Stephen O. Murray
Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature (1997)
Women have only recently become visible at all in Islamicist/Orientalist discourse. Within most present-day Islamic states, where representation of even married heterosexual conduct is heavily censored, woman-woman sexuality remains thoroughly submerged. What follows is a brief compilation and discussion of the evidence that does exist concerning woman-woman sexual relations in Islamic societies.
Classical treatises on sexual vice discuss tribadism (sahq)-from a male perspective (see Rowson 1991:63) for some illuminating examples). There is also a tradition that women “practiced the vice (of sodomy) for forty years among the tribe of Lot before the men took it up” (Bellamy 1979:37, citing the Dhamm al-hawa of Abu al-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi, ca. 1116-1201). Sexual relations between women within harems has been more supposed than observed.
There is an occaisional dramatic report , such as that concerning the ‘Abbasid Khalif Musa al-Hadi who beheaded two beautiful young women from his harem who had been caught together in flagrant delicto and decorated the detached and perfumed heads with diadems (Walther 1981:118). Similarly, in a note to a story from the Islam and Homosexuality in which a man comes upon a beloved being kissed by her maid, Richard Burton claimed that harems “are hot-beds of Sapphism and tribadism…