The American Muslim landscape is suffused with mosque bookstores, independent book distributors, online retailers, and convention stalls offering English-speaking Muslims Islamic advice texts on a wide array of topics. Common among these popularly oriented writings are titles pertaining to veiling, gender relations, marriage, and sexuality. This paper examines this particular segment of titles in order to determine how they present a set of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that we would recognize as erotic in nature—that is, pertaining to sexual desire and its expression, romantic attachment, and bodily pleasure. I seek to show that, despite their varied geographical and linguistic provenance, these advice tracts share a number of themes that coalesce to form an overarching discourse on eroticism. I argue that this prevailing discourse presents erotic desire, expression, and pleasure in a manner that is overwhelmingly negative. This overarching negativity is dissonant with the erotic conjugality that is frequently forwarded in this same literature as a pious ideal. This dissonance suggests a theoretical gap between more traditional notions of sexuality, marriage, and gender relations, and contemporary ideals of companionate marriage and conjugal intimacy.
Hina Azam; Sex, Marriage, and Eroticism in Contemporary Islamic Advice Literature. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 1 March 2013; 9 (1): 54–80. doi: https://doi.org/10.2979/jmiddeastwomstud.9.1.54
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