Ibn Hazm on homosexuality

Ibn Hazm on homosexuality

Adang, Camilla (Tel Aviv University)

Al-Qantara, Vol 24, No 1 (2003)


This article forms part of an ongoing investigation into the legal thought of the famous 5th/11th century scholar Abu Muhammad AH Ibn Hazm of Cordoba. As is well known, Ibn Hazm stood out in al-Andalus as one of the few scholars who openly challenged the supremacy of the fuqahd’ of the Málikí school, who had enjoyed a virtual monopoly in matters religious and legal since the 3rd/9th century. Trained as a Málikí himself, Ibn Hazm briefly adhered to Shafiism before finally opting for the Záhirí, or literalist, school of law. Both in his writings and in his public lectures, he attacked the Málikís’ reliance on ra y and their failure to base their legal decisions on the revealed sources: Koran and hadîth.

Modem scholarship has mostly focused on this aspect of Ibn Hazm’s legal methodology, whereas the peculiarities in the realm of furíf, i.e.,the concrete legal decisions, have so far received much less attention. In what follows, we shall examine Ibn Hazm’s views on homosexuality, both male and female, as a case-study of a Zâhirî view that radically differed from the generally accepted view among the Mâlikïs. It is hoped that this case-study, in combination with a number of others, will enable us to assess to what extent Ibn Hazm’s views constituted, or were perceived as, a threat to the Mâlikî religious establishment in al-Andalus. However, before addressing the issue in hand, I shall give a brief survey of the attitudes towards homosexuality that are reflected in the Koran, hadtth, and non-Zàhirï works offiqh.

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