The Concept of 72 Virgins in Islam

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world as well as having the second largest followers under its fold. Muslims believe that the Koran which is their holy book is the word of god, hence whatever is written in the Koran is sacrosanct and cannot be doubted or questioned.

One of the beliefs that emerges from the Koran is the concept of virgins. These virgins reside at the gates of heaven. The Koran further says that these virgins who are referred as houris or hurs will be the reward to the faithful who have spent a lifetime in service of Allah. Chapters 52 to 56 of the Koran mention about these virgins. The Koran only mentions about these virgins,but does not specify any number.

This lacuna is filled by the Hadiths, which specify that the reward for a true follower of Islam will be rewarded with 72 virgins as wived. The Hadiths are the recorded words of Muhammad and also have great religious significance. The Hadiths which are six in number were compiled about 200 years after the death of the Prophet. Thus the importance of the Hadiths cannot be underrated. The Hadiths are supposed to be the exact quotations of the prophet.

The Koran describes the houris. They are very beautiful and fair. They are perpetual virgins and have the god given quality of regenerating their hymens after intercourse. The houris are also buxom and breasts that do not sag. They are hairless except for eyebrows and head. They are reward for the faithful, who have either been martyred or spent a life time obeying the injunctions of Allah. Houris await the faithful at the gates of Paradise. The Hadiths mention that the sweat of these virgins has the smell of musk and they will give eternal love and satisfaction. They will be in addition to the wives on this earth. The Koran also mentions that an unspecified number of boys will also be rewarded to the true believers.

This belief in the Houris and the boys as sacred and cannot be questioned. This concept of the houris is a tremendous motivating influence in Islam. It is used by die hard fanatics to motivate young men for suicidal missions. Koran does not condone suicide bombers, but it also says that all those that are martyrs for Islam will go to paradise and the 72 virgins will be their just reward. The concept of the houris is in a way akin to the angels in Christianity and Apsaras in Hinduism. However there is a difference as the angels and the Apsaras do not have any sexual connotation.

Most of the characteristics of the houris is feminine and hence one can conclude that the Koran only refers to rewards for men. Muhammad perhaps used the concept of Houris as a beacon to give up the earthly pleasures for the much greater heavenly pleasures in paradise. The houris are described in great detail in the Koran and there is no element of doubt as to what Muhammad meant. Many observers have mentioned that the reference to virgins was only to a philosophical concept, but the explicit reference to pleasures of the body cannot be denied. The belief in the houris is sacrosanct in Islam and as it emanates from the Koran, which is the word of God,it is to be accepted in its totality