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Polemicizing Women’s Bathing Among Medieval And Early Modern Muslims And Christians

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Chapter Summary

During the early Byzantine period, bathing naked and/or in the company or proximity of members of the opposite sex continued to be practiced even among monastics, despite vehement objections on the part of church leader. The link between foreignness, inappropriate nudity and, sexually inappropriate behavior in bathhouses is especially apparent in the autobiography of Usāmah ibn Munqidh. Muslim baths in the Middle Ages, noted that women in particular were singled out for prohibitions against bathing with members of other religions during the fourteenth-and fifteenth centuries. Early Modern Christian authors mocked the ritual washings required by Muslim law as proof that these brutish Barbarians, esteeming of the outward washing, and not that which inwardly toucheth the soule. Both Muslim and Christian men used the presence of women in bathhouses as way of polemicizing against the men of other religions.

Keywords: bathhouse; christian men; early modern muslims; Usāmah ibn Munqidh; women's bathing



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