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Men and Women in Paradise: Any Discrimination?

23 November, 2016
Q Dear Scholar, Assalam alykum wa rahmatullah! I recently watched a film called Osama and one thing in that movie really made me confused. Through that movie I came to know that there'll be nymphs/maidens in Paradise who'll be male but with feminine features. How can this be justifiable as homosexuality is not moralistic according to Islam, then how can Allah allow this to happen in Jannah? Another doubt which aroused through this is- if there are hoors (who are female) and again these nymphs/maidens for men then what's there for females? I hope to receive a comprehensive and convincing reply. Jazakallah khair.


Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question. I will do my best to offer you a helpful response.

There is no doubt that the various art forms around us can be thought provoking and inspirational. As Muslims, we are in need of artistic expression to make life more enjoyable and meaningful, so long as these art forms are in accordance with Islamic teachings.

I have not seen the movie “Osama”, but in general, Muslims need to be very careful about what they watch and spend their time on. We must base our understanding of Allah, angels, prophets, Heaven and Hell, etc. on the most authentic sources of knowledge: the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Just because something is in print or on film, does not mean that we should take it seriously or spend much time reflecting on it.

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Islam, more than any other religion, has a vast amount of authentic information regarding the truth of this life and the next life, whether it be in Heaven or in Hell. I ask Allah, Glory be to Him, that He grants us all Paradise and protects us from the Hellfire.

Although there is often much to be gained from movies, they are really just interpretations of the world around us and the beliefs of certain people.

{The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will)…} (Aal `Imran 3:19)

We base our understanding of Islam not on what people say or do, but on what Islam teaches. The best sources are the Quran and Sunnah. What is in line with them we accept; what is not in line with them, we reject.

With respect to maidens and attendants in Paradise, there is much mention of them in the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.

{Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness).} (Al-Waqi`ah 56:17)

{And round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness): If thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered Pearls.} (Al-Insan 76:19)

In these verses, the youths are “wildanun mukhalladun” which are generally understood to be non-human servants or attendants who have a very handsome and beautiful appearance. There is no mention or connotation of sexual attraction.

Most men can acknowledge that another man is good-looking without having any sexual feelings towards him. The same goes for women. There are certain facial features that are generally recognized by most humans as beautiful or attractive.

Actually, this is one of the things that attract us to others for friendship. We find something in our friends’ faces that is welcoming and comforting. Their personalities add to this feeling we get when we see them.

Sometimes, their personality shines through so strongly that we find their physical appearance irrelevant when seeking their friendship.

Often the dividing line between feminine and masculine beauty is a very thin line. If youthful looks are the most appealing to us, we often find that the physical differences between a beautiful young lady and a handsome young man are not too easy to distinguish. Except, of course for the possible whiskers on the face of a young man.

In any case, beauty is subjective; it depends on who you are asking. Everyone has their own opinion as to whom or what is beautiful, and what is not. Allah knows this better than anyone.

You are correct when you say that homosexuality is a sin in Islam. This is made clear in many verses of the Quran.

{We also (sent) Lot: He said to his people: “Do you commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For you practice your lusts on men in preference to women: you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.} (Al-A`raf 7:80-81)

The people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) practiced all kinds of sexual perversions, including what is mentioned in the above verse. It was for this reason and others that these people were destroyed.

If Allah has forbidden homosexual relations between people in this life, it does not make sense that He would make it a reward in the Hereafter or allow it to be practiced.

Only true believers in Allah are admitted to Paradise and homosexual attractions are not one of the desires or characteristics of the true believer, male or female.

With respect to “Al-hur al-een” that are mentioned in the Quran, these are often interpreted to be female wives of male believers.

{So; and We shall join them to companions with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes.} (Dukhan 44:54)

It is important to remember that the “hur” are companions for the male and female believers in Paradise. Interpreters of this verse “kadhaalika wa zawwajnahum bi hurin een” from Arabic into English often use the word ‘marriage’ to explain ‘zawwajnahum‘.

This word literally carries the meaning “we paired them” and is not specifically a word for marriage only. Marriage carries with it a sexual connotation whereas pairing can be in friendship.

Also, none of the verses containing “hurin een” make mention or connotation of sexual relations between the hur and the believer. The word ‘hur’ is properly translated here as a companion that is soothing to the eye in appearance and in character.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that Prophet Muhammad said:

The first group of people who will enter Paradise will be glittering like the moon when it is full. They will not spit or blow their noses or relieve nature. Their utensils will be of gold and their combs of gold and silver; in their centers the aloe wood will be used, and their sweat will smell like musk.

Everyone of them will have two wives; the marrow of the bones of the wives’ legs will be seen through the flesh out of excessive beauty. They (the people of Paradise) will neither have differences nor hatred amongst themselves; their hearts will be as if one heart and they will be glorifying Allah in the morning and in the evening. (Al-Bukhari)

Finally, there is so much that can be said regarding the pleasures of Paradise that are in store for the believers. There is much in the Quran regarding this.

{Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them – as a reward for their (good) deeds.} (As-Sajdah 32:17)

Pleasures of the flesh that we experience here in this life will be experienced in Paradise as well, but in a much better and pure way. This is because we are familiar with them here. To give us a totally different existence in Paradise with no connection to what we already know from this life would be very stressful and we wouldn’t be able to adjust easily.

It is out of Allah’s mercy that some things will be recognizable to us. Those who are admitted will have all they desire and will be rewarded with things that they could never have imagined would exist.

Sexual relations will be among the pleasures of Paradise, but only for those that desire them. Many women do not value this as much as men do. There are also men who do not value it as much as other men.

Each person will have what they desire and Allah knows them better than they know themselves. For many women, being in the company of loved ones is a much more fulfilling interaction than sexual relations.

Obviously, some of these things are private matters that are not appropriate to be mentioned in Allah’s book. Not because they are shameful or sinful as other religions teach, but to better preserve the dignity of the human being, which is what Islam is all about.

If we apply meanings to certain verses that is not what Allah intended, it is not Allah but our own shortcomings that have caused the problem.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I ask Allah to guide us all to what pleases Him, and that He grants us the highest levels of paradise as a reward for faith and righteous deeds. Please keep in touch.