Saudi-Born Singer Shams Bandar Rejects Traditional Political and Religious Notions: Black-Eyed Virgins? God Did Not Open a Hotel in Paradise
Saudi-born singer Shams Bandar, also known as "Shams the Kuwaiti," rejected the notion that the words "hur al-ayn" refers to the black-eyed virgins of Paradise, saying: "It is inconceivable that [God] would create man, pamper him, and make a paradise for him with Bollywood-style black-eyed virgins." "Our Lord did not open up an hotel there," she said. In the interview, which aired on Egypt's Al-Nahhar TV on November 2, Shams complained that the Arabs pin all their problems on "others," and suggested that Egypt should isolate itself from the Arab world and focus on resolving its economic problems.
Shams Bandar: "The collective Arab mind has a problem. If we do not acknowledge the problem, we will never be able to fix it. The first step toward a solution is admitting that there is a problem. We Arabs are very good at pinning our problems and our concerns on others. If we cannot find someone on whom to pin our problems, we pin them on jinns and demons. We always need some 'other' for that purpose. I am not an antagonist person, but I say what other people in entertainment are afraid to say.
"The Saudi government is not against allowing women to drive. My song on the subject was not directed solely at Saudi Arabia. We have customs and traditions, and if Egypt succumbs to the extremist ideology, it will face the same thing, because the first thing that extremist ideology does is to take the customs and traditions and incorporate them into the religion.
"The KSA government supports women's rights and the natural liberation of women, but the problem is with the public, not with the government.
"It is as if 1,400 years of Islamic religion - or let's say, religion in general - were founded on the 16 hairs women have here, and that's it - there are no lies, no murders, no plundering, no corruption. It is as if there is nothing in Islam for which one can be held accountable, except for women and their liberation - All the other issues are just fine... Right, there's nothing else - no poverty, no hunger. None of this is a problem. The only important thing is that women will not be liberated.
"All the female singers and actresses are filmed dancing among women in weddings, but because some people consider me provocative, I am the only one they make a big deal about when I dance. What's wrong with dancing anyway? When a person goes 1-2-3-4-, it's just like sports. You cannot judge my brain over my dancing. You cannot persecute me because I dance. I dance, other people dance, and the whole world will dance. I hope that the day will come when we no longer have among us a single extremist who makes us cry. Hopefully, life will be all dance, rather than crying, problems, wars, and revolutions, and all the filth of living in the Arab world. Dancing is much better. Let's go back to the days of dancing.
"It is said, throughout the Quran that [men and women] are equal. It is inconceivable that [God] would create man, pamper him, and make a paradise for him with Bollywood-style black-eyed virgins..."
Interviewer: "The virgins are like a Bollywood film?"
Shams Bandar: "Absolutely. Our Lord did not open up an hotel there. It's shameful to say that. Allah is too sublime to think of a guy blowing himself up just to see some girls. He could see girls down here and give us a break, if that were the case. Get it?"
Interviewer: "But many people who believe this understand it this way."
Shams Bandar: "This is not understanding. It's an ideology that has been planted. Unfortunately, if you look at the curricula, you will see that this is what they tell you. But if you examine the philosophy of the Quran and the true words of Allah... This is a god, not someone sitting there, saying: If you get to Paradise, we will arrange some girls for you. That's shameful."
Interviewer: "But hur al-ayn ['black-eyed virgins'] are mentioned in the Quran."
Shams Bandar:"My dear Khaled, if you examine the Arabic language, you see that the words ayn and hur cannot mean women. That's shameful."
Interviewer: "So this interpretation is also the result of an extremist ideology?"
Shams Bandar:"No, this is an element of temptation. If I want to make you go to a certain place, the first thing I do is to shut down your ability to connect with women, thus causing you [sexual] inhibition. How am I to release this inhibition? By creating an illusion.
"So how am I to compensate you for your inhibition? By inventing a story that the great Lord, who created the universe, the sky, and the stars, placed some girls to welcome you when you blow up or become a martyr... They even distorted the meaning of martyrdom. You say that you have a problem with the meaning of hur al-ayn, but you don't have a problem with the meaning of martyrdom? Today, if you blow up innocent people of whatever religion, you become a martyr."
Interviewer: "So you disagree with all the jurisprudents who interpreted the words hur al-ayn..."
Shams Bandar:"I don't care about... 'Consult your heart, even if you are consulted by others.' Besides, the Quran has no interpreters, because our Lord is too great to have a slave interpret Him."
Interviewer: "No interpreters..."
Shams Bandar:"Of course not. This is the word of our Lord. If anyone had the right to interpret the Quran, it was the Prophet Muhammad."
Interviewer: "So these Quranic commentators play no role in your life?"
Shams Bandar: "I follow only the human aspect. My heart tells me whether something is true or false.
"The word 'exegesis' does not appear in the Quran. These are all theories.
"It is illogical to try to implement a theory from 1,400 years ago on me.
"In the Quran, only 14 things are prohibited. But we have 7 million prohibitions. We welcome every prohibition. Everything is prohibited to us."
Interviewer: "How do you view Egypt now? Is it about to burn, or what?"
Shams Bandar: "Egypt... Do you want the truth?"
Interviewer: "No. Lie to me."
Shams Bandar: "I'm upset, because for me, Egypt is the 'safe door' of the Arab world, and even the Islamic world by the way, because the Islam of Egypt had always been moderate and beautiful.
"In my humble opinion, and I hope I won't be attacked tomorrow like always... What happened is a domestic matter. Egypt has more enemies from within than abroad.
"If you resolver your economic problem, you will not have any other problems. Since the 1970s, you've had an economic problem, which you concealed. You got yourselves into all these pan-Arab wars. Man, you should isolate yourself from everything, work for your own benefit, leave pan-Arabism aside - go ahead and attack me for saying this..."
Interviewer: "You do not want pan-Arabism?"
Shams Bandar: "No."
Interviewer: "Pan-Arabism has been Egypt's downfall..."
Shams Bandar: "Of course."
Interviewer: "So Egypt should isolate itself..."
Shams Bandar: "Of course!
Interviewer: "Egypt should focus on its industry and leave aside pan-Arabism... And if Iran invades the Gulf..."
Shams Bandar: "Look, the Gulf has sufficient military and ideological might to defend itself. Things are different now. Wars are no longer fought by soldiers against soldiers. Wars are now being fought through technology, via the Internet. America no longer sends armies. On the contrary, they have an epileptic fit when they hear the word 'war,' because their policies, parliamentary seats, and political parties are under threat. They cannot win the elections because of the wars. Their nation does not accept this anymore. So please let's not pin our problems on the world out there. "