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
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.
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)
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)