‘God assek you, why you will drink wine?' he told me earnestly. 'He assek, what for you will drink allah-co-hol? You should not: why you should not? Is bad for you body, make harm you liffer. This why is forbidded, you see?’ he’d smile brightly, pleased at the irrefutable logic of the prohibition. This was the stick, and there was an accompanying carrot. ‘In Baradise, is have wine! In Baradise, wine don’t make hurt you liffer, so why to drink wine here?’
I didn’t get to reply before he gave me twenty minutes on the rivers of wine, milk and honey that flow through Jannah, O wond'rous to behold. As I half listened, I felt like objecting that I could get all this from Sainsbury’s on the way home, so why wait for the last trump? However, given what he was telling me and clearly believed, irony would most probably be quite lost on him. What’s wrong with you people who still believe this crap, I wondered, as he dilated on the topic. This is a fantasy evolved by people of the desert who suffered thirst, hunger, heat, pain, labour. You live with comforts they could never have dreamed of, sunshine. How long would it be before you were sated to vomiting with the milk, wine and honey, sore from knobbing your seventy-odd virgins, bored senseless with the rest and ease of your elevated couch? Wouldn’t oblivion be preferable?
Mary Katherine Baxter can claim to be a better guide to heaven than Sayeed, because she's actually been there. Top that! The boss’s son, Jesus, took her to hell for thirty nights and it wasn’t at all nice, but in compensation for witnessing the torture of the damned, Mary got ten nights in Heaven, half board. You can watch Mary Katherine telling Sid Somebodyorother about her time in Paradise in the video below, which is, ummm, unbelievable. Notable is the Lord’s love of music, especially when performed in His praise. Up there, Mary saw ‘a piano forty feet across, and a trumpet thirty- five feet long,’ and people dancing together to music of all nations. You Tubers have appended their comments to this video and it is surprising that they greet her revelations with such awe and reverence. I mean, you abjured all the Kingdoms of the world, and this is your reward: a thirty-five foot trumpet. Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Among the happily dancing throng that Mary saw, perhaps some were rather wishing they had spent a bit more time actually fornicating rather than slapping down their natural urges. Or maybe not. Maybe entering heaven has the same effect as a lobotomy. After all, you could not enjoy this unending kiddie’s birthday party if you were at all intelligent, or wistful about what you could have done, or agonising over the torment of your unsaved friends and family members being spit-roasted down in the other place.
Paradise as envisaged by Islam and Pentecostal christers is notable chiefly for it’s tawdriness and sheer bloody tedium; the same viscous, vacuous nauseating jollity that is about to be ladled all over us next week, unless we make a special effort to avoid it, which I shall. The first sickly dribbles have been in evidence for some weeks now, but the full, sweet, gloopy chunder is yet to come. Imagine if it lasted for ever.