(1,646 words)

Ḥourīs are the virgins of Paradise promised to believers in the afterlife. The English word “houri” is derived from the Persian ḥūrī via French, which ultimately comes from the Arabic noun ḥūriyya. The Arabic word ḥūr is the plural of the adjective ḥawrāʾ (fem.)/aḥwar (masc.), which denotes a general sense of “whiteness.” The term is used to describe the eye of a gazelle or oryx as it contrasts with the vivid blackness of its pupil, exemplified in the expression ḥūr al-ʿīn, “having eyes like those of gazelles and of cows,” which is often applied to women (Lane, Lexicon, 666).

The word ḥūr is us…

Cite this page
Rippin, Andrew, “Ḥourī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 11 December 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_30524>
First published online: 2016
First print edition: 9789004305779, 2016, 2016-4

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