In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Homosexuality

  • Introduction

Islamic Studies Homosexuality
Samar Habib
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0113


Western travelers to the Orient furnished writing and observations on same-sex sexual practices in Muslim lands in the Early Modern period. Prior to these observers, in the premodern period, scholars from the Arab world, under the patronage of various Islamic caliphates, wrote about human sexual behavior and desires. Some categories of desire constructed by these scholars, as well as subject positions, are comparable to the contemporary understanding of homosexuality as an erotic preference for members of the same sex. However, much debate about this specific issue has preoccupied contemporary scholars looking into the sexual ethos of premodern subjects in Islamic contexts. For many scholars, no homosexuals are to be found in the premodern Muslim world, in the sense that we moderns understand homosexuality. As such, the construction of this article may be rendered problematic in light of such debates and it is something of which we need to be mindful. However, a vast body of premodern literature from various Islamic geographies and temporalities provide incontrovertible evidence that Muslim scholars of the medieval world fashioned conceptions and categories for sexual behavior and erotic preferences.

Metacognition of Islam and Homosexuality

This section contains articles that discuss our thinking about thinking about homosexuality in Islam. What does it mean to think about both Islam and homosexuality? Who produces such knowledge and for what purposes? Theories of identity, culture, gender, and sexuality come together here to produce an epistemology of Islam and homosexuality.

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