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Islamic Homosexualities

edited by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe


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“The contributions in this collection reveal consistent patterns of Islamic homosexualities that can be traced over the course of centuries, from age-differentiated relations (whether the idealized love of boys ...or the sexual use of young male entertainers, dancers, and military cadets) to alternative gender statuses.”
—Stephen Murray & Will Roscoe

The dramatic impact of Islamic fundamentalism in recent years has skewed our image of Islamic history and culture. In Western stereotypes, Islamic societies are economically backward, hyper-patriarchal, and fanatically religious. But the Islamic world encompasses a great diversity of cultures and, as we are now beginning to discover, a great deal of variation in terms of gender roles and sexuality. Patterns of male and female homosexuality have existed and sometimes flourished within the Islamic world. Islamic Homosexualities reveals that same-sex relations have, until quite recently, been much more tolerated under Islam than in the Christian West.



Part I: Introduction to Islamic Homosexualities

Introduction by Will Roscoe and Stephen O. Murray

The Will Not to Know: Islamic Accommodations of Male Homosexuality by Stephen O. Murray

Precursors of Islamic Male Homosexualities by Will Roscoe

Muhammad and Male Homosexuality by Jim Wafer

The Scattered References to Woman-Woman Love in Islamic Societies by Stephen O. Murray

Part II: Literary Studies

Vision and Passion: The Symbolism of Male Love in Islamic Mystical Literature by Jim Wafer

Corporealizing Medieval Persian and Turkish Tropes by Stephen O. Murray

Male Love and Islamic Law in Arab Spain by Louis Crompton

The articles in this collection reveal both age-stratified patterns of male homosexuality, as seen 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 or, indeed, a third gender status.

Islamic Homosexualities offers both cultural and historical analysis based on the theoretical perspectives of gender studies, feminism and lesbian/gay studies. Topics range from historical patterns of male homosexuality in medieval Persia, Spain and Egypt to the more recently documented "sworn virgins" of the Balkans (women who forswear marriage and live as men) and the alternative gender statuses of the male khanith in Oman and the female mustergil in southern Iraq. Chapters include contemporary ethnography as well as reviews of historical evidence.

Part III: Historical Studies

Male Homosexuality, Inheritance Rules, and the Status of Women in Medieval Egypt: The Case of the Mamluks by Stephen O. Murray

Homosexuality Among Slave Elites in Ottoman Turkey by Stephen O. Murray

Male Homosexuality in Ottoman Albania by Stephen O. Murray

The Balkan Sworn Virgin: A Cross-Gendered Female Role by Mildred Dickemann

Some Nineteenth Century Reports of Islamic Homosexualities by Stephen O. Murray

Gender-Defined Homosexual Roles in Sub-Saharan African Islamic Cultures by Stephen O. Murray

Part IV: Anthropological Studies

Institutionalized Gender-Crossing in Southern Iraq by Sigrid Westphal-Helbush (trans. Bradley Rose)

The Sohari Khanith by Stephen O. Murray

Male Actresses in Islamic Parts of Indonesia and the Southern Philippines by Stephen O. Murray

Two Baluchi Buggas, a Sindhi Zenana, and the Status of Hijras in Contemporary Pakistan by Nauman Naqvi and Hasan Mujtaba

The Other Side of Midnight: Pakistani Male Prostitutes by Hasan Mutjaba

Not-So-Gay Life in Pakistan in the 1980s and 90s by Badruddin Khan

Two Islamic AIDS Education Organizations by Eric Allyn and Stephen O. Murray

Conclusion by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe