By Khaled El-Rouayheb
Attitudes towards homosexuality within the pre-modern Arab-Islamic international are quite often depicted as schizophrenic—visible and tolerated on one hand, prohibited by means of Islam at the different. Khaled El-Rouayheb argues that this obvious paradox relies at the anachronistic assumption that homosexuality is a undying, self-evident truth to which a selected tradition reacts with a point of tolerance or intolerance. Drawing on poetry, biographical literature, drugs, dream interpretation, and Islamic texts, he indicates that the tradition of the interval lacked the concept that of homosexuality. “Meticulously researched, lucidly written, nuanced, and brilliantly conceived, [the ebook] forthrightly takes on complicated matters surrounding the tradition of same-sex eroticism that existed within the Arabic-speaking lands of the early sleek Ottoman Empire. . . . an immense ebook by means of an exceptional scholar.”—Journal of Religion “Rectifies many . . . prejudices and misinterpretations in a masterly fashion.”—Bulletin of the varsity of Oriental and African Studies (20050617)
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Extra resources for Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800
30 As in the case of drinking alcohol, the antidote to pederasty was repentance. ”31 In the romance of Baybars, men who make sexual advances to the young hero and his groom ʿUthmān are regularly beaten up until they say: “I repent at your hands, and swear by your head and eyes that I will no longer meet youngsters and commit liwāṭ,” or, “My master! ”32 The following couplet by the poet Mamayah al-Rūmī also illustrates the tendency to assimilate pederasty to sins such as (heterosexual) fornication and drinking alcohol:My career in pursuit of fancy is ruined, so have mercy on me, O Bestower and Benefactor!
A man who willingly assumed the latter role was violating conventional gender roles, and was often stereotyped as effeminate and thought to suffer from an abnormal or pathological condition. However, a man who sought to have “active” or “insertive” intercourse with a beardless male youth was not violating gender roles, nor was he stereotyped in the same way. In the second chapter, I will present another cultural strand, one which valued passionate love and a general aesthetic sensibility toward human beauty in the form of women or beardless youths.
As I will briefly discuss in my conclusion, the encounter with European Victorian morality was to have profound effects on local attitudes toward what came to be called “sexual inversion” or “sexual perversion” (shudhūdh jinsī) . The present work should hopefully set the stage for a study of this profound change. I should perhaps add that the imposed geographic and temporal limits do not imply any commitment on my part to the uniqueness of attitudes in that area and period. However, I also do not want to claim that each and every point I make will be valid for earlier periods of Arab-Islamic history.