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Are Muslims promised 72 virgins in heaven?

The idea of a Muslim attaining all the Pillars of Islam or dying in jihad and receiving precisely seventy-two virgins (or “houri”) in heaven is not found in the Koran. The Koran does promise “companions” in Paradise, but the number of them is never communicated.

The number of seventy-two comes from the Hadith, a collection of commentaries used by Muslims compiled by imans (teachers) and cohorts of Muhammad, many written hundreds of years after Muhammad. Much of the Hadith is built on hearsay and opinion by self-proclaimed prophets or experts on things Muhammad said or meant to say or it was believed he said. From that source we read:

The concept of 72 virgins in Islam refers to an aspect of paradise. In a collection by Imam at-Tirmidhi in his “Sunan” (Volume IV, Chapters on “The Features of Heaven as described by the Messenger of Allah”, chapter 21: “About the Smallest Reward for the People of Heaven”, hadith 2687) and also quoted by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (Qur’anic Commentary) of Surah Qur’an 55:72, it is stated that:

“It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard Muhammad saying, ‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a"

The idea of 72 virgins comes from a small line in the Hadith from a person who overheard Muhammad talking about paradise.