The gender of the word "hoor"


Regarding the rewards of paradise being for men and women, not just men. My question is specifically related to hoor ul ayn. I did my own research and found that the word hoor itself is genderless. Many of the english translations related to these verses have deliberately added the words "fair women" when it does not appear in quranic text. The descriptions of these spouses/companions are relatively gender neutral and many of the root words for each can be applied to men and women. Please let me know what you think, in my perspective it fits one of the core principles of islam that men and women will be rewarded the same according to their deeds.


The reply to your inquiry is in 3 parts:


Indeed, as you wrote, men and women believers will be rewarded equally in Paradise without any gender discrimination.
This truth is already established in the Quran, as in the following verse:

And whoever does good deeds, male or female, and is a believer, they will enter Paradise, and they will not be wronged by as much as a tiny speck on the stone of a date. 4:124

More details about the equal rewards are to be found on this page:
Are the rewards of Paradise for men only?


The word
"hoor" may be genderless as you say you have found, however, in the verses where this word is used, the subject refers to females and not males.
This fact is not derived from the word "hoor", but from what follows this word.
Let us study the following verse:

I am not sure if you can read Arabic? If not, here are the 4 words and their meanings:

"maqsurat" (secluded)
"fi" (in)
"al-khiyam" (the tents/pavilions)

The correct translation is:

Beautiful maidens, secluded in pavilions.

The reason the word
"maidens" is added in the translation of this verse is not because of the word "hoor", but because of the adjective "maqsurat" that follows the word "hoor".

As mentioned, the adjective
"maqsurat" means (secluded), but unlike the English language, adjectives in Arabic denote gender, and "maqsurat" is the adjective to use when the subject is feminine.

If the word
"hoor" in this verse was describing males, or describing both genders, the word used would have been (maqsureen).

The word "maidens/girls" must therefore be added in the English translation to incorporate the female gender denoted in the adjective (maqsurat). If the word "maidens" was not added, the translation would not represent the correct meaning of the Arabic text.


Most importantly, neither the word
"hoor" nor any other descriptions of Paradise matter much. This is because it is confirmed in the Quran that all the descriptions of Paradise and Hell in the Quran are allegorical, they are not literal.

The Quranic descriptions of Paradise include:
Flowing rivers of honey, milk and wine, fruits of every kind, purified spouses, bracelets of gold, garments of silk and brocade, as well as cups of delicious drinks from flowing springs.
However, we note that in a number of verses when such descriptions occur, the word 'mathal' (allegory) is placed at the front of these descriptions:

The 'mathal' (example) of Paradise
, that is promised to the reverent, is that beneath which rivers flow, and its food supply is everlasting as well as its shade. 13:35

The 'mathal' (example) of Paradise
that is promised to the reverent is that of rivers of unpolluted water, and rivers of milk whose taste does not change, and rivers of wine that is pleasurable for the drinkers, and rivers of strained honey. They have all kinds of fruits therein, and forgiveness from their Lord. 47:15

The word
'mathal' (example/allegory) used at the beginning of these verses, tell us that such descriptions are by way of examples only, and therefore, should not be taken literally.

Linguistically, the word
'mathal' in such verses could be removed and we would still have perfect sentences. This confirms that the use of the word 'mathal'. is deliberately included before the descriptions to remind us that these descriptions of Paradise are not literal.

What Paradise is really like is far beyond our comprehension, hence the need for allegory. How can one describe, for example, the taste of chocolate to a person who never tasted chocolate? Allegory will have to be used. The person has to wait to actually taste chocolate in order to know what chocolate tastes like. Whatever allegory we use to describe the taste of chocolate it can only approximate the actual taste.