Myth of 72 virgins grossly misrepresents Islam


By Abu Ayman

Muslims converge for prayers in this file photo

Bomb attacks which are blamed on Muslims lead to the demonisation of Islam and Muslims who are accused of having links with terrorism. Among the misconceptions put forward is the alleged reward in heaven of 72 virgins to those who carry out the attacks.

A recent [Kenyan] cartoon is, unfortunately, an example of this sort of gross misrepresentation of Islamic tenets.
The assumption that “Islam promises 72 virgins for martyrs in heaven” signifies deep misconceptions about Islam. It is an often repeated myth, which has misled many people to accept it as the truth and evidence of religion which promotes violence and cruelty to the innocent.

The notion comes from an alleged saying attributed to Prophet Muhammad, which has neither been verified nor authenticated.
This saying is quoted in one of the books of the Hadith (the traditions of the Prophet Sunan al-Tirmidhi) and though scholars through the ages have consistently argued that this tradition is not authentic, it has still become a justification to demonise Islam and Muslims.

The alleged Hadith has been rejected due to the fact that there is a discrepancy in its chain of transmitters (sanad). Muslims are not required to believe in such traditions, for there is a chance they may have been fabricated.
An Albanian considered to be one of the greatest scholars in the science of the Prophet’s traditions, Muhammad Nasrudeen al Albani, classified it as ‘‘Munkar’’ which literally means ‘‘denounced’’.

This classification is next to the worst form of Hadith which are termed as ‘‘Mawdhu’’ – fabricated. Therefore, the tradition of the alleged 72 virgins is totally rejected in Islam and does not have any place in the teachings of Islam.
It cannot be relied upon on any matter to do with the Islamic faith.
The fabrications of the sayings of the Prophet found their way into Muslim literature, but scholars specialised in the subject have been able to remove the wheat from the chaff.

It should be noted that Islam is categorically against any form of killing of innocent people. Several verses of the Koran and traditions of the Prophet are clear against wanton killings and destruction of property even against non-Muslims.
The recent bomb attacks in Uganda [for which the al-Shabaab claimed responsibility]cannot be justified in any way. Islam does not condone acts of terrorism as it views life to be sacred. The Koran states: “Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind,” (Al-Ma’dah:32).

In one of his sayings, Prophet Muhammad said: “A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he does not kill another person illegally.” Even in times of war, Muslims are not allowed to kill anybody save the one who is in direct confrontation with them. The killing of women, old persons, children and monks as well as destroying religious places is expressly forbidden.

Those killed in bomb attacks in Uganda had nothing to do with the decision to send troops to Somalia, and there was no moral justification for attacking them. The perpetrators of this massacre cannot use Islam to justify their misdeeds. Islam stands for peace and justice for all. It condemns the killing of innocent people regardless of their faith, race or nationality. Such acts are barbaric and antithetical to Islam.

Mr Ayman is a Nairobi-based journalist This article first appeared on the Daily Monitor, Uganda.




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