The prophet Muhammad taught that Muslim men martyred in a holy war will be rewarded with darked—eyed houris (huris) or perpetual virgins (Suras 44:51—56; 52:17—29; 55:46—78). However, "houris" may be a mistranslation of "white raisins." This very brief article — complete with a photo of a Byzantine mural painting showing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob feeding white raisins to the blessed in heaven — reports that the "white raisin" motif is common in eastern Christianity, which influenced Islam.
The — in times of worldwide actions of an Islamic terrorism for obvious reasons — most famous example of a new understanding of Koranic passages in Christoph Luxenberg, Die syro—aram�ische Lesart des Koran. Ein Beitrag zur Entschl�sselung der Koransprache [The Syro—Aramaic Reading of the Koran. A Contribution to Decyphering the Language of the Koran], Berlin 2000 and 2004, concerns the "Huris", those ever—virgin playmates who shall be given to the Islamic warriors in Paradise. With Luxenberg they become — again — the "white, juwel—like raisins", we know as fruit of the Paradise from Ephrem Syrus' poem "The Paradise (De Paradiso)".
The metaphor of refreshing the dead souls in the celestial realm by the old—testament fathers is well—known in the Christian—eastern and Byzantine literature. Numerous places giving evidence for it can be found with Ephrem Syrus, the famous poet and ecclesiastical writer in the Syriac, i.e. the Christian—Aramaic language. But most important of all is a picture that appears in the oldest transmitted Christian prayer for the dead of the 3rd century, which was delivered by the Copts, the Syriacs, Armenians and Greeks. Here they prayed for the admission of the souls in the celestial realm and their refreshing, calming and renewal in the eternal life.
Please click on the link, above, to see the photo.
James M. Arlandson 11 05 05