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The Lure of 72 Virgins!

Excerpts from an article by Ibn Warraq that originally appeared in The Guardian on 12th Jan, 2002:

In August, 2001, the American television channel CBS aired an interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel. Abu Wardeh was quoted as saying: "I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness." Wardeh was in fact shortchanging his recruits since the rewards in Paradise for martyrs was 72 virgins.
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What of the rewards in paradise? The Islamic paradise is described in great sensual detail in the Koran and the Traditions; for instance, Koran sura 56 verses 12 -40 ; sura 55 verses 54-56 ; sura 76 verses 12-22. I shall quote the celebrated Penguin translation by NJ Dawood of sura 56 verses 12- 39: "They shall recline on jewelled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris, chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds... We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand..."
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One should note that most translations, even those by Muslims themselves such as A Yusuf Ali, and the British Muslim Marmaduke Pickthall, translate the Arabic (plural) word Abkarun as virgins, as do well-known lexicons such the one by John Penrice. I emphasise this fact since many pudic and embarrassed Muslims claim there has been a mistranslation, that "virgins" should be replaced by "angels". In sura 55 verses 72-74, Dawood translates the Arabic word " hur " as "virgins", and the context makes clear that virgin is the appropriate translation: "Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents (which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?) whom neither man nor jinnee will have touched before." The word hur occurs four times in the Koran and is usually translated as a "maiden with dark eyes".
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Two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs. It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins in heaven specified: in a Hadith (Islamic Tradition) collected by Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE [common era*]) in the Book of Sunan (volume IV, chapters on The Features of Paradise as described by the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad], chapter 21, About the Smallest Reward for the People of Paradise, (Hadith 2687). The same hadith is also quoted by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE ) in his Koranic commentary (Tafsir) of Surah Al-Rahman (55), verse 72: "The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'."
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Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopaedia of Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and Al-Ash'ari (died 935 CE) have "admitted sensual pleasures into paradise". The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath. He wrote: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas."
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Wow! Now would you blame Osama bin Laden and others of his ilk for being so hell-bent upon self-annihilation? Who could resist the temptation of such heavenly pleasures? I would embrace any religion that guarantees me 72 virgins, to hell with my atheism!

People, you need to understand the psyche of the 'average' sex-starved minion of the world's most egregious religion. Obliterating him with bullets is impossible, try offering him 73 virgins instead! Maybe you could pool in all your innocent and untouched girls (perhaps in Las Vegas) and invite the wannabe martyrs to 'ruin' them. It may still not be a match for the rewards in paradise, but at least some of these perverts may defect.

I write this not in contempt of Muslims, but in defiance of the toxic texts of one of many religions. Purge people of their religious pedigrees/identities and you'll find them all equally benign and egalitarian. Poison them with religious fetishism and find them slip back to square one.

I've been delighted by many 'Muslim' bloggers who have ardently and openly denounced the call of the Koran. Their doing so has greatly endangered their lives, yet they've spoken their mind. I applaud and encourage them in full measure, since it takes a lot of courage and extraordinary conviction to speak out against beliefs that have been embraced for centuries without exception.

My voice only adds to the rising dissent against religion (all of them). I don't know how much of possible harm I'm inviting for myself, but it's something that I'll continue doing for the rest of my life...or until I have a change of heart (perhaps on account of the promised virgins!). If I'm bound to fall promulgating my beliefs, so be it.

Comments

saurabh said…
okay, enough of your lengthy posts, just tell me how to defect to islam???
Vivek said…
Whoa .... wine & virgins .... why do they run away from them here on Earth?
Deepanjan said…
Sit, just express the desire...& it'll be fulfilled in no time!
Deepanjan said…
Viv, focus on the numbers! 72 is an awful lot. Renouncing earthy babes makes sense, right?!
Vivek said…
Earthy babes give earthy pleasures man! Besides, nobody's seen Heaven & returned with the tale.

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