Islam and Paradise
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.
The Apparent Agenda:
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.
Video:Wonderful description of paradise in Quran
Video:Wonderful description of paradise in Quran
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.
The Quran is the Book of Allah
The Quran's statement about its source is too clear to be debated over. More than a hundred times it has stated that it has come down from Allah, the creator, the sustainer, the provider, the controller of the entire universe. There is not even the slightest reference in the Book to the effect that it has been developed by Muhammad (s.a.w) who also never referred to it as his own work.
It is an universally established fact that one person can not develop two essentially and diametrically different dictions in his speeches or writings. Experts including prominent orientalists have all acknowledged that style used in the Quran is entirely diverse from Prophet's ordinary speeches represented by Hadith literature. Is it, then, a scientific attitude to declare that Muhammad (s.a.w.) had anyhow managed to device two basically varied methods of expression, one in the Quran and the other in Hadith? A well-known orientalist, Prof. A. J. Arberry discloses the truth:
"I do not doubt at that the Koran was a supernatural production, in that it bears all marks of being the discourse of exaltation." (vide: A. J. Arberry, The Holy Quran: An Introduction with Selection. London, 1953, P.15)
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)
The variety of subject matters dealt with in the Quran is in itself an uncontested proof that the Quran can not be the production of a human mind whose capability is restricted to only what it can observe, experiment, analyse and see. Man is incapable to transcend his own intellectual limitations. The Quran discusses many a topic which lie beyond the human Ken, and also describes various biological, astronomical, physiological, botanical, zoological and also psychological truths about which the world of the 7th century, the time of Prophet Muhammad's life, was totally unaware and which have been discovered today. Its description of embryological development in the mother's womb, for instance, is so precise and exact in the light of modern scientific observation that it can not be imagined to have been stated by someone in the period of scientific ignorance. Prof. Keith Moor, a German Genetic Engineer of international repute, while commenting on a Quranic passage dealing with foetal stages (vide: 23:13-14) has acknowledged that the Quranic reference to the second ('Alaqah) and the third (Mudghah) stages is so exact that only the Creator of man could be believed to have said it. The second and third foetal points are too minute to be observed by human eyes without microscope which was developed in the 18th century by a Dutch Scientist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 'Alqah means leech and Mudghah signifies chewed and dented form of a thing. The human embryo is exactly in the form of a leech and chewed clot at the second and the third stages respectively. Such a preciseness is possible only by the one who is All-knowing and All-wise i.e. Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad's Mission was Perfection and Development of The Humanity
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 history depict.
All the Prophet including Muhammad (s.a.w.) had been raised to establish justice in human setting.
"We sent forth Our apostles with all evidence of truth; and through them We bestowed revelation from on high, and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice." (57:25)
The Prophet (s.a.w.) had been commanded by Allah to incorporate in his as well as his companions' life moral excellence.
"Verily, Allah enjoins justice, the doing of good, generosity towards fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as insolence... ... ..." (16:90)
He had been sent as the saviour of the entire humankind.
"And (o Prophet), We have sent you as grace towards all the worlds." (21:107)
His mission was to perfect the life-values.
The Prophet says: "I have been raised to perfect the excellence of life-conduct." (Malik B. Anas, Al-Muatta, vol. II, Bab Husn al-Khulq, Hadith No. 8)
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)
He was a source of mercy for all irrespective of their persuasion and background.
"Abu Hurairah reports that when the Prophet was once appealed by some to pray against the polytheists, he said: "I have not been sent as a cursor but as a source of mercy."" (Muslim B. al-Hajjaj, Sahih, vol. VIII, Kitab al-Birr, Hadith No. 6556)
It is on record that the Prophet had left behind him a full-fledged civilized nation which was before him frought with loot, murder, rape, dishonesty, injustice and disunity. The new environment created by the Prophet (s.a.w.) was characterised by peace, harmony, unity, security of life, property and honour, honesty and justice etc.
The achievement of the Prophet (s.a.w.) speaks volumes of his mission.
The Prophet's Followers were Perfectly Virtuous People:
The Quran itself outlines the traits of the Prophet's followers:
"Who are mindful of their chastity." (23:5)
"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and this will be more conducive to their purity... ... and tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not display their charms..." (24:30-31)
"... ... And they do not commit adultery... .." (25:68)
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 Prophet (s.a.w) was the Perfect Embodiment of Spirituality.
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.
"Verily, in the Apostle of Allah you have an excellence example... ..." (33:21)
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:
"Remember your lord's name and devote yourself to Him with utter devotion." (73:8) On the other hand, he and, by implication, his followers had been guided to the most appropriate mode of human relationship:
"... ... And do good to your parents, and near of kin, and orphans, and the needy, and the neighbour from among your own people, and the neighbour who is a stranger, and the companion by your side (such as the married spouses), and the wayfarer, and those whom you rightfully possess" (4:36)
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 Muslims Stand For the Highest Values of Life
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:
"... ...They walk gently on earth, reply with peace to the address made by the ignorant, remember their lord far into night, prostrating themselves and standing... ...they, when spending, are neither wasteful nor niggardly... ... they do not take any human being's life --- which God has willed to be sacred --- otherwise than in justice, do not commit adultery... ... they never bear witness to what is false, and whenever they pass by frivolity, pass on with dignity... ... " (25:63-74)
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 Justice.
"And never let ill-will of any people to lead into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just, this is closest to being God-conscious." (5:8)
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.
Following the Prophet's conquest of Makkah whose people had tortured physically and mentally the Prophet and his companions for almost thirteen years and in the end had driven them out of the city, the Quraishite leaders were fearful about their life but the Prophet (s.a.w.) granted them general amnesty by making an announcement:
"Go, you are all free." (vide: Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirat al-Nabawiyyah, vol. IV, P. 61)
In 15 A.H. before the patriarch of Jerusalem handed the garrison over to the Muslims' Caliph, 'Umar B. al-Khattab the Islamic army reached al-Jabiyah, another city of Christian Syria, the people of that city got frightened but 'Umar ordered his troops:
"Do not cause terror in the hearts of the people, grant them peace and security." (vide: Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil, Beirut, 1989, vol. II, P. 132)
The effect of the conquest of Spain by Muslim army under Tariq B. Ziyad in 92-6 A.H., in response to the requests made by Spaniards themselves, is described by historians in these words:
"The ruthless intolerance and fierce persecution -which had characterised the former (Christian) government made way for a large-hearted toleration... Jews obtained the right to follow their religion without let or hinderance, and the Christians were secured in the unmolested enjoyment of their faith and laws, the administration of which was entrusted to their own judges. No one was troubled about his faith; every man, woman, or child was free to worship as he liked or what he liked.................Every branch of the public service, and all offices of rank and emolument were open equally to Moslems, Jews, and Christians." (vide: Ameer 'Ali, History of the Saracens, Lahore, n.d, PP. 113-4.)
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.
A well known historian Michaud gives a graphic account of Muslim civilians' massacre by the Christian army after it captured Jerusalem in 1099 C.E.
"The Saracens (Muslims) were massacred in the streets, and in the houses. Jerusalem had no refuge for the vanquished... ... ...others crowded for shelter into the palaces, the towers, and above all into their mosques, where they could not conceal themselves from the pursuit of the Christians......... Raymond d' Agiles, who was an eye-witness, says, 'under the portico of the mosque, the blood was knee-deep, and reached the horses' bridles (Quoted by Ameer 'Ali, OP. Cit; P. 327)
During 1994-97 Bosnian conflict the Serb, who are Christians, destroyed not only Muslims' houses but also dilapidated hundreds of mosques, killed Muslim elders and children, outraged modesty of millions of Muslim girls and women, and carried out cold-blooded murder of unarmed Muslim civilians in tens of the thousands in almost every Bosnian city including Srebrencca where thousands of Muslims were lined up blind folded at the threshold of already dug up mass grave and massacred.
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?
Islamic Nations: The only Champions of Chastity, Purity, And Virtuous life:
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:
"Do you approach, among all the creatures in the world, only males, and leave those whom Allah has created! to be your mates? Nay, you are a people transgressing all limits of decency." (26:165-6)
"Lut said to his people: Do you commit lewdness such as no people in the human history ever committed before you? You practise your lusts on men in preference to women. You are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (7:80-81)
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:
"If anyone is found involved in the act of sodomy, both the actors, active and passive, be killed." (Vide: Al-Tirmidhi, Al'Jami 'al-Sahih, Vol. IV, Kitab al-Hudud, Hadith No. 1460)
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' Poetry Does Not Represent Islamic Thought:
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.
Quranic Description Of The Paradise:
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.
References Are Misleading:
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.
The reference 56:7-40 under the caption water is totally incorrect. None of the referred verses signifies what has been quoted therein.
Fifteen references are horribly misleading. Below are given the references of the article along with their accurate ones, which are being put in brackets.
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.
Question Of Translation Of The Quran:
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.
This is a combination of two words Hur and 'In. The former is the plural of both Ahwar (Masculine) and Hawra (Feminine) which literally means persons distinguished by Hawar signifying "intense whiteness of the eyeballs and lustrous black of the pupils." (vide: Qamus), hence the purity (vide: Tafsir al'Tabari, and Tafsir al-Razi in 3:52). And as for the word 'In it is the plural of both A yan (Masculine) and 'Ainao (Feminine) (vide: Al-Raghib.Al-Mufradat, Beirut, l998,Kitab 'Ain,P.358)
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.
It means modest, bashful, and chaste women who restrain their glances, and do not look towards others with any desire. Muhammad Asad, a world-renowned European Muslim, translates this phrase as "mates of modest gaze." (vide: Asad's translation in 37:48)
Kawa'ib is plural of ka'ib which is derived from the root word Ka'b signifying prominence, eminence, and glory (vide: Lisan al-'Arab) Muhammad Asad says: "We realize that in the above context the term kawa 'ib can have no other meaning than "glorious and splendid beings" without any definition of sex". (see Muhammad Asad, Message of the Quran, P.924.). The word Atrab is the singular form of tirb which primarily means persons of equal age, or well-matched. 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali translates this compound term "companions of equal age". (see his translation in 78:33), and Muhammad Asad's translation is "splendid companions, well matched". Here Muhammad Asad explains: It alludes to the relations of the blest with one another, and stresses the absolute mutual compatibility and equal dignity of all of them. (Vide: Muhammad Asad, Message of the Quran, P.924).
Nature Of The Blessings In The Paradise:
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 First Hadith Quoted In The Article Is Ingenuine.
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.
Paradise: The Reward For The Righteous:
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:
"Anyone who comes to his Lord as criminal will have hell; he will neither die in it nor yet will live(a decent life)." (The Quran 20:74)
"As for those who abandon themselves to wrongdoing, They are indeed but fuel for the hell." (The Quran 72:15)
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." (35:19-22)
"The inmates of the Fire are not equal to the inhabitants of the Paradise." (59:20)
The Comfort And Joy Of The Paradise Are For Both Male And Female:
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)
The Concept Of Young Boys And Pure Drinks:
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.
The Quran uses two terms for youths in the paradise Wildan Mukhalladun (eg. 56:17; 76:19), and Ghilman (eg. 52:24). Both the terms signify immortal youths. This meaning by itself refers to the non-human nature of the young beings. And wherever the reference to these immortal youths has been made in the Quran, their duties, their functions, and their relationship with the inmates of the paradise have been explained. Their only duty and function is to serve the people, both male and female, by waiting on them drinks and other blessings of the paradise. This assignment of the young men clearly demonstrates that the relationship between them and others is that of guests and attendants. The Quran does not refer to any other relationship between the inmates of the paradise and the immortal youths. It is quite illogical and unscientific to see only carnal love wherever there is the togetherness of the people and youths. Parents love and enjoy to see their young and handsome children, army commanders feel elated and satisfied with the presence of their young and able bodied youths, community leaders take pride in the young, talented, and smart boys of the community, those at the helm of a nation praise and admire their youngsters whom they consider the basis of the bright future of the nation, the guests at every level are quite often served by handsomely clad boys, and the air passengers are waited on by young air hosts and hostesses.
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.
In the said article four passages on wine have been quoted. Two of them do not at all talk about wine. Correct translation of these verses are given here below.
"A cup will be passed round among them from unsullied springs." (37:45)
"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:
"There will be no hangover from it, nor -will they feel exhausted by it." (37:47)
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.
Dr. Israr Ahmad Khan
Dept. of Quran & Sunnah Studies, IRKHS