Religion is a holy text plus interpretations plus local culture plus local condition " As'as Abu Khalil in Habib The anthropologists' discovery that different societies Muslim teachings on homosexuality homosexual behaviours differently, brought some of them Muslim teachings on homosexuality state that homosexuality is a "cultural construct" influenced by local conceptions of gender, instead of Muslim teachings on homosexuality "sexual identity" as stated by essentialists.
In this paper I will try to reconcile constructivist and essentialist approaches in order to explore the hidden phenomenon of female homosexuality in Islamic countries, which has been largely
Muslim teachings on homosexuality within literature about women.
At first I will use a constructivist approach to understand Islamic negative attitude toward homosexuality, principally due to the binary notion of sexuality emphasized in the Qua'ran. Then, referring to the common conception of femininity, I will try to demonstrate how the apparent inexistence of lesbians in Muslim
Muslim teachings on homosexuality can be related with the prevalent patriarchal structure of such societies, where the status of the woman is mainly defined by Muslim teachings on homosexuality role as wife and mother.
In the second chapter I will to Habib's research to regain some essentialist assumptions and demonstrate that homosexual identities were existing before their social definition, categorization and historical problematization. An analysis of ancient Arabic literature shows that so called
Muslim teachings on homosexuality women" were diffused during the Middle Age in the Arabic countries and that they were engaged in long life relations, as with modern Western lesbians.
The fact that these references lack condemnation demonstrates that Islamic repressive discourse about homosexuality is connected with the historical rise of religious orthodoxy. The limited ethnographic data shows Muslim teachings on homosexuality the repressive discourse influences the self perceptions of Muslim lesbians who hardly accept their "sick and sinful" sexual inclinations.
Only very recently Muslim gays and lesbians started to show themselves and to advocate their rights as "creations of Allah's will", with the firm intention to reconcile their sexuality with religion. Activists are mainly connected through online forums, where they try to reform the Qua'ran by emphasizing its intrinsic humanism.
However the nascent Muslim LGBT lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender organizations are still weak in their countries of origin because of the spreading intolerance legitimated by repressive laws, causing them to settle in Western countries.
One exception is represented by Indonesia, where different gay and lesbian organizations are active within the territory in resisting to the program of Islamic moralization perpetrated by the State.
In fact Indonesian population seems not to be so adverse to homosexuality as in other Muslim countries. Referring to the work of Blackwood and Geertz I will show Muslim teachings on homosexuality the pre-colonial indigenous cosmology still influences the way Indonesian people perceive sexuality and that the late advent of Islam created a situation of religious syncretism and flexibility which pertains to repressive religious orthodoxy as in other Muslim countries.
In David Sonenschein declared the importance of the contribution that anthropology can bring to the study of homosexuality: In spite of the adverse cultural environment which considered the study of homosexuality as a "taboo topic", before the 60's there is no complete absence of anthropologists who deal with the issue within their work.
Fitzgerald mentions CarpentersWestermarckBenedictMead who can be considered the historical antecedents of constructivism, because they first introduced the idea that homosexuality is a "culture bond", i. The current etiological debate between constructivism and essentialism is based on the contrasted arguments which respectively consider homosexuality a culturally-driven 'way to behave', or instead a 'way of being' due with personal experiences or hormone imbalances.
Risman and Schwartz During the last decades the main exponents of constructivism tried to demonstrate how the causal importance of biology is weaker compared to the strong capacity that society has in influencing people's conceptions of sexuality.
Because every society is based on different beliefs and value structures, homosexuality assumes different connotations worldwide, which make an universal definition impossible - as McIntosh states:.
Homosexuality should be seen rather as a social role. Anthropological evidence shows that the role does not exist in all societies, and where it does it is not always Muslim teachings on homosexuality same as in modern western societies" She also focuses on the influence that society exercises on individuals through a process of labelling: Islamic idea of sexuality is based on a strict Muslim teachings on homosexuality between the two sex roles 2 and consequently sexual relations are legitimised Muslim teachings on homosexuality between the two members of the opposite sex.
According to the religious scholar Bouhdibain the Qua'ran physical love is not denied as in the Bible, but rather exalted: Through sexual intercourse, procreation happens as a repetition of the miracle of creation:.
In assuming it, man takes part in Muslim teachings on homosexuality divine work whose majesty is enough to give a new meaning to his existence. Sexuality is a deployment of Muslim teachings on homosexuality intensity of life". Sexuality acquires sacral value thanks to its creative and procreative function, which is possible only through the union of males and females, within the canonical framework of nikah legal marriage. Any other sexual relations outside the marriage is condemned as fornication and even more damned are the relations that are not based on sexual complementarity, because they defy
Muslim teachings on homosexuality bipolarity
Muslim teachings on homosexuality which the order and the harmony of the world lie:.
According to Bouhdiba's interpretation of the Qua'ran, male homosexuality constitutes "the depravity of depravities" and deserve the strongest castigation. It is still an object of religious debate over how to penalise homosexuals, but there are many jurists of Islam who consider capital punishment more appropriate in order to "maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements" Al-Quaradawi This aggressive and repulsed attitude is aggravated Muslim teachings on homosexuality the prejudiced connection that most Muslim people make between homosexuality and other deplorable activities as penetrative lust, sexual violence and aggressiveness.
This belief comes from the story of Lot, written in the Qua'ran, but already existing in the Bible: This passage is used Muslim teachings on homosexuality condemn fornication, sodomy and homosexuality, although there are other recent interpretations that demonstrate how the condemnation of homosexuality is only an extensive and mistaken interpretation of text BoellstorffHabibSiraj al-Haqq kugleSiraj Within this cultural and religious that so strongly condemns male homosexuality, female homosexuality is generally considered an unusual phenomenon, almost inexistent, scarcely mentioned in literature HabibSiraj Compared with male homosexuality, female homosexuality is treated with more
Muslim teachings on homosexuality, because Islamic jurists define sexual intercourse only as penile penetration, so sexual acts between two women are not considered real intercourse and cannot constitute fornication.
The story of Lot cannot be used to legitimate the religious prohibition of the practice because it implies sodomy, but some interpreters found in another passage of the Qua'ran an apparent reference to same-sex acts between women 3.
The passage, however, is very vague and it has been shown how this interpretation can be easily falsified through a careful lexical analysis of the Arabic text Habib Apart from the explicit Qua'ranic references, Muslim teachings on homosexuality main point against female homosexuality in Islamic countries is based on to the fact that a lesbian represents the antithesis of the ideal Muslim woman: Moreover, although religious texts exalt complementarity between the two sexes- and so equality, Muslim communities are largely patriarchal and women are generally in a condition of relative 'inferiority' and dependency of
Muslim teachings on homosexuality man who provides for them, because they often do not have access to wage work and their fraction of inheritance is very limited:.
Woman is the shadow of man, in the literal as well as the figurative sense. Everywhere denied, femininity hides itself and seeks refuge: The only real source of value she has is related to her capacity for having children, especially males. The number of children she has not only increase her prestige and reputation, but it represents also an element of security, because her sons will protect her from poverty and need.
A sterile woman
Muslim teachings on homosexuality highly devalued and she is destined to be only the servant of the second wife, if the husband decides not to repudiate her Bohudiba According to this social-construction of woman, a lesbian in Islamic country is destined to have no rights, protection and social recognition because her sexuality prevents her from contracting nikah and having children. As Siraj al-Haqq Kugle points out, lesbians in Muslim countries "face a dual challenge" Muslim teachings on homosexuality practical difficulties that Muslim lesbians have to face due to lack of autonomy and financial independence without a male protection and also the social condemnation derived from homophobic interpretations of the Qua'ran, can be considered an explanation of the apparent absence of female homosexuality within Arabic countries.
The constructivist approach is useful to analyse how homosexuality is conceived and performed cross-culturally, but at Muslim teachings on homosexuality same time is not exhaustive, because the strength of the factors that determine certain attitudes toward homosexuality within societies are characterized by historical discontinuity.
In order to criticize the increasing academic orthodoxy of the constructivist approach, Habib refers to Bowsellwho introduces the idea that the existence itself of homosexuality is not socially and historically determined, but rather socially problematized 4. Following Muslim teachings on homosexuality historical approach, Habib demonstrates that until the thirteenth century, female homosexuality was fairly common within Arabic countries.
She provides a rich and detailed overview Muslim teachings on homosexuality ancient literature which refers to homosexual attitudes between women: After a deep analysis of these references she is able to demonstrate that the way female homosexuality is performed and conceived in the Islamic Middle Age, is not so different from the Western modern representation of it, because most of them refer to long-life relations, instead of sporadic behaviours.
For this reason the author reclaims the validity Muslim teachings on homosexuality certain essentialist assumptions, which recognize the existence through the history of a universal Muslim teachings on homosexuality of Muslim teachings on homosexuality, composed by those individuals who not Muslim teachings on homosexuality behave as homosexuals, but actually are homosexuals. These references prove that lesbian women, apparently "inexistent" nowadays within Arabic countries, were not only numerous in the past but they were also mainly accepted and integrated within the society 5.
In fact the literature she reports is characterized by objectivity, tolerance or curiosity -in other words, there was no condemnation related with religious beliefs:. Within the literature the shift from speculative Muslim teachings on homosexuality to religious and moral condemnation is clear: According to Habib this new intolerant attitude in conceiving homosexuality is part of a broader change of economical and political climate which characterized Arabic countries during these years: The idea that different Muslim teachings on homosexuality periods are characterized by different systems of representations manifested through specific rules and practices, was already introduced by Foucault in the History of Sexuality Referring to Western-Christian countries he shows how the rising industrial bourgeois society, driven by a rising belief in rationality, created and spread new values, whose modern discourse about sex constituted an integrant part.
Sexuality became strictly regulated within defined bounds and all the behaviours which did not correspond to the "normality" became the object of public condemnation, although previously accepted or even ignored. The new morality of the Victorian Age worked as normative discourse, in fact all the manifestations of
Muslim teachings on homosexuality which were placed outside the "normality" were classified as "deviant" and deserved to be repressed.
This was possible because the dominant discourse was legitimized by powerful sources of knowledge as education, science and religion through different channels of communication, which continuously reconfirmed its truthfulness:. But it also happens that they are transmitted in a diffuse manner, so that, far from constituting a systematic ensemble, they form a complex interplay of elements that counterbalance and correct one another".
What happened in Arabic countries after the Middle Age was a progressive radicalization of religious belief which brought to the problematization and condemnation of homosexuality as social "deviance". Within the Islamic hegemonic discourse male homosexuality appeared as a dangerous perversion which has to be persecuted and punished as one of the worst crimes against morality; while female homosexuality was considered a sort of "mental disease" 7 which has to be treated in order to turn the individual back to "normality".
In this context the Muslim teachings on homosexuality of the media is determinant in reconfirming the spreading misconception about female homosexuality. The main character, depicted as the "victim" of her sinful condition, falls into same-sex relationships because she Muslim teachings on homosexuality afraid of men or because she is influenced by deviant Muslim teachings on homosexuality, who are usually obscured and confined to the margin of the films as authentically homosexual characters.
Moreover lesbian relationships are presented as driven by eroticism and lust, even with the addition of drugs and alcohol, while the final heterosexual ones are based on true love. In Foucaultian terms, the dominant discourse about female homosexuality within Arabic countries creates a powerful "regime of truth" which is passively accepted, legitimated by religious assumptions and reconfirmed by media representations.
In this context most of
Muslim teachings on homosexuality individuals who believe to have "abnormal" sexual inclinations live in a condition of personal struggle about their identity and try to hide themselves in order not to be marginalized. conducting her research about Muslim lesbians Siraj confirms these attitudes, even within Muslim communities of immigrants in United Kingdom:.
When she finally finds a years old Pakistani girl born in Glasgow, she refers to the difficulties that Muslim lesbians Muslim teachings on homosexuality, firstly in accepting themselves and after in admitting their sexual tendencies. Sofia 11 has disclosed her sexual inclinations to only five people, including her brother who advised her to "fix herself" through the help of a doctor.
As in the Egyptian films, her brother considers his sister's homosexuality as a transitory condition, but Sofia is aware that she will never get over it, although she Muslim teachings on homosexuality the possibility to have an homosexual relationship:. I just can't it, it sometimes feels wrong, it doesn't even come to my mind to be honest I think it's a lot easier and less complicated being on your own.
Also if I was to be with another person, I'd be throwing away so society, community, family, I mean, what they would think of me? Not only does Sofia repress her sexual inclinations because she is scared of the reaction of her community her family, but also makes herself consider her sexuality as
Muslim teachings on homosexuality because "it says in
Muslim teachings on homosexuality Qua'ran it is wrong" During her life she learnt all the negative conceptions of homosexuality and she passively internalized them until she arrived to reject her identity so much to think seriously about suicide:.
When I first I was a lesbian, I hated it.
I thought it was disgusting; I didn't want to be like them [gays]! I mean, what was I going Muslim teachings on homosexuality do? Sofia's encounter can be taken as representative of the condition of hidden Muslim lesbians who experience a deep incongruence between their spontaneous feelings and their religious belief, according to which they are sinful creatures BoellsorffHabib The refusal and the condemnation of the self is the expression of Muslim teachings on homosexuality struggle that these tormented individuals has to live with in order to not break the ties with the homophobic community they belong to.
According to the available literature, a common condition of gay and lesbian Muslims is the struggle to reconcile their religious belief with their sexuality BoellstorffMarchingShannahanSiraj al-Haqq KugleSiraj The fact that
Muslim teachings on homosexuality authorities condemn homosexuality as haram make these individuals perceive themselves as sinners or oblige them to choose between faith and sexual inclinations:.
Probably 90 to 99 percent of gay Muslim who have accepted their sexuality leave their faith. They don't see the chance for a reconciliation. The recent diffusion of websites managed by Islamic organizations of homosexuals activists like Al-FaithaImam, Safra etc created a cyber community aimed to help Muslim homosexuals to reconcile their sexuality with their religion.
According to Siraj al-Haqq Kugle these organizations have a double strategy, based on "resistance and renewal" In fact they resist the dominant interpretations of the Qua'ran used by scholars to condemn homosexuality, and also they advocate more ethical interpretations of the texts which exalt pluralism and the value of difference between God's creations They distinguish between 'homosexual acts' and 'homosexual identity' in order to affirm that the fact they were born non-heterosexual is part of Allah's plan, it is
Muslim teachings on homosexuality expression of a divine will and not a personal choice due to lust or perverse desires.
As a Javanese gay Muslim teachings on homosexuality teachings on homosexuality. It's only that I desire men. I know that God knows my feelings, knows that I like men.