Source: Emory University
When one thinks of the Islamic World, often the first things that come to mind are puritanical religious laws and strict segregation of the sexes in society. While restricted interaction between the sexes and an emphasis on religion and religiously-based restrictions certainly have long played, and continue to play, a fundamental role in Islamic societies, they do not cover the totality of human activity there, any more than life in Italy, for example, focuses solely on the Catholic Church, the Pope, and Christian religious rules. In every Islamic society, there is a group of ideas, concepts, and activities that exists side-by-side with a purely religious outlook and in many cases seems to fly in the face of Islamic concepts. This field of ideas and activities we may call the profane, as opposed to the sacred, side of Islamic societies. It encompasses such things as music, dancing, love poetry, jokes, entertaining stories, drinking parties, and a host of other items that vary from not explicitly religious—such as jokes—to mildly un-Islamic–such as love poetry–to completely forbidden by Islamic law–such as drinking alcohol.