Wednesday, April 20

Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women

Fascinating article. Here’s the abstract if you dont want to read the full paper.

If the absence of a specific terminology to denote lesbianism in medieval Europe seems to have compromised the production of scholarship about same-sex love and desire among women, the existence of the label sahq and sihaqa, musahaqat al-nisa’, or sahiqa(Arabic words for “lesbianism” and “lesbian,” respectively) in medieval Arabic writings did not result in a richer critical production. In fact, if relatively little research has been conducted on female same-sex desire in medieval Europe, even less has been produced on homosexuality in the medieval Arabic literary or Islamicate tradition, and almost no research at all has been done on medieval Arab Islamicate lesbianism. This state of scholarship into alternative sexual practices in the Arab Islamicate world is especially astonishing considering the survival of a noteworthy body of primary texts dealing precisely with this topic. Furthermore, if one broadens the category of medieval Arab lesbian to include women who were “lesbian-like,” as Judith Bennett has invited us to do in our construction of the history of Western female homosexuality, we uncover additional expressions of medieval Arab lesbian presence. For indeed, the cultural and social life of some women in certain medieval Arab courts, including their work and lifestyle, may well unveil unsuspected spaces in which same-sex activities might have occurred. If it is not always clear that these practices could be dubbed lesbian, they may well be considered lesbian-like.

But one should read this paper (its free to access), it talks about much that the current crop of mullah’s and morons say absolutely drivel about like the punishment for homosexuality etc. I quote:

Because the Qur’an did not prescribe a specific punishment for homosexuals, and despite general agreement among Islamic jurisprudents that homosexuality was one of the major sins (kaba’ir), there existed no onsensus regarding its punishment, which varied according to the traditional schools of Islamic legal thought (madhahib).
The Maliki school (which was the strictest one in this regard and followed especially in North Africa during the medieval era) considered liwat to be more serious than zina and thus deserving the harshest of hadd penalties (those defined in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and not left to the judge’s discretion), namely, stoning to death for both partners. This school is said, however, to have permitted homosexual practices between a man and his male slaves. The Shafi`i school (followed especially in Egypt and Syria) assimilated zina and liwat and thus
distinguished between married and unmarried homosexuals and between active and passive partners. It condemned partners accordingly to be stoned to death (if married) or lashed (if unmarried). The most “liberal” school, the Hanafi (the school associated with Iraq and with the Persian- and Turkishspeaking regions of the Islamic world), prescribed a ta`zir punishment, that is, a discretionary penalty aimed to punish, reform, and deter others and that amounted to no more than ten lashes and a term of imprisonment. It must be noted that all these punishments addressed liwat understood only as anal penetration by a man. Kissing, caressing, tafkhidh (intercrural intercourse), and the like, while considered reprehensible, were technically not liwat and
thus were not subject to these penalties. Though also considered a sin, sahq was generally deemed to be a less serious offense than liwat and the least serious form of zina, since it did not involve penetration by a man. It was hence given a lesser punishment than either liwat or zina, although its sentence varied also among different jurisprudents. While some theologians prescribed one hundred lashes, the eleventh-century
theologian from Córdoba, ibn Hazm, prescribed the ta`zir punishment (ten lashes, and it remains unclear whether a prison term was also required or not), and others did not penalize it at all. In most legal compendia of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) sahq is not even regularly addressed.

While reading this, an irreverent thought popped into my head, i wished that i could send this article to all the assorted mullahs and made them read it, i betcha several of the woollier sort will spontaneously self combust, heh.

No comments: