Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is our reward? (A reply to Aliocha)

In another post, I said:
"So acting as if being a good wife will give you the best reward and that is beauty... well, that's not the reward I am shooting for, nor one that preoccupies my thinking, that's for sure."

I don't think the best reward in Paradise is beauty, physical beauty. Not by any stretch of the imagination, and I think there is far too much concern (really, especially among Muslims) about the value of beauty in this life. If I am made beautiful by knowledge, by seeking the pleasure of Allah swt, I will gladly take that beauty, but to appear beautiful before men? That's not a greater desire of my heart. The best reward, I think, is found in the following hadith. A hadith is a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, and this one particular is called a 'Hadith Qudsi' literally meaning "sacred hadith" or something like that. Basically, it is the words of Allah told through Muhammad--in comparison, the Qur'aan is the words of Allah told by Allah, and memorized verbatim. Some of these 'Hadith Qudsi' are really beautiful expressions of Allah's love for those people who love Him, who turn to Him, and who worship Him.

On the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

Allah will say to the inhabitants of Paradise: O inhabitants of Paradise! They will say: O our Lord, we present ourselves and are at Your pleasure, and goodness rests in Your hands. Then He will say: Are you contented? And they will say: And how should we not be contented, O Lord, when You have given to us that which You have given to no one else of Your creation? Then He will say: Would not like Me to give you something better than that? And they will say: O Lord and what thing is better than that? And He will say: I shall cause My favour to descend upon you and thereafter shall never be displeased with you.

And that is the best reward, as far as I can tell, because Allah swt says it is better. Beauty, physical beauty, is for the pleasure of men, but I would rather aim to please my Lord.

The word for Paradise is Jannah, which is a word actually meaning Garden. SWT I added to the side glossary.

A "hoor" or "hour" or "hoori" or whatever is what people think of as spouses in Paradise. Beautiful, pure, ethereal creatures made for Paradise as a reward for its inhabitants. The speaker in that little video made it sound as if women in this life were seeking to become a hour in the next life--something which doesn't make sense at all unless men were to become houris too. The word isn't exclusively talking about masculine or feminine beings so to imply that women become them and men are just men... well aside from being ignorant is rather offensive. I've found a number of interpretations that reject the idea that "hour" is only referring to wives in the feminine sense, that men will have many wives in Paradise. The natural question to follow that silly assertion (that men would have that) is what happens to women? They are sharing husbands in Paradise, even if they were the only wife on earth? I hope your face contorted just now because that makes no sense at all to me in my heart, and it also is not justified by the sources available. However, the specifics are difficult to ascertain. What I think happened is that the male scholarship on the issue neglected the female viewpoint overtime and has left the distorted impression that women become hours, when anyone with just a few brain cells considering the idea can point out the fallacy in it.

So on the one hand, that claim of the pseudo-sheikh just made no sense at all because it suggests women would become these creatures that never lived on earth at all. On the other hand, it implies that those creatures are exclusively feminine. But the real problem... and maybe this is not obvious to a native english speaker... so maybe you didn't catch it. The word hour is pronounced like another word in english that means prostitute.

No comments: