"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Complicating the Convenient Narrative of Gay-Friendly Islam

I got annoyed by this ridiculous article from Gaystarnews, The secret gay history of Islam, which claims that homosexuality used to be accepted in the Islamic world and that it's the fault of Western colonialism (i.e. white people) that Muslims today are anti-LGBTs.

Indeed, with the line "How patriarchy transformed Islam" it explicitly equates Patriarchy with the West, ignoring such inconvenient facts like how in Islam a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's or how polygyny is okay but not polyandry.

Ironically, this article is Islamophobic as it assumes Muslims are so stupid and simple-minded that they have allowed Western influence to corrupt Islam without being aware of it.

Naturally, reality is a lot more complicated - and doesn't exactly make Islam look good:


Homoeroticism and Homosexuality in Islam: A Review

"As contemporary Western gays often, wrongly, assume Islam to be more well disposed to gay culture than the Christian-Judaeo tradition, homosexual sex-tourism to Muslim countries and the considerable number of gay converts to Islam have played a signif‌icant role in making modern Western sexuality visible in the Islamic world (Duran, 1993: 186). One result, especially in the more conservative Islamic states, has been a growing tendency to repress homosexual practices (Sofer, 1992: 131—49). Any attempt to form a movement for gay rights in the Islamic world is seen as yet another symptom of ‘ Westernization ’...

The Quran explicitly condemns homosexual acts without, however, indicating a specif‌ic punishment. Whereas some traditions of the Prophet display tolerance of homoerotic desires, others report the Prophet to have said that both the active and the passive partner must be killed. The jurists differed in their opinions as to the severity of the punishment, ranging from f‌lagellation to death by stoning. However, as in the case of adultery, proof is diff‌icult to establish (Pellat, 1986: 776~7; Duran, 1993: 181—4). With variations over space and time, the legal provisions remained to a large extent theoretical, and the frequency of homosexual practices in the Islamic world is well attested by a variety of sources, such as prose romances, poetry, adab literature, dreambooks, and legal and medical literature. Moreover, Islamic law condemned homosexual practice, not homoerotic sentiment. Mutual attraction between males was unanimously viewed to be perfectly natural and normal. Islamic civilization being essentially phallocratic, the role of the penetrator in the sexual act is considered dominant and superior. His social respectability remains untouched by his sexual practice, regardless of the nature or gender of the object of penetration. Homosexuality between an adult male and a pubescent boy seems to have been widely practised in Islamic societies. As long as the penetrated was a boy who was not yet virile, his masculinity was not regarded as compromised by his taking the passive role. In contrast to other cultures (e.g. Melanesia), however, age-structured homosexuality was apparently never regarded as a sexual initiation promoting or accomplishing the masculinization of boys. Being sodomized by an older male was sometimes even perceived as bringing disgrace upon the boy's family. Passive homosexuality in adults (ubna) was considered pathological (Rosenthal, 1978: passim). For an adult male, it was an unspeakable disgrace to act as a passive partner (ma'bun).

In contrast, the Judaeo-Christian tradition not only condemned homosexual practices but also considered individuals with proclivities towards members of their own sex to be abnormal and perverted, without making any distinction between the penetrator and the penetrated. Unlike the Islamic tradition, it also repudiated sexual pleasure of all kinds as detrimental to salvation and spirituality... whereas turn of the century homosexuality was still patterned by gender (third-gendered), modern Western homosexuality since the Second World War has been predominantly egalitarian: both partners define themselves as gay regardless of who penetrates whom...

Stephen 0. Murray ('The will not to know: Islamic accommodations of male homosexuality') shows how the apparent tolerance of homosexual practices in Islamic societies depends on a widespread and enduring pattern of collective denial in which a condition of the pursuit of homosexual activity, whether based on age difference or gender definition, is that the behaviour should never be publicly acknowledged. Even so, he demonstrates that homosexual roles, both age- and gender-defined homosexual roles, were lexicalized in the various pre-modern and modern Islamic languages. Murray (' Women-woman love in Islamic societies') also reviews the few and scattered references to woman-woman sexual relations in Islamic societies and shows that the widespread assumptions of harems as hotbeds of tribadism are based almost exclusively on male (both Western and Muslim) assumptions and fantasies rather than on reliable evidence or direct observations... Jim Wafers's article, 'Muhammad and male homosexuality', a revised version of a chapter of his MA thesis (' Sacred and profane love in Islam: dimensions of gay religious history', Indiana University, 1986), sets out to formulate a theological accommodation of homosexuality within Islam. For this purpose he first reviews the reference to same-sex practices in the Quran and Sunna and then puts forward an interesting, albeit far-fetched argument for a homology between submission to the will of Allah and the sexual submission of young males to other males.

Homoerotic phenomena in Islamic literatures are the subject of part 2 of the book, 'Literary studies'. This includes three chapters which examine medieval Persian, Arabic and Turkish writings, seeking to disentangle the corporeal from the ethereal in their extensive invocations of and discourses on love...

The pervasive homoerotic motifs in classical Arabic literature, often employed as metaphors, parody or satire, convey meanings that reach well beyond the superficial and polemical misreadings of early Western writers, who simply interpreted them as evidence of the sexual culture of Muslim societies. It thereby both confirms the pervasiveness of homoerotic symbolism in Arabic literature and demonstrates its complexity...

Just as the Quran can only be understood through the imagery of pre-Islamic poetic imagery, Arabic poetic imagery can only be fully understood with reference to the Quran. Analysing Abu 'l-'Ala' al-Ma'arri's description of the delights of the Garden in his Risalat al-Ghufrdn, in which he freely mixes paraphrase and quotation from the Quran with quotations from poetry, Stetkevych shows that poetic and quranic imagery both employ a standard group of topoi associated with wine (i.e. other liquids such as honey, milk, etc., the slave-girl songstress or musician, the cupbearer (saqi), spices or perfumes and pearls) which spring from a single archetype and are of always apparent topoi. While these topoi symbolize immortality and salvation in heavenly contexts, they are illicit and damning when not referred to as the delights of heaven...

Franz Rosenthal's ('Male and female: described and compared') is a meticulous survey of the literary genre of comparative debate (Rangstreit) on the relative qualities of girls and beardless boys from the third/ninth to the sixth/twelfth centuries, and gives an exposition of epigrammatic descriptions of boys and girls in verse in the ninth/fifteenth century. He shows that feelings and emotions have no place in these genres and that they served first and foremost as exercises in technical skill and literary artistry... From the evidence of these two texts Rowson concludes that, although they presuppose a society in which male erotic attraction to males is assumed to be natural, that society nevertheless imposes constraints on homosexual eroticism which encourage its treatment in terms of either sublimated frustration (al- Safadi) or antinomian indulgence (Ibn Daniyal)."


Presumably pederasty (aka the rape of boys) is preferable to homophobia.

Islamic Homosexuality

"One of the most striking features of homosexuality in general is that it is far more prevalent in males than in females worldwide (Symons 1979, Ellis and Ames 1987). This male excess is part of an overall pattern of male overrepresentation in all kinds of sexual variance: sexual paraphilias, or misplaced sexual attraction occur almost exclusively among males. Men and women follow quite different reproductive strategies; it may be that male homosexuality and adjunct sexual paraphilias arouse as a consequence of women’s control of the reproductive agendas in our natural environments (Gallup and Suarez 1983). Since women are selected to be more cautious and to delay sex, men are counter-selected to become seductive, urgent and demanding. As young males are neither patient nor skilled and have poor access to females, they may turn from frustration to their own sex for sexual outlet. In another way, homosexual men are men first and homosexual second (Symons 1979). Homosexual men behave in many ways like heterosexual men, only more so. Sexual relationships among homosexuals are not constrained by the necessity to compromise male and female desires and dispositions. Male, but not female, psychology should have evolved to value sexual variety and the maximization of numbers of sexual partners. Gayness is a male behavior...

Islamic societies are characterized by a "social stratification with a controlling patrilineal elite and a large poverty class, seclusion of women, and a decentralized political system involving individual political networks," where patrilineal inheritance results in intense paternity concern, with the seclusion and devaluation of women as household workers and childbearers, dangerous to men (Murray and Roscoe 1987: 310). Muslims "often have believed that there is a singular Islam that is a ‘macrocosm’, the ‘Islamic world’, which is presumed to share familiar interpretations and arrangements" (Roscoe and Murray 1987: 4). However, despite important similarities both across time and space, what different, multiple Islamic societies have in common is that they allow polygyny, where a man can have up to four wives at one time. Also, they share in the common seclusion of women, "a social system in which access to women is rigorously restricted" (Wikan 1977: 314).

The law survey referring to sodomy in Muslim states shows that there is no uniform legal position in relation to sex among males, even among states that have a penal code based on the shari’a (Sofer 1992). Various interpretations of Muhhamad’s word have co-existed. However, in general, states that have instituted shari’a regard sodomy as illegal. First Muhammad, and then many Islam religious schools have condemned sodomy between males, some arguing for severe punishment. There are numerous hadith of varying degrees of authenticity concerning homosexual relations between two men- anal intercourse- that harshly condemn it (Ali 2006). The major sins or enormities, complied by medieval Muslim scholars include "anal intercourse between men" and "having intercourse with livestock" (Ali 2006: 76). Some argue for stoning of "those who practice sodomy, both the passive and the active", and some even insist on the death penalty (Wafer 1987: 89), nevertheless, the penalty was rarely passed in medieval or modern Muslim states. Murray (1997), for example, referred to the homosexual practice between males in Muslim societies as "an open secret", or "the will not to know". There was an omniaccepted thought that males like to penetrate desirable youths and that this desire was perfectly "normal", that is, they were not considered "homosexuals" in a modern sense of the word (Ali 2006). In general, Muslim societies accepted the ancient Mediterranean model based on ranked relationships of penetration, where no stigma was attached to an adult male who penetrates but where a free adult male who allows himself to be penetrated suffers stigma. And though Islam could be seen as "religion of peace" and the successor of Judaism and Christianity at the level of religious philosophy, there is nevertheless one area that one of the most basically outlined differences between the practices of the Islam and Christianity can be seen. The Christian Church beliefs contrast greatly with the polygamous traditions of the Muslim community. Traditionally, Islam has promoted large families, polygamous marriages and numerous children in order to help increase the number of followers of the Islamic faith. In the Christian tradition, the marriage of a man to more than one woman or vice versa is strictly forbidden.

Historian Trexler (1995) argued that the scarcity of women helps explain male homosexualities: in polygynous societies, in so-called harem cultures, the relations between men depend in part upon men’s access to women. "Males kept apart from women through war as well as through domestic ‘asylums’ such as harems or prisons or nunneries will often cultivate homosexual relations" (Trexler 1995: 23). Even in medieval Christian Europe, Trexler argued, there seems to have existed an inverse ratio between male homosexual behavior and the availability of women...

In late medieval Italy, for example, the fewer the available women or prostitutes, the more male homosexual behavior seems to have occurred. And in the fifteenth century, the Florentine government made female prostitutes available to young men because, they thought, the males would consort with each other (Trexler 1995: 51)...

Geanakoplos (1979) argued that most notable tract about homosexuality in the entire medieval period was written by an eleventhcentury Italian monk, Peter Damian, whose Liber Gommorhanium reflects his alarm at the spread of homosexuality among clergy and monks. Especially horrifying to him was the incidence of such acts between a monastic "spiritual" father and his "spiritual" son (Geanakoplos 1979: 366). In the West, the celibacy rule for priests, imposed by the Roman Church, met with violent resistance in the beginning; elimination of heterosexual outlets for priests only fostered the development of homosexual feelings (Greenberg 1988: 283). Greenberg (1988) argued that this is especially likely to happen in a single-sex milieu, where contact with members of the opposite sex is entirely cut off, as in monasteries, or in the case of celibate priests.

On the other hand, Eastern Orthodox Church required that its priests be married. Boswell (1980) argued that monasteric homosexuality was widespread in Western Europe: when women became off-limits, homosexuality was widely practiced...

Alternatively, the Christian laity solved the problem of the single-sex milieu differently. The 16th century Spanish army is said to have taken women and prostitutes on their expeditions. In 1532 the Ferrarese chronicler Bianchi praised the Iberians for their many prostitutes by referring to the evils that arose because they were absent from other armies (Trexler 1995: 52). Female prostitutes that accompanied the army also prevented rapes of native women. But, as Trexler pointed out, the great disadvantage was the endless battles within the army over who had a right to the sexual services of such women. In general, Trexler argued, European governments of this age sought to avoid conflicts over women by hiring a limited number of prostitutes, either from home or on the road, who would serve all troops in common (Trexler 1995: 53). Thus, easily available women played a central role in military settings by providing both domestic services and ongoing sexual services, preventing homosexual relations which frequently occur in all-male environments.

And while medieval Europeans were employing female prostitutes to prevent male homosexual behavior and rape of females, Islamic countries did the same by keeping male prostitutes...

[In Islam] The rules of penal procedure are extremely strict. Only oral testimony by eye witnesses is admitted. Trustworthy Muslim men must testify that they have seen "the key entering the hole" or the culprit must confess four times. Since there is severe punishment for an unproven accusation, the punishment was rarely carried out (Sofer 1992: 132).

Not only was the punishment rarely carried out, but some religious authorities authorized intercourse with males, provided that they were not Muslim, making relations with non-Muslim slaves captured or purchased from abroad acceptable (Trexler 1995)...

Tolerance of male homosexuality in Arab and other traditional Muslim societies may be explained by the existence of polygyny: the sexual availability of boys and effeminate men protects female virtue. Arab nomadic tribes had harems even before Muhammad appeared. Even some Muslim medieval writers argued for a similar point, arguing that male homosexual behavior is to be explained by the scarcity of women, or to avoid scandalous pregnancies. For example, the ninth-century savant Al-Jahiz claimed that homosexual behavior was unknown to Islam until, tragically, the Abbasid Abu Muslim refused to allow his army to have any contact with women; that isolation caused the fighting men to seek out boys, and once that practice was established, it became a cultural avocation (Trexler 1995: 52)...

Still today, in the central land of Islam, there is a strong separation between the domestic sphere of women and children and the public sphere of men. It is said that a man has the right to penetrate and his duty is to lie on top; in the past, sodomization of one’s own slaves or a Christian was not only sanctioned by public opinion, but by some jurists as well (Schmitt 1992: 2). Also, the hierarchy appears to be very important...

In the societies of Muslim North Africa and South-West Asia male-male sexuality plays an important role; according to Schmitt (1992), it is selfevident that men like to penetrate all kinds of beings. But, the desire is not "doing": many a devout Muslim will have resisted and taken comfort in the prophet’s saying "Who passionately loves and remains chaste, is a martyr", that is, he goes to heaven directly (Schmitt 1992: 5). This is how male homosexuality is explained: it is actually easy to impress boys, since in this respect they are similar to women, who have less experience and less knowledge of the world than men; on the other side, boys are less strange to men than women -- after all, the feelings of a boy were once one’s own. It seems that boys who like to have anal intercourse are called "fuckees". Schmitt (1992) explains that if things are done discreetly and if the fuckee marries and gets children, nobody cares. Also, another important aspect: when the sodomised become the one who does the sodomy, it is best not to talk about it. If "…a man gets fucked, one forgets it or it was due to the alcohol or he pretends not to have enjoyed it" (Schmitt 1992: 16). Further, if a man is married and a father, he can have boy lovers; boys are doing it for some extrasexual benefit, like gifts, favors, help from a well-placed man, and if the boy is poor, even for the money. But the boy must stop at the age of about 16: the longer he continues the quicker he gives in to advances, the worse for his reputation. A grown up man should not allow others to have intercourse with him; otherwise, he loses his name, his honor, etc. There is a clear rule: you cannot be fucked because it disturbs social relations if it becomes known (Schmitt 1992: 7). Also, not so much getting fucked, as enjoying it, is considered bad-- to show that a man likes it, increases the stigma. If a man suffers the penetration, more or less because a man gets something in return, or because a man was forced to do it, it is all bad; but to enjoy it, it is even worse.

To most Muslims, anal lust is not really unnatural; one has to avoid being buggered precisely in order not to acquire a taste for it, and thus become addicted. Males stop with this activity around 15-16 years of age, and forget that they ever allowed such a thing. But, Schmitt (1992: 21) argues, with the coming of tourism, sex with women is much easier, since young males can approach many tourist girls and women; because of this, the 16 to 30 year olds no longer depend on their young cousins and neighbors for gratifications. Also, with white males, an oriental youth gets paid for his services with cash, food and gifts. The tourists even offer the possibility of getting buggered without anybody knowing about it.

This is how De Martino (1992) reports on modern Morocco: sodomy is very common, one does it, but does not talk about it. De Martino (1992: 25) notes that male homosexuality is due to the inaccessibility of women and to the character of relations between boys and men. Because of poverty, it is common to find a young man to prostitute himself for a movie ticket, a few nickels or small gift. Also, there is a special category of young boys, between 9 to 17 years of age, called zamel; they are used by their cousins, teachers and neighbors, whether they like it or not. They are taken by force sometimes, intimidation, by seduction, by presents, or by "natural right". A boy zamel has to take all the advances until he reaches 16 years of age; at that time, he becomes a "man" and loses all of his admirers; now he starts to get involved with boys and tries to court girls...

One has to "pay for a woman", one way or the other (Symons 1979): "The sexual problem of the young man is acute. They’re poor, and love is expensive. They don’t have enough money to pay for a girl, still less to marry and set up a household, so they turn to homosexuals" (Murray 1995: 64.)...

There is an apparent tolerance of male homosexuality in Islamic societies, both medieval and modern. Extensive evidence from Koran and hadith point out to the gravity of homosexual acts; nevertheless, the most serious sin is illicit sex between a man and a woman, followed directly by anal intercourse between men. Yet, this explicit condemnation of male homosexuality in Islamic thought has been tempered by tactic tolerance for its practice, provided some degree of discretion is observed."
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes