Whether Houris are restrained in pavilions
Fatwa No: 349333

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I was wondering, what does verse 55:72 mean by 'restraint'? Does it mean that the Houris are not allowed to go outside, as if they were slaves, or does it mean that they have a modest gaze? And is it the same for the worldly women as well; are they not allowed to go outside in heaven and do what they want?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allah says (what means): {Fair ones reserved in pavilions.} [Quran 55:72]

{Reserved} means that they are well protected and live in luxury, without a need to go out for service, and they are not among the debased women who display their beauty to strangers. So their confinement is to honor them; this does not negate that they go out for recreation, as is the case of the honored women in this worldly life, as they travel for their needs, but they are covered from the eyes inside their howdahs.

As regards lowering the gaze, then this is what is meant in the other verse where Allah says (what means): {In them are women limiting [their] glances, untouched before them by man or jinn.} [Quran 55:56]

The honor and good morals that the Houris have is shared by the women of this worldly life [who enter Paradise].

Tafseer Al-Qurtubi reads, “{Fair ones reserved in pavilions.} meaning that they are confined by way of protection and honor….

At-Tahreer wat-Tanweer by Ibn 'Aashoor reads, “{Fair ones reserved in pavilions.} means the ones who are confined to their husbands and only seek to give their husbands' enjoyable company, which is a characteristic of luxury in regard to the women of this worldly life. They are the ones who do not need to go out of their homes for service or to fetch water or collect fruits, which means that they are served and honored.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said in Haadi Al-Arwaah:

Allah says about their description (what means): {Fair ones reserved in pavilions.} Reserved means confined; Abu Ubaydah said, ‘They are confined to the tents.’ The same thing was said by Muqaatil, and there is another possible meaning: who are confined to their husbands, and they do not see other men while they are in the tents. This is the meaning of the view of those who said: they are confined to their husbands and do not want other men and do not aspire to other men; this was stated by Al-Farraa’. I said: This is the meaning of the other verse: {limiting their glances}, but this verse means that they are kept therein. The words {in pavilions} are a description of the Houris; i.e. they are reserved and they are in the pavilions...

It seems that those who hold this view interpreted it to mean that they are confined in pavilions and do not leave them to the chambers and gardens. Those who hold the first view respond to this that Allah described them with the qualities of women who are protected and preserved, and this is the most beautiful description; this does not necessarily mean that they do not go out to the chambers and gardens; like the wives of kings and other women who are honored and protected, they are not prevented from going out to travel, to a park, a garden, and the like. So the description that generally applies to them is staying in their homes, while they can go out along with the servants (maids) to gardens and the like. But Mujaahid said, ‘It means that their hearts are confined to their husbands in pearl tents.’

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 351103.

Allah knows best.

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