Type of spiritual experience
The practise known in Arabic as Nazar ila'l-murd "contemplation of the beardless", and in Persian Shahed-bāzī, is a Sufi practice based on contemplation by a man of another man or boy. It should not be sex based. The objective is spiritual experience.
It is seen as an act of worship, held to realise the absolute beauty that is God through the relative beauty of the human form that is the divine image. In its best-known form it simply consists of gazing upon a beautiful boy.
Its exponents quote the saying of the prophet Mohammed; "God is beautiful and loves beauty". Zangi discussed the legitimacy of love for a male beloved saying,
"And it is said that when God . . . wants to honor a worshiper with the robe of true love and put the real crown of love on his head, He will make him fall in earthly love so that he would learn the ways of being a lover . . . and passes from the raw stage of desiring attention to the ripeness of (spiritual) supplication."
It was not without its opponents. Conservative Islamic theologians condemned the custom. Nazar was denounced as rank heresy by such as Ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328), who complained, "They kiss a slave boy and claim to have seen God!". But then he was an Islamic theologian who knew nothing of the theory behind the practises
Despite opposition from the clerics, the practice survived in Islamic countries until recently and is probably still operating in a somewhat clandestine manner even today.
A description of the experience
Attar - Elahi-nama
One day sultan Mahmud asked Ayaz, his famous beloved, whether he knew a king greater and more powerful than he.
Ayaz answered, "Yes, I am a greater king than you."
When the king asked for proof, he said, "Because even though you are king, your heart rules you, and this slave is the king of your heart."
Abdul-Rahman Jami's (1414–1492) Haft Awrang,
I have written on the wall and door of every house
About the grief of my love for you.
That you might pass by one day
And read the state of my condition.
In my heart I had his face before me.
With this face before me, I saw what I had in my heart.