Understanding Islam – Part 27 (The Virgins)

Let’s begin with Sura 78:31-33.  “Surely for those who keep their duty in achievement, Gardens and vineyards, and youthful (companions), equal in age.”  This is from the English Translation and Commentary of the Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali.  In his commentary he notes the application to a girl in vs. 33, as applied means “one nearing maturity.”  There are no other qualifying words to imply ‘virgin girls’, but nevertheless this is one of the paragraphs referenced for those who enjoy the ‘joys’ of the afterlife.  The emphasis by so many of the joys of having virgin women is itself a concern, as it reflects more on the attitude of men towards women.  Is this the great desire of men – a plethora of virgin women?  That would appear a bit shallow – but there I go judging – please forgive me.  According to The Straight Dope (Thestraightdope.com), Cecil Adams, “the Arabic word at issue is WakawaAAiba, which appears nowhere else in the Koran. The French, less prudish in these matters, usually render it as something like des belles aux seins arrondis, “beautiful women with round breasts,” so I think it’s pretty clear what the Prophet, or at least his stenographers, had in mind.”  We can only assume, as we hear this referred to so often, that it is women and possibly virgins with big boobs in Allah’s heaven.  Continuing with Cecil Adams, “Hadith number 2,562 in the collection known as the Sunan al-Tirmidhi says, ‘The least [reward] for the people of Heaven is 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome of pearls, aquamarine and ruby.’”

 In Section 3, Sura 55 – Reward of the Righteous – we learn  of gardens with fountains and trees with fruits, bounties of the Lord,  and (55:56) “therein are those restraining their glances, whom no man, no jinni has touched before them.”  Thus the Virgins.    

 All that the Quran says about Paradise has a distinct appeal towards men.  Is there no consideration for women who have met the standards of righteousness according to Allah?  Or is it simply Allah’s decision to fill his Heaven with Virgins (those of his choosing) so that those righteous men can be rewarded accordingly?   However wives may be included – Sura 36:56 part of a section discussing reward and punishment, “They and their wives are in shades, reclining on raised couches.”   The ‘They” is clearly men who do appear favored for entry into Allah’s eternal domain.  There is nothing that expresses any concern by the wives for the access to Virgins promised.  Are they there for men and women?   The Quran also suggests families (Sura 13:23, “Gardens of perpetuity, which they will enter along with those who do good from among their fathers and their spouses and their offspring…” (Sura 40:8 is similar)  The ‘They’ again suggests men first, and for the rest of the family it is conditional – “as are good” – Allah being the determining party alone.  No assurance of salvation.  As to the virgins they may not be accessible to the men – as in Sura 37:49, they are the “eggs”, which are “carefully protected.”   Is Heaven then a look-but-don’t-touch  locale?  Are they then to remain Virgins, and the men can just salivate?

 From the book, Unveiling Islam, by Ergun and Emir Caner, it is noted “Three times in the Hadith, Muhammad’s vision of hell-fire is recorded, each time including the same feature: ‘Muhammad said, ‘I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women.’’” (pg. 134).  The rights of women in Islam are much less than those for men.  Parts of Understanding Islam (earlier Blogs) discuss issues relating to women.  It may be that all single women go to hell and some married women make it to Heaven, if Allah so elects, with their husbands – husbands considered most righteous in the eyes of Allah.  Now everyone goes to Hell first in the Quran, and then those righteous emerge as Allah so decides.  “And there is not one of you but shall come of it (Hell).  This is an unavoidable decree of the Lord.” (Sura 19:71).  Sura 19:72 reads, “And We shall deliver those who guard against evil, and leave the wrongdoers therein (in Hell) on their knees.”

 This is a foretaste of things to come, however this also suggests there are women in Allah’s heaven.

 First according to the Quran who stays in Hell.  Sura 23:103, “And those whose good deeds are light, those are they who have lost their souls, abiding in hell.”  Herein lies the standard focus on works – good vs. bad, with the good having to outweigh the bad for consideration by Allah of one’s salvation.  Sura 19:68-72 suggests Hell is only for the wicked – “those most rebellious against the Beneficent.”  The ‘righteous’ will not even hear the “faintest sound of (hell)” (Sura 21:102).  But since everyone goes there, this may be a bit contradictory – yet the righteous may be protected by Allah from hearing anything while in Hell.

 By Sura 33:35 it is suggested that women have the same opportunity to be with Allah in the afterlife standing on the “same spiritual level” (Ali, Quran translation, pg. 834, note: 35a)  – “Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the charitable men and the charitable women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember – Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.”

 For men and women salvation is not assured.  It is unclear what happens to single women accept those who are daughters (family members) of those men who are accepted in Allah’s Heaven, as long as they qualify.  And is there a time limit when they are viewed as family members vs. independent women.  This may suggest the Virgins are from the families that have been accepted by Allah.   My conclusion is that fewer women are acceptable to Allah than men.  It takes more for a woman to be viewed by Allah as worthy of his forgiveness and inclusion in Paradise.  Few rewards are suggested for women and for those that are justified they sit around and view from pleasant gardens and comfortable couches men cavorting with virgins.  The unfairness and inequality towards women then continues in Paradise.

 Allah clearly, as written by the Companions of Muhammad, had an affinity for men over women.  The nature of the context of the Quran favors men decidedly. Some have suggested that Salvation for women is questionable.  There are allowances made, as noted above, yet the feeling of Muhammad, as expressed in his diary, finds women temptresses, conniving persons, and capable of using their wiles to deceive, and thus should (all) be condemned to Hell.  If the vast majority of persons in hell are women, with a 50/50 ratio on earth, then consider this.  If most men make it to Allah’s heaven, say half, and all but 5% of women go to Hell the ratio of women to men in Allah’s heaven would be 2.5 to 25, or 1 woman for every 10 men.  If we go easier on the woman, finding more in Allah’s view as righteous, say 20%, then the ratio is 10 woman to every 25 men, or 1 woman for 2.5 men.  With many of these women wives, that only leaves daughters aand single women as possible virgins.  There would not be enough virgins, if by anyone’s consideration only once a virgin, and thus if then exploited as a reward, a virgin-no-more.  How many virgins are left?  You cannot use a virgin a second time – unless that is Allah’s wish – as Allah can do what he wants to do.

For the Muslim men Hell may be more attractive – more women.  Who cares if they are virgins?  Chances for the men are increased.  Why would Allah have such a welcoming description in Heaven and limit the number of virginal women to men.  What makes Virgins so appealing to Muslim men anyway?

 Who and where are all the virgins?  Are there virgin men as well? Are there enough to satisfy Allah’s acceptance of the righteous, or does the availability of virgins place a limit on the number Allah can take in, thus his ability to decide who dwells with him regardless of the good works or the killing of infidels, even the memorizing of the Quran.

 As I read the Quran the thought of ‘Green Stamps’ came to mind.  For good works there are available so many Green Stamps.  Depending on the goodness of the work, there are greater or fewer Green Stamps possible.  The non-good works though take away Stamps.  There are Stamps for memorizing the Quran – the more you memorize the more Stamps.  Same for prayer – honor the 5 calls each day and the Stamp pile grows.  Zakat – give money – receive Green Stamps.  Fighting in the cause of Allah (Jihad) – lots of Stamps, dying for Allah – many more Stamps.  To fight only needs a specter of persecution, which this writing alone might be considered.  For those that ‘believe’ keep their duty to Allah and believe in Muhammad, there are double Stamps plus a flashlight (from Sura 57:28).   I hope I am not viewed as persecuting Islam as I am only trying to clarify doubt that can arise in reading the Quran and coming to terms with the requirements of Islam.  Returning to the Stamps, they would then, in this depiction, be placed on a scale, a balance.  However, even if one side of the scale is heavily weighted with Green Stamps, clearly favoring the beneficiary of those Stamps, ‘mercy’ remains with Allah.  The final decision is Allah’s alone indicates insecurity for Muslims as there is no Assurance of Salvation.  From Sura 14:4 – “Allah leaves in error whom He pleases and He guides whom He pleases.  And He is the Mighty, the Wise.”

 This is not a totally logical exercise and applying logic, using a comparison, only deepens my concern for the validity of Islam as a true pathway to the eternal kingdom. 

 When I mentioned doubt before take note in a reference in the Quran to the Bible – Sura 10:94 – “But if thou art in doubt as to that which We have revealed to thee, ask those who read the Book (the Bible) before thee.  Certainly the Truth has come to thee from they Lord, so be not thou of the doubters.”  This raises a whole new level of doubt as to Allah.  For it is clear to me that the Allah of the Quran, viewed as god, is not the God of the Bible – the Trinity.

 From Unveiling Islam, by the Caner brothers, (pg. 63) comparing Muhammad and Jesus, “Jesus never took another life.  He did not demean women nor exploit young girls for social gain.  Christ was the picture of true love.  He came and was rejected, and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).  Muhammad came to shed blood and slaughter those who disagreed with him.  Christ came to see and save those who were lost (Luke 19:10).  Muhammad unified a country, indeed much of the world, by focusing on a stone in Mecca.  Jesus Christ unifies sinners under His own death and resurrection.  No one questions the influence of both individuals, but the character of their influence is as different as the difference between peace and war.”

 We need to pray, petition the Trinity, to bring love and hope to all who are under an authoritarian control.  Such control limiting the freedom of the people residing within the boundaries of the domain of the authority.  May these boxes in which many people are confined be opened to the light of other voices, the Word to be disseminated, to be heard, and to be understood as offering an alternative, an alternative that provides freedom and Salvation.  If there would be the assurance of Salvation how many minds would re-direct their thinking towards the God that loves, provides grace and mercy, and enabled salvation for all who have faith in the Risen Lord.

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