A paradise of sex

Although women have a place in the Islamic view of paradise, what they will be doing for sexual satisfaction is not touched upon in the Qur’an; according to several hadiths, however, the pious among them will be resurrected as young virgins and enjoy the pleasures of Paradise with their husbands. There are male youths in Paradise as well, “like hidden pearls” (56:23), handing out drinks; how far their services extend to the men and women of Paradise has fuelled centuries of debate within, and beyond, the Islamic world.

In the 21st-century “sex-in-paradise” has been repackaged for the war on terror. There is a school of thought which maintains that violent Islamic extremism—and in particular, suicide attacks—stems from sexual frustration in this life and the prospect of virgins-on-tap in the next. For more on such theories, see “Sex and the Shaheed” by Bradley Taylor and Valerie Hudson, and “Sexual geopolitics: the ‘blue balls’ theory of terrorism” by Gilbert Caluya.