Female Homosexuality in medieval Arabo-Islamic Literature

When: Thursday, May 12 · 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Where: Fireside Room at Starr King School for the Ministry, 2441 Le Conte Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709.

What: Public lecture


Tonight’s presentation provides a survey reading and discussion of instances in Muslim histories, cultures, and societies where religiosity was playful not punitive, where the sexual body was inscribed with markers of pleasure and not those of perdition. By exploring instances within the vast Arabian Islamic Empire that negate impressions about Muslim cultures as eternally monolithic, conservative, and orthodox, we can come to a better and more nuanced understanding of the complexities of former and contemporary Muslim civilizations. The question of gay and lesbian human rights in the Muslim world is a topical and pressing one, and the need now for alternative ways of approaching Islam in the modern world is more important than ever. The answers to today’s modern crisis in human rights for LGBTIQ people lies in looking at the past and highlighting elements that can assist in the creation of a more equitable future. The material for this presentation, gleaned from Habib’s Arabo-Islamic Texts on Female Homosexuality (New York: Teneo, 2009) brings to the English reader an array of surviving texts penned by Muslim scholars discussing female same-sex desire. From the tolerant days of the Abbasid caliphate to the celebratory text of Yusuf Tifashi in the thirteenth century and onwards toward growing strictures and greater intolerance.


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