By Khaled El-Rouayheb
Attitudes towards homosexuality within the pre-modern Arab-Islamic international are typically depicted as schizophrenic—visible and tolerated on one hand, prohibited via 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 specific tradition reacts with some extent of tolerance or intolerance. Drawing on poetry, biographical literature, drugs, dream interpretation, and Islamic texts, he exhibits that the tradition of the interval lacked the idea that of homosexuality. “Meticulously researched, lucidly written, nuanced, and brilliantly conceived, [the booklet] forthrightly takes on advanced concerns surrounding the tradition of same-sex eroticism that existed within the Arabic-speaking lands of the early sleek Ottoman Empire. . . . an immense e-book by means of a superb 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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Additional info for Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800
A homosexual can be recognized by the way he stares directly at one, this direct gaze often being followed by a wink. The typical homosexual has thin legs with hairy ankles and tends to wear robes which reach right down to the ground. 25 Chapters 6-8 of al-Tīfāshīʾs book are in fact devoted to al-lāṭā (plural of lūṭī) and al-murd al-muʾājirīn. Even a cursory reading of the Arabic text (to which Irwin did not have access) reveals that the former term refers to adult men who desire to sodomize boys—that is, to “pederasts” rather than “homosexuals” —while the term murd muʾājirīn refers to beardless boy prostitutes who render sexual services to al-lāṭā.
Another distinction is that between passionate infatuation (ʿishq) and sexual lust—emphasizing this distinction was important for those who would argue for the religious permissibility of the passionate love of boys. A third distinction centers on exactly what sexual acts were involved—Islamic law prescribed severe corporal or capital punishment for anal intercourse between men, but regarded, say, kissing, fondling, or non-anal intercourse as less serious transgressions. 20 Proceeding on the basis of an unquestioned “essentialist” assumption, many historians have assumed that their task is to point out the extent to which “pederasty” or “homosexuality” was practiced or tolerated, and perhaps to offer explanations of this phenomenon.
S. Sonnini, who visited Egypt between 1777 and 1780, made a similar observation:The passion contrary to nature ... the inconceivable appetite which dishonored the Greeks and Persians of antiquity, constitute the delight, or, to use a juster term, the infamy of the Egyptians. 4 However, their claims receive support from the fact that Muslim travelers who “rediscovered Europe” in the first half of the nineteenth century found it noteworthy that the men there did not court or eulogize male youths.