Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sex in paradise: a touchy subject of Muslim debate

One of the notorious facts about Islam is its sensual portrayal of paradise as a place flowing with wine and honey, springs and fountains, whose pebbles are rubies and emeralds, whose earth is camphor, and where the beds are made of musk. But the eclipsing all these glories are the charms of the houris -- resplendent and ravishing "dark-eyed" virgins, created, not of clay, as are mortal women, but of pure musk, and free from all natural impurities and defects. Their breasts are said to be kawa'eb -- swelling and firm, not sagging; and in order to enjoy them to the full, Allah will give to each Muslim man 72 houris and the manliness of a hundred mortals in this heaven of perpetual youth and, of copulation, "all that they desire."1 The righteous in paradise will be served also by boys, "pure as pearls," dressed in green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, adorned with bracelets of silver, and used to drinking wine.2

And then, there's this:
In 1992, Islamic assassins had gunned down ... Farag Foda, a professor and columnist, a human rights activist, and an outspoken critic of the Islamic militants.... About two weeks before his murder, he mocked what passed for intellectual discourse among Islamicists by citing a recent sermon by Egypt's most popular preacher ... [who] had been telling his audience that Muslims who entered paradise would enjoy eternal erections and the company of young boys draped in earrings and necklaces. Some of the ulema, the religious scholars at al-Azhar University, the government's seat of Islamic learning, had disagreed. Yes, they said, men in paradise would have erections, but merely protracted, not perpetual. Other experts disputed the possibility of pederasty in paradise.3
Herewith ends the reading.

  1. Qu'ran, 25:15-16. [back]

  2. 76:21. [back]

  3. Judith Miller, God Has Ninety-Nine Names (Simon & Schuster, 1996), pp. 25-26. [back]

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