Dept. of Quran & Sunnah
This present essay aims at analysing rationally an article captioned "The X-Rated Paradise of Islam" posted on the Internet by some Georgie of Sarawak, Malaysia on July 16, 1999. The purpose of this purely academic exercise is to clear the genuine truth-seeker's minds of misunderstanding and confusion the said article might have caused.
Inimical approach to Islam by certain quarters is not a surprising thing as it is as old as the Islamic history itself. Many Jewish and Christian scholars in the past as well as today have said and written much on Islam, its people, its civilization, its history, its culture, its philosophy, its Scripture and its last prophet, apparently with a view to tarnish and disfigure the image of the last edition of the Divinely-approved scheme of life. But what is ironically astonishing now in this hostility is that the Quranic verses and al-Hadith are being used to read and convey such messages as to run counter to the original and genuine Islamic ideas. This tactic may not easily deceive the educated people but it will certainly mislead the innocent minds to develop wrong picture of the Holy Book of Allah. Quite recently, such articles have been posted on the Internet, wherein it has been endeavoured to paint a despicable image of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and his mission. These write-ups in no wise form any serious study or critical examination of the subject-matters involved. They are all prejudiced sweeping remarks, biased judgements, and projection of the author's abhorrence of Islam. This present essay aims at analysing rationally an article captioned "The X-Rated Paradise of Islam" posted on the Internet by some Georgie of Sarawak, Malaysia on July 16, 1999. The purpose of this purely academic exercise is to clear the genuine truth-seeker's minds of misunderstanding and confusion the said article might have caused.
It is evident from the said article that the author's objective is to draw an odious picture of the last Prophet of Islam and his followers. Analysis of Islamic Paradise serves only as a cover. The messages it seeks to convey are approximately eight in number. They are : 1) The Quran is the Prophet Muhammad's own work; 2) The Prophet's mission was to promote hideous crimes; 3) The Prophet's followers were lecherous; 4) The Prophet was spiritually deprived person; 5) The followers of Islam are committed to a life of loot, plunder, rape and murder; 6) The goal of Islamic life and character is to cut down the people of other religions; 7) Homosexuality was and is widely practised in Islamic countries; and 8) Arabic poetry represents Islamic thought.
All these assumptions have been made in the composition without any proofs or grounds. Therefore it seems pertinent to touch on these issues first before the main issue related to paradise is taken into consideration.
Who could be that superhuman mind? The simple and sure answer is Allah who Himself has reiterated that the Quran is His word which the man and the Jinn are both incapable to reinvent. (see the Quran 2:23; 10:38)
It is unwarranted to make a remark about The Prophet Muhammad's mission
against what the genuine sources, the Quran, the Hadith literature, and the
The Prophet (s.a.w.) had been commanded by Allah to incorporate in his as well as his companions' life moral excellence.
He had been sent as the saviour of the entire humankind.
A great Islamic scholar, Ibn 'Abdul Barr (d. 463 A.H) explains that excellence of life-conduct includes all good values such as honesty, integrity, goodness, grace, generosity, trustworthiness, truthfulness, keeping promises, sincerity, altruism, cooperation, magnanimity and justice etc. (Ibid P. 904, annotated by Muhammad Fuad Abdul Baqui)
The achievement of the Prophet (s.a.w.) speaks volumes of his mission.
The Quran itself outlines the traits of the Prophet's followers:
What Ja'far B. Abi Talib, the leader of the Muslim emigrants to Abyssinia had said in response to the question asked by the king Negus about their faith and life brings out a very clear picture of the Prophet's follower's character. He, among other things, had stressed that they (Muslim) were, before Islam, voluptuary profligate but after they accepted the Prophet's message they abstained from all what was shameful. (vide: Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirat al-Nabawiyyah, Beirut, 1997, vol. I, P. 373)
The concept of spirituality is variously defined and elaborated in all the religions. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hindusm all differ in the meaning, significance, form, and method of achievement of spirituality. But these religions are all unanimous over the idea that spirituality is unattainable for one while remaining associated with the social relationship, worldly affairs, material pursuit, and civilizational growth.
But all the Prophets of Islam such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Issac, Ishamael, Jacob, John, Zacharia, Joseph, Ayub, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad had all communicated to the humanity the truly viable and perfectly natural message of spirituality which seeks to strike balance between the extreme materialism and exaggerated suspension of social life and excessive devoutional practices.
The spirituality taught by the Prophet was aimed at ensuring the all-round development of the man. His teachings encompass all the aspects of life -- personal, collective, private, public, social, familial, political, economic, educational, military, technological, cultural, and devotional. Nothing has been left out. One who moulds one's life in accordance with this Prophetic scheme will certainly attain to spiritual development.
And the Quran bears witness to the fact that the Prophet was the perfect embodiment of what he said and preached.
It is this human-friendly Prophetic principle of spirituality which is largely being practised by the world today. Had the world heeded to the non-human philosophy of spirituality, the modern civilizational rise would never have been a possibility.
The Islamic spirituality is composed of two dimensions -- divine and human -- which do not exist in isolation of each other but remain interconnected like two faces of a coin. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had been commanded to sincerely devote to Allah:
Historically, all the forms and manifestations of spiritual experiences had been founded on either of the five bases: negation of any Supreme Being, plurality of deities, duality of god, trinity of gods, and unity of God. Rationally speaking, only the concept of the unity of God is based on knowledge, and the rest four are products of human speculation and imagination which can never be considered substitute of the truth associated with knowledge. Unity of God is the only ideal and fruitful foundation of spiritual values. Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (Peace be upon all of them) communicated the message of one God-based spiritual and religious system.
The Prophet Muhammad's message sought to revolutionize the human life, at both intellectual and moral levels. The change that took place in the 7th century Arabian Peninsula following the Prophet's endeavour is the most spectacular event of the human history. To say that the Prophet's followers were commissioned to create an environment of terror by practising heinous crimes like loot, murder, rape etc. is to falsify the truth of the history.
The Quran itself draws a true picture of the adherents of Islam:
The Goal Of Islamic Life Is To Ensure Peace And Harmony In This World And The Hereafter:
In the said article it has been stressed that Muslims over the centuries have cut down people of other religions, desecrated their places of worship, and mistreated them in the name of Allah. One wish the author would provide any testimony to his claim. It is a brazen approach on the part of Mr. Georgie, the claimant who seems to be in too haste to check the sources of history.
Conceptually, Islam does not allow its followers to mete out any
injustice whatsoever to any people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Quran
categorically exhorts the upholders of its message to be standard bearer of
"And never let ill-will of any people to lead into the sin of
deviating from justice. Be just, this is closest to being
Historically, Muslims have always honoured every one's right to life,
property, and prestige without any discrimination between Muslims and
others. Few examples from the history may suffice to reveal the truth.
As a matter of fact not even a single case could be cited to show conquered non-Muslims' persecution at the hands of the victor army or administration. On the contrary Non-Muslim conquerors of Muslim lands and cities have invariably demonstrated cruelest form of savagery. Two cases, one from the medieval period, and the other from the recent annals are given here below to expose the Non-Muslims' barbarous approach to Muslim civilians.
In the light of these facts who Muslims or Non-Muslims could be considered savage, barbarous, and cruel? Is it the Muslims who cut the throats of others or others who are eveready to pounce upon Muslims to quench their centuries-old thirst for pure blood?
What Mr. Georgie has said about homosexuality involving Islamic countries in his allegation-oriented write-up is an age-old ploy to distract attention of the unsuspecting cyber visitors from the sexual crimes in the Jews and Christians dominated world. It seems the author could not properly define and differentiate between Islamic and non-Islamic countries. He appears to have mistaken Christian majority states Canada, America, England, Sweden, Germany, Demark, Norway, Columbia, Brazil etc. for Islamic countries. These European and American nations have legalized homosexuality and lesbianism as their citizens' human rights. Could anyone refer to any Islamic land, either in the past or today, where this unnatural practice receive legal or moral protection. It should be born in mind that despite their scientific and political slavery the Islamic people are still the only nations upholding the highest standard of morality. To them the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophets life example are the only sources to govern their social, cultural and ethical dimensions of life. They know that the Quran and the Prophet (s.a.w.) have both vehemently condemned same-sex carnal relationship.
The Quran while recounting the lecherous approach of the people of sodom and Gomorrah quotes Lut, a Prophet of Islam, as having argued to those indulged in this unnatural habit:
The punishment sent to the community involved in homosexuality has been described in these words:
"When our decree issued we turned (the cities of homosexuals) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones.............." (11:82)
The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, on the authority of 'Abdullah B. 'Abbas:
Christians dominated secular world does not see anything wrong in homosexuality, hence this habit is thriving unimpeded, and the days are not far when the so called enlightened part of the humanity will be effaced from the surface of the God's earth as the sodomese were destroyed only to be cursed for ever.
But the Islamic nations consider in the light of the Quran and the Prophet's statements, it inhuman, unnatural, unethical, criminal, and divinely cursed act, hence the evil forces did not in the past, and do not now have any chance to prosper in Muslim lands. The reason, therefore, foresees that the true Islamic people are the only people in the world to survive the anger of Allah who does not like those given to the approach of transgression.
Abu Nuwas (d. 195 A.H.), an 'Arab poet who is known for his deviationist thoughts on sex has never been hailed as an Islamic Spokesman. In the said article a translation of one of his poems eulogising his taste for sodomic act has been quoted apparently in an attempt to make the ignorant mind perceive Islam as a source of evil inspiration.
What Abu Nuwas said and did was certainly based on his personal and individual attitude. It is by all means reprehensible. It can not be debted into the account of Islam.
It is true that the literature of a culturally and religiously homogenous community serve as a mirror of the latter's thought and life. Yet, there could be some pieces in the prose or the poetry portraying not the picture of the communal life but depicting the artist's own outlook. Major portion of Muslim literature produced in all the ages focuses on the issues and principles Islam stands for, such as unity of God, piety, righteousness, high moral values, concept of the Day of Judgement, condemnation of evil practices in social and ethical spheres etc.
The Quran itself denounces the unwarranted views of poets.
"Shall I tell you upon whom evil spirits descend? They descend upon all sinful self-deceivers who readily lend ear, and most of whom speak lies. And as for the poets, they are followed by those who are lost in grievous error. Are you not aware that they (poets) confusedly roam through all the valleys (of words and thoughts)." (26:221-25)
So, Abu Nuwas and some others of the same nature fall under the category of those being led by satan to every fatally alluring pasture already prohibited by Islam.
Now, the main issue concerning the Islamic paradise as depicted in the said article will be focused on. The analysis of the author's approach towards the Quranic Ayat is being presented herewith under seven major headings.
In the said article forty two quotations from the Quran and two from Hadith have been accommodated under various heads: Virgins, young boys, water, wine, fruits, and wealth. Many references given therein are inaccurate, misleading, and imprecise.
Virgines: 37:40-48 (37:48-49); 44:51-55 (44:54); 52:17-20 (52:20); 56:7-40 (56:35-38).
Wine: 56:7-40 (56:16-18)
Fruits: 37:40-48 (37:40-43); 43:68-73 (43:72-73); 44:51-55 (44:55); 76:13-21 (76:13-14); 56:7-40(56:15-21)
Wealth: 43:68-73 (43:70-71); 55:70-77 (55:70-71); 44:51-55 (44:51-53); 56:7-40 (56:15); 76:13-21(76:21).
Comparison between the number of the Quranic verses referred to and the actual number deary shows the mean and stingy cleverness on the part of the writer of the said article. It seems his objective was to force the reader to feel horrified with such a big number of Quranic passages purportedly devoted to certain things referred above.
As for Hadith references, the first one Al-Hadis vol.4, P. 172, No.34 is a totally incorrect reference, as there is no Hadith work entitled 'Al-Hadis'.
It demonstrates how superficial is the information Mr. Georgie has accumulated for the purpose. If he wants others to take his views seriously he has to be precise and accurate in his quotation and references. Dishonesty is intolerable in any field of the life including academic matter.
The true meaning and precise import of a Quranic word or phrase can in no way be determined by only looking at its translated version in another language. Translation only serves to bring the mind closer to the message inherent in the original word. The Quran has been translated into almost all the major languages of the world. But none of these translations can replace the Arabic text of the Quran. Most of the English versions particularly those by Non-Muslim Europeans such as Mercier, de Ryer, Sale , Bell, Noldeke, Rodwell etc. are too defective to convey the message. As for the translations by Pickthall, 'Abdullah Yusuf Ali 'Abdul Majid Daryabadi, and Muhsin Khan, they are reliable but short of perfection. Certain places still deserve to be rechecked and retranslated. Muhammad Asad's and T.B. Irwing's translations are better than others. One, therefore, has to be careful while deriving a message of the Quran through its translations.
Under the head "Virgine" in the said article the entire theme rests on three phrases: Hur 'In, Qasirat al-Tarf, Kawa 'ib Atrab, which have been translated as dark eyed Houris (beautiful virgins); bashful, dark-eyed virgins; high-bosomed virgins for companions.
Although these translation are in agreement with those by Bell, Pickthall, and N.J. Dawood, they need reconsideration. The meaning of the above three words could be appreciated only in the light of the classical Arabic used by the Arabs of the time of the Quran's revelation.
It was basically used to refer to the beautiful eyes of the wild-cow whose eyes are blond. In later usage, this word was applied to any 'most beautiful eye' irrespective of the person's gender.
Thus, the most appropriate English endering of the compound word Hur In will be: "Companions pure, most beautiful of eye." (vide: Muhammad Asad, Message of the Quran in 56:22); and it is applicable to both male and female companions.
According to the Quran itself, its verses are of two categories: Muhakam (clear and precise), and Mutashabih (allegorical) (vide: The Quran 3:7). Islamic scholars are unanimous over the fact that the verses dealing with the unseen world and its objects are all Mutashabihat, as the things that are beyond man's Ken and perception can not be precisely described in human language which can depict only what the man thinks, observes, and experiences. The other worldly things are to be described allegorically referring to what man knows and understands. The paradise and its blessings can not exactly be stated in human terms. That is why Allah has used illustrative approach with a view to bringing at least the feeling of the paradise closer to human mind. Hur, water, fruits, pearls, eggs, corals, gems etc. are all allegorical and illustrative terms for the good life of the paradise.
It is, therefore, not proper for anyone to sketch a picture of the paradise like that of any worldly comfort and luxury. 'Abdullah B. 'Abbas, who is known in the Islamic world as the spokesman of the Quran (Tarjuman al-Qurain) says that the only thing common between the paradise and the worldly luxuries is names of the things, (vide: Al-Tabari, Tafsir, in 2:25). The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself has clarified the nature of the blessings in the paradise: "Allah says: I have readied for my righteous servants such provision which the eye has never seen, the ear has never heard of, the human mind has never imagined of" (vide: Muslim, Sahih, Hadith No. 7065).
Merely on the basis of abstract references to the good
life available in the Paradise as mentioned in the Quran none can ever form
an exact image and comprehensive picture of the paradise.
The Hadith regarding a sex market in the paradise is one of those traditions which the 'Ulama have identified as fabricated and ingenuine. Hadith scholars such as Abdul Rahman B. 'Ali generally known as Ibn al-Jauzi (d.597A.H.), Jalaluddin al-Suyuti(d.911A.H.), and Abual Hasan 'Ali B. Muhammad B. 'Arraq aJ-Kanani (d.963 A.H.) have all declared this report ingenuine and incorrect, (vis: Ibn al-Jauzi, Kitab al-Maudu'at, Beirut, 1995, vol.II, PP. 427-8)
It should be born in mind that every statement recorded as Hadith
can not necessarily be genuine one. Islamic scholars have done great job in
identifying what is original, true and genuine, and what is spurious,
fabricated and ingenuine. Before any Hadith is quoted by anyone
today, its authenticity is to be checked first. So, what is wrong can not be
attributed to Islam.
It is a known fact that the Quran is not a Book in the modem and general sense of the word. It consists of revelations received by the Prophet (s.a.w.) over a period of more than two decades. All these revelations descended in relevance to various situations involving the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself, his followers, his open enemies, hypocrites, and the vacillating souls. The heavenly inspired chapters, passages, and verses were not put down in chronological order. The arrangement of the Quranic revelations was made on a different pattern dictated by Allah, the source of the Quran.
The Quran, therefore, is full of repetitions. Many an item is discussed at one place very briefly and abstractly but is elaborately detailed at some other place. Likewise, all the messages given in the Book form one integral whole. In order to appreciate the definition, scope, and practical relevance of one Quranic precept, one has to see other places of the Quran where the same matter has been referred to, on the one hand, and has to check it in the light of the basic tenets of life the Quran propounds, on the other. The paradise is one subject-matter from among so many others. To do justice with the meaning, implication, and application of the Quranic message regarding the paradise, one has to adopt the same methodology. Only the picking up of certain verses on paradise can not help one grasp the real, true, and original message on the subject. In other words the entire Quran and all of its messages will have to be taken into consideration for developing a genuine idea about the objective, definition, implication and role of the paradise.
The Quran invites the man, in his individual and collective capacity, to establish a full-fledged human civilization based on intellectual freedom, (68:10) loyalty and accountability to the Master of the entire universe (4:36), moral upliftment (17:23-37), development of knowledge and scientific methods of research and analysis (2:164; 3:190-91), application of reason (47:24), participation of both male and female in the growth of the humanity at intellectual, moral, and social level (16:97), elimination of evil and promotion of the good (3:l 14). On the other hand, the Divine-writ also identifies the anti-human attitude and acts such as superstitions (6:100), disbelief (3:97), intellectual blindness (2:171), mental slavery (2:170), insincerity (33:60), immoral practices (2:268), knowledge bashing approach (5:50), blind obedience to traditions and the leaders(38:6), supression of female's participation in the social development (4:75), religious bigotry (2:88) etc; so as to get them stamped out.
To develop such a civilization is the true service to the humanity which always stands in need of peace, and justice, the most missing items in all the non-Islamic scheme of life. And it is not an easy task. It requires sincere and concerted effort of a people whom the Quran rightly calls Muslimun (submitted to Allah), Muminun (genuinely faithfuls), Qamfiin (obedients), Sadiqun (steadfast), Khashi'un (devouts), Mutasaddiqun (philanthropists), Muttaqun (God-conscious), Muhsinun (excellent in social interaction), Muqsitun (upholders of justice), Muhtadun (rightly guided), etc.
Such are the people irrespective of their tribal racial, regional, linguistic, national and ethnic background who deserve to be rewarded in the most befitting manner. Paradise characterised by comfort, ease, enjoyment, peace, and tranquility is the most appropriate reward Allah (a.w.j.) has readied for those who strive hard to bring peace and justice in individual and social life. The Quran reiterates:
"Those who humble themselves in their prayer, and turn away from all that is frivolous, who are intent on inner purity, who are mindful of their chastity, ...... ..who are faithful to their trusts and pledges, and who guard their prayers, it is they, who will be the heirs who shall inherit paradise to live therein for ever." (23:1-11)
Mr. Georgie maintains in his article that the paradise is meant for those
who commit acts like rape, loot, plunder, murder etc. This view is
self-constructed. It has no basis in the Quran. Had he sincerely surveyed
the Holy Scripture of Islam, he would certainly have found therein that the
people with a program of rape, murder, loot, plunder, and other immoral acts
have been condemned, as, among others, Mujrimun (criminals), Mufsidun
(miscreants), and Zalimun (wrong doers) etc. Who have been warned
time and again of grave consequences in the form of hell-fire. For example:
This discrimination among the evil-doers and the good doers is a natural demand of justice which is a main characteristics of Islam.
The Quran makes it crystal clear that the two are opposed to each other, hence the difference in treatment and outcome.
"There is no comparison between the bad things and the good things.......... " (5:100)
The blind and the seeking are not equal; nor are the depths of darkness and the light; nor the shade and the scorching heat; and neither are equal the living and the dead
"The inmates of the Fire are not equal to the inhabitants of the Paradise." (59:20)
In the said article it has also been claimed that the joy of Islamic paradise is meant only for males. It is an erroneous hypothesis. The Quran is very categorical on the matter that the Islamic scheme of life is for both men and women, and both of them are destined to receive the reward in the form of the paradise characterised by ease, comfort, happiness, and rapturous life. Few verses may suffice to reveal the truth.
"... ...I shall not lose sight of labour of any of you who labours (in MY Way), be it man or woman............ .and shall most certainly bring them into the gardens......." (3:195)
"Anyone, be it man or woman, who performs honourable deeds, and is a believer, they will enter the paradise and not be harmed a speck." (4:126)
"We shall let anyone -who acts honorably and is a believer, whether it is a man or a woman, live a happy life and reward them with their earnings for the finest deeds they have been doing." (16:97)
"........ While someone who does righteous deeds and is a believer, whether it is a man or woman will enter the paradise." (40:40)
From among other things available in the paradise two are young boys and pure drinks. Georgie has unsuccessfully tried to read a joy of homosexuality from the Quranic description of youths and that of wine from the pure drinks. The relevant Quranic words and sentences from no angle can help one extricate what Georgie claims.
If someone thinks that at all these places only a relationship of carnal love exists, he will certainly be deemed as an insane or a person with perverted nature, who is unable to see between two humans pure, unstained, honorable and natural relationship.
Moreover, since the inmates of the paradise will have lived a pure and pious life in the pre death world, their approach and behaviour in the paradise will be of the same nature. Carnal attraction towards the same sex is unnatural. Inmates of the paradise will not even imagine about what is unnatural and inhuman.
"With goblets, and ewers, and cups filled with water from unsullied springs." (56:18)
In these two verses the reference is to a drink from some pure springs. How does one read from them a message related to wine? This is a striking example of a flagrant academic dishonesty which Georgie has calculatedly committed.
For other drinks available in the paradise the Quran has used a term Khamr (47:15), a proper name for wine, and Rahiq (83:25) an attributive word for the same.
As for the word Rahiq it was used by the 'Arabs of the Quran's revelation period for a beverage totally different from the general alcoholic drinks which could have its negative impact on the drinker's mind. The Quran also qulifies this drink by the word Makhttim (sealied). It means that this beverage will be pure, fragrant, and delicious. It will certainly be different from the worldly alcoholic liquor.
Khamr has also been qualified as delightful for those who drink it (47:23). The Quran while petering to the nature of all the drinks in the paradise explains:
The heavenly Khamr (pure and delicious drink) can not be imagined as the worldly intoxicants and spirits. Both are diametrically different from each other in terms of source, method of preparation, taste, effect and impact. The latter causes headiness and mental aberration, whereas the former is entirely safe from such negative effects.
It is, in deed, not the name that matters, but the merits and demerits of the thing which count and should therefore be taken into consideration while making any objective judgement. Islam has prohibited the wine not because of its name but owing to its harmful characteristics (2:219;5:90-91).
That is why, if the Quran declares that the heavenly drinks are free from adverse properties, they do not fall under the category of forbidden beverages.
The Quranic description of the paradise from no angle could be considered pornography. A perverted mind of the modem world, whose only interest lies in always thinking reversely, describing one thing or the other sensually, and doing everything unnaturally, look at the thing from an abnormal angle, hence the distortion of the facts. Georgie has unsuccessfully tried to extract from the Quran what is not therein. After his failure to find anything objectionable in the Holy Scripture of Islam he, under the impact of heavy dejection, seems to have used his own self-imagination for an allegedly x-rated image of the last Book of Allah.
Only one verse of the Quran, is sufficient to explain the nature of its message, and the method of its description:
"Verily, God commands justice, kindness, and giving to near relatives, while He forbids all that is shameful, and all that runs counter to reason, and insolence." (16:90)
This verse holds special place in Islamic scheme of life. It was recited by the Prophet (s.a.w.) throughout his life in his Friday sermon; it has, therefore, formed an essential part of every Friday sermon in Muslim world signifying the very basis of Islamic civilization. Is, then, it possible for the Book to contradict its own principle meant for its followers?
The said article must have reminded the reader of the Salman Rushdis and the Taslima Nasrins who are all out with one single objective in their life i.e. to spread lies about Islam and speak blasphemously about the Quran and its teachings .The world knows that the freedom of speech given to any individual is not absolute and unlimited and it should always be restricted and qualified. Georgie's article is a gross violation of all decent limits. Healthy criticism is always welcome; but such unwholesome approach as Georgie's is morally undesirable, religiously reprehensible, rationally unjustifiable, socially condemnable, and legally cognizable.