Posts Tagged ‘Burial rituals’

Transgendered & Eunuch in Islam

August 6, 2016

 

This issue nowadays, especially in the west, is commonly debated, in the context of gender equality. Unfortunately, this topic is mixed with homosexuality and then, contemptuously, hurled at Muslims, due to a clear cut position in Islamic jurisprudence against homosexuality.

I would, therefore, try to express Islamic point of view mainly on the transgendered, since the issue of homosexuals is clearly settled, in Islam as well as in other Divine religions. First and foremost, the question of their impermissibility in Islam does not  arise since their existence is an undeniable reality. They are created by the same Creator who created cis-gendered.

 

There are several categories of them which need to be understood.

Trans-sexual:-  Those who want to be opposite of what they are or look like.

Transvestite:- Those who are apparently male but act like a woman (effeminate).

Trans-queer:- Those who have both the male and female organs/tendencies.

Mukhannas (Arabic for Eunuch):- who is either due to castration or naturally has not sexual desires.

Mukhannathan (Arabic for Trans-queer or double-gendered):- who generally hides his masculinity to mix with women.

(One may find these classifications overlapping and confusing at times)

Qura’an as a matter of principle deals with the issues of main concerns. Since laws are made for common occurrences and not exceptions. Despite the fact that nowadays we witness relatively somewhat higher proportion of transgendered people, or we may say, have wider awareness and discussion on the topic, they still constitute a fairly small part of the overall population. Qura’an does not specifically or categorically deals with the topic of transgendered as a subject matter except that in one of the Surah Nur # 24, V-31 it says, inter alia, male attendants who lack vigor” and then in Surah Waqiah # 56, V-61 it says “…We may transform you and make you (afresh) as you know not” Then in the successive verse it also alludes to the previous creations (per exegetic interpretation:-  referring to the transformation of human into the apes, monkeys and swine etc).  Then in verse 63 man is questioned as to “What do you cultivate” If this Surah, in its broadest possible scope, anyway refers to transgendered people then they are presented rather as an anomaly, for common people, to ward off heedlessness. Then in another surah 82:8, It is said “He created you in whatever form He willed” That is probably the reason that least has been said about them in Qura’an or Hadith!

This interpretation seems to be corroborated by two instances with reference to the Prophet (PBUH) Sunnah. In one he ordered a transgender to be expelled from the city and did not approve of killing him. (For, he was a praying person). In the second instance, a transgender (most likely Eunuch) was allowed to help his wives. (Although caution of Hijab was ordered subsequently)

Here is a different, though somewhat confusing, point of view.

“According to some “authors” (I guess it means writers/scholars) the Qur’an explicitly recognizes 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 of 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)”. According to these authors the usual English translation of these verses which mention God ‘giving daughters or sons to whom it wills and gives some people both sons and daughters’, is problematic. They argue that the verses, in fact, describe varieties of sexual orientation and gender(http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/Qurannotes.htm). One scholar has noted that commentaries on Surah13.3 which refers to ‘every kind of fruit being made in pairs’ also recognized that there is a third sex in plants. This scholar believes that it is possible to conclude that as there is a third sex in plants there may also be a third sex ‘unisex’ in animals and humans (unpublished paper)”

(I, the writer of this article, do not vouch for this interpretation as the verses quoted are not explicit about the issue as claimed).

Now here are some ancillary issues which may be of interest to believers and non-believers alike.

Transgendered people, who have a sexual urge, one way or the other, and the means to afford a marriage, are allowed to marry, by several scholars. (needless to say, with opposite of their own urges and genitals).

They are also allowed, by some scholars, the reassignment of gender-operations performed if they wish to do so.

Their gender will be determined by the genital used for urination until adolescence, thereafter by the nature of wet dreams, whether of a male or female?  If this person developed breast and also acts accordingly will be considered a female and treated accordingly.

There might be a situation where it may be difficult to distinguish domineering tendency. In such a situation this person would be classed as—Trans-queer (difficult-gender).

Under Islamic jurisprudence, such person would not be allowed to marry. He would also not be given the funeral bath at his demise, but rather “Tayammum” Dry-bath, or Dust-bath. Mehram (blood-relative) should perform it. In the absence of a Mehram, another person should wear some sort of gloves.

Difficult-gender (having both the genital organs) cannot wear silk and jewelry due to the possibility of him being more of a male than the female.

Such person should go out with some Mehram only, should he be more of a female than the male.

Such people should be accorded same respect and dignity as any normal person. They should not be forced into prostitution or some other lowly, demeaning situations at any cost…Doing so is a grave sin. Given the situation they are in, which is not of their own making but beyond their control, Qura’an in Surah Baqarah # 2, V-233 and in several other verses instructs to treat others (including anomalous and incapacitated people) with justice and fairness.

 

Needless to say that “eunuch”, who are bereft of sexual urges; could reach the highest echelon of spiritual excellence, should they devote themselves to the Creator in the right ways. It would also be worth mentioning that “Eunuchs” have played very important roles in various settings and have been even the rulers in the past.

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