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The Concept of Hoor

September 29, 2009

Usually I refrain from religious debates because I believe in certain things that are a complete departure from the mainstream beliefs. Secondly, I neither like to thrust my opinion on someone nor I can tolerate it if someone does especially when things get abusive and nasty. Anyway, growing up in the Muslim household we start hearing the word hoor since childhood. Lately, this concept has been abused and distorted to the unimaginable lengths by the would-be suicide bombers, their trainers and Jihadis which pains me as to how Islam has been manipulated by the section of people for their own vested interests.

Once I was watching Aalim Online on Geo TV. Someone (a man) called up and asked the Mullah as to what will women get in Paradise. The Mullah gave the oft-repeated reply that women will have their worldly husbands as hoors. That was such a corny reply! I thought what will those women who die unmarried, young, or are killed by their brute, abusive husbands get there? It is very much possible that an innocent woman who got killed by her own husband might be entered in the Paradise while her husband would be paying for his sins in the hell. There are too many lose ends to this concept. So let’s get back to the basics and try to understand what does this word hoor mentioned in the Quran actually mean and why this word has been mentioned and in what context:

The concept of hoor is not that complicated to understand. The only thing is that word hoor has been wrongly interpreted. The word hoor occurs four times in the Holy Quran;

1. “Moreover, We shall join them to companions with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes”. (Al-Dukhan Verse 54)
2. “And We shall join them to companions, with beautiful, big and lustrous
eyes”. (Al-Tur Verse 20)
3. “Companions restrained (as to their glances), in goodly pavilions”. (Al-Rahman Verse 72)
4. “And (there will be) companions with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes”.
(Al-Waqi’ah Verse 22)

The word hoor is a plural of ahwar (applied to a man) and of haura (applied to a woman), signifying one having eyes characterized by the quality termed hawar. Which means intense whiteness of the white of the eye and intense blackness of the black thereof.

The word ahwar (singular of hoor) also signifies pure or clean intellect.

The other word i’n in the Verse 54 of Al-Dukhan, zawwajna-hum bi-hur-i’n is plural of ay’an (meaning a man wide in eyes) and ai’na (meaning a woman wide in eyes). It is noteworthy that the whiteness is also a symbol of perfect and unsullied purity and therefore the two words hoor and i’n really stand for purity and beauty.

In order to understand the true significance of these words two points must be borne in mind. First, that paradise is a place for faithful women as well as faithful men. The Holy Quran often speaks of the faithful as being in paradise with their wives.

“They and their wives are in shades, reclining on raised couches.” (Al-Yasin Verse 56)

In this verse although the faithful are spoken of as sitting on thrones with their wives but the Holy Quran doesn’t speak of any conjugal relations being maintained in a physical sense in the life to come. Where the blessings of paradise are spoken of, these are nothing but physical manifestation of the spiritual blessings which the doer of good deeds enjoy in this life too. There are gardens, trees, river, milk, honey, fruits and innumerable other blessings but all these are not things of this world.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “Allah says I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen and no ear has heard and what the heart of man has not conceived.” (Bukhari 59:8)

The Holy Quran also speaks of such blessings in the similar words,

“So no soul knows what refreshment of eye is hidden for them; a reward for what they did.” (Al-Sajdah Verse 17)

These blessings are hidden from the physical eye of man. The blessings spoken of in paradise have been explained in the pure metaphorical sense for the man’s convenience and understanding.

The second thing is that the blessings of paradise are alike for women and men. There is not even a wee bit of difference between the two genders. It is evident from the Al-Ahzab verse 35,

“Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and he humble women, and the charitable men and the charitable women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember — Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.”

This verse speaks that the women can attain every good quality to which the men can have access and settles it conclusively that according to the Quran women stand on the same spiritual level as men.

Some people may raise the question as to why are these blessings described in words which apply to women? The fact is that the reward spoken of here is one having special reference to the purity of character and the beautiful deed of the righteous. And it is the womanhood not manhood that stand for the symbol of purity and beauty. Therefore the reward for good and pure deeds has been spoken in term which applies to women.

This must however be noted that in Arabic language one word can have diverse meanings. That is why both the words hur and i’n are plural of words applying to men as well as to women and also to qualities and deeds. Hence the white-eyed, large-eyed ones or pure, beautiful ones, the hur i’n of verse
54 of Al-Dukhan are not actually beautiful women (of this life). These are heavenly blessings which the righteous men as well as women shall have.

Dr. Zakir Naik holds the same view! And my research is to an extent based on his findings.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Mishall permalink
    September 29, 2009 11:39 am

    Hmmmmmm interestin – something every muslim should have knowledge about, indeed. thanks for this one, N for the link 🙂 God bless.

  2. September 29, 2009 12:36 pm

    JAzakAllah for this wonderful post.

    I always had something like this in my mind, I think that men and women are equal but I aldo thought that hoors would be some physical beings, in any case, Allah knows best, I just know that men and women whoa re piuos will enjoy in paradise and I am not a critic as I am not am expert in this field.

    But I do know that Allah will reward men and women equaly in every way like in this world, if a man does a good deed or a woman their rewards are the same in terms of sawab.

    its not like if a woman fasts shell have say less sawab than if a man fasts, so if in this world Allah gives equal sawab and rewards to all the men and women, I am strongly assured that Allah will give us rewards just like the men, afterall the rewards are notbased on gender regardless of the meaning of hoor.

    In my mind even if they are women, there wil be some arrangement for women where theyll be equally rewarded…

    The system is paradise is as youkmsaid un imaginable, so I wont think about it, as my thoughts are fetterd by my mortal perception and surely it be be far better than here…

  3. September 29, 2009 12:38 pm

    SUPER POST!!

    *Thumbs up*

    • October 4, 2009 8:58 am

      Thank you so much for the appreciation 🙂

      Everyone is equal in Allah’s eyes in terms of gender. Remember we even have eunuchs too in this world and honestly, they are eunuchs because they are born like that sometimes. So we should be rest assured that there is no discrimination in His court at least.

      I personally take many verses of Quran in an allegorical sense!

  4. Kat permalink
    September 29, 2009 2:58 pm

    the “we” that go to heaven are “nafs” (self/soul) which is genderless—the Quran speaks of the nafs —of both men and women in female gender–but it is a limitation of language–just as Allah is spoken in the male gender but is actuallly genderless.

    • October 4, 2009 8:59 am

      I concur!

      Thanks for bringing up this point.

  5. September 30, 2009 3:08 am

    Very impressive and thought provoking stuff!
    Kudos for your research in the topic!

    • October 4, 2009 9:00 am

      Thank you! I had worked on that about 3 years ago… 🙂

  6. September 30, 2009 9:23 am

    Jazakamullah Khair for the job very well done!

  7. September 30, 2009 9:32 am

    Hmmm…. Nice share Ayesha… I am always a die hard fan of Dr. Zakir..

    Hoor will be considered after, first try to enter the heaven…isn’t it ? 🙂

    • October 4, 2009 9:03 am

      I too like Dr. Zakir Naik’s style of argument.

      People like to please them with such talk… so who cares about jannah or no jannah 😛

  8. September 30, 2009 12:31 pm

    eggzactly, CU. 😀

    Please delete the line above in a while, A_5. I won’t like it to be referred to laters. 🙂

    khair, very well composed post, I would say. Regardless being at recieving end or not, I won’t care about anything such.
    On occasions like this or even including the query like how Allah Almighty looks like, where did he come from etc etc, I just think that Allah Almighty has granted very very limited knowledge to human being in this world. He has already told what He liked to. Rest all such queries will get answered automatically jab He will like & matter ….
    In the above case as well, I am just sure that there will be justice.
    btw, who would like to be with the same Posti, vaha’n bhi. 🙂

    • October 4, 2009 9:04 am

      I too wonder as to how Allah looks like! I think such thoughts are very natural to any curious mind!

  9. October 1, 2009 7:06 am

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  10. October 1, 2009 11:38 am

    Beautifully written I must say. Aisha I would like you to write for my website Pakistandesk.com as well.

    • October 4, 2009 9:06 am

      Welcome to my blog! 🙂

      What do you want me to write? I don’t promise due to time constraint but will try.

  11. Monisha Tasnim permalink
    February 12, 2010 12:05 pm

    THANXS!

  12. Anonymous permalink
    February 15, 2010 4:47 am

    Hey..good post !!
    but i would like to differ a bit….

    generally it is this misperception which most of the human beings have that in their afterlife, they will be gifted like this or that in front of the almighty.

    As per my understanding, i think it is only the soul which is the important part of our existence in this world…. and after our death we again come in our original form i.e. the soul (known as AATMAN in sanskrit) and the soul is genderless, colourless and formless….hence this reward thing is something which i can’t understand..

    One more thing is that….if somebody has spent his/her life in the pious and righteous ways following the sayings of the almighty, do u think that the individual will still have the cravings for these worldly and mortal feelings like having hoors surrounding him/her ??
    To this question i feel the answer is no….the pure and pious soul’s main aim is to meet the supreme being called PARAMATMAN in sanskrit and move away from this circle of life and death….otherwise u will have to again take rebirth and move in this mortal world taking different form be it human being (men or women) or some animal or bird etc. and hence follow and bear the consequence of your wrong doing of your present as well as earlier life !!

    (this is what i feel for your above said topic and please do not consider it as a teaching of a particular religion…. i felt for commenting hence commented my feelings)

    • February 22, 2010 6:55 am

      I know what you are saying. I think if those who believe in afterlife it is mostly about the spiritual happiness. Something we all are in search of in this world too. There are times when the most coveted, needed and wanted things don’t please me… sometimes, I don’t have anything and I’m happy and at peace.

      It is every Muslim’s (and by and large the entire humanity’s) strive for that spiritual serenity, peace and happiness!

      Everything else becomes inconsequential. Again this is my (personal) philosophy!

  13. March 10, 2010 10:02 am

    Hi,

    Stumbled upon your blog from the massive, confusing web that the internet is!

    Your tastes are classy, your interpretation of a religious phrase is excellent, your world view is wide and accomodating, BUT

    I was disappointed you chose to name Zakir Naik as an inspiration to this post! He is a rabble-rouser, another mullah from this side of the border who is no different to those who indoctrinate kids into becoming terrorists.

    There are videos of his on, of course, youtube, in which he speaks about women’s rights, and yeah, they are replusive. He says, for instance, that women should not be allowed to work (in airlines), women should not wear sarees (an Indian costume) etc etc…

    Hope you read this comment, watch that video from Naik and give me your thoughts on him!

  14. Rudeb permalink
    February 19, 2012 12:53 am

    I agree. “Hoor” is not a gender-specific term and applies to all men and women of faith as a reward in paradise. I understand that they are going to be beautiful companions and perfect in all sense of the word companionship. My question, however, is related to a more controversial and often ignored issue. There are many gay men and women in this world. They go through a very hard time reconciling religion with love, honesty and truthfulness. And I believe that one should be honest with himself or herself. If you don’t feel an attraction to the opposite gender, I find living a closeted life in dishonesty a sin itself. It is not fair to your suspecting (or unsuspecting) partner. If a gay person has a single partner in this world, is a good honest person and true to himself or herself and “does not chase after same gender at night”, is there a hoor for him or her?
    Many people will benefit from your answer Ayesha. Thank you.

  15. Rudeb permalink
    April 7, 2012 1:25 am

    Any other readers have any comment or response to the above query? I’ d appreciate any ideas. We are just trying to have a decent discussion here and I am sure there are several people who would like to know the answer in gay/ lesbian and transgendered cases. It’s time we face these issues and talk about them.
    Thanks

    • Malik permalink
      October 3, 2012 10:49 am

      Heaven, paradise, hoors etc all are for persons connected, directly or indirectly, to one or more religions (religions with the concept of unity of God). And in any of such religions, GAY/LESBIANS are consider curse, So such persons cannot enter paradise. There is no reward for such people. This is against the laws of nature because God greated women for man and man for women, not man for man or women for women.

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