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 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.
“This is the best contribution to the history of homosexuality I have read in some time. For centuries, Arabic-Islamic cultures have been notorious for their occasional celebration and practice of male homosexuality. Western travelers have talked about it and, in some cases, Western novels and scholarship have portrayed or alluded to it. Yet, there has never been a reliable or systematic treatment of the topic—that is, until now. Working from an impressive range of primary sources that include poetic, theological, Koranic, historical, legal, and literary texts, Khaled El-Rouayheb, with this book, fills an important gap in our knowledge about the nature of attitudes toward male eroticism in the early modern Arab-Islamic world.”
“Khaled El-Rouayheb’s book is a very useful corrective to those views that have misinterpreted and misrepresented premodern Islamic attitudes toward homoeroticism, or that have ignored them altogether. In addition, it is a welcome contribution to the study of a period in the history of Arabic literature that is still very much under researched. Not for the prudish, it is a provocative, serious, and eminently readable study.”
Chapter One: Pederasts and Pathics
Chapter Two: Aesthetes
Chapter Three: Sodomites