The 72 virgins or 72 houri (/ˈhʊəriz/; from Persian: حُـورِی, ḥūrī; plural of 'ḥaurāʾ' or'ḥūrīyah'; Arabic: حُـورِيَّـة) refers to a celestial being that is an aspect of Heaven or jannah (Arabic: جنّة 'Jannah'; plural: Jannat). This concept is mentioned in Qur'anic text as a reward to believing men after death. According to the Quran, once in jannah, believers are wed to virgins with "full grown", "swelling" or "pears-shaped" breasts. The Quran provides a physical and personal description of the houri and denotes them as awards to believers. Sahih (authentic) hadith detail the amount if houris and what they are for.
Orthodox Muslim theologians such as Al-Ghazali (1058 - 1111 CE) and Al-Ash'ari (874 - 935 CE) have discussed the rewards and pleasures found in heaven. Often scholars refer to hadiths that describe heaven as a slave market where there will be "no buy and sale, but... If any man will wish to have sexual intercourse with a woman, he will do at once."
It is quoted by Ibn Kathir, in his Qur'anic Commentary, the Tafsir ibn Kathir, and they are graphically described by Qur'anic commentator and polymath, Al-Suyuti (died 1505), who, echoing a Sahih hadith from Ibn Majah, wrote that the perpetual virgins will all "have appetizing vaginas", and that the "penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal."
The sensual nature of the houri awarded to believers are also confirmed by the two Sahih collections of hadith, namely Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, where we read that they will be virgins who are so beautiful, pure and transparent that "the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh", and that "the believers will visit and enjoy them".
The concept of houri can be found in major Islamic scriptures. The Quran, states believing males will be rewarded with virgins. Often put under question is the authenticity of the hadiths regarding houri. A common misconception is that there is only one da`if (weak) hadith that refers to the exact number of houri awarded. These narrations are in fact found in many hadith collections with varying levels of authenticity, ranging from hasan (good) to sahih (authentic).
For example, in the Sunan Ibn Majah, one of the six major hadith collections, it states in a hasan (good) narration that every male admitted into heaven will be given eternal erections and wed to 72 wives, all with libidinous sex organs. Similarly in another hadith with multiple narrators that has been graded hasan (good), it states that the shahid (martyr) will be married to seventy-two of al-hoor al-‘iyn.
Sunan al-Tirmidhi, another of the six major hadith collections, states that the smallest reward for the people of heaven is an abode with seventy-two houri. Note that this is not a da'if (weak) hadith and has sanad (a chain of narrators)", contrary to common misconception. It has been graded hasan sahih, meaning this hadith is hasan (good) since it has several chains of transmitters, it is also sahih (authentic) as the chains are all declared authentic delivered by Imam Tirmidhi.
Also reported in Sunan Al-Kubra and Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and declared sahih (authentic) by Ibn Abi Shayba, Ibn Hibban, and Al-Hakim is the hadith that states that [God's] servants will be married in heaven with seventy wives and that they'll be given the sexual strength for a hundred.
Orthodox Muslim theologians have related further hadith that give us the exact number of 72, such as al-Ghazali who wrote, "[The Prophet said] the lowest rank of an inmate of heaven will have eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives."
There are several descriptions related to houri that are found in various Islamic references. Some include:
- Wide and beautiful/lovely eyes 
- White skinned 
- Like pearls 
- Hairless except the eye brows and the head 
- 60 cubits [27.5 meters] tall 
- 7 cubits [3.2 meters] in width 
- Transparent to the marrow of their bones 
- Eternally young 
- Companions of equal age 
- Untouched / with hymen unbroken by sexual intercourse 
- Virgins 
- Voluptuous/full-breasted 
- The word used is كواعب (kawaa'ib), which is a plural of كاعب (kaa'ib) and the meaning accordig to the dictionary is نَاهِدَةُ الثَّدْيِ (naahida thadee), "buxom breast" .
- With large, round breasts which are not inclined to hang 
- Appetizing vaginas 
Association with Terrorism
Notable scholars and apologists such as Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the world's most quoted independent Islamic jurist, and Dr. Zakir Naik, known for his advocacy of "Qur'anic science", have justified the use of suicide bombing in Islam. Opinion polls have further shown that an extremely large number of Muslims from around the world support the practice.
The Quran states that all Muslim males, not only martyrs, will be rewarded with virgins. However, the Quran does also mention that those who fight in the way of Allah (jihad) and get killed will be given a "great reward", and there are also hasan (good) hadith which refer to 72 virgins as one of the "seven blessings from Allah" to the martyr. This has lead to the 72 virgins concept being widely used as a way to entice martyrdom.
This phenomena can be witnessed in Palestine, where the actions of a mother who sends her son to die as a martyr is sometimes seen as "marrying him off", and where the concept is used in Friday sermons and music videos, both airing on official television. It has even been used in the United Kingdom, where, in one event, Muslim teens were told to train with Kalashnikov rifles with the promise that the would receive 72 virgins in heaven if they died as religious martyrs.
This claim originated from Christoph Luxenberg, a modern author writing under a pseudonym. It suggests that the term houri actually meant to describe "white raisins." His previous literature, which has been accused of having a "Christian apologetic agenda", is that the Quran was drawn from Christian Syro-Aramaic texts in the early 8th century, in order to evangelize the Arabs, and that the Aramaic word 'hur' (white raisin) had been mistranslated by later Arab commentators into the Arabic word 'houri' (virgin).
The Quran describes the physical characteristics of the houri in many places, such as, large eyes, big breasts, chaste, and restraining their glances. The Quran further states that men will be wed to these houri. These relevant verses suggest that Luxenberg's "white rasins" theory is in error.
Virgins only mentioned in hadith not Quran
Although the Quran does not mention the exact number of virgins, it does state that Muslim men will be awarded with (multiple) virgins in heaven. The Quran describes some of their physical attributes and personality traits.
The number of houri are confirmed in multiple hadiths. Also worth noting is that hadiths are a crucial part of Islam but can be ignored by certain Muslims who disagree with hadiths on details about Islam.
The 72 virgins hadith has been classified as Da'if (weak) or Maudu (fabricated)
The hadith from Sunan al-Tirmidhi has been graded hasan sahih gharib (a “fair, sound, single-chained hadith”). Additionally there is not only one "72 virgins" hadith. There are many quoted narrations that have been graded both hasan (good) and sahih (authentic)
Houri are only servants and not for sexual purposes
The Quran details that houri are chaste virgins that have big breasts. While the Quran does not explicitly state they are for sexual purposes this is mentioned in other Islamic sources . One such hadith states "The believer will be given such and such strength in heaven for sexual intercourse". Other sources state that "the penis of the elected never softens" and that men in heaven will have the sexual strength of 100 men.
Hour are for both men and women
The Quran indicates that houris will be "untouched before them by both man and jinni"  Implying that they are females that are awarded to men.
- Virgins - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Virgins
- '72 Black Eyed Virgins': A Muslim Debate on the Rewards of Martyrs - (archived), http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/538.htm
- Does the Koran really promise Islamic martyrs 72 virgins? - (archived), http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2329/does-the-koran-really-promise-islamic-martyrs-72-virgins
- Have You Been Invited to Allah’s Brothel? - (archived), http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Abualrub/allah_brothel.htm
- Muslim Mastectomy or The Miracle of Disappearing Breasts - (archived), http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Versions/078.033.html
- Saudi Cleric Extols the Virtues of Allah's Virgins in Paradise, "They are White Women who are Menstruation-Free, Free of Feces, Urine, Phlegm" - (archived), http://weaselzippers.typepad.com/blog/2009/09/video-saudi-cleric-extols-the-virtues-of-allahs-virgins-in-paradise-they-are-white-women-who-are-men.html
- 72 wives await the Martyrs for Allah: Six rewards quoted in Hamas TV sermon
- ABC's Islam Deception--Part One: Raisins or Virgins in heaven?
- Dark eyed virgins greet Muslim Martyrs in heaven
- Apologetics links
- Debunking the ‘Suicide for 72 Virgins’ Myth - (archived), http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2007/03/04/debunking-the-suicide-for-72-virgins-myth/ (see Response section above)
- houri Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- "Even so (it will be). And We shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes." - Quran 44:54
- Several translators like Hilali-Khan (Noble Quran, translated by Hilali-Khan), Arthur John Arberry, Abdul Daryabadi, Umm Muhammad, Edward Henry Palmer, Ahmed Ali, John Medows Rodwell, Ali Ünal, George Sale, Muhammad Sarwar, and Tahir-ul-Qadri (Quran browser, Qur'an Text/Transliteration 78:33) have translated Quran 78:33 as referring to "full grown", "swelling" or "pears-shaped" breasts.
- "This [Qur'an 78:33] means round breasts. They meant by this that the breasts of these girls will be fully rounded and not sagging, because they will be virgins, equal in age." - Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 10 Surat At-Tagabun to the end of the Qur'an. pp. 333-334. http://www.tafsir.com/default.asp?sid=78&tid=56825.
- Authenticity of 72 Virgins Hadith
- "Ali reported that the Apostle of Allah said, "There is in Paradise a market wherein there will be no buying or selling, but will consist of men and women. When a man desires a beauty, he will have intercourse with them." - Al Hadis, Vol. 4, p. 172, No. 34
- "A man asked the Prophet : 0 Prophet of God, will the inmates of Paradise have sexual intercourse ? He said: Anybody among them will be given sexual strength of seven, persons among you. The Prophet said : An inmate of Paradise will have five hundred hurs, four thousand unmarried women and eight thousand widowed women. Each of them will keep embracing him for the duration of his whole worldly life time. He also said: There will be markets in Paradise in which there will be no buy and sale, but there will be men and women. If any man will wish to have sexual intercourse with a woman, he will do at once. The Hurs will sing in Paradise on divine purity and praise-we are most beautiful Hurs and we are for the honoured husbands.", Al Ghazzali, "Ihya Uloom Ed-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) Vol. 4", Death and Subsequent Events 430 (archived), http://www.nderf.org/islamic_views_death.htm
- These two gardens are lower, in virtue and in status than the two before them, as supported in the Qur'an
- Shaykh Gibril Haddad - How Many Wives Will The Believers Have In Paradise? - SunniPath, Question ID:4828, July 3, 2005
- "Abu Umama narrated: "The Messenger of God said, 'Everyone that God admits into paradise will be married to 72 wives; two of them are houris and seventy of his inheritance of the [female] dwellers of hell. All of them will have libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis.' " - Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd (Book of Abstinence) 39
- "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 [i.e. Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas." - Al-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur'an, p. 351
- "Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The first group of people who will enter Paradise, will be glittering like the full moon... Their wives will be houris ..." - Sahih Bukhari 4:55:544
- Citation and new article needed
- "Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "The first batch (of people) who will enter Paradise will be (glittering) like the full moon, and the batch next to them will be (glittering) like the most brilliant star in the sky. Their hearts will be as if the heart of a single man, for they will have neither enmity nor jealousy amongst themselves; everyone will have two wives from the houris, (who will be so beautiful, pure and transparent that) the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh." - Sahih Bukhari 4:54:476
- "Allah’s Apostle (The blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "In Paradise there is a pavilion made of a single hollow pearl sixty miles wide, in each corner of which there are wives who will not see those in the other corners; and the believers will visit and enjoy them." - Sahih Bukhari 6:60:402
- "Verily for the Righteous there will be a fulfilment of (the heart's) desires; Gardens enclosed, and grapevines; And voluptuous women of equal age" Qur'an 78:31-33
- Shaykh Gibril Haddad, "Various Issues About Hadiths", Living Islam, April 4, 2003 (archived), http://www.abc.se/~m9783/n/vih_e.html.
- It was reported in the hadeeth of al-Miqdaam ibn Ma’di Karb that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The martyr (shaheed) has seven blessings from Allaah: he is forgiven from the moment his blood is first shed; he will be shown his place in Paradise; he will be spared the trial of the grave; and he will be secure on the Day of the Greatest Terror (the Day of Judgement); there will be placed on his head a crown of dignity, one ruby of which is better than this world and all that is in it; he will be married to seventy-two of al-hoor al-‘iyn; and he will be permitted to intercede for seventy of his relatives.” According to another report, the martyr has six blessings from Allaah. According to other reports (the number is) six, or nine, or ten - Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan hadeeth. Also narrated by Ibn Maajah in al-Sunan, by Ahmad, by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in al-Musannaf, by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and by Sa’eed ibn Mansoor in al-Sunan
- Shaykh Waleed al-Firyaan, "The six blessings of the martyrs", Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 8511 (archived), http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/islamqa/8511.
- "It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham 'Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa'id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad PBUH saying, 'The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San'a." - Al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Ch. 21, No. 2687
- Nashid Abdul-Khalliq, "Debunking the ‘Suicide for 72 Virgins’ Myth", TheUglyTruth, March 4, 2007 (archived), http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2007/03/04/debunking-the-suicide-for-72-virgins-myth/.
- "Imam Tirmidhi (209 - 279 H)", As-Sunnah Foundation of America, February 20, 2012 (archived), http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/imam_tirmidhi.htm.
- "Anas said, Allah be well-pleased with him: The Messenger of Allah said, upon him blessings and peace: “The servant in Paradise shall be married with seventy wives.” Someone said, “Messenger of Allah, can he bear it?” He said: “He will be given strength for a hundred.” From Zayd ibn Arqam, Allah be well-pleased with him, when an incredulous Jew or Christian asked the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, “Are you claiming that a man will eat and drink in Paradise??” He replied: “Yes, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, and each of them will be given the strength of a hundred men in his eating, drinking, coitus, and pleasure.”" - Sifat al-Janna, al-`Uqayli in the Du`afa’, and Musnad of Abu Bakr al-Bazzar
- "The Prophet said to a man: 0 servant of God, if you enter Paradise, you will get what you will desire, what your eyes will be pleased with. The Prophet said : If an inmate of Paradise will wish to have a son born to him, he will get it. Its stay in womb, its weaning away from milk and its youth will come to pass at the same time. He also said : The inmantes of Paradise will be beardless and hairless. Their colour will be white and their eyes painted with collyrium. They will be youths of 33 years of age. They will be sixty cubits long and seven cubits broad. He also said : The lowest rank of an inmate of Paradise will have eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives. In short there will be such bliss in Paradise which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no heart has conceived.", Al Ghazzali, "Ihya Uloom Ed-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) Vol. 4", The Book of Constructive Virtues 431 (archived), http://www.nderf.org/islamic_views_death.htm
- "And voluptuous women of equal age;" - Quran 78:33
- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 2.
- "And besides them will be chaste women, restraining their glances, with big eyes (of wonder and beauty)." - Quran 37:48
- "They will recline (with ease) on Thrones (of dignity) arranged in ranks; and We shall join them to Companions, with beautiful big and lustrous eyes." - Quran 52:20
- "And (there are) fair ones with wide, lovely eyes,-" - Quran 56:22
- Al Ghazzali, "Ihya Uloom Ed-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) Vol. 4" (archived), http://www.nderf.org/islamic_views_death.htm.
- "Like unto Pearls well-guarded." - Quran 56:23
- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith: 5638
- Ibn Kathir: The Reward of Those on the Right After
- Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an,Publisher: The Book Foundation; Bilingual edition (December 2003), Language: English, ISBN 1904510000,Chapter (Surah) Al-Waqiah (That which must come to pass)(56):38, note 15
- "In them will be (Maidens), chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched;-" - Quran 55:56
- "Companions restrained (as to their glances), in (goodly) pavilions;- Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?- Whom no man or Jinn before them has touched;-" - Quran 55:72-74
- "Then We have made them virgins" - Quran 56:36
- Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an,Publisher: The Book Foundation; Bilingual edition (December 2003), Language: English, ISBN 1904510000,Chapter (Surah) Sad (38):52
- Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, Publisher: The Book Foundation; Bilingual edition (December 2003) Language: English, ISBN 1904510000,Chapter (Surah) An-Naba (The Tiding)(78):33, note 16
- "The Prophet said: If a woman of Paradise would have peeped up into this world everything therein would have been illuminated and filled up with fragrance. Every hair of her head is better than than the earth and its treasures. God says : They are like Eakut and Marjan. If their faces are seen within screen, they will be more clear than mirrors and the smallest jewel therein will illuminate what is in the heaven and earth. The Prophet said : In the night in which I was taken to heaven, I entered a place in Paradise named Baidakh whose camps are of emeralds and green pearls and red Eakut. They asked : 0 Prophet of God, Salam to you. I asked : 0 Gebrail, whose sound is there ? He said : of the beautiful women in camps. They seek your permission to salute you. So give them permission. They will be saying : We are pleased therewith. We will never be dissatisfied. We will remain here forever, we will never travel. Then he recited the verse : The beautiful damsels detained in camps. In another verse : Pure women. Muzaher explained this by saying that they will be free menstruation, urine, stool, cough and children.", Al Ghazzali, "Ihya Uloom Ed-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) Vol. 4", Death and Subsequent Events 430 (archived), http://www.nderf.org/islamic_views_death.htm
- "Do not kill yourselves. Verily, Allah is merciful to you. And, whoever does that, out of animosity and , We shall burn him in a Fire. And that is easy for Allah." Qur'an, 4:29-30
- Faisal Bodi, "Bombing for God (Special report: Israel and the Middle East)", The Guardian, August 28, 2001 (archived), http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/aug/28/comment.israelandthepalestinians.
- Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi - Palestinian Women Carrying Out Martyr Operations - Islam Online, November 6, 2006
- Is Suicide Bombing allowed in Islam? By Dr. Zakir Naik (a YouTube video posted by PeaceTVUK on September 20, 2008
- Abdul Haq Omari, "Pakistan Ulema Permits Suicide Attacks", TOLOnews, March 2, 2013 (archived), http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/9627-pakistan-ulema-permits-suicide-attacks.
- Michael Freund - Right On: The straightforward arithmetic of jihad - The Jerusalem Post, January 31, 2007
- Khalid A-H Ansari, "65% Pakistanis support Osama, says report", Mid Day, March 27, 2004 (archived), http://web.archive.org/web/20040412010339/http://web.mid-day.com/news/world/2004/march/79639.htm.
- "One in eight UK Muslims 'support terrorist attacks'", Scotsman.com, March 15, 2004 (archived), http://www.scotsman.com/news/international/one_in_eight_uk_muslims_support_terrorist_attacks_1_517610.
- "Let those (believers) Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter fight in the cause of Allah and whoso fights in the cause of Allah, - and is slain or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward." - Quran 4:74
- "The model Palestinian mother sends her son to die as Martyr, thereby marrying him off", Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, January 8, 2012 (archived), http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=565.
- "72 wives await the Martyrs for Allah: Six rewards quoted in Hamas TV sermon", Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), January 1, 2010 (archived), http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=565.
- "Beautiful virgins await Muslim Martyrs in Paradise" (archived), http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=565. - Palestinian TV (Fatah), February 7, 2010 (1 min)
- British martyrs 'promised 72 virgins' - BBC News, January 23, 2003
- "Christoph Luxenberg", Wikipedia, February 19, 2012 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph_Luxenberg.
- "The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran", Wikipedia, February 19, 2012 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Syro-Aramaic_Reading_of_the_Koran.
- Richard Kroes, "Missionary, dilettante or visionary? A review of Ch. Luxenberg, Die Syro-Aramäische Lesart des Qur'an", Livius, February 19, 2012 (archived), http://www.livius.org/opinion/Luxenberg.htm.
- Sandro Magister, "The Virgins and the Grapes: the Christian Origins of the Koran", Chiesa press, March 17, 2004 (archived), http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/7025?eng=y.
- Alexander Stille, "Revisionist historians argue Koran has been mistranslated", New York Times, March 2, 2002 (archived), http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/03/02/MN128985.DTL.
- "The Holy Prophet said: 'The believer will be given such and such strength in Paradise for sexual intercourse. It was questioned: O prophet of Allah! can he do that? He said: "He will be given the strength of one hundred persons." - Mishkat al-Masabih Book IV, Chapter XLII, Paradise and Hell, Hadith Number 24
- "Once a Jewish learned man came to the Prophet and asked him : Who will first cross the Bridge? He said : The poor refugees : The Jew asked again : When they will enter paradise, what food will be served to them first? He said : Roasts of the livers of fish. He asked again : What will be their morning lunch? He said : Cows of paradise will be slaughtered for them. He said : What drink will be given to them? He said They will be given drink of Salsabil. The Jew said : You have spoken the truth. Once a Jew asked the Prophet : Do you think that the inmates of paradise will eat and drink? The Prophet said Yes, by One in whose hand there is my life, each one of them will be given food, drink and strength of one hundred man to have sexual intercourse. The Jew asked : Will he have any necessity of passing urine and stools? The Prophet said : In place of urine and stool, perspiration will come out of them like camphor and as a result their stomach will be cleared therefor.", Al Ghazzali, "Ihya Uloom Ed-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) Vol. 4" (archived), http://www.nderf.org/islamic_views_death.htm , The Book of Constructive Virtues 429
- Untouched before them by man or jinni Quran - 55:74