The Inner-Qurʾānic Development of the Images of Women in Paradise: From the Ḥūr ʿĪn to Believing Women 

The Inner-Qurʾānic Development of the Images of Women in Paradise: From the Ḥūr ʿĪn to Believing Women 

This article explores the inner-qurʾānic development of the images of women in the qurʾānic Paradise and explains the possible reasons for this development via a consideration of qurʾānic images of women more broadly. Women appear in the qurʾānic Paradise as “houris” (ḥūr ʿīn), “spouses” (azwāj), “spouses who acted righteously” (wa-man ṣalaḥa min … azwājihim), “pure spouses” (azwāj muṭahharah), and “believing women” (muʾmināt). Such references to women in Paradise correspond to the inner-qurʾānic development of the female image. The “houris” are mentioned only in the Meccan period, while references to “pure spouses” and “believing women” occur exclusively in the Medinan period. Furthermore, after the believing men are rewarded with the houris in earlier Meccan verses, later Meccan verses discuss earthly spouses. In these later Meccan verses, as earthly women gradually rise in station as the spouses of believing men in Paradise, the houris seemingly disappear. In parallel with this development in the qurʾānic account of women in Paradise, the early Meccan sūrahs do not explicitly describe women as “believing women,” thus putting forward no explicit rules of good conduct for earthly spouses. Finally, it is not until the Medinan verses that women are treated as moral agents.

Review of Martin Whittingham, A History of Muslim Views of the Bible

In this compact book, Martin Whittingham presents the historical beginnings of Muslim attitudes to the Bible. Billed as the first of two volumes, this installment takes us from the Qurʾān and its position on the scriptures of the “People of the Book” to the turn of the fifth century AH / eleventh century CE, i.e., up to and including the writings of Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064) and some of his contemporaries, whom Whittingham sees as marking a watershed in the way Muslims have viewed and approached the Bible. The planned second volume will continue the story to the present day (1). While previous studies have focused on key Muslim thinkers or specific aspects of Muslim scholarly use and/or critique of the Bible,[1] the present work ranges far broader in its scope, seeking to present a chronology of evolving attitudes toward the Bible across a wide variety of literary genres. These attitudes are gauged both through explicit statements about the Bible from Muslim scholars, and through what may be implicitly gleaned about such attitudes from the way the Bible is utilized or discussed. The scope of the book is thus both impressive and unique, and Whittingham has produced a work that will surely be required reading for anyone interested in this field.

Review of Joachim Jakob, Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam

Joachim Jakob’s book Syrisches Christentum und früher Islam: Theologische Reaktionen in syrisch-sprachigen Texten vom 7. bis 9. Jahrhundert (in English: Syriac Christianity and Early Islam: Theological Reactions in Syriac Written Texts from the Seventh to the Ninth Century) analyzes a wide range of Syriac sources in exploring Christian theological responses to early Islam. Jakob focuses on the developments of the theological positions of East and West Syrian writers as well as on the connections of the relevant Syriac texts with contemporary Islamic theology. This comprehensive book is essential reading not only for scholars of Syriac Christianity, but also for those interested in interreligious encounters and Christian-Muslim relations more broadly.