)

Both of these hadiths are rated sahih, that is, authentic, by the compiler. However, these hadiths teach things that are not found in either the Koran or the Bible. They are innovations and fabrications and not revelations from God. The houris described in these hadiths are not human. The Koran says:

Nothing is said to you, [O Muhammad], except what was already said to the messengers before you. Indeed, your Lord is a possessor of forgiveness and a possessor of painful penalty. (Koran 41:43, Sahih International)

Say: “I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” (Koran 46:9, Arberry)

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. (Koran 5:48, Pickthall)

Since these verses contain teachings not found in any prior revelations (i.e., the Bible), they are not authentic. They should be ignored along with the hadiths that are graded daif.

There are Muslims who actually believe these hadiths.

 I do not think that men and women will live in separate homes. I believe that every man will have a woman to live with and every woman will have a man to live with. (Read Genesis 2:18 and I Corinthians 11:9.) I believe that Christ’s response to the Sadducees is not a prohibition against a man cohabiting with a woman in the afterlife. (See Luke 20:27-38 in a modern translation, like the New King James Version, for example.) Christ was either talking about levirate marriages (Deuteronomy 25:5,6) or some other system will replace marriage. (The only time a son can be given in marriage is in a levirate marriage. Read Genesis 38.)

I think that the houris in the Koran are resurrected human women who are virgins. Actually, when you think about it, all the resurrected righteous women will be resurrected with virgin bodies. So, a houri is simply a resurrected righteous woman.

There are two heresies regarding the afterlife: the Encratite heresy and the Cerinthean heresy. The Encratites over-spiritualized the afterlife. Many Christians tend to gravitate toward the Encratite heresy. The Cerintheans over-emphasized carnal pleasures in the afterlife. Many Muslims tend to gravitate toward the Cerinthean position.

Here is Nouman Ali Khan’s opinion about the afterlife.

God has given us all things to enjoy. (I Timothy 6:17) However, we should never be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (II Timothy 3:4)

The Koran teaches that God is better than the life of this world.

Beautified for mankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring; and stored-up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark), and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of the world. Allah! With Him is a more excellent abode. (Koran 3:14, Pickthall)

Compare these words from the Psalms.

For what have I in heaven but Thee? and what have I desired upon the earth beside Thee? My heart and my flesh have failed: but God is the strength of my heart, and God is my portion for ever. (Psalm 72:25,26, LXX; Psalm 73:25,26, Hebrew)

The Koran teaches us to seek the life of the hereafter.

Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief – save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith – but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom. That is because they have chosen the life of the world rather than the Hereafter, and because Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. (Koran 16:106,107, Pickthall)

No soul can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at a term appointed. Whoso desireth the reward of the world, We bestow on him thereof; and whoso desireth the reward of the Hereafter, We bestow on him thereof. We shall reward the thankful. (Koran 3:145, Pickthall)

And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers. (Koran 28:77, Shakir)

Compare Christ’s words:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21, NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)

Although the resurrected righteous will be able to enjoy various pleasures in the afterlife (See Isaiah 65:21-23.), they will love God more than the carnal pleasures. God does not save people from idolatry so that they can spend forever lapsing back into idolatry. Those who love carnal pleasures more than God have made carnal pleasures their god. So, in the afterlife the righteous will enjoy God’s creation and various pleasures, but will not love pleasures more than God. People in the kingdom of God in the age to come will not practice such sins as fornication, adultery, and gluttony. God does not save people from sin so that they can lapse back into sin and indulge in it.

There needs to be a balanced view of the afterlife. I believe every man will  have a woman and every woman a man. No one will live alone in a big house playing a harp all day, nor will people become members of a perpetual choir. They will be involved in various activities, such as building houses and planting vineyards. They will pray and worship God, too.

The houris in the Koran are human women. They are not the non-human women described in the hadiths. As for sex, that is the first commandment in the Bible, right? (See Genesis 1:28.) Sex is not evil. People have perverted it and made the practice of sex evil. They have broken the rules which accompany sex. (Adultery and fornication are evil. Marital sex is not evil.) The Encratites taught that sex is intrinsically evil. People who view sex as intrinsically evil are adhering to the Encratite heresy.

Muslims and even Jews say that men and women will make love in the afterlife. Christians are afraid to say such things. Maybe they fear being labeled a Cerinthean. So, they pretend to be an Encratite. Of course, unbelievers usually already have their minds in the gutter. So, they think of the grossest, most vulgar things whenever someone mentions the possibility of love-making in the afterlife. There are plenty of videos on Youtube about men and women living together in the afterlife and even having children. These have been uploaded by Muslims and not Christians. Some Christians, however, are starting to dialogue about this subject on the internet. I have seen this sort of dialogue on Roman Catholic and Lutheran sites. Other Protestants have dialogued about this subject as well. (If you search hard enough, you will find forums on the internet where Christians are dialoguing about this subject.)

To conclude, the hadiths I cited in this blog post are false hadiths. Muhammad was not an innovator among the messengers of God, nor did he receive any new revelations from God that were different from the revelations received by previous messengers. (Koran 41:43; 46:9) Those hadiths contain innovations which were not taught in the Bible. Therefore, they are false. Woman was created for man (I Corinthians 11:9) and it is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that every man will live with a woman and every woman will live with a man in the age to come. In the afterlife, the righteous will enjoy various pleasures, but they will not love any pleasure more than God. Christians often lean toward the Encratite heresy when they talk about the afterlife. Muslims often lean toward the Cerinthean heresy when they talk about the afterlife. The correct view of the afterlife lies somewhere between these two heresies.

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