In Islam, the concept of 72 virgins (houri) refers to an aspect of Jannah (Paradise). This concept is grounded in Qur'anic text which describe a sensual Paradise where believing men are rewarded by being wed to virgins with "full grown", "swelling" or "pears-shaped" breasts. Conversly, women will be provided with only one man, and they "will be satisfied with him".
- Wide and beautiful/lovely eyes
- Like pearls
- Hairless except the eye brows and the head
- White skinned
- 60 cubits [27.5 meters] tall
- 7 cubits [3.2 meters] in width
- Transparent to the marrow of their bones
- Eternally young
- Companions of equal age
- Untouched / with hymen unbroken by sexual intercourse
- With large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang
- Appetizing vaginas
- Restraining their glances
- Modest gaze
- Non-menstruating / non-urinating/ non-defecating and childfree
- Never dissatisfied
- Will sing praise
Virgins or Raisins?
Responses to Apologetics
- "The Qur'an doesn't talk about 72 virgins, only the hadiths"
Even though the Qur'an does not mention the number of virgins, it does say in verse 56:36 that Muslim men will be awarded with virgins in Paradise. The Qur'an describes their physical attributes, for example they will have large eyes (56:22) and big breasts (78:33) and so on. The actual number of houri is thus a minor issue and 72 is the number of those houris confirmed in multiple hadith. The hadiths are a crucial part of Islam and certain Muslims ignore them because sometimes they contain uncomfortable details about Islam. There are many hadiths and Qur'anic verses which talk about various issues of a sexual nature. According to Sahih Bukhari 1:5:268 which belongs to the most authentic collection of hadiths, Muhammad himself was given the sexual strength of 30 men and so on.
- "The 72 virgins hadith has been classified as Da'if (weak) or Maudu (fabricated)"
This is not true. The hadith from Sunan al-Tirmidhi has been graded hasan sahih gharib (a “fair, sound, single-chained hadith”). Additionally there is not only one "72 virgins" hadith. We have quoted narrations here that have been graded both hasan (good) and sahih (authentic), and there are many others.
- "Obviously this hadith has been made up, is unreliable and/or is a lie"
See answers to #1 and 2 above.
- "The Qur'an doesn't talk about the number of virgins being seventy two"
See answer to #1 above.
- "It is talking about (white) raisins, not virgins"
This is a myth originating from Christoph Luxenberg, a recent author with a pseudonym who has no known qualifications or authority on Islamic issues, and has been shown to be in error for various reasons.
- "Islam prohibits suicide"
Yes, hadith do exist that prohibit suicide (Suicide bombing however is a separate issue) but this has nothing to do with the fact that Islam promises women in Paradise as a reward for the "righteous" (i.e. Muslims).
- "If the seventy two virgins thing was something big in Islam it would be talked about more frequently."
Women in Islamic heaven as a reward are talked about frequently in the Qur'an as evidenced by the various places in the Qur'an where their characteristics are talked about. Also if the Qur'an talks about a certain issue only once, it cannot be taken lightly in any way as every word and sentence in the Qur'an is important and holy to Muslims.
- "The houri are for both men and women"
The Qur'an explicitly talks about female virgins with large eyes as rewards for men. On the contrary there is not a single "women will get guys as a reward" verse. Some gender neutral verses do exist but they talk about general rewards only (such as "companionship" etc). Also, according to Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen, who was a leading cleric and a member of the Senior Clerics Association, "This number is only for men. A woman will have only one husband in Paradise, and she will be satisfied with him and will not need any more than that."
- "The houri are only servants and not for sexual purposes"
If that was true, Qur'an 56:36 wouldn't say they are virgins and it wouldn't mention they have big breasts. In addition, while the Qur'an does not explicitly say they're for sexual purposes, other Islamic sources mention that. One hadith says "The believer will be given such and such strength in Paradise for sexual intercourse". Other sources state that "the penis of the Elected never softens" and that men in heaven will have the sexual strength of 100 men.