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Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature

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The dramatic impact of Islamic fundamentalism in recent years has skewed our image of Islamic history and culture. Stereotypes depict Islamic societies as economically backward, hyper-patriarchal, and fanatically religious. But in fact, the Islamic world encompasses a great diversity of cultures and a great deal of variation within those cultures in terms of gender roles and sexuality.

The first collection on this topic from a historical and anthropological perspective, Homosexuality in the Muslim World reveals that patterns of male and female homosexuality have existed and often flourished within the Islamic world. Indeed, same-sex relations have, until quite recently, been much more tolerated under Islam than in the Christian West.

Based on the latest theoretical perspectives in gender studies, feminism, and gay studies, Homosexuality in the Muslim World includes cultural and historical analyses of the entire Islamic world, not just the so-called Middle East. Essays show both age-stratified patterns of homosexuality, as revealed in the erotic and romantic poetry of medieval poets, and gender-based patterns, in which both men and women might, to varying degrees, choose to live as members of the opposite sex. The contributors draw on historical documents, literary texts, ethnographic observation and direct observation by both Muslim and non-Muslim authors to show the considerable diversity of Islamic societies and the existence of tolerated gender and sexual variances.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fascinating and eye-opening book about a topic much hinted at but little considered systematically. The authors not only have the benefit of knowing homosexuality in many other societies but are well grounded in matters Islamic."

-Middle East Quarterly,

"Islamic Homosexualities clearly suceeds...a valuable addition to any library or interested reader's bookshelf."

-Journal of Homosexuality

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814774687
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Will Roscoe is the award-winning author of The Zuni Man/Womanand Queer Spirits: A Gay Men's Myth Book and the editor of Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology and Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of its Founder by Harry Hay.

Stephen O. Murray is a comparative sociologist who lives in San Francisco. He is the author of American Gay, Latin American Male Homosexualities, Oceanic Homosexualities, and a half dozen other books.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 The Will Not to Know: Islamic Accommodations of Male Homosexuality 14
3 Precursors of Islamic Male Homosexualities 55
4 Muhammad and Male Homosexuality 87
5 Woman-Woman Love in Islamic Societies 97
6 Vision and Passion: The Symbolism of Male Love in Islamic Mystical Literature 107
7 Corporealizing Medieval Persian and Turkish Tropes 132
8 Male Love and Islamic Law in Arab Spain 142
9 Male Homosexuality, Inheritance Rules, and the Status of Women in Medieval Egypt: The Case of the Mamluks 161
10 Homosexuality among Slave Elites in Ottoman Turkey 174
11 Male Homosexuality in Ottoman Albania 187
12 The Balkan Sworn Virgin: A Cross-Gendered Female Role 197
13 Some Nineteenth-Century Reports of Islamic Homosexualities 204
14 Gender-Defined Homosexual Roles in Sub-Saharan African Islamic Cultures 222
15 Institutionalized Gender-Crossing in Southern Iraq 233
16 The Sohari Khanith 244
17 Male Actresses in Islamic Parts of Indonesia and the Southern Philippines 256
18 Two Baluchi Buggas, a Sindhi Zenana, and the Status of Hijras in Contemporary Pakistan 262
19 The Other Side of Midnight: Pakistani Male Prostitutes 267
20 Not-So-Gay Life in Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s 275
21 Two Islamic AIDS Education Organizations 297
22 Conclusion 302
Appendix 321
Authors 323
Index 325
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