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woodcutter's avatar

Why seventy- two virgins?

Asked by woodcutter (16327points) January 2nd, 2010

Can someone explain to me what is it with all these virgins that the Muslim Jihad suicide bombers seek when they cross over to the afterlife? Whats wrong with women who know what they are doing?

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40 Answers

J0E's avatar

Because 73 is just CRAZY!

Chikipi's avatar

71 is apparently not enough?!

I guess an elaborate story of 72 virgins is what it takes to convince a man of terror to become a bomber and take thier own life.

Austinlad's avatar

Good question. And the fact that neither of us can answer it makes me think that we Americans knew more about Muslim beliefs and culture, the better off we might all be.

montreality's avatar

I wish I thought of asking that (and other questions) in the Islamic studies classes that were part of my school curriculum. But I lived in Saudi Arabia pre 9/11. I can say (on good authority ;) that while there are fanatics out there, many people are moderate and don’t go by the book literally. I read once that the word for virgins could also mean grapes, but I’m not a scholar of the Quran so I don’t know if it’s true.

HumourMe's avatar

I just wish we could see there faces when they realise they didn’t get their 72 virgins after they die. “I blew myself up for nothing!

skfinkel's avatar

I heard it was a misread—it’s actually 72 grapes.

Chikipi's avatar

Maybe they misunderstood I think It’s 72 version women? One with one tooth, one with 17 toes, another with 62 eyes…

woodcutter's avatar

Well from what I have heard it wasn’t an exact # of virgins. May have been 71, or 73 or 70 something but that is still alot of cherries. This with how they want their women to dress, almost completely covered up. so as not to enrage the male’s hormones to an uncontrollable level? Not to rage anyone here who may be Muslim, but are the men there really horndogs to the point of mandating hiding temptation? really I want to know.

XOIIO's avatar

It’s the 72 other guys who fell for it :)

Esteban's avatar

because twice as many would be ‘gross’.

Harp's avatar

The “72 virgins” citation is not from the Quran, but from the hadith (the traditional texts). This reward (and 8,000 servants) is mentioned in one of the many hadith as being the minimum reward for any of the righteous in heaven (not specifically martyrs).

There is not much weight given to this passage by Muslim scholars, who don’t see the line of transmission of this statement as being very trustworthy (the hadith weren’t passed along with the same care as was the text of the Quran).

The Houri (the term sometimes translated as “virgins”) are considered to be righteous women who, in being resurrected to heaven, have their youth and virginity restored to them.

dpworkin's avatar

What’s the deal with this silly “sitting at the Right Hand of the Father” business. And isn’t Nirvana kinda funny? Why do those wacky Jews say Kaddish for the dead, anyway? Are they nuts? And Chinese people and their damned ancestor worship! Why don’t they just grow up?

Esteban's avatar


“righteous women ” is that one that knows how to shop for a bargin at Wal-Mart?

montreality's avatar

@Harp Thanks for pointing that out, I mistakenly thought it was in the Quran when I crafted my response. It makes a huge difference as the hadiths, or sayings of the prophet, were oral traditions for a good while until people started writing them down. The strength of a hadith is judged by scholars based on the number of people involved in transmitting the saying as well as their authority.

Chikipi's avatar

@absalom- LMAO! That is a funny clip :)

CMaz's avatar

Problem is what they are going to end up with is 72 nuns. And, none under the age of 72.

Darwin's avatar

If you belong to a culture that traditionally considers women to be property, then why not 72 virgins? At least they would be your virgins, and not someone else’s.

laureth's avatar

There are also women who martyr themselves. I sometimes wonder what they’d want with their 72 virgin dudes.

(I kid, I kid. I doubt women get much of anything.)

gailcalled's avatar

If I said that I liked the idea of 72 grapes better, would someone declare a fatwah against me?

@pdworkin: Don’t forget that empty place setting for Elijah at Pesach.

dpworkin's avatar

Oy Elijah! What a cuckoo idea!

dpworkin's avatar

@gailcalled You can’t spell “loudly”. I’ll bet you spell Summer “sumer”.

Darwin's avatar

Actually I thought it was spelled lhude, as in “Lhude sing Cuccu!” Must be the American spelling.

dpworkin's avatar

every time I’m icumin in, you’re agoin out

woodcutter's avatar

Even though 70 something virgins is a high number to be concentrated around one guy, a female is only a virgin once, right? So in a matter of a month and a half in the afterlife this guy is going to burn through them and have no more virgins. Then what?

LeotCol's avatar

How else are you going to have 8 completely different ninesomes.

woodcutter's avatar

maybe its just me, since I have never had a virgin, and safe to say, never will, but the whole idea of a young girl who is ignorant about making love seems overrated at best. Let alone 70 of them. What’s the draw? Do men from that walk of life prefer their women to be sex dumb? Maybe is a control thing? I would get tired of them and it would be awkward/ bloody ;/ ? The better reward would be a woman who is a freak, Hells yeah!

Darwin's avatar

@woodcutter – Yes, it is a control thing. If they have no idea of sex, then whatever the experienced male insists is normal is accepted as normal, especially if the woman has also been taught that she is worthless for anything except serving men, having sex “done to them,” and bearing children.

woodcutter's avatar

@Darwin bummer, so heaven for women doesn’t sound very heavenly :( (I’m just waiting for some Muslim person to jump on here and tear me a new asshole)

poisonedantidote's avatar

because 50 and 100 sounds made up. its too round and too convenient. when people lie about numbers, they tend to go with odd numbers or numbers that are not nice and round.

’‘since i quit working for google i have purchased 100 cars with the money i earned’’

’‘since i quit working for google i have purchased 72 cars with the money i earned’’

what one sounds more believable to you?

what this number 72 tells us, is that these people are so dense, that when you tell them that if they blow them selves up they will go to a paradise full of virgins, the most investigation and skepticism you can expect from them is them asking ’‘exactly how many virgins?’’

ratboy's avatar

It must be related to the fact that 72 is the product of the only two consecutive perfect powers among the positive integers: 72 = 2^3×3^2.

gurnblansten's avatar

@Esteban lol at “gross”
I always assumed 72 was a placeholder number, like the 10,000 things in buddhism, it’s just a way to say “heaps” or “a whole big bunch”.
Also, I think the “muslim jihad suicide bombers” are motivated by slightly more complex factors.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

The promise of the virgins is of secondary, if at all, importance to many of the suicide bombers.

woodcutter's avatar

The promise just seems so trivial to me. It must be that IRL in the Muslim world, virgin women are highly sought after. Maybe its because they are young, inexperienced in life and are less trouble to manipulate. So in the afterlife getting many more of a prized thing is what heaven might appear to be to a Muslim who knows he’s going to die soon? But 72? why not 32?, that is still a lot. It seems that there is a little greed built into the Islamic faith or other faiths. If there is an afterlife, it seems to me anyway that getting laid wouldn’t be so important as other more meaningful things such as meeting your friends and the wife you had on Earth. It just seems that virgins would be way more trouble than they’re worth especially in heaven where all is supposed to be whatever heaven is supposed to be like. Being surrounded with naive girls for eternity would be more like Hell to me. I still can’t believe there are no Muslims on here waiting to blast me for speculating out loud.

Harp's avatar

The number 72 crops up frequently in cultures that kept careful astronomical observations (and the Muslim world had a very advanced grasp of astronomy), because 72 years relates to one degree in the 25,920 year “precession of the equinox”. 72 appears in many other contexts in Muslim texts.

woodcutter's avatar

@Harp that seems believable. I can buy that. Thanks again. But why the women? It’s a full time job to keep one happy. always has been. Pleasing 71 extra just seems maddening. I would not be looking forward to that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@woodcutter well this is heaven so clearly they’re all satisfied and the men are somehow inspiring.

Strauss's avatar

The Arabic word that is usually translated as “virgins” should be more accurately translated as “Companions pure, most beautiful of eye.”

The number “72” is a symbolic number, used similar to “144” in the Talmud

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