Priapism is a potentially painful medical condition, in which the erect penis or clitoris does not return to its flaccid state, despite the absence of both physical and psychological stimulation, within four hours. The name comes from the Greek god Priapus, a fertility god often represented with a disproportionately large and permanent erection.
Priapism is considered a medical emergency, which should receive proper treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. The duration of a normal erection before it is classifiable as priapism is still controversial. Some sources say an ongoing penile erection for more than 6 hours, rather than 4 hours, can be classified as priapism.
Priapisms in Paradise
According to Islamic scripture, all Muslim males that are admitted to Paradise will technically suffer from priapisms. A hasan hadith from Ibn Majah (one of the six canonical hadith collections) concerning the 72 virgins provides this detail on the physical attributes given to men by Allah to sustain them (Muslim males “will have an ever-erect penis”). Al-Suyuti (one of the latter-day authorities of the Shafi’i School of fiqh) also wrote that the “penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal”.
A death erection, angel lust, or terminal erection is a post-mortem erection, technically a priapism. It has been observed in the corpses of human males and also in the animal kingdom. Possibly the most famous occurrence being in the Berezovka Mammoth, discovered in 1900.
While it is usually observed in victims of hangings, it can also be found in victims of violent deaths by poisoning, fatal gunshot wounds to the brain, or a stroke or other brain embolisms. And it can also be caused by decomposition. In some rare cases, ejaculation of semen may also occur.
Muhammad’s Death Erection
Abu al-Fida (1273 – 1331 AD) was a Muslim geographer and historian. He relates that Prophet Muhammad suffered from a death erection. Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib, the fourth Rightly-guided Caliph of Islam (and also Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin) washed his body after his death, and had exclaimed, “O prophet, thy penis is erect unto the sky!”
The mainstream Muslim understanding and the Islamic sources concerning Muhammad’s death say he died of poisoning by a Jewish women. However the effects of the poison were only gradual. The hadith surrounding his death are consistent with the possibility he suffered a brain embolism leading to his post-mortem erection.
An illustration of Muhammad on his deathbed. Taken from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh (also known as The Universal History or History of the World), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 A.D. Now at the Edinburgh University Library, Scotland. (more pictures of Muhammad)