The Quran describes that in Paradise the believers will have حُورٍ / ḥūrin, but what is the meaning of this word in this context?
Before attempting to understand the meaning of this word, it is worth remembering that the descriptions of Paradise in the Quran are purely allegorical. These are just depictions for us to attempt to grasp how amazing and beautiful Paradise is, but we will not be able to fully grasp it until God willing we get to experience it for ourselves.
[2:25] Give good news to those who believe and lead a righteous life that they will have gardens with flowing streams. When provided with a provision of fruits therein, they will say, “This is what was provided for us previously.” Thus, they are given allegorical descriptions. They will have pure spouses therein, and they abide therein forever.
[32:17] You have no idea how much joy and happiness are waiting for you as a reward for your (righteous) works.
The word حُورٍ comes from the same root as the word الْحَوَارِيُّونَ which is translated as “the disciples” as in the disciples of Jesus. From this we can insinuate the the word is associated with being a companion.
These two words share the same trilateral-root for حُورٍ is ح و ر and from this root we have the following derivative meanings:
The word حُورٍ in the context of Paradise, occurs in the following verses: 44:54, 52:20, 55:72, and 56:22. Let’s take a look at each of these occurrences in context, which happen to all be in Paradise.
[44:51] The righteous will be in a secure position. [44:52] Enjoying gardens and springs. [44:53] Wearing velvet and satin; close to each other. [44:54] We grant them wonderful spouses. [44:55] They enjoy in it all kinds of fruits, in perfect peace.
Here is the word by word breakdown of the verse:
In the above verse, we see that it is indicating that in Paradise the righteous will be paired or married with “بِحُورٍ عِينٍ”. The بِ at the beginning of the word بِحُورٍ is to signify the word “with”.
The word عِينٍ, throughout the Quran has one of two meanings, either as a spring or eyes. The use of this word in conjunction with حُورٍ is to signify companions with wide or large eyes.
When a human sees something they find attractive their eyes get wide, and additionally, one of the physiological affects is that our pupils dilate and become bigger making the outside of our eyes appear more white.
This is noteworthy because the root of حُورٍ has the meaning:
to whiten as in to wash clothes and make them white, but also the intense whiteness of the white of the eye and intense blackness of the black.
So this verse is informing us that the righteous will be paired with companions with white wide eyes, to signify that the righteous will be attracted to them and they in return will be attracted to their spouses.
We see this same expression used again in 52:20
56:22 also uses this expression, but this time describes them as that of “like protected pearls.”
[56:17] Serving them will be immortal servants. [56:18] With cups, pitchers and pure drinks. [56:19] They never run out, nor do they get bored. [56:20] Fruits of their choice. [56:21] Meat of birds that they desire. [56:22] Beautiful mates. [56:23] Like protected pearls.
This depiction can be better understood when we look at the last occurrence of the word حُورٍ in the Quran which occurs in 55:72. Here are the verses in context:
[55:62] Below them are two gardens (one for the jinns and one for the humans). [55:63] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:64] Side by side. [55:65] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:66] In them, wells to be pumped. [55:67] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:68] In them are fruits, date palms, and pomegranate. [55:69] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:70] In them are beautiful mates. [55:71] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:72] Confined in the tents. [55:73] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:74] No human ever touched them, nor a jinn. [55:75] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny? [55:76] They relax on green carpets, in beautiful surroundings. [55:77] Which of your Lord’s marvels can you deny?
These verses inform us that the spouses the righteous will have in Paradise will be beautiful and chaste. All three verses reaffirm these allegorical spouses purity, beauty, and commitment.
It is clear from these verses that the ḥūrun, as described in the Quran, are an allegorical representation of the companions the righteous will have in Paradise. That they will be chaste, perfectly paired, and cause their spouses to dilate and widen their eyes showing that they are mutually attracted and pleased with one another.