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Either Too Little or Too Much

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Islam and the Ironies of Sexual Liberality

image of Religion and Theology

On a theoretical level, the article investigates sexually orientated discourses as a means to censure and demonise other religious communities than one’s own whilst staging one’s own religious community as the most “natural” and “liberal” example. With reference to the works of Michel Foucault and Edward Said it is thus argued that seemingly liberal and lenient attitudes towards sexuality can be exploited in an intolerant and hegemonic fashion. On an empirical level, this paradoxical dynamic is investigated in relation to Islam, Judaism and the so-called Western world. In terms of historical periods, late antiquity and (late) modernity are adduced. It is demonstrated that early and classical Islam styled itself as sexually liberal and easy-going over and against an alleged puritanical and rigid Judaism. In late modernity, in a Muslim European diaspora setting, it is demonstrated that Islam has fallen prey to the very same sexual “liberal” tactics as was perpetrated in late antiquity; that is, being castigated for being puritanical and rigid. However, contemporary Muslims are caught in a double bind since the charges against their alleged puritanism and bigotry runs parallel with charges against an alleged excessive and transgressive patriarchal sexuality.

Affiliations: 1: Section for Biblical Exegesis, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


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