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Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800
Attitudes toward homosexuality in the pre-modern Arab-Islamic world are commonly depicted as schizophrenic—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 ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published November 1st 2005)
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Gender in Islamic Cultures
96th out of 111 books — 6 voters
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It's an excellent book, and one that doesn't really require any prior knowledge to tackle. Khaled El-Rouayheb essentially argues that much of the Middle East had more nuanced attitudes toward behaviors that would nowadays be categorized as "homosexual" -- essentially, that our modern binary of "homosexuality" vs "heterosexuality" was an import. To prove his point, El-Rouayheb uses poems, (unintentionally funny) travelogues, biographical texts, and interpretations of the Quran/Shariah law on almo ...more
Meticulously researched book on the lack of concept/binary of homo-hetero in pre-modern Arab world. Drawing from legal/juristic literature and poetry author make striking conclusions. Reference and citation of a pre-modern literature can be seen in almost every page.It is commonplace today to say that Islam, as a religion, disapproves of “homosexuality.” In fact, the author points out that it was only in the early part of the 20th century that Western attitudes toward same-sex love began to be i ...more
Seeks to undo anachronisms: before the modern concepts of sexuality and of homosexuality – this latter ‘new and indiscriminate’ so that in its hindsight Islamic societies seemed to have an inconsistency or illogic on the subject. They made sense to themselves in their own terms, and this explains the different distinctions then in use. A chaste passion for beauty, whether of woman or boy, might be defended by religious jurists, idealised as divine by Sufis and considered a polite acquirement. Th ...more
A meticulous study of Ottoman Arabic sources that basically affirms Foucault's thesis about pre-modern sexuality. El-Rouayheb's constructionist interpretation is likely to offend essentalists like Samar Habib, but remains quite compelling.