72 Virgins? Does Allah Give Sexual Bribes?

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

The concept of the 72 heavenly females [hoor al ‘ayn] is one of the most discussed topics that the western media and Islamophobes try to embarrass Muslims with.

However, being fair the criticism doesn’t come from the hadith itself but rather when Muslims are saying things like this or perhaps doing something like this [and this too], the latter is more bewildering and somewhat absurd. Such remarks and behaviors are easy targets and they give the media good material (as shown below) to defame Islam.

However, we should discuss the soundness of such accusations in light of the Islamic perspective of such concepts, but before addressing the topic, I would like to explain some facts that are normally neglected by the antagonists especially when viewing such phenomena ( i.e.  the heavenly reward).

Polygny Vs. Polyandry
(Who desires more sexual partners and why?)

Polygny: Polygyny is the practice in which a male associates himself with many females for the purpose of procreation and pleasure seeking thus binding himself into a long term relationship (marriage). This nature in men is natural and even agreed by evolutionary biologists.

However males don’t associate themselves primarily for procreation but also for seeking pleasure since on comparative grounds men feel more sexual arousal and love to seek multiple mates, more than that of females.

Men prefer physical attractiveness more, than women do in men. Women usually prefer men having a higher social status and good economic strength.

However, all of these traits or characteristics demanded by either of the sexes or both of them aren’t at the top, the first priority is always that partner should faithful, loving and caring [ibid, pg.99]. All of the above information gives us a view of man’s burning desire for intercourse, there is nothing embarrassing about it, this is how nature works. No one should use these evidences as an excuse that men are sex vultures or women are just too selfish. These things would vary from person to person and culture to culture.

Polyandry: Polyandry is the association of a female with many males in a longing relationship, this is rare form of association and the most occurring form of polyandry is fraternal polyandry in which a female is shared by many brothers. This practice of a single female owned by brothers is for economic reasons so that the property may not have to be divided among children of different brothers . It is mainly found in Tibet and India, in India its is because of the disturbed sexual ratio on account of female infanticide and as for Tibet, it is simply done to stop the division of property among the off springs of different brothers of the same family.

Short- term mating: Man Vs. Woman
(If women don’t desire many partners, why do many females engage in short term relationship?)

This short term mating strategy does not apply to every male and female. That is a very broad topic and would become infinitely long if I am to discuss every detail and every dynamic involved. For men, short term mating has nothing to do with economics, they are involved in it to seek pleasure and that’s why males engage in relationships with prostitutes. For females, again both genetic and economic benefit is involved but one thing that is well established, is that if a female is engaging in a relationship outside marriage, her new partner would always be stronger than her husband. If her husband is already rich and good looking, she wouldn’t like to involve herself with another man. Since in Paradise, males would be attractive as Prophet Joseph (pbuh) and equally powerful with respect to economic point of view, there is no need for a woman to have more than one partner both for long-term and short term relationships.

                            “Can anyone be actuated to participate in a war by promising beautiful girls?”

Some of you must be thinking that this analogy is similar to an Army general promising his men that they would be allow to rape women of their enemies like the Red Army did when they swept into Berlin committing almost 20,000 to 100,000 rapes (Brown Miller, 1975; Ryan 1966; Siefert, 1994).

This isn’t the case, mass war time rape has nothing to do with man’s natural sexual instinct, it is done to embarrass the enemies, to demonstrate that they had failed to protect their woman, more information about the dynamics of this concept can be found here and here. However the situation is quite different for soldiers raping female soldiers in their own army. As Time magazine indicated, the Pentagon’s latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25% . Moreover, this behavior of raping your own comrade is a byproduct of misogynistic environment of the military, as one source points out not ‘out of control lust’ but a possibility of man’s own sexual desire cannot be simply ruled out as in German Psychological Warfare (Arno Press, New York, 1972) Ladislas Farago states:

“Since young soldiers are in a state of hyperactive bodily development, their immediate problems are related to appetite and sex….Sexual deprivation may be a motive for a soldier’s suicide attempt.” 

Secondly, Japan to meet the sexual appetite of her soldiers established what they called comfort zones in order to prevent rape and spreading of diseases among soldiers, but all these rapes occurred when women were available. Can a soldier be demoralized to the extent they abandon the battle ground if he is shown that his wife or girl friend is raped in his absence? Obviously, if the woman is the factor for encouraging someone to participate in war it would also cause a person to leave it too. In World War II, sexual leaflets were distributed among enemy soldiers for a reason to demoralize them that the women they left behind were in great danger in their absence, some of them were extremely pornographic but for the readers I would show the mild ones. For example,

WWII leaflets

A. Sexual leaflet made by Germans to demoralize allies in Italy in a series called, ‘Home Front warriors’ indicating when Frank [soldier] entered the room he found his girlfriend [Vivian] in bed with another guy bill.

B. Another German made leaflet for the allied troops in Italy demoralizing the soldier that if he continued to fight he would lose his girl.

C. Russian leaflets to German soldiers, it pretends to be a reproduction of a letter to from the State Insurance Office of Family Increase to a German male offering him the chance to have sex with multiple German women, and goes so far as to promise the award of a medal to those who perform well. It also explains that his wife will have no right to divorce and will have to take this minor hardship as a consequence of war. The letter explains that fertile and vigorous men are needed to keep children coming for the German war machine. Some of the more interesting text is:

“German Soldiers! The Hitler Gang is making Germany a House of prostitution. These documents show you how your officers are spending their time.”

The same sort of thing was happening on the Japanese front where sex leaflets were being dropped by the enemy on Allied troops. Some comments from Prisoners of the Japanese, Gavan Daws, William Morrow and Company, NY, 1994, on the subject: 

The Japanese were dropping propaganda leaflets…And for the friendliest of friendly persuasion, pictures of a beautiful blonde stripper, private parts and all: “You too can enjoy this if you surrender.” The propaganda bombers came droning over us every day.  It was like having the paper delivered. Some of the troops started trading the leaflets like baseball cards.”

Reaction of Soldiers towards these leaflets:

Herbert A. Friedman writes in his article ‘Sex and Psychological Operations’, Professor Linebarger noted that obscene pictures showing naked women, designed to make the celibate troops so desirous of women that they surrendered was a Japanese idea that did not work. The troops kept the pornography and despised the Japanese as queer little people for having sent it. One American soldier assigned to the 35th Infantry Division in February of 1945 told of receiving pornographic leaflets in an artillery barrage. He told me [Herbert A. Friedman]:

                                                       “We used the leaflets for toilet paper.”

This is a telling statement and seems to bolster a comment once made by Sir Arthur Harris, Air Marshall of the Royal Air Force during WWII. “My personal opinion is that the only thing achieved (by dropping leaflets) was largely to supply the continent’s requirement of toilet paper for the five long years of the war.”

The Inverse Reaction:

The hadith of Tirmidhi (no.1663 classified Sahih by Albani) about martyrs being given 72 virgins as one of the six great rewards is not sufficient for anyone to risk his life for some beautiful partners he has never seen. In fact, it would be bring a reverse effect i.e. the aggressiveness of soldiers against the enemy would fade away as Edward Donne stein says in, The Journal of Personality and Social Behavior (Vol. 39, 1980, p. 269-277) :

“When males have not been angered or have been exposed to mild erotica, aggressive behavior has been reduced…In summary, the present results suggest that highly arousing nonaggressive-erotic stimuli can be a mediator of aggressive behavior by males toward other males under certain condition.”

Since no one has seen those beautiful virgins, all males have to develop their own sexual fantasies which would in turn provid a serious setback towards their military progress because they would lose the ‘anti-enemy’ sentiments which are necessary to overcome the hardships hurled by the enemies.

Okay! Fine about the virgins but don’t you think the number is too big?: 

Well yes! But it’s looking odd only because we’ve never see them. When we watch news channels, we only find rapists having more partners. Even polygamy isn’t common in Muslim countries, so this causes a negative correlation in our mind that having more sex partners for a male is bad [for long term relationships] as some criminals have many short term sex based relationships. Thus whenever we think of polygamous mating, we think that a guy is crazy about sex without even bothering to see that it is natural and in the genes of man. This is the same way if we find a police man doing something against the law it would look odd, because whenever we think of uniform we think of the law, safety and comfort. Our sense of moral values is greatly influenced by the society and on the basis of that we shape our brains.

So the pleasure of the Martyr is intercourse and he would be the only one receiving this reward: 

No, many would get 72 wives not just a martyr , Narrated by Abu Huraira (RA), the Messenger of Allah -may the peace and blessings of Allah- said: “The ordinary inmate of paradise … for him there will be seventy-two partners from Hoor al’Ayn besides his spouses from (the women of) this world.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 10874. Classified as Hasan by Ahmad Shakir) and even for the martyr the best prize isn’t the intercourse it’s the honour he would receive at the time of martyrdom, Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah- said,

“Nobody who enters Paradise likes to go back to the world even if he got everything on the earth, except a martyr who wishes to return to the world so that he may be martyred ten times because of the dignity he receives (from Allah)” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 2817).

Islamic Paradise Revolves Around the Desires of Men. What about Women?

Well! Woman are very secretive about their wishes and dreams, they just don’t want to tell anyone unless the person is very close to them , under the light of this fact many scholars believed that woman would get what she desires since men don’t feel shy thus Allah (S.W.T) told them what they would get but a case is different for woman yet however Jannah has a bazaar in it:

“Their Lord will say. ‘Get up! I have prepared for you blessing. Take what you desire’. Then we will come to the market surrounded by angels. There will be in it the like of which eyes have not seen and ears not heard and hearts have not thought of. To us will be delivered what we desire, there being no buying or selling in the market..”[Ibn e Majah 4336] ,. Anas (RA) narrated the Messenger of Allah -may the peace and blessings of Allah- said: “Verily a market will be set for the inmates of Paradise every Friday ..” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 39366. Classified as Sahih by Albani in Sahiha 3471)

We have seen earlier that even woman sexual life is influenced by material factors [not implying that woman are crazy about money but it’s a fact that they love shopping than anything]. Even the modern research confirms this behavior that women love shopping more than men. Cosmetic industry is booming in the west because of woman’s desire of eternal youth look but Jannah has perpetual youth,

Their youth does not pass away and their garments do not wear off.” [Ahmed 7939] .There wouldn’t be any jealousy in paradise Allah makes it clear, Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And We shall remove from their breasts any (mutual) hatred or sense of injury (which they had, if at all, in the life of this world); rivers flowing under them, and they will say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has guided us to this, and never could we have found guidance, were it not that Allah had guided us! Indeed, the Messengers of our Lord did come with the truth.’ And it will be cried out to them: ‘This is the Paradise which you have inherited for what you used to do’” [al-A’raaf 7:43].

Not to mention the superiority of woman in this world, as they would have both beauty and virtue because they prostrated to Allah (Targheeb Vol.4 pg.534), thus men wouldn’t lose their interest in their wives as they would be twice as beautiful than the the Houris.Women always dream of higher standards of living thus they are always found to be more materialistic than men.

Sensual Pleasure Vs. Spiritual Pleasure:

Abu Naeem’ narrated in Sifat ul Jannah from Abu Hurairah (R.A) that messenger of Allah said: “A man will go to one hundred virgins in one day” i.e. in Paradise classified as Sahih by Albani in Silsila Al-Sahiha, 367) . Since the orgasm is the highest dopamine rush experienced by humans, there is no good reason that paradise should be deprived of it. In fact, a neural scan of the moment of orgasm is similar to one taken during a heroin rush. Just like with drugs, the dopamine surge is followed by withdrawal symptoms, which are immediate in the male, but delayed in the woman. Why would a God need to get rid of this joyful activity which he himself created for us? However, this is not what would be the most pleasing aspect of Paradise, the best pleasure for the inhabitants of paradise is seeing Allah :

Sayyidina Suhayb (R.A.) narrates that Prophet (saaw) said: “When the people of Jannah enter into Jannah, Allah Ta‘aala will say: ‘Do you want Me to increase anything for you?’ They will say: ‘Did you not illuminate our countenance; did You not enter us into Jannah and save us from Jahannam.’” He (further) says: “Then the veils will be lifted and they will see the countenance of Allah. From whatever they had been granted, nothing will be more beloved then seeing their Rabb.” (Muslim, Mishkat).

The awkward behavior of some Muslims towards such teachings:

Although sex is a need and sometimes a driving factor in the society among males to compete for the most beautiful females. In his influential book Male, Female, the evolution of human sex differences, David C. Geary discusses brain and cognitive differences from an evolutionary perspective. Identifying basic empirically observed differences between the sexes, both in humans and other species, Geary finds the sexual selection pressures that are responsible for these differences. When it comes to male-male competition, which plays a key role in the choice of sexual partners across many species, Geary points to modern man´s efforts to secure a high-paying job as a clear example of the same sexually-driven competition amongst males. Interestingly enough, a 2008 paper by Pollet and Nettle observed a correlation between men’s wealth and reported female orgasm, indicating that in a sample of Chinese women, those engaged in sexual relationships with wealthier men reported a higher degree of sexual satisfaction, and a higher number of orgasms achieved, in particular. Well ! when it comes to the heavenly women things are different since nobody has seen them, this may be a candy for a person living a subjugated life but for others who are free and have an access to better females it wouldn’t work, besides as we stated earlier even if the person doesn’t go to war for some reason he would get it too. In fact, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) never stressed or even encouraged his followers during wars to fight so that they would get beautiful girls and not for the benefit of Islam.

Finally , I would like to make point out some sources that actually confirms the existence of sex in heavens.

  • Dr.Ruckman deduce from 1 John 3:2, Philippians 3:21 and 1 Corinthians 15:49 that it is alleged that Jesus would have gay sex with all the Christian men. (read in full here).
  • If Jesus is the God of OT and he can give Solomon some 300 women with no complaints at all, what is the problem with you when a Muslim just has 72?
  • Many Christians such as Peter Kereeft logically proves that there would be sex in heaven.

Note: I am extremely thankful to Mr. Herbert A. Friedman for giving me the permission to add images of the sexual leaflets used in WWII.

Indeed Allah knows the best!

by Azhan Ahmed

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