Part I, Written by Saadia Haq of The Human Lens
As the title goes, this is quite a stirring topic in Muslim communities and Islamic nations where transgenders live in deplorable and inhumane conditions on the fringes of the society denied of respect and deprived of their rights.
Like other important issues ignored, the prevalent maltreatment of transgenders continue in almost all places where Muslims live or so-called Islamic countries infected with conservative and distorted mindsets on the third gender – LGBTs that are shunned and disowned by their own families resulting in forced begging and prostitution to support themselves.
This hypocrisy much galls me for in the darkness of nights and behind closed doors. the so-called religious and holier than seek perverted pleasures with transgender sex worker, all while during the day preaching strange notions in the name of a religion that has granted rights to all its followers regardless of their sexual orientations.
Hate crimes against LGBT are quite common and consequently part and parcel of the dichotomy of lives among Muslims. But for those like us, we still remember and mourn;
the shocking brutal rape and murder of trans activist Hande Kader in conservative Turkey,
the Pakistani migrant tailor Mohammad Amin that led a double life with wife and children but breathed his last due to batons charge in Saudi Arabia,
Malaysia’s florist Sameera Krishman that was annihilated for upholding Sharia and the many unnamed victims across the globe that succumbed to acts of violence including stoning, lynching and vigilante.
Most Muslims see the matter of LGBT from the perspective that homosexuality is prohibited in Islam and have extremely ignorant ideas that being a LGBT person means you are abnormal and doing it for “fashion.” Or there is the notion that it is a curable sickness, Satanic possession things similar to Catholic and Judaism faiths.
But, in reality transgender Muslims aren’t different from so called straight Muslim men and women and there is hardly any evidence in Islamic religious text to support acts of violence an punishment to those born as the third gender. For such specifics, you can stay tuned to my co author Papatia’s part which will blow away all those preconceived notions and drive home the message of tolerance and love for all beings alike.
Islam is a dynamic and diverse faith that makes room for all its followers—cis and trans alike.
Over the years, many movements have risen in many Muslim nations particularly by trans Muslim activists that are gaining attention for obtaining rights. The chain of such events has been supported by multiple well-respected scholars who in past have ruled in favour of transgender people’s rights (like the Grand Mufti Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy of Al-Azhar, the oldest Islamic university in the world, who ruled in favour of modern transgender pioneer Sally Mursi in 1992) and many governments have followed suit (like when the provided a “third gender” option on legal documentation in 2009 or how the Islamic Republic of Iran provides financial and legal support for its citizens undergoing transition ever since 1987).
Last year, Pakistan’s highest law authority The Supreme Court granted the right to vote to the nearly half a million transgender lavishing in dire conditions in my own country. It is encouraging to note that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the transgender community in the country will be included in the national population census.
A provincial religious body the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan from the eastern city of Lahore, irecently issued a fatwa stating that any action intended to “humiliate, insult or tease” transgender people should be considered a crime under Islam. This is a much welcomed move in a nation full of paradoxes which metes out severe prejudice against the transgender people.
The ordeal of trans Muslims was depicted well by US-based Indian film maker and writer, Parvez Sharma whose 2015 documentary, “A Sinner in Mecca” took international audiences to a place never travelled before detailing the longings of a gay Muslim struggling towards the path of devotion and Rah E Mustaqeem.
Locally, actress Ayesha Khan played the conflicted yet bravest Pakistani mother who gives birth to a transgender baby and did not bow down to societal demands of disposing off her offspring in the 2016’s compelling drama serial series “Khuda Mera Bhi Hai” (God is also Mine).
In most Muslim communities, it goes like this when a transgender baby is born. The family announces the child died in birth complications, and quietly the parents or in-laws take the baby to a local transgender ghetto, generally there residential areas within many poor suburbs allocated to transgender communities. After that, the child is written off and hardly spoken of within the family, thereby depriving a Muslim child of its socio-economic rights and share in inheritance. Or if that doesn’t happen for some reason, the new-born baby is thrown in river, trash pits or killed in other various imaginative ways that have nothing to do with Islam and its teachings.
I am not making up stories, and most Muslims reading this might fume but know what I say is the bare naked truth. The usual Muslim mania on LGBT is observed in both progressive and radicalized populations that exhibit a very disturbing narrative a LGBT member is considered to be inflicted with “Satanic illness” requiring treatment both corporal and religious.
However, there is no one Muslim perspective on anything let alone the transgender populations. With much of world’s violence happening inside many Islamic nations, it is high time that as a faith community we start becoming inclusive and tolerant towards the existence of LGBT people.
It will serve the Ummah well to join the 21st century instead of perpetuating various forms of human rights abuses and religious crimes against trans people in the name of a religion that has been prescribed for all mankind – trans and cis included.
Part II: Written by Papatia Feauxzar
The messenger of Allah said : “Allah the Almighty has laid down religious duties, so do not neglect them. He has set boundaries, so do not over step them. He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; about some things He was silent – out of compassion for you, not forgetfulness, so seek not after them.” (Al-Daraqutni).
This collaboration has been a long time coming, and it going live is a mere but timely coincidence with the recent political events affecting transgenders in the United States Army. Now, in my opinion, the opening hadith means that people should stop dehumanizing transgenders in the context of this social activist post. Don’t seek them out to harass them, leave them alone.
So what is a transgender? The name is an umbrella for many people who don’t identify with binary genders. A transgender could have been assigned a male gender because of his genitalia at birth but will go through life feeling like he is a woman inside. The same goes with a transgender assigned a female gender at birth who totally feels like a man inside. This is where hermaphrodites/intersex, al-khunthā al-mushkil (the ambiguous khunthā) come in. You can read more here.
A transgender is also not a transsexual even though the terms have been used interchangeably. And we are used to base ourselves to the sex of an individual to determine gender. The two terms overlap somewhere but there are not the same thing.
In my high school biology class, I can still clearly remember a course we had on the human body. It was over 15 years ago on a sunny morning alhamdullilah in an all-girl private Catholic school. Believe it or not, they give excellent education and many Muslims attend and still practice their faith. It was a very tolerant school alhamdullilah.
So that biology course stayed with me because of the data I learned that day. Let me recount it to you. My teacher said that when the foetus is inside the womb, it has both sexes. As the foetus develops, one sex takes the lead and forms itself while the other shrinks and goes away. However, they will be times where both sexes will develop and the baby will be born with two private parts. My teacher also taught University classed. He had excellent credentials. So for those of you who thought that people with two sexes or no sex are a myth, here is a dua for you to recite, ‘Rabbi Zidni Ilma – Oh Allah, increase me in knowledge.’ To get the tip of the iceberg on this mind-blowing fact, read this article. I’ve actually read articles on human beings who had no idea they had both sexes until they died and an autopsy discovered the fact. Subhanallah!
To continue, depending on the parent, this two-private-part and special being in the eyes of Allah -because He decided to create him or her that way – will either be loved, controlled by others’ wants, or become totally marginalized. As with all things blessed and special, the evil nature of people who call themselves ‘normal’ will make it their goal to make the life of this transgender a pain.
Another version of the opening hadith of part two of our collaboration is below.
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, Do not ask me unnecessarily about the details of the things which I do not mention to you. Verily, the people before you were doomed because they were used to putting many questions to their Prophets and had differences about their Prophets. Refrain from what I forbid you and do what I command you to do best of your ability and capacity. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
These ‘normal’ people often forget that being a transgender is not automatically synonymous of being homosexual. We all know the position of Islam on homosexuality, and it’s a sin by authentic Muslim sources. But you know what else is a sin? Many things ‘normal’ people do. There are many other sins a Muslim should refrain from doing which many people ignore and consider homosexuality as the gravest one of them all.
These same people will lie, cheat, drink, pimp others, appear holy when behind closed doors they molest others, etc. But they will point fingers to homosexuals or those who live with a partner without even having any homosexual relationship. Some LGBT, same-sex attractions (SSA) and same-sex encounters (SSE) do actually practice abstinence if you didn’t know out of love for Allah. They see their attraction to the same-sex not as a curse but as a test. And abstaining themselves from their tainted love shows their greatest devotion to Allah. How many of us can stay away from our tainted love; something we have a weakness for but can’t stop doing? Very few! Anyways, the gravest sin of all is shirk! Associate something with Allah, be a munafik and oh you’re done! My friend, the lowest level of jahannam will be for you.
Having said all that, I like to be self-centred and worry about my onions and weaknesses instead of criticizing other people’s life choices. I mean, I have never been a discriminator not even an equal opportunity one. The partner you choose to live your life with is between you and Allah. The sins you choose to commit when no one is watching is between you and Allah. It’s really none of my business. Seriously. What I care about is injustice. I hate to see people being marginalized because a group of people who call themselves ‘normal’ and act self-righteously think they have the right to marginalize a creation of Allah; any creation of His. Who gave them the right to do act so righteously? Nobody! They take it upon themselves. So with this collaboration, we seek to fight these oppressions wherever we see them insha’Allah!
Transgenders have played many important roles in the Muslim world as guards, mediators and court officials, etc. Their third gender has made it possible for them to be neutral, excellent, and trustworthy individuals. Look it up! How short-spanned memory wise, the Muslim world can be!
In conclusion, Allahu aleem. May He forgive me for any of my shortcomings in this article, ameen.
Note: ‘The Written vs. NOT Written Stuff’ is a copyrighted collaborative feature series bringing forward attention towards serious issues within the global Muslim communities. It’s a joint initiative of two Muslimah writers,Papatia Feuxzar of Djarabi Kitabs Publishing and Saadia Haq of The Human Lens. As always we would love to hear your feedback, here at wordpress or through email which ever medium works for you. Copyrights @2015 – 2017