Please Send Me Stuff

If you have articles, information, thoughts you want to share just send it to me at ali.syedakbar@gmail.com. Please keep your articles brief, not more than 1000 words or just use bullet points. If you have pictures to go with the articles, that is even better. Towards an excellent Malaysia.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Being a Muslim and transgender

I have received the following article, which is well written, well researched and I think is also honest, from one ARJ. The writer says she is a transgender person. 

I have reproduced ARJ's article in full.  

The great 20th century thinker Bertrand Russel wrote that 'Knowledge overcomes fear'.   Maybe that is why some people say, 'seek ye knowledge even unto China'. One way of understanding this saying is maybe with more knowledge of China we will become less afraid of the Chinese !!

So if we gain more knowledge of the transgender community,  we will have better understanding of them.  And who better to tell their story than one of their own. 

Thank you ARJ for your faith in my Blog. This is a brief read from ARJ. 

 
Being a Muslim and transgender

By ARJ
 
I am a female-to-male transgender. I am also a Muslim. Since the Court of Appeals judgment there has been many things written and spoken about us. Those from the legal, from the religious and from the medical standpoint. But the voice of the transgenders appears to be muted, while everybody else talks loudly about us.

That is why I have decided to write. But I write with a pseudonym knowing how cruel some people can become about things they do not understand, things they fear. I do not want my family to be worried for my safety. I do not want my mother to suffer because of how people will treat her son.

People misunderstand us, thinking that we just want to cross-dress for fun or to deceive. Some people think we are sick in the head and must be treated and cured. They used to lobotomise us in the West, along with the homosexuals, a procedure condemned today as barbaric.

For a start, let me clarify that I am not a homosexual. Transgender people are not necessarily homosexuals. There is a clear difference between ones gender identity (what one feels deeply inside about ones gender) and one’s affectionate preference (what one prefers one’s partner’s gender to be).

I was born with the clear knowledge that I am male. However, my body’s sex do not conform with the heart’s knowledge.  It took many years of running away from this feeling, from this body, and a lot of pain to arrive home to this fact.  I have forced myself to be a girl, a woman -- to be who I am not.  I have also sought psychological help, but to no avail. Finally, I reflected, if I cannot accept myself, how can I accept God? It was like I was going against my “naluri”, my instincts, my God-given spirit.  

It was only when I accepted myself, as male, that my real journey begins - of healing and coming back to Allah, my Creator, my Sustainer, my Source.  I realise that I am a transgender person, and I am created this way. Being a transgender does not make me any less a Muslim. In fact, it has made me closer to God.

There are many like me on this journey of self-acceptance. Many of us have undergone gender reconstruction surgeries and hormone therapies to feel at home in our bodies. To become whole.  And many who have not -- not have the means or opportunity, (because the technology was not there yet) or do not want to go through the pain of surgeries and other personal reasons.

There is a whole medical knowledge on transgenderism. We are known to have Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or now known now as Gender Dsyphoria (GD). GID or GD is categorised under the World Health Organisation International Classification of Disease (Version 10) under code F64. (1)

The medical fraternity has recognised that the only treatment that brings congruity to mind and body is to allow people with GD to live as the gender they inherently feels.  Many persons with GD who suppress that need, or are coerced into not living as their inherent gender become victims of depression and even suicide. But once they are able to live as their inherent gender, they became normal, functioning, and balanced.

Transgenderism also occurs in almost all known cultures and traditions, including the Muslim tradition. Some Muslim scholars have written about the division of gender in Islam into four groups: male, female, hermaphrodites (khunsa) and mukhannis or mukhannas. The last two terms refer to persons having male organs who appear female in mannerisms and dress as females. Mukkhanis want to change their biological sex while mukkhanas do not.

In Islam, the scholarly analysis of the Quran, Hadiths, and Sunnahs, resulted in a fatwa to allow sex change surgery for transgender persons. This fatwa was issued by the mufti of the foremost university in Islamic scholarship, the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, on June 8th, 1988. It was triggered by an actual case of a transgender student of the university who was allowed to have a sexual reassignement surgery (SRS) (2).  Besides Egypt, other Islamic countries which allow persons with Gender Dysphoria to change their sex surgically to match their inherent genders are Iran and Pakistan.

Although the terms mukhannas, mukhannis and khunsa are not mentioned in the Holy Quran, according to some authours, the Qur'an clearly recognises that there are some people who are neither male nor female. Verses 42:49-42:50 are translated by these authors as:

"To God belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth. It creates what it wills. It prepares for whom it wills females, and it prepares for whom it wills males. Or it marries together the males and the females, and it makes those whom it wills to be ineffectual (barren). Indeed He is the Knowing, the Powerful." (3)

Mukhannas and mukhannis are mentioned in several hadiths. According to authoritative Sunni scholar and hadith collector Imam Nawawi:

A mukhannath is the one ("male") who carries in his movements, in his appearance and in his language the characteristics of a woman. There are two types; the first is the one in whom these characteristics are innate, he did not put them on by himself, and therein is no guilt, no blame and no shame, as long as he does not perform any (illicit) act or exploit it for money (prostitution etc.). The second type acts like a woman out of immoral purposes and he is the sinner and blameworthy. (4)

Another famous 11th century Sunni Islamic scholar Ibn Abd Al-Barr wrote:

The mukhannath is (also) the one who looks so much like a woman physically that he resembles women in his softness, speech, appearance, accent and thinking. If he is like this, he would have no desire for women and he would not notice anything about them. This is one of those who have no interest in women who were permitted to enter upon women. (5)

This shows that transgenders are acknowledged in Islam. They are not regarded just as males who want to dress as females (for fun or to deceive), but something that are innate or in-born in them. If it is in-born, that means they are created this way. They are also permitted to be around women during the Prophet’s (pbuh) time.

In 2008 in Kuwait, senior Sunni cleric Sheikh Rashid Sa’ad al-Alaymi stated that sexual reassignement surgery (SRS) should be allowed in cases where gender identity disorder is diagnosed. His statement claimed it was a mistake to accuse those with GID of “imitating a member of the opposite sex,” because “they did not choose this of their own will or because it gives them pleasure, but it is something that comes from God in his infinite wisdom (6).

There is also a hadith that is often quoted that I believe is the basis of our Syariah enactment to prosecute cross-dressing.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, cursed the effeminate men [m.pl.] who are males, and the male-pretenders [f.pl.] who are women, and he said: Evict them from your houses, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, evicted such-and-such [m.sg.] and 'Umar evicted such-and-such.  - Bukhari (7).

According to readings from Muslim scholars who study this historically, this hadith refers to those males who imitates women in order to gain access to women’s spaces in the homes. They are not mukhannas or mukhannis or khunsas. They are biological male gender (the emphasis, “who are males”) men who are deceitful, and who have sexual desires for women, immitating women in order to be able to get near to women. And that is why they were evicted by the Prophet (pbuh).

Would not the Prophet (pbuh) had used the terms mukhannas, mukhannis or khunsas if he had meant them, rather then “effeminate men, who are males.” Why the  (redundant) emphasis of “…who are males” unless it is to direct it to males (rather than non-males) who are impersonating females for deceitful means?

Transgenders are not being who they are to deceive others. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. It is to be true to ourselves, to be honest about who we are and to live as authentically as we can.

I am not a Muslim scholar, but I am a Muslim who reads and thinks, an obligation asked of us by Allah in His Quran. I can only ask my fellow Muslims to not follow blindly those who urge us to judge and “jihad” against other Muslims who are a little different from them. We too pray and worship the same God, and we open our prayers and worship in His name. God must want us to always remember his compassion and mercy by opening almost every verse in the Quran with: In Allah’s Name, The Most Compassionate and Merciful. 

May we remember this with humility as we deal with the diversity of His Creations, some of which we know, and some of which we do not yet understand.

References:

1. World Health Organisation (www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/GRNBOOK.pdf)
2. Skovgaard-Peterson, Jakob. Defining Islam for the Egyption State. Muftis and Fatwas of Dar-Al Ifta. (pg 329) 
3. www.safraproject.org/sgi-genderidentity.htm
4. Rowson, Everett K. (October 1991). "The Effeminates of Early Medina". Journal of the American Oriental Society (American Oriental Society) 111 (4): 671–693
5. Al Muqni, Matan. al Sharh al Kabeer. volume 7 347–348.
6. Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org/es/node/104172/section/7#_ftn43)
7. Bukhari, Authentic Traditions, Book LXXII (Dress), Chapter 62: 
(774)

Ahmed Rashid On Pakistan


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sabahans Are Cow Dung Heads Too?

Our Cabinet Ministers shoud all be given some type of award for their clownish antics.  

Ministers like Ahmad Maslan are rocking the world with his Freakonomics. He belongs in that exclusive category of people (like the ostard wal retards) who do  not know what they are saying. 

Now the other in-house-clown Minister of Tourism Nazri (of "cowdung head" fame) has gone loco about Sabah. I dont know what Nazri has been smoking. Why did he say these things and in so many words. 

This is originally from the Malay Mail. I have truncated the news:


The Malay Mail Online
  • Nazri told Parliament certain places in Sabah remain unsafe for tourists
  • their safety cannot be guaranteed 
  • added he would not order tourism officials to promote the north Borneo state.  
  • I will not order tourism officials abroad to promote Sabah
  • Personally, I will not visit Lahad Datu
  • I do not want to ask for trouble,” he said

In response to Nadzri's highly intelligent, non cow-dung-head outburst, Sabahans have come out with their fists up. Here is the news:
  • Sabahans from all walks of life have come out in defence of the state’s security, and called out Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz for his “negative” remark that he will not personally vouch for the safety of tourists in the state.
     
  • BN’s United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation said that the Federal Minister’s remarks had disappointed and angered Sabahans.
     
  • Describing it as “very shocking and perplexing remarks”, UPKO secretary-general Donald Mojuntin said this was contradictory to the PM's recent reassurance during his visit here that the Federal Government will endeavour to help develop the state as an economic powerhouse in Malaysia.
     
  • “..yet another example of a ‎Federal Minister making statements that seemingly show their lack of concern for the state of Sabah,” he said
     
  • “Ministers such as Nazri should think before they speak.  
  • We are just recovering from one of those challenges and recovering well. 
  • The last thing we need is for Minister for Tourism to spoil it for Sabah
  • MATTA vice president KL Tan rebuked Minister saying it was a blow to local industry 
  • the “last thing” the state needs when they were trying to recuperate 
  • “It negates concerted efforts by all tourism stakeholders to promote Sabah. 
  • last thing we need is negative statement from Minister whose role is to promote and nurture tourism” said Tan  
  • In expressing his disappointment, he said Lahad Datu was not a tourist destination 
  • Tan said Nazri’s statement undermined Government’s efforts in security in Sabah
  • setting up of Eastern Sabah Security Command and recent budget allocation of RM660mil.
  • “With government’s full focus on Esszone, matter of time full confidence restored 
  •  they would rather listen to advice on safety from Home Affairs and Defence.
  • Datuk Masidi Manjun, state Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister blasted Nazri
  • It is like saying he cannot guarantee travel on MAS until MH370 is solved 
  • Masidi said US Ambassador & his wife recently spent the night in Lahad Datu 
  • Gerakan Sabah chief Gordon Leong also expressed his disappointment.
  • “What is even more disappointing is that he also stated that he would not order tourism officials to promote the state.
  • "isn’t it the job of Nazri as Minister ..to correct the so-called ignorance of the tourists?
  • Nazri has chosen the easier path by totally not promoting Sabah,” he said.
  • Industry officials in Sabah lambasted Nazri's “insensitive” remarks
  • industry was working very hard to regain confidence 
  • the statement was a setback that could do permanent damage
  • a five-star resort here said they had to do some “serious convincing” with travel agents 
  • security in Semporna and other resort areas has been stepped up
Well  I hope Nazri will 

i.   at least deny that he said all these things
ii.  that he had been misquoted by the Press (about so many points here) 
iii. that he wasnt thinking straight when he spoke
iv. will attend a course on tourism management
v. get some counselling as well

Indeed Nazri is saying that the IGP was pulling our legs when he said that Sabah was now safe for travel (or words to that effect - most recently). 

Nazri is also saying that Zahid Hamidi (Home Affairs) and Hishamuddin (Mindef) are not doing their jobs.  Maybe the upcoming Umno PAU (which is made of cash) has something to do with Nazri's thought processes.

Nazri is also saying that the PM is not doing his job in Sabah. This one I agree. 

In fact what Nazri is saying is that the Malaysian Cabinet is made up of nincompoop Ministers.  That is why Sabah is not safe. The safety and security of Sabah is the joint responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers. If Sabah is not safe then what are you monkeys doing? Cabut bulu ke?

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Bar Is In Council


The Bar Council is in the midst of choosing  its leadership again.  The good thing about the Bar is that they change their leaders often, every two years max. In this aspect I salute the Bar. The Bar does not have this president for life, Ketum for Life, Mursyid for life, secretary general for life and chairman for life situations.  We seriously need to cap the tenure of the Prime Minister to two terms.

The Bar Council  also claims to be fiercely independent.  This claim can be fiercely disputed. The Bar is overwhelmingly pro Opposition and has developed a clear political position – anti establishment and anti ruling gomen. Considering the crap that the ruling gomen is putting out the Bar Council’s anti gomen stance is understandable.

But it is the Bar’s blind pro Opposition stance that is confusing them substantially. The perception is that the Bar Council loves blindly anything that is anti gomen. The recent case of Gopal Sri Ram being appointed that fellow’s legal counsel in the appeal stands out like a sore thumb. The Bar had passed its own resolution or something condemning retired judges or ex judges appearing as counsel in Court. But in the case of Gopal Sri Ram the Bar went hypocritically quiet. Just because the case involved the Rear Admiral.  Omissions and commissions were in action.

Here is a question for the Bar – is it ok then if retired or ex judges (including Gopal Sri Ram) appeared for the gomen?

I was in a recent discussion with a lawyer friend of mine and a strong upholder of the Quran (that’s the type of folks you really want to have around ok)  Mansoor Saat.  I got to grill Mansoor because he is running for one of the Bar Council Member seats this year.

 Mansoor Saat

Of course being a lawyer Mansoor was defensive of the Bar but he also agrees that the Bar Council must take a more balanced stand for the long run credibility of the Bar. Mansoor’s fear is that the public may end up not taking the Bar Council seriously.

Mansoor is also concerned at the increasing creep of religion into the legal system. (Folks, I have been warning about the creep of religion and the religious creeps for a long time).  Mansoor agrees with me (because I was insisting on this) that when it comes to religious issues, some legal practitioners, including folks like the Muslim Lawyers Association are often unable to look at issues from a purely legal perspective. Often they are not objective. “When it comes to the Law, we need certainty” says Mansoor. We cannot have large areas of grey or unending controversies that arise AFTER a religious edict has been passed.

Being a student of the Quran, a lawyer and a senior Rotarian, Mansoor feels that our Federal Constitution is consistent with the spirit of the Quran.  “The Federal Constitution should be our ‘grundnorm’” says Mansoor.  

"Grundnorm" is a German word meaning "fundamental norms." The jurist and legal philosopher Hans Kelsen coined the term to refer to the fundamental norm, order or rule of law. Our Federal Constitution is our fundamental law. 
Although the Bar Council are not religious experts, Mansoor feels that this should not prevent the Bar from visiting religious issues or syariah issues from a perspective of delivering justice and upholding human rights.This becomes more relevant when the 'religious creep' is encroaching into more of the grey areas.

One more area where I appreciate Mansoor's views, over which the Bar Council has not shown too much gumption, is the area of libel and defamation involving public figures. Public figures, especially the politicians, should not be afforded the same amount of protection from defamation and libel as ordinary Mr Man in the Street.
Public figures especially politicians depend on the public for their periuk nasi. They are constantly harrassing the public with, 'you can trust me, you must put your faith in me, you must believe me' and all sorts of crap. The only thing they dont say is 'you can worship me'. But even there the Rear Admiral's wife declared him an Anugerah Tuhan.

So when they have to jual ubat like this for their periuk nasi, the public should be allowed to throw eggs, shoes and dirty towels at the politicians.  But the moment they dont like what you say they slam you with multi million Ringgit libel and defamation suits. They become momma boys and baby cries.

The Bar Council too needs 'grundnorm'