Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800

Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800

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Description

Attitudes toward homosexuality in the premodern Arab-Islamic world are commonly depicted as schizophrenic - it was visible and tolerated on one hand, prohibited by Islam on the other. Khaled El-Rouayheb argues that this apparent paradox is based on the anachronistic assumption that homosexuality is a timeless, self-evident fact to which a particular culture reacts with some degree of tolerance or intolerance. Drawing on poetry, biographical literature, medicine, dream interpretation, and Islamic texts, he shows that the culture of the period lacked the concept of homosexuality.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 15.24mm | 317.51g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0226729893
  • 9780226729893
  • 438,309

Back cover copy

Attitudes toward male homosexuality in the premodern Arab-Islamic world are commonly depicted as inconsistent. On the one hand, Arabic love poetry, biographical works, and bawdy satires suggest that homosexuality was a visible and tolerated part of Arab-Islamic elite culture before the nineteenth century. On the other hand, Islam supposedly considers homosexuality an abomination and prescribes severe punishment for it.

In Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800, Khaled El-Rouayheb shows that this apparent paradox is based on the anachronistic assumption that homosexuality is a timeless, self-evident fact to which a particular culture reacts with some degree of tolerance or intolerance. Drawing on poetry, belles lettres, biographical literature, medicine, physiognomy, dream interpretation, and Islamic legal, mystical, and homiletic texts, he shows that the culture of the period lacked the concept of homosexuality. Instead, paramount importance was given to distinctions that are not captured by that term--between active and passive sexual roles, between passionate infatuation and lust, and between penetrative and nonpenetrative intercourse.

The first book-length treatment on the perceptions and evaluations of male homoeroticism in premodern Arab-Islamic culture, this book will become a welcome and frequently referred to addition to the bookshelves of readers interested in the history of sexuality, Islamic history, Arabic literature, gay and lesbian studies, and the history of ideas.
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Review quote

"Meticulously researched, lucidly written, nuanced, and brilliantly conceived, the book forthrightly takes on complex issues surrounding the culture of same-sex eroticism that existed in the Arabic-speaking lands of the early modern Ottoman Empire.... An important book by an excellent scholar." - Journal of Religion "Rectifies many... prejudices and misinterpretations in a masterly fashion." - Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies "A remarkably learned volume that provides an excellent introduction to a long-neglected area of study in the English-speaking world.... A trenchant, insightful, and even brilliant book." - Gay and Lesbian Review"
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About Khaled El-Rouayheb

Khaled El-Rouayheb is assistant professor of Islamic intellectual history in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.
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Rating details

117 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 28% (33)
4 47% (55)
3 21% (25)
2 3% (4)
1 0% (0)
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