The Inner-qurʾānic Development of the Image of Women in Paradise From the Virgins of Paradise to Believing Women

Main Article Content

Ana Davitashvili



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.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 106 | PDF Downloads 5