The Concept of Hoor
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.