But the Hamas spokesman correctly uses the word martyr shahid and not suicide bomber, since those who blow themselves up almost daily in Israel and those who died on September 11 were dying in the noblest of all causes, Jihad, which is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Koran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined for the purpose of advancing Islam.
While suicide is forbidden, martyrdom is everywhere praised, welcomed, and urged: "By the Being in Whose Hand is my life, I love that I should be killed in the way of Allah; then I should be brought back to life and be killed again in His way What of the rewards in paradise?
The Islamic paradise is described in great sensual detail in the Koran and the Traditions; for instance, Koran sura 56 verses 12 ; sura 55 verses ; sura 76 verses I shall quote the celebrated Penguin translation by NJ Dawood of sura 56 verses "They shall recline on jewelled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason ; with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish.
And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris, chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand One should note that most translations, even those by Muslims themselves such as A Yusuf Ali, and the British Muslim Marmaduke Pickthall, translate the Arabic plural word Abkarun as virgins, as do well-known lexicons such the one by John Penrice.
I emphasise this fact since many pudic and embarrassed Muslims claim there has been a mistranslation, that "virgins" should be replaced by "angels". In sura 55 verses , Dawood translates the Arabic word " hur " as "virgins", and the context makes clear that virgin is the appropriate translation: "Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?
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Two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs.
The same hadith is also quoted by Ibn Kathir died CE in his Koranic commentary Tafsir of Surah Al-Rahman 55 , verse "The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80, servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'. Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopaedia of Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali died CE and Al-Ash'ari died CE have "admitted sensual pleasures into paradise".
The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by Al-Suyuti died , Koranic commentator and polymath.
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He wrote: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas.
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One of the reasons Nietzsche hated Christianity was that it "made something unclean out of sexuality", whereas Islam, many would argue, was sex-positive. One cannot imagine any of the Church fathers writing ecstatically of heavenly sex as al-Suyuti did, with the possible exception of St Augustine before his conversion.
For those unfamiliar, houris are the celestial virgins mentioned in sacred Islamic literature who await believers in paradise. They form part of the sensual descriptions of Jannah, or heaven, in the Koran, and imbue the portrayal of spiritual reward in Islam with an erotic quality that less sex-positive religions — Christianity, for one — can find strangely exotic. Credit: Benjamin Laut. And Ashman uses black comedy to query the hellish ordeal a woman might undertake to literally become a houri.
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