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houris

Surely those who guard (against evil) are in a secure place, In gardens and springs;
They shall wear of fine and thick silk, (sitting) face to face; Thus (shall it be), and We will wed them with Houris pure, beautiful ones.
--The Qu'ran (44.51-54)

Houris are beautiful black-eyed virgins believed by some Muslims to be waiting in heaven for the enjoyment of the faithful, especially men who die as martyrs. According to the Qu'ran, the houris have never been touched by man or jinn (55.56).

Many Muslims and non-Muslims alike believe that terrorists who commit murder and suicide in the name of Islam commit their sins in order to gain instant admission to heaven, where they will enjoy many houris. According to Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, an Islamic scholar and secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association, the belief in a sensuous afterlife filled with houris is based upon a hadith 

collected by Imam at-Tirmidhi in “Sunan” (Volume IV, Chapters on “The Features of Heaven as described by the Messenger of Allah”, Chapter 21: “About the Smallest Reward for the People of Heaven”, hadith 2687) and also quoted by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (Koranic Commentary) of Surah Rhman (55), ayah (verse) 72:

It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) saying, ‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a.

This sounds like hearsay three times removed, but in any case the reward is obviously not restricted to those who die for the faith. Hence, it seems unlikely that anyone but the terminally perplexed would interpret this to mean that committing murder or suicide for Islam will automatically gain one many servants and a harem of houris.

further reading

Wikipedia article

Last updated 18-Dec-2013

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