One of the interesting subjects that many people would like to discuss and learn about is the subject of houris in the Quran. Houris are the heavenly maidens that live in paradise and are the reward for the righteous. They are said to be outstandingly beautiful yet chaste and modest. In this article on Islam4u, we will delve into the topic of houris from the viewpoint of the Quran.
The Meaning of Houri
Houri means a heavenly maiden with big black lovely eyes. Technically, the full word is hour al-‘in, which also means there is a sharp contrast between the whiteness of their eyes and the blackness of their iris. According to the Quran, houris are fair-skinned, have wide lovely eyes, are of like age, have red lips like rubies and corals, and have well-proportioned physiques.
Houris’ Description in the Quran
The Quran has described the characteristics of houris in various verses and surahs. Of course, the Quran uses different synonymous terms for houri, such as qasirat al-tarf (قاصرات الطرف), khayratun hisan (خیرات حسان), ‘urub (عُرُب), atrab (اتراب), and kawa‘ib (کواعب). Each of these words describes different aspects of the houris. For example, qasirat al-tarf means they only look at their own spouses out of their modesty and chastity. Khayratun hisan means they are righteous and lovely. Now let’s look at each of the instances where the houris are described in the surahs of the Quran.
The Description of Houris in Surah Rahman
Surah Rahman is known as the bride of the Quran because it talks about the houris in two groups of verses. In the part of the surah where Allah is describing the rewards of paradise, Allah mentions the houris as one of those rewards. The verses read:
فِيهِنَّ قَٰصِرَٰتُ ٱلطَّرْفِ لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَآنٌّ ﴿٥٦﴾ فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ ﴿٥٧﴾ كَأَنَّهُنَّ ٱلْيَاقُوتُ وَٱلْمَرْجَانُ ﴿٥٨﴾
In them are maidens of restrained glances, whom no human has touched before, nor jinn. (56) So which of your Lord’s bounties will you both deny? (57) As though they were rubies and corals. (58) (55:56-58)
As we said, qasirat al-tarf means they do not set their eyes on anyone but their spouses. The verse goes on to say that no human or jinn has ever touched them. This means they are virgins, and it could also mean that they are one of a kind such that no human or jinn has seen their like before. Finally, verse 58 states that they are like rubies and corals. This is a reference to their lips that are red just like rubies and corals. In this way, Allah wants to show us the extent of their beauty.
The Second Instance Where Houris Are Mentioned in Surah Rahman
Verses 70-76 of Surah Rahman read:
فِيهِنَّ خَيْرَٰتٌ حِسَانٌ ﴿٧٠﴾ فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ ﴿٧١﴾ حُورٌ مَّقْصُورَٰتٌ فِى ٱلْخِيَامِ ﴿٧٢﴾ فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ ﴿٧٣﴾ لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَآنٌّ ﴿٧٤﴾ فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ ﴿٧٥﴾ مُتَّكِـِٔينَ عَلَىٰ رَفْرَفٍ خُضْرٍ وَعَبْقَرِىٍّ حِسَانٍ ﴿٧٦﴾
In them are maidens good and lovely. (70) So which of your Lord’s bounties will you both deny? (71) Houris secluded in pavilions. (72) So which of your Lord’s bounties will you both deny? (73) Whom no human has touched before, nor jinn. (74) So which of your Lord’s bounties will you both deny? (75) Reclining on green cushions and lovely carpets. (76)
Khayrat comes from the word khayr, which means good. This indicates that the houris in paradise are good and righteous. They are kind, generous, loving, and well-mannered. Hisan comes from hasan, which means beautiful. So together, kharyatun hisan means good beautiful women. In verse 72, Allah states that these houris are secluded in pavilions. This again shows that they are protected from anyone other than their spouses and shows their modesty and chastity. It is quite interesting that verse 74 once again, like verse 56 of the same surah, emphasizes that no mortal has ever touched them. They are pure virgins. Finally, verse 76 describes the place they reside. They are on beds reclining on beautiful green cushions and lovely carpets. These add to the already existing beauty of the houris.
The Description of Houris in Surah Waqi‘ah
In verses 22-23 of Surah Waqi‘ah, Allah begins talking about the houris. These verses read:
وَحُورٌ عِينٌ ﴿٢٢﴾ كَأَمْثَٰلِ ٱللُّؤْلُؤِ ٱلْمَكْنُونِ ﴿٢٣﴾
And big-eyed houris (22) like guarded pearls (23). (56:22-23)
The verse states that they are like guarded pearls. Their comparison to pearls could mean that they are fair-skinned. And the combination of hurun ‘in speaks of their beautiful big black eyes.
In verses 34-37 of the same surah, Allah states:
وَفُرُشٍ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ ﴿٣٤﴾ إِنَّآ أَنشَأْنَٰهُنَّ إِنشَآءً ﴿٣٥﴾ فَجَعَلْنَٰهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا ﴿٣٦﴾ عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا ﴿٣٧﴾
And noble spouses. (34) We have created them with a special creation, (35) and made them virgins, (36) loving, of a like age (37). (56:34-37)
The verse mentions once again that these heavenly women are different from earthly women. In other words, they have a special creation. Moreover, they are ‘uruban atraba, meaning they love their spouses and are of a like age. Being of a like age makes association with them more enjoyable because people naturally like their spouses to be about the same age as them. Perhaps few people wish their spouses to be very much younger or older than they are.
The Houris Are Wed to the Inhabitants of Paradise
There are two verses in the Quran that state that the houris are wed to a person in paradise:
كَذَٰلِكَ وَزَوَّجْنَٰهُم بِحُورٍ عِينٍ ﴿٥٤﴾
So shall it be, and We shall wed them to black-eyed houris. (44:54)
مُتَّكِـِٔينَ عَلَىٰ سُرُرٍ مَّصْفُوفَةٍ ۖ وَزَوَّجْنَٰهُم بِحُورٍ عِينٍ ﴿٢٠﴾
They will be reclining on arrayed couches, and We will wed them to big-eyed houris. (52:20)
This does not literally mean that a marriage ceremony is held so that a person can become mahram. It simply means that the houris will be given to them as a reward for their good deeds.
Houris Are Like Hidden Eggs
Verses 48-49 of Surah Saffat read:
وَعِندَهُمْ قَٰصِرَٰتُ ٱلطَّرْفِ عِينٌ ﴿٤٨﴾ كَأَنَّهُنَّ بَيْضٌ مَّكْنُونٌ ﴿٤٩﴾
And with them will be maidens, of restrained glances with big [beautiful] eyes, (48) as if they were hidden ostrich eggs. (37:48-49)
Like in Surah Rahman, Surah Saffat also describes the houris as having restrained glances with big and beautiful eyes. They are so white and delicate like eggs that are guarded under the wings and feathers of a bird. This guardedness is once again a reference to their modesty and chastity, how no human and jinn has ever touched them, and how they are secluded in pavilions that we read in the previously mentioned verses.
The Buxom Maidens of Paradise
Verse 33 of Surah Naba reads:
وَكَوَاعِبَ أَتْرَابًا ﴿٣٣﴾
And buxom maidens of a like age.
This verse is a reference to the body shape of the houris in paradise. Not only do they have beautiful faces but they also have well-proportioned bodies. In other words, they are a perfect creation with absolutely no defect. Their beauty of form is second to none. Furthermore, they have the same age as their spouses.
What About the Female Inhabitants of Paradise?
These verses that are about the houris seem to mostly address men and the rewards they will enjoy in paradise. Now what about women? Will they also have handsome spouses in paradise? Yes. Allah has created special spouses for women too. Women can choose to be with their own husbands, or they can choose to live with another person who inhabits paradise. Some have even said that the term hur al-‘in is gender-neutral and includes the male versions of houris as well. Therefore, women will also be able to live with handsome husbands in paradise. However, it must be noted that Allah has created women in such a way that they only like to live with one husband. Likewise, women will only have one husband in paradise because that is what Allah has placed in their nature and what preserves their dignity.
Houris are one of the greatest rewards of paradise. They are beautiful maidens with big and beautiful black eyes, fair skin, and well-proportioned physiques. They are not shameless like some of the women living in the world. In fact, they are modest and chaste. They restrain their glances from everyone but their spouses. They are virgins as the Quran states, meaning no human or jinn has ever touched them. Lastly, they are of the same age as their spouses. We hope that Allah grants us paradise, not just for its rewards such as houris, but also for proximity to Allah and His righteous servants.