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.
About the author
Khaled El-Rouayheb is assistant professor of Islamic intellectual history in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.
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