Unveiling The Hûr Al-‘În (part 1) | Zainab bint Younus

… And wide-eyed beauties [ûr ¢În] to wed, who look as though they were well-preserved pearls. [Surat Al-Wâqi¢ah, 56:22-23]

THERE ARE FEW âyât which trigger as much emotional turmoil as those describing the ûr Al-¢În: those otherworldly women created to spend eternity in Paradise, without ever stepping foot in the Dunya.

The Quran describes these women in detail alongside the other pleasures of Jannah. And while many Muslim men exult in these verses and make a point of repeating and emphasizing them, many Muslim women find them to be a source of discomfort and even emotional pain.

It is all too easy for others to respond with, “You must accept the Quran and be content with the Words of Allah.” While this may sound correct theoretically – after all, every believer is obliged to accept the Divine Revelation as being the ultimate source of truth, justice, and wisdom – this approach does not address human reality. It is human nature to question, and indeed, the Quran itself recognizes this, responds to this, and many times even encourages an inquisitive spirit. However, the Quran and Sunnah also present a method of responding to such questions with emotional depth as well as facts.

Unfortunately, there tends to be a callous attitude when it comes to discussing the ûr Al-¢În and especially in responding to the concerns that women express regarding them. Rather than taking the time to understand why so many women feel uncomfortable, the standard answer is often one of rebuke. ‘Worry about getting into Jannah yourself,’ some retort; ‘Be good to your husband, and you will be better than the Hûr,’ others say.

All of these answers, however, completely miss the point and do little (if anything) to provide the reassurance that women seek.

Human Women vs. AlHûr Al-‘În

Many discussions regarding the ûr Al-¢În are framed in such a way as to present them as rivals or even enemies to believing human women. It is no wonder, then, that some Muslim women feel antagonistic towards them and question just how ‘perfect’ Jannah is.

Whether classical scholars or modern-day imams, there is a clear focus on describing the ûr Al-¢În in detail – often disproportionately in comparison to the many, many other rewards and features of Jannah that are mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. From the opalescence of their skin to their large, dark eyes, their virginity and their ample bosoms, men in general are very enthusiastic when talking about the ûr. Unfortunately, they also phrase these descriptions in contrast to human women. One common sentiment is that the ûr are ‘better’ than human women because they don’t experience ‘dirty’ bodily functions such as urinating, excreting, menstruating, child-birthing, and so on.

Another way that the ûr are pitted against human women is as a threat. There are men who will deliberately quote the following adîth as a means of emotionally and spiritually blackmailing their wives:

No woman annoys her husband (without legitimate reason) in this world except that his wife among the ûr Al-¢În said: ‘Do not annoy him, may Allah destroy you; he is only like a guest with you, soon he will part from you for us.’ (Tirmidhi and Ibn Mâjah)

While the intent of this adîth was as a deterrent against excessive marital discord, it is largely misused to make Muslim women feel inferior. Though the Arabic phrasing of the du¢â’ they invoke is quite harsh, it is a turn of phrase found in other Arabic expressions that are commonly used, such as “May your mother be bereft of you,” “May your nose be rubbed in the dust,” and so on. Such phrases are often lost in translation, and misused inappropriately.

Furthermore, discussions about the ûr are inescapably linked to the topic of polygamy – which in turn has, in general, been spoken about, taught, and practiced in a less than ideal manner. Due to the lack of positive frameworks and references for earthly polygamy, it is no surprise that the idea of polygamy in Paradise is met with similar resistance. When polygamy is so often used as a tool to oppress women and to deprive them of their rights, while at the same time accusing women of not being ‘pious’ or ‘patient’ enough, we truly cannot blame such women for having such negative reactions.

In short, it is all too common to see many men purposely using the idea of the ûr Al-¢În to manipulate women, and as a means of spiritual abuse. This is extremely disturbing when one considers the fact that Jannah was created as a reward for all believers, men and women alike. Paradise is meant to be a source of motivation, something that is looked forward to and is desired by the believers. In fact, Jannah is explicitly described as a place wherein there is no sorrow, grief, jealousy, or any type of negative emotion whatsoever.

Why, then, are some people so determined to make Jannah appear more favorable to men than to women?

For the Believing Women…

“Do women get male Hûr?” is the question asked as a retort to repeated mentions of the ûr Al-¢În. “What do women get in Jannah?” The reactions to such questions tend to be predictable – “AstaghfirAllah! Women won’t want anyone other than their husbands!” “Women don’t have a desire for more men anyway.” “You’ll get jewelry!”

It is quite understandable that many women are unsatisfied with these responses. Indeed, there are those who try to actually downplay a woman’s reward in Jannah, by implying or saying outright that unlike men, women will have no sexual desires whatsoever. There are also those who say that those who were unmarried (or divorced, or whose earthly husbands did not enter Jannah) will be satisfied being alone.

However, none of these statements holds any weight whatsoever. In fact, there is an explicit adîth to the contrary:

It was narrated that a group of the Companions once either boasted or discussed whether there would be more men or women in Paradise. Abû Hurairah said: “Did not Abû Al-Qâsim (the Prophet œ) say: The first group to enter Paradise will look like the moon when it is full, then those who follow them will look like the most brilliant planet in the sky. Each man among them will have two wives whose marrow can be seen beneath their flesh, and there will be no one in Paradise who is unmarried.” (Muslimadîth No. 7147 (2834), Book of Paradise and Description of its Delights and its People)

From this adîth alone, it is clear both that women will make up the majority of the inhabitants of Paradise, and that all women will be married to similar believing spouses.

In addition, the believing women are described in two other narrations:

Umm Salamah (the Prophet’s wife) narrates that she once said to the Prophet: “O RasûlAllâh, are the women of this world superior or the ûrs (the houris of Paradise)?” He replied: The women of this world will have superiority over the ûrs just as the outer lining of a garment has superiority over the inner lining.

Umm Salamah then asked: “O RasûlAllâh, what is the reason for this?” He answered: Because they performed Salah, fasted, and worshipped [Allah]. Allah will put light on their faces and silk on their bodies. [The human women] will be fair in complexion and will wear green clothing and yellow jewelry. Their incense-burners will be made of pearls and their combs will be of gold. They will say: ‘We are the women who will stay forever and we will never die. We are the women who will always remain in comfort and we will never undergo difficulty.  We are the women who will stay and we will never leave. Listen, we are happy women and we will never become sad. Glad tidings to those men for whom we are and who are for us!’ (Ṭabarâni)

Abû Hurairah narrated that the Prophet œ said: Every man in heaven will go to seventy-two of the creatures of Allah (houris) and two of the women of mankind. These two (human, believing) women are superior to the houris with their worshipping (good deeds) they had performed in this world. (Bayhaqi and Ṭabarâni)

Another fascinating narration exists that references an âyah from the Quran itself.

An old woman once came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate for me that Allah grants me entrance into Jannah.” He replied: Mother! Don’t you know that old women cannot enter Jannah? The woman began to weep, and turned to leave. The Prophet quickly told his Companions to follow her and inform her: Allah will make all the women of Jannah young virgins, for didn’t Allah say: Indeed, We have produced the women of Paradise in a [new] creation, and made them virgins, lovers and of equal age… [Surat Al-Wâqi¢ah, 56:35-37] (Al-Shamâ’il Al-Muhammadiyyah)

These above texts are the most explicit regarding the status of the believing women in Jannah, and in particular, their superiority over the ûr Al-¢În.

However, there still remains a great deal to discuss with regards to concerns that women have regarding the ûr Al-¢În, and how one may try to address them. Part two of this article will, Inshâ’Allah, delve into more detail and consider various questions and responses that arise.

 

Written By

Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslimah who has been active in grassroots da'wah and writing about Islam and the Ummah for the last nine years. She was first published in al-Ameen Newspaper (Vancouver, Canada) at the age of 14, became a co-founder, editor, and writer for MuslimMatters.org at 16; and began writing regularly for SISTERS Magazine at the age of 19 until today. She also blogs regularly at The Salafi Feminist

"You are invited to respond to the contents of the article and to engage in conversation about the issues raised."

47 Comments

  • Very informative!! another point in there covered; along with this threat of ‘dont annoy me or my hurs in heaven will curse you’ etc, men often say that ‘women will make up the majority of hell!’ (according to the hadith regarding backbiting and ungratefulness) as if by default none of us are going to make it into heaven which will be incidentally completely made up of men *eye roll*. but the hadith you refer to in your article informs us that every man in heaven will have 2 wives from the dunya, and no man will be unmarried! all praise is for Allah, now let my husband get home with the green tea so I can ‘increase his knowledge’ :D jazaki Allah khayr!

  • ‘The Hurs will be fair’ .. this again creates a complex among women who are not. The world already is obsessed with fair skin. There are so many harsh things that dark-skinned women hear every day. see the pic of a matrimonial ad attached below.

  • Few things I have realised about (a lot of) women are

    1. Their love to chat and converse for ages especially to express their emotions

    2. Their love for material possessions/shopping. Spending lots of time and money to adorn/beautify themselves (hours at the hairdresser, jewellery, beauty products etc). Very conscious of their appearance.

    3. Saying things they don’t mean but thinking their intended meaning has been understood. For example – it is ok if you go out with your friends but what she means is I will be very angry if you spend time with your friends over me (men are not mind readers-lol)

    Allah SWT has created the woman with a distinct nature- very different from the man (in many ways). If a man tries to be antagonistic towards her inclinations (like the three mentioned above)- there will be friction (and unfortunately it happens). Imagine if men suppressed your desires and prohibited you from carrying out the things you love- talking, shopping, girls’ gatherings etc and invalidated your feelings where they are brushed aside or ignored. I am pretty sure you would feel miserable. Even more miserable if he restrcited your activity to household chores. But some women do the equivalent of that.

    Using the same token- polygny* is in the nature of many men. If you try to oppose this- there will be friction as well. What are the most beloved things to men?- women and horses. Give a man these two things and he is home and dry. Alot of women enjoy plenty of freedom where they express themselves and enjoy all aspects of manifesting their psychology (even if it is as the expense of the welfare of the man). But when it comes to educating them about the passions of men (which includes polygny)- they don’t want to hear it. Some go a step further and issue threats.

    The plain truth is- monogamy isn’t sufficent for many men- it doesn’t mean she is deficient- it just means she married a man. It is like the husband who complains about his wife being a gold digger but upon further analysis it is him who is oblivious to the fact that pampering your wife is part and parcel of marriage.

    Suppressing the nature of any of the two sexes leads to detrimental consequences. It is incumbent upon us to understand and accept the dynamics of the opposite sex and act accordingly- even if it means sacrifice.

    *I am aware of men abusing polygny and practising it wrongly where they don’t fulfil it’s conditions or go about it in a wise manner- i am not talking about that. I am talking about people who reject polygny through and through.

    • This is well written mashallah, but I’m afraid will not appeal to many.

      I will say this though, I do not believe that being a man or a woman is biological, and many supposed “men” will act in the manner you have described.

      In any case, while I agree with your assessment, it’s important to try and paint the whole picture as the weaknesses of one side often play to the strengths of the other and vice versa; the key to any healthy relationship is balance. And, as you said, suppressing the nature of either sex is always detrimental. But, of course this just means we really, really need to understand our individual natures; the creation of Allah is vast and of great depth, and mankind has been honored above all creation.

      Polygyny, for example, is something we take entirely for granted in terms what it can teach us about our individual natures. Maybe monogamy is more excellent in the sight of Allah, but the matter is not that simple, for if it were simply a matter of excessive desire or societal circumstances, it would have been made haram or replaced with something better. This is a vast topic, but one simple thing we can say is that since the man’s overall well-being may effect more people than a woman—especially if he is a leader—then it would make more sense, sociologically we can say, for the woman to forgo a monogamous husband if the polygny offers him an alternate to suppressing his desires. This is a very crude way of putting it, as sexuality is a nuanced topic that branches into many aspects of one’s personality, development and even intelligence, but for the sake of brevity I believe we can suffice.

      Jazakullahukhair for the thoughtful comment.

  • Isn’t it just apparent Zainab, that the absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence? There are so many other issues like this in the Qur’an, including the hijab, that many of our liberal bros/sis’ like to argue otherwise. If you go by this logic, a female merely needs to cover her bosom. Anyway, just my observation.

  • I can’t finish reading this post yet; the whole idea of men getting everything they want while women get bugger-all, maybe jewellery at most, is just cruel and mean.

    The idea that all women are obsessed with shopping and shiny, new possessions says far more about societies bringing up their women to be stereotyped, air-headed, vacuous, greedy children whose only place in life is pumping out kids and living in shopping centres in order to decorate their superficial existences and try to hide their lack of a meaningful existence or to try to forget that they once had greater aspirations for their lives, is rude and a form of oppression.

  • Abu Soliman – fine. Go and marry a plain or ugly woman. Make sure all your friends do, too. Eventually, women will realise that men don’t demand to marry goddesses, and thus women will stop preening and adorning themselves.

    • Are the niqabs and black robes helping these women? Protecting them? No. Of course not. Nothing does because millions of men ARE NOT DECENT PEOPLE.

      Here’s an idea: how about God MAKES DECENT MEN, then women won’t have to spend their lives shopping and putting on makeup in order to appease men and in order to hide from the fact that their lives are empty

  • This is a wonderful piece mashallah. Truly excellent work!

    One thing I will say as someone who very interested in understanding and resolving gender issues, I’ve never given this topic much consideration because it seems unwise to speculate and then become distraught about what might come in the hereafter when we simply cannot know. Allah says he scares his slaves with his warnings, but this kind of scaring (خوف poorly translated) is actually the mercy of how allah makes us aware of the eternal unseen which is beyond human capacity.

    That said, I think there is an interpretation possible whereby the hūr bestowed upon men in jennah are not a favor for men denied to women but rather the justice and mercy of Allah in his accommodating each with what is best for them. (Some of the comments below allude to this as well.) Further, we can even go as far as saying these hūr will be the manifestations of a man’s desire and passion during his worldly life, they could even be idealized or fantasized versions of his worldly mate(s). The last Hadith you mention especially draws me towards this conclusion as it speaks of women being made virgins and young once again.

    In this way we can begin to more directly consider the differences between men and women; by understanding how allah will reward each we understand each’s particular condition and worldly desire better. We can ask the legitimate question: why would men’s desires be polyamorous and women’s not. This is probably an intuitive question to most but only in how we think about men. A corollary question would be why are women’s romantic/sexual desires more naturally *not* polyamorous—and the answer to this question cannot be simply a matter of self-control. Rather, I believe it points to the balance and perfection allah has placed in our blessed unions and how we learn from each other in particular.

    One last thing I’ll say I’ve mentioned on your page before, though it is probably very strange to many and it is the idea that being a man or a woman (sexuality) is not a matter of biology, as opposed to being male or female (gender) but rather about our individuality, personal attitude and the roles we adopt in our communities. Males are expected to be men and stand as leaders, while women (females) are not; but what happens if this changes, and no males step up, but a female does; does not the woman then usurp the masculine role? I think this is certainly the care in some instances. So then would females be rewarded with hūr as well? I don’t think so because no matter how we try it is likely impossible to entirely escape the conditions of our biology but it is good food for thought considering modern gender issues, and especially because biology won’t matter in the hereafter as our pleasures are derived from something much greater and immaterial.

    Consider, in this regard the first ayah mentioning heaven where allah says “*every time* they are bestowed upon from it from a fruit of provision therein they say: ‘such is what we had been provided from before’ and they are given with it what is similar in appearance” (baqarah).. what I want to point to here is the idea that we will be somewhat surprised or impressed in heaven by how our worldly desires translate to something vastly superior and greater than we could have imagined. Wallahua’lam

    I think this brings me full circle in that any kind of negative speculation about heaven is silly because we just can’t fathom what awaits us of reward or punishment; the ephemeral can never capture the ever-lasting. Unless of course our objective is to question the narrative which may at times have been hijacked by politics and misogyny, and in this case may Allah protect us from the spread of doubt and confusion in our deen.

    Jazakiallahu khair! I look forward to the series =)

  • just wanted to copy my facebook comment over =)

    This is a wonderful piece mashallah. Truly excellent work!

    One thing I will say as someone who very interested in understanding and resolving gender issues, I’ve never given this topic much consideration because it seems unwise to speculate and then become distraught about what might come in the hereafter when we simply cannot know. Allah says he scares his slaves with his warnings, but this kind of scaring (خوف poorly translated) is actually the mercy of how allah makes us aware of the eternal unseen which is beyond human capacity.

    That said, I think there is an interpretation possible whereby the hūr bestowed upon men in jennah are not a favor for men denied to women but rather the justice and mercy of Allah in his accommodating each with what is best for them. (Some of the comments below allude to this as well.) Further, we can even go as far as saying these hūr will be the manifestations of a man’s desire and passion during his worldly life, they could even be idealized or fantasized versions of his worldly mate(s). The last Hadith you mention especially draws me towards this conclusion as it speaks of women being made virgins and young once again.

    In this way we can begin to more directly consider the differences between men and women; by understanding how allah will reward each we understand each’s particular condition and worldly desire better. We can ask the legitimate question: why would men’s desires be polyamorous and women’s not. This is probably an intuitive question to most but only in how we think about men. A corollary question would be why are women’s romantic/sexual desires more naturally *not* polyamorous—and the answer to this question cannot be simply a matter of self-control. Rather, I believe it points to the balance and perfection allah has placed in our blessed unions and how we learn from each other in particular.

    One last thing I’ll say I’ve mentioned on your page before, though it is probably very strange to many and it is the idea that being a man or a woman (sexuality) is not a matter of biology, as opposed to being male or female (gender) but rather about our individuality, personal attitude and the roles we adopt in our communities. Males are expected to be men and stand as leaders, while women (females) are not; but what happens if this changes, and no males step up, but a female does; does not the woman then usurp the masculine role? I think this is certainly the care in some instances. So then would females be rewarded with hūr as well? I don’t think so because no matter how we try it is likely impossible to entirely escape the conditions of our biology but it is good food for thought considering modern gender issues, and especially because biology won’t matter in the hereafter as our pleasures are derived from something much greater and immaterial.

    Consider, in this regard the first ayah mentioning heaven where allah says “*every time* they are bestowed upon from it from a fruit of provision therein they say: ‘such is what we had been provided from before’ and they are given with it what is similar in appearance” (baqarah).. what I want to point to here is the idea that we will be somewhat surprised or impressed in heaven by how our worldly desires translate to something vastly superior and greater than we could have imagined. Wallahua’lam

    I think this brings me full circle in that any kind of negative speculation about heaven is silly because we just can’t fathom what awaits us of reward or punishment; the ephemeral can never capture the ever-lasting. Unless of course our objective is to question the narrative which may at times have been hijacked by politics and misogyny, and in this case may Allah protect us from the spread of doubt and confusion in our deen.

    Jazakiallahu khair! I look forward to the series smile emoticon

  • Just a thought. How do men know what the sexual desire of a woman is? What if a woman wants more than what she has? Is she then greedy? This topic of the hoorul ain bothers me alot.

    I already asked the question of whether women also receive male hoor. The answer i received was ‘women will only desire their husbands’ but what if in this Earthly world you did in fact desire more? Am I a jaahil or bordering on the edges of kufr for wanting to know?

    And if indeed we are only to desire our husbands, were women cheated in their destiny? And why were men created the way they are?

    It’s hard to not be able to question things when Allah has made it a certain way. But I don’t know why does these questions enter my mind. May Allah forgive me if anything I ask or think is detrimental to my imaan.

  • Nabeela Kapery Noorani last night I listened to a talk by Nouman Ali Khan. Check YouTube for it. ” Why is Allah explicit about Hoor Al ayn and what will woman get in Jannah “

    • It still leaves a lot unanswered :). When i said to someone (male obviously) that perhaps women do receive similar, I was branded as a blasphemous woman for suggesting such a thing.

  • Alhamdulillaah I’d already heard of the ahaadeeth you mentioned, except the one where the hoor is rebuking the earthly wife for bugging her husband. That was kinda shocking and disturbing :/
    I hope there is some explanation that can pacify me lol

  • Almost fell off my chair laughing at the “they will get jewelry” comment. Thank for tackling the issue that women should also be encouraged, not discouraged, from trying to attain a place in Jannah. It’s good to see the female discourse on a male dominated discussion.

  • Excellent Article. Can’t wait for the next part. Though men use the ayat and hadith about the Hur to hurt women, I also think that many women (especially lib-feminist) have a sort of ‘diseased’ mindset which makes them see ayat and ahadith as being ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’. For example, the hadith about women being made from a bend rib is clearly a beautiful Neseehah from the Prophet (saws) to love women as they are, but unfortunately this ultra-suspicious mindset of some women makes them see that hadith in a negative way.

  • Assalamualaikum

    I think I remember a fatwa about a women who didn’t like her husband and was wondering whether she will have to be with him in Jannah. Response was possibly a horror story(if I can remember) to her saying don’t worry your ill feelings to him will be wiped out.

    Another about a brother asking about his fear that his wife commits zina then repents and Allah conceals her sin and though she betrayed and humiliated him he ends up stuck with her in Jannah forever without knowing. I can’t remember the response but it was something similar. But in this case as well how does the mufti know this brother won’t have an opportunity to find out about being betrayed and divorce and then enter Jannah? He doesn’t!

    I am a Muslim man, and I don’t see how some are spouting the “it is not in your nature to desire more than one man” or “you will love the polygamy and not be jealous” and so on.

    How do they know? They don’t! Plenty of Muslim women today may claim they want multiple men. If this is unnatural well so is incest but the children of Adam AS mated with each other..I ma sure they will be in Jannah inshaa Allah…..wine is haram now but halal there…..so Allah knows exactly what is going to happen and we do not. He knows what desires will be allowed and what not.

    I don’t know whether wa hum fi mashtahat anfusuhum khalidooon (Surah Anbiya) means men and women will literally get everything they desired or only some of what they desired in Jannah. I don’t then know if women will get male virgins or be able to stick with one spouse.

    But the responses some brothers give is just above their paygrade!(Claiming women won’t get what they desire now. )Same with women claiming the Quran explicitly confirms existence of males for them or monogamy. Who gave us the right to speak on Allah’s behave?

    SubhanAllah LEAVE IT to what Allah and His Messenger said!

    ( I will say though if multiple males is a thing and my wife wanted it then she can have it in Jannah and my desire is that I divorce her in that case lol. Same with her wanting me monogamous. If these desires for female polygamy or monogamy not explicitly mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah exist in Jannah lets hope happy divorces also exist.)

    The ONLY ANSWER we ought to give to people is if Allah enters Jannah you will have whatever you desire and you will be COMEPLETELY SATISFIED.

    Whoever enters Jannah will be completely satisfied. And if you aren’t convinced by Allah’s promise..well…then it’s time you start fearing you won’t enter it.

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