Hoor is a description of color, not character
Fatwa No: 298927

  • Fatwa Date:5-10-2015 - Thul-Hijjah 22, 1436
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Question

Allaah says, describing them (interpretation of the meaning): {Therein (Gardens) will be khairaatun‑hisaan [fair (wives) good and beautiful].} [al-Rahmaan 55:70] Ibn al-Qayyim said:
"They are described as being fair and beautiful. The word khayraat (fair and good) is derived from the word khayyarah, which refers to the woman who combines all good qualities, both outward and inward, and whose physical appearance and attitude are perfect. So they are good in attitude and fair of face. Here, the description of fair refers to character and not skin." Please elaborate on this as you say that fair, here, means skin.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The interpretation of the Arabic description 'khayraatun Hisaan' as mentioned in the question has nothing to do with the meaning of Al-Hoor, as each has its own meaning, as is clear in the statements of reliable scholars of Tafseer (interpretation, explanation) and Arabic linguists who said that Hoor means white skinned with intensely black irides and intensely white scleras (the white of the eyes). At-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on this verse saying, “Mujaahid said that Hoor means white skinned...” [Tafseer At-Tabari: 23/76]

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Hoor means white according to Qataadah and the majority (of scholars). Hawraa’ (singular of Hoor) is the white skinned woman whose legs can be seen from beneath her clothes. The observer can see his image in her heels as a mirror because of the fineness of her skin and the purity of her color...” [Tafseer Al-Qurtubi 16/152]

Az-Zajjaaj  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The eye is described as Hawraa’ when it has an intense black iris and intense white sclera, and a woman is described as Hawraa' only when she has Hawraa' eyes (as described above) and white complexion as well...” [Maʻaani Al-Quran wa I’raabuh 1/418]

Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

Al-Hoor is the plural of Hawraa’, meaning a young, beautiful, fine woman with white complexion and intensely black eyes (iris). Zayd ibn Aslam said, ‘The Hawraa’ is a woman whose beauty is stunning and who has beautiful eyes.' Mujaahid said, ‘The Hawraa’ is the stunningly beautiful woman whose skin is delicate and pure in color.' Al-Hasan said, ‘The Hawraa’ is a woman with intense black irides and intense white scleras.' Scholars held different opinions regarding the root of the Arabic word 'Hoor'. Ibn ʻAbbaas said, 'Hoor in the language of the Arabs is used to refer to white-skinned women.' The same view was adopted by Qataadah. Muqaatil said, 'The word Hoor means women with white faces.' Mujaahid said, 'Al-Hoor Al-ʻEen refer to women whose beauty is stunning to such an extent that the marrow of the woman’s calves can be seen from beneath her clothes, and a man will be able to see his face in the liver of one of them, like a mirror because of the fineness of her skin and the purity of her color.' The Arabic term originally denotes the intense black iris and intense white sclera of the eyes. The word is not derived from the word Hayrah (meaning confusion and astonishment). Al-Hoor Al-ʻEen means women with white complexion. The preponderant view is that the word Hoor is derived from Hoor eyes, denoting the intense whiteness of the eyes’ sclera and the intense blackness of the iris. It denotes both meanings. The word Hoor is used to describe the eyes denoting the beauty of the contrast between the intense whiteness of the eyes’ sclera and the intense blackness of the iris, each imparting and adding to the beauty of the other. The eyes are described as Hawraa' when the whiteness of the eyes’ sclera and the blackness of the iris are intense. A woman is described as Hawraa’ when she has Hawraa’ eyes and white complexion.” [At-Tafseer Al-Qayyim]

Please refer to Fataatwa 289174 and 274222.

Allaah knows best.

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