During the taraweeh prayers in the mosque, there is a short recess after the congregation prays four prostrations. In this recess a learned person gives a short speech about a religious issue, before continuing the next set of prostrations. Tonight a man spoke about something which made most men and women in the mosque feel uncomfortable. Is this guy horny? Men and women were whispering in disbelief. I'm still shaking my head. Why is it we leave important topics and talk about trivial issues that only spread controversy and confusion.
The man was of course speaking about hoor-el-ein, the women of Paradise that men are promised. It's been mentioned in the Qur'an, promising men that when they die, they will be rewarded with these beautiful, virgin girls in Paradise. That's if they've been good boys on earth.
No, you're not listening to a porn station, I thought to myself as we listened to the man describe the women; 'From her toes up to her breasts, you'll smell pure fragrances. Her eyes are wide and large...' Just change the subject, please, some of us silently prayed. This is supposed to be a family show, there are kids in the audience here!
But the whole speech was a physical description of the women of Paradise. In Ramadan. He chose Ramadan to do this. People thought the man was horny, the way he was going on about it, the way he was describing them. No one could interrupt and complain. I honestly don't know how the men are going to fast tomorrow, with all the sexual thoughts they'll be having after this.
Men ignore the fact that scholars have said the women of the world will be more beautiful, by the way. These women of paradise will be her servants, attending to her needs. Her husband will only see her, from her beauty and radiance.
I believe a good reason why the women of paradise was mentioned in the Qur'an was to perhaps attract men to the idea of religion and the afterlife; to know that there was something better waiting for them after death. Arab men at the time the Qur'an was revealed had many mistresses; to them a woman was something seductive, something to have pleasurable relations with. So what could make them forget about their worldly mistresses and obey God? If they perferred to receive their paradise and hoor-el-ein as eternal rewards. And if I know my dog will only go into his kennel if I put a bone inside, I'm going to do that.
So much emphasis is put on this topic, that important subjects on Islam are left behind. I remember a few years ago a couple of non-Muslim preachers told me that the Islamic paradise sounded like a brothel, because all they heard about it was that it is going to be filled with virgin women and wine. That made me feel sad, because Paradise is not a brothel. They've got it all wrong, surely.
But if you think about it, men like the one in the mosque today give people the chance to say things like that, because of the over-emphasis and obsession on the topic. I believe men have blown up the whole hoor-el-ein issue. I don't think it was supposed to get this big; it's just part of the patriarchal culture where men want to think of women as sex objects, whatever chance they get, twenty-four-seven.
Issues like street children, marital rape, bad manners, cheating and lying; these are the issues mosques need to address. And no, women like me are not jealous or envious about the hoor-el-ein topic, that's absurd.
I just think too much focus is spent on the issue which is creating controversy and misleading Muslims and Non-Muslims to believe that Muslim men are over-dosing on the likes of Viagra.
Not a pretty image, is it. No, didn't think so.
Unique Muslimah is a journalist and freelance writer who was raised in the West, of Egyptian origin. Unique Muslimah has written for various publications in the US and UK. On Unique Muslimah's blog, she analysis cultures, films, books, people and supports Muslim women's rights according to Islam. To visit her blog check http://uniquemuslimah.wordpress.com where you can also e-mail her.