By Bassam Zawadi
This article’s main purpose is to address four common misconceptions put forth especially by Christian missionaries regarding the Islamic concept of paradise.
The article will be divided into the following sections: –
Refuting the Misconceptions
–Refuting the argument that there is nothing spiritual about the Islamic paradise
-Refuting the argument that fornication and adultery is allowed in the Islamic paradise
-Refuting the argument that prohibited things such as wine is to be given in the Islamic paradise
-Refuting the argument that women will not get any benefits out of the Islamic paradise
A Brief Look at the Christian Paradise
Refuting the argument that there is nothing spiritual about the Islamic paradise
It is true that most of the descriptions of paradise in Islam may seem physical but we also do have spiritual pleasures…
Allah has promised the men and women of the believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah’s good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory.
We would be in the pleasure of God. The verse is even stating that the pleasure from Allah will be greater than the rest of the pleasures in paradise. Isn’t that spirituality?
Harun Yahya says…
The most striking _expression of what believers feel when they win Allah’s good pleasure is that He will manifest Himself to them in a way that they can see Him. This is impossible in the world because, as the Qur’an says: “Eyesight cannot perceive Him” (Sura 6, 10) But according to the Qur’an, in the next life and in a certain way Allah will manifest Himself to His believing servants. Only Allah knows how this will happen. But we are informed in the Qur’an that the believers’ “faces that Day will be radiant, gazing at their Lord” (Sura 75, 22-23) and “‘Peace!’ A word from a Merciful Lord” (Sura 36, 58) will be heard. Believers will be “on seats of honor in the presence of an All-Powerful King” (Sura 54, 55).
In other words, the greatest possible blessing that believers can have is the deep sense of Allah’s mercy and will. By winning His good pleasure, they experience a joy and a happiness that cannot be compared with any material blessing.
Actually, it is Allah’s will that gives value to Paradise’s other blessings. The same blessings may exist on Earth to a certain extent, but they have no meaning for believers as long as they surpass the limits Allah established.
CONVERSATIONS IN PARADISE
They will say: “Praise be to Allah, Who has removed all sadness from us. Truly our Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful: He Who has lodged us, out of His favor, in the Abode of Permanence, where no weariness or fatigue affects us.” (Sura 35, 34-35)
The Qur’an contains detailed accounts of conversations among believers, to whom Allah has given an exalted position in Paradise. These conversations are important, because they provide a good example for believers in this life. The verses: “They will hear no idle talk in it, nor any call to sin. All that is said is: ‘Peace! Peace!”’ (Sura 56, 25-26) show the importance of avoiding empty talk. Elsewhere, the same point is expressed as:
They will hear no idle talk nor any lying there, as a recompensation from your Lord, a commensurate gift. (Sura 78, 35-36) (Harun Yahya, Paradise: The Believers’ Real Home, Source)
Book 040, Hadith Number 6787.
Chapter : There is in paradise a tree under the shadow of which a rider can travel for a hundred years and even then he would not be able to cover it.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said that Allah would say to the inmates of Paradise: O, Dwellers of Paradise, and they would say in response: At thy service and pleasure, our Lord, the good is in Thy Hand. He (the Lord) would say: Are you well pleased now? They would say: Why should we not be pleased, O Lord, when Thou hast given us what Thou hast not given to any of Thy creatures? He would, however, say: May I not give you (something) even more excellent than that? And they would say: O Lord, what thing can be more excellent than this? And He would say: I shall cause My pleasure to alight upon you and I shall never be afterwards annoyed with you.
Book 040, Hadith Number 6797.
Chapter : The description of Paradise and the remembrance of Allah by the inmates morning and evening.
Hammam b. Munabbih reported: These are some of the ahidith which Abu Huraira reported from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and one is this that he is reported to have said: The (members of the) first group that would be admitted to Paradise would have their faces as bright as full moon during the night. They would neither spit nor suffer catarrh, nor void excrement. They would have their utensils and their combs made of gold and silver and the fuel of their braziers would be aloes and their sweat would be musk and every one of them would have two spouses (so beautiful) that the marrow of their shanks would be visible through the flesh. There would be no dissension amongst them and no enmity in their hearts. Their hearts would be like one heart, glorifying Allah morning and evening.
Aren’t all these spiritual pleasures?
Refuting the argument that fornication and adultery is allowed in the Islamic paradise
Christians usually point out to verses in the Qur’an, which speak about how Muslim men would be able to have sex with the Houris in paradise. Then they exclaim that this is immorality. However, we must pay close attention to what the Quran actually says…
And those who believe and do good works. WE shall make them enter Gardens through which streams flow, to abide therein for ever; therein shall they have pure spouses, and WE shall admit them to a place of plenteous shade.
The word here is AZWAAJ. In Arabic, it means spouse.
Notice the key word, SPOUSES. The houris will be our spouses. If a man has sex with his wife, would that be considered as fornication? No, of course it isn’t fornication, since she is his spouse.
So I ask you, if a man can legitimately have sex with his spouse here on earth, they why can’t a man legitimately have sex with his spouse in paradise?
Refuting the argument that prohibited things such as wine is to be given in the Islamic paradise
Some people ask that since the Quran speaks negatively about wine (2:219) and makes it impermissible (5:90-21) for believers in this life, then why does Allah make it permissible in the next life (47:15)?
First of all, Allah described paradise in a Qudsi hadith…
Volume 009, Book 093, Hadith Number 589.
Narated By Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, “Allah said, “I have prepared for My righteous slaves (such excellent things) as no eye has ever seen, nor an ear has ever heard nor a human heart can ever think of.'”
So as we can see paradise is something that is not of this world. So when the Quran speaks about rivers of honey, then that does not mean that it is the same kind of honey that we have in this world. Similarly, when the Quran speaks about rivers of wine in paradise it does not mean that it is the same kind of wine that we have here on earth that intoxicates people and gives people hangovers. God is just using these terms in order for us to try to imagine what this paradise like. The wine of paradise is nothing like the wine of this world.
Furthermore the Quran says…
In Gardens of Felicity, Facing each other on Thrones (of Dignity): Round will be passed to them a Cup from a clear-flowing fountain, Crystal-white, of a taste delicious to those who drink (thereof), Free from headiness; nor will they suffer intoxication there from.
Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness), With goblets, (shining) beakers, and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: No after-ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication:
Ibn Kathir says in his commentary…
Allah refined the wine of Paradise from the bad effects of the wine of this world, which causes headaches and stomach aches — which is the meaning of Ghawl — causing people to lose their minds completely. So He says here:
(Round them will be passed a cup of pure wine) meaning, wine from a flowing stream, which they do not fear will ever be cut off, or cease. Malik narrated that Zayd bin Aslam said, “White flowing wine,” meaning, with a bright, shining color, unlike the wine of this earth with its ugly, repulsive colors of red, black, yellow and turbid shades, and other features which are repugnant to anyone of a sound nature.
(delicious to the drinkers.) means, its taste will be as good as its color, and a good taste indicates that it has a good smell, unlike the wine of this world.
(Neither will they have Ghawl from that) means, it will not have any effects on them such as causing stomach aches. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd. This is unlike the wine of this world, which causes colic and so on, because it is too watery.
(nor will they suffer intoxication therefrom.) Mujahid said, “It will not cause them to lose their minds.” This was also the view of Ibn `Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Al-Hasan. `Ata’ bin Abi Muslim Al-Khurasani, As-Suddi and others. Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Wine causes four things: intoxication, headache, vomiting and urine.” So, when Allah mentions the wine of Paradise, He states that it is free of these characteristics, as mentioned in Surat As-Saffat. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)
Al Suyuti says in his commentary…
wherein there is neither madness, nothing to snatch away their minds, nor will they be spent by it (read yunzafûna or yunzifûna, from [1st form] nazafa or [4th form] anzafa, said of one drinking, in other words, they are [not] inebriated [by it], in contrast to the wine of this world), (Tafsir Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 37:47, Source)
So as we can clearly see, the wine of the next life is nothing like the wine of this life.
Refuting the argument that women will not get any benefits out of the Islamic paradise
Some people tend to argue that since men will get houris then what will women get? Shiekh Saqr says…
Focusing more on this issue, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, adds:
“Here Allah mentions the Hoor Al`Een because in most cases men pursue women and not vice versa. As for women, Allah Almighty may marry them to any of the believers in Paradise, if they did not get married during worldly life, or He may compensate them by making them feel content with their position. It is also said that Allah may grant women some kind of beauty with which they will feel that they are better than the Hoor Al-`Een and that they are their mistress, so they will not love anyone other than their own husbands nor will they feel jealous of the Hoor Al-`Een.” (Source)
The main reason why the Quran and hadith are stressing the fact that men will get virgin girls is because generally it is more appealing to men than promising virgin men to women. Men have more sexual tendencies and therefore are facing a lot of difficulty (especially in the teenage years) to remain chaste. There are a lot of temptations in this world. That is why Allah keeps promising these virgin girls who are more superior to the women of this world to those that remain patient and steadfast. That way, this motivates the unmarried men to remain chaste and be patient because they know they have something better waiting for them in the next life. This way, they know that if they do not get it illegally in this life then they would get it legally in the next life.
These are some verses that show the equality that men and women receive when it comes to attaining the rewards of paradise.
So their Lord accepted their prayer: That I will not waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female…
And whoever does good deeds whether male or female and he (or she) is a believer — these shall enter the garden, and they shall not be dealt with a jot unjustly.
Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer, We will most certainly make him live a happy life, and We will most certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did.
Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember — Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.
They and their wives shall be in shades, reclining on raised couches
They will have with their Lord whatever they desire; that is the reward of those who good.
Enter the garden, you and your wives; you shall be made happy.
Notice, that Surah 39:34 says that the believers will be happy. Now, the woman who is objecting should not object. At the end of this whole ordeal what is it that she wants and is concerned about? It is happiness. She will have happiness. It does not matter how. It does not matter if she doesn’t understand how she will be happy. The point is that she will be happy and that is all that matters.
A Brief Look at the Christian Paradise
How would Christians like it if we only focused on certain verses that talk about physical rewards of paradise and ignored the spiritual aspects like they do to us?
In this verse, Jesus promises the man treasure in heaven if he were to be generous…
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure (thesauros) in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
The word thesauros could mean…
1) the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up
- a) a casket, coffer, or other receptacle, in which valuables are kept
- b) a treasury
- c) storehouse, repository, magazine
2) the things laid up in a treasury, collected treasures
Also another verse states…
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To those who are victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Should I argue by only quoting these couple of verses that the Biblical paradise is all about eating trees and having some treasure?
The Biblical paradise forbids marriage…
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
This is awful, why would I not be permitted to live forever with my earthly wife in holy matrimony in paradise?
Christians speak about how they will continue to pray to God in paradise. This is illogical. Paradise is supposed to be a reward given to us for worshipping God on this earth. That is the test of life. How can the reward continue to remain being worshipping God forever and ever? I study for my exams and pass them so that I can graduate, not so that I can continue to keep on studying forever. Now this does not mean that worshipping God is a burden or unappealing. But if it was meant to be this way then God would have simply kept us on earth continuing to worship Him and not bother promising us a reward for worshipping Him. Since the reward itself is continual worship then we might as well continue living on earth worshipping God and there would be no need of heaven since it offers nothing new to a God worshipping believer.
In conclusion, the Islamic paradise is superior to the Christian paradise for it offers the best of both spiritual and physical pleasures, since human beings have both spiritual and physical needs and wants.