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Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature

3.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814774687
ISBN-10: 0814774687
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature
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  • Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800
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  • Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814774687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814774687
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Less than a third of this book is about homosexuality in present-day Muslim countries, but a major purpose of the book is to show that the repressiveness sponsored by contemporary "Islamicist fundamentalists" is not the only Muslim approach. Indeed, historically, accommodations to pederasty and to a few gender-variant individuals were made, and The Abode of Islam was far less hostile to same-sex eros and same-sex sex (so long as the insertees were young, effeminate, and/or non-Muslim) than Christendom.

This is not to say that homosexuality is part of the religion. As Roscoe's chapter shows, the area conquered/converted by Muslims had a history of accommodations of pederasty and gender-dichotomized homosexuality (the two types have been mixed in many places with entertainers who have been both young and effeminate). Murray's longest chapter on "the will not to know" about what anyone who looked or thought about what's going on has a wide utility (he specifically links it to Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" "policy").
The chapters on literature -- especially those of Jim Wafer -- push perhaps too hard for a homosexual (rather than homoerotic) readings. The line between "history" and `anthropology" is blurred, and the contemporary materials are mostly non-Arab, centering on Pakistan.
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Format: Paperback
Put aside the homophilism and the jargon, both of which are a bit strong, and what�s left is 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. Despite the title, they deal predominantly with men; lesbians are little known about.
As with so much else in the sexual realm, Islamic norms differ profoundly from Western ones. The authors establish several points: (1) Islam treats homosexuality far less harshly than does Judaism or Christianity. (2) Sex between men results in part from the segregation of women and in part from the poetic and folk heritage holding that the penetration of a pretty boy is the ultimate in sexual delight. (3) Sex between men is �frowned upon, but accepted� so long as the participants also marry and have children; and also if they keep quiet about this activity. (4) The key distinction is not hetero- vs. homosexual but active vs. passive; men are expected to seek penetration (with wives, prostitutes, males, animals); the only real shame is attached to serving in the female role. (5) Youths usually serve in the female role and can leave behind this shame by graduating to the male role. (6) The great Muslim emphasis on family life renders homosexuality far less threatening to Muslim societies than to Western ones (Muslim men seeking formally to marry each other remains unimaginable).
In the most startling parts of Islamic Homosexualities, Murray and Roscoe re-interpret important historical developments through the prism of male sex among Muslims.
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Format: Paperback
As someone training to be a scholar of the cultural history of the Ottoman Empire, I am absolutely appalled by the shoddy scholarship that has gone into the making of this book. For all its talk of correcting Eurocentrism in scholarly treatments of the "Islam" and the "Middle East", it relies on outdated Orientalist secondary sources to support the prevalence of "homosexuality" in the Islamic world, a claim that rests upon the anachronistic usage of the term and concept of homosexuality as we understand it today.

Moreover, the fact that most of the authors (and even the editors) do not know the languages of the societies they purport to discuss undermines the project from the very outset. It is sad that this is deemed acceptable to most audiences (and most reviewers here on amazon) when it comes to the Islamic world, whilst, anybody not knowing English today would not be deemed fit by these very same audiences to research American history.

The analysis often also clacks geographical or temporal specificity hereby bolstering the claim that Islamic societies and their cultural attitudes (to sexuality or to something else) have remind static over the centuries.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very compelling reading. Gay people are all over the world, and have always been.
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Had to read for a theology class. Very informative.
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