Lux­en­berg On Houris

If the Qur’an­ic vers­es men­tion­ing houris are care­ful­ly placed and crit­i­cal­ly stud­ied in the order of their rev­e­la­tion, then the fol­low­ing pic­ture emerges — the tran­si­tion from the more sen­su­al to the more spir­i­tu­al — be espe­cial­ly noteworthy :

Makkan Peri­od

First Makkan Period

(i.e., from the first to the fifth year of the Prophet’s Mis­sion, 612 – 17 CE) (clas­si­fi­ca­tion after Th. Nold­eke F. Schwally):

  • … full-breast­ed [damsels] of the same age…” (17:33).
  • … wide-eyed houris like trea­sured pearls as a reward for what they used to do…” (56:22f).
  • … We have cre­at­ed them by a [spe­cial] cre­ation and made them vir­gins, lovers [or lov­ing] of the same age…” (56:33f).
  • … [damsels] restrain­ing their glances, whom nei­ther men or jinn will have touched before them… like rubies and coral…” (55:56, 58).
  • … good and come­ly [damsels], houris clois­tered in pavil­ions… whom nei­ther men nor jinn will have touched before them…” (55:71f, 74).

Sec­ond Mec­can Period

(i.e., the fifth and sixth years of the Prophet’s Mis­sion 617 – 19 CE):

  • … [damsels] restrain­ing their glances, whose eyes are like hid­den eggs…” (37:48).
  • … [damsels] restrain­ing their glances, of the same age…” (38:52).
  • … they and their spous­es…” (36:56).
  • … you and your spous­es…” (43:70).

Third Mec­can Period

(i.e., from the sev­enth year to the Hijra, 619 – 22 CE):

  • …who­ev­er of their fathers, their spous­es and off­spring have act­ed hon­or­ably…” (40:8 and 13:23).

Med­i­nan Period

(i.e., from the Hijra to the end, 622 – 32 CE):

  • … puri­fied spous­es…” (2:25 ; 3:15 and 4:47).

Now if a coher­ent the­o­log­i­cal pic­ture is desired to be con­struct­ed out of this data, then the only pos­si­ble con­clu­sion at which any hon­est per­son can reach, is that the con­cept of houris has been used by the Qur’an in sym­bol­ic terms to allude to the excel­lence of the rewards for the right­eous in the here­after. The Qur’an changes its descrip­tion accord­ing to the chang­ing men­tal cal­iber and matu­ri­ty of its listeners.

The sen­su­ous imagery of the ear­ly Mec­can suras was intend­ed to cap­ture the atten­tion of the pagans of Mec­ca. It was phased out and replaced by ref­er­ences to puri­fied spouses/​com­pan­ions” (i.e., for both males and females) in the Med­i­nan suras.

Since when we are talk­ing about the Here­after we are deal­ing with a spir­i­tu­al sce­nario, there­fore every­thing asso­ci­at­ed with its rewards or pun­ish­ments is nec­es­sar­i­ly spir­i­tu­al. The same goes with the houris.

The same is clear­ly acknowl­edged and stat­ed by Louis Massignon :

…the sym­bol­ism of the houris of Par­adise… alludes basi­cal­ly to the sim­ple regain­ing, by the human species, of the first Par­adise [i.e., Gar­den of Eden and its heav­en­ly pro­to­type], where sex­u­al life was well estab­lished.Mys­tique et con­ti­nence en Islam, in : ?tudes carm?litaines, 1952, p. 95).

Now, on two occa­sions in the Qur’an, the verb to wed” is used with ref­er­ence to the houris :

  • and We shall espouse them (Zawwajn?hum) to wide-eyed houris.” (52:20, Arber­ry’s translation).
  • and We shall wed them (Zawwajn?hum) [i.e. the God-fear­ing believ­ers] unto fair ones (bi h?rin ‘?nin).” (44:54).

Both of these vers­es belong to the first Mec­can Peri­od. Now con­sid­er how the same theme is intro­duced in the Med­i­nan peri­od, with spe­cial atten­tion to the word Zawwajn?hum :

  • for them shall be spous­es puri­fied (Azw?j‑un-Mutahhat-un)…” (2:25) (Arber­ry’s translation)
  • For those that are god­fear­ing, with their Lord are gar­dens under­neath which rivers flow, there­in dwelling for­ev­er, and spous­es puri­fied (Azw?j‑un-Mutahhat-un), and God’s good plea­sure.” (3:15) (Arber­ry’s translation).
  • And those that believe, and do deeds of right­eous­ness, them We shall admit to gar­dens under­neath which rivers flow, there­in dwelling for­ev­er and ever ; there­in for them shall be spous­es puri­fied (Azwaj-un-Mutah­hat-un)…” (4:57) (Arber­ry’s translation).

How can you imag­ine the con­cept of mar­riage (Zawwa­j­na) if the spouse (Zawj), i.e., the houris, is a grape ?

This ridicu­lous equa­tion of houris = grapes, was pre­sent­ed by the anony­mous Christoph Lux­en­berg (assumed name), which is clear­ly proven false by the above statement.

Christoph Lux­en­berg’s basis assump­tion is that the term Zawwaj in 44:54 is a mis­read­ing of zay for ra and jim for ha. Instead of zawwaj, so he fan­cies, it is rawwah, mean­ing : to refresh”. But even after mak­ing such an absolute­ly unfound­ed con­jec­ture — unfound­ed” since no such vari­ant read­ing of this sort exists here or at the oth­er instances — he still has to deal with : “… unto fair ones (bi h?rin ‘?nin)”; see text of 44:54 above.

So to make his wicked case, Christoph Lux­en­berg gives a dis­tort­ed pla­gia­riza­tion of the pre­vi­ous research­es of Sprenger and Tor Andrae to the effect that the Ara­bic word hur was pos­si­ble derived from the Ara­ma­ic word for white”, khiv-vawr’ ”. But whether the Ara­bic word hur was derived from the Ara­ma­ic word or not, the undis­put­ed fact is that there exists a pure­ly Ara­bic root H.W.R which embod­ies the gen­er­al idea of white­nessSee Lane, ii, 666 etc.

So what would be one’s rea­sons for pre­fer­ring to regard the Ara­ma­ic word as the root of the Ara­bic hur in the pres­ence of the Ara­bic root ? Christoph Lux­en­berg nev­er utters a word on this topic.

Then we have a large num­ber of pre-Islam­ic vers­es which employ the word h?r in the sense of a volup­tuous women.

Christoph Lux­en­berg nev­er acknowl­edges the exis­tence of such poet­ry. Per­haps he regards them as spu­ri­ous, even though Arthur Jef­fery sees no prob­lems in their authen­tic­i­ty when he approv­ing­ly quotes them in his dis­cus­sion of this Qur’an­ic term.

What about the remain­ing term of 44:54, viz. ‘?nin ?

Accord­ing to Lisan al-‘Arab (xvii, 177) the adjec­tive ‘?n is the plur­al of sin­gu­lar fem­i­nine ayn’ and mas­cu­line a’yan, mean­ing wide-eyed.” It is thus pos­si­ble to take h?r‑un ?n as two adjec­tives used as nouns mean­ing : white skinned, large eyed damsels.”

Against this absolute­ly log­i­cal expla­na­tion, Christoph Lux­en­berg advances his total­ly base­less con­jec­ture of alter­ing the ?n of 44:54 with uyun (why, if one may dare to ask?), and these uyun because of their round­ness, must refer to the grapes ! 

I do not think a sin­gle word is need to be said about the total absur­di­ty of this expla­na­tion”.

The Qur’an­ic verse 44:54, whose only pos­si­ble ren­der­ing can be :

    and We shall wed them (Zawwa­j­nahum) [i.e. the God-fear­ing believ­ers] unto fair ones (bi h?rin ‘?nin).”

is altered by means of such ridicu­lous blun­ders by Christoph Lux­en­berg to :

    and We will let them (the blessed in Par­adise) be refreshed with white jewels”

Being refreshed” with white jew­ellery” is such an absolute delin­quen­cy which is found only with Christoph Lux­en­berg. What’s next ? Being exhil­a­rat­ed with red lip-stick ? Luxenberg On Houris 1Endmark

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