The following is a footnote from Sir Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights:
Arab. “Hur al-Ayn,” lit. (maids) with eyes of lively white and black, applied to the virgins of paradise who will wive with the happy faithful. I retain our vulgar “Houri,” warning the reader that it is a masc. for a fem. (“Huriyah”) in Arab, although accepted in Persian, a genderless speech.
The word houri, which we often use interchangeably with virgin when we talk about the 72 virgins awaiting martyrs in Heaven, is a masculine noun. So don’t be surprised when I post a picture of a man at the end of this blog post.
Wikipedia has a really long entry on the word houri, covering all that ground about whether Muslim men reasonably expect a literal harem of 72 virgins to greet them in Heaven. My feeling is that they don’t, so apparently I agree with Margaret Nydell:
Margaret Nydell states that mainstream Muslims regard this belief about 72 virgins in the same way that mainstream Christians regard the belief that after death they will be issued with wings and a harp, and walk on clouds.
I agree that black irises contrasting with white sclera are beautiful, and I’m happy that I’m not alone in my appreciation. I wonder if having a white sclera was less common a few hundred years ago when more diseases went untreated.
I wasn’t able to find many photos by doing an internet search, probably most because “black eye” means something different in English and for some reason people who have really, really dark eyes like to say they have brown eyes instead of black. Sounds like western prejudice in favor of boring old blue eyes.
So, for aficionados of the dark brown eye, here are a couple photos. I’ll try to post one a week.