Transgenderism, a topic that is keeping many secrets within itself subjected not to be discussed in our society. We accept the existence of both gender male and female but deliberately deny the individuality of “third gender” whose existence is clearly mentioned in Islam especially in the traditional Arab period.
Different perspective of transgenderism are being discussed in Islam, among them there are “mukhannathun”
Mukhannathun is a term used in a traditional Arab history refers as transgender women. The word has its meaning as “Effeminate ones” or a “Men resemble Women” it is important to note in here that a “Mukhannath” is an individual which cannot be related to the guy community as their characteristics are quite different from them, one can say that Mukhannath are “queer” or belongs to the “Khawaja Sira” community. It is quite surprising that Mukhannathun always been the part of Islamic history, even during the days of Holy Prophet (PBUH).
An-Nawawi famous hadith scholar, categorize the mukhannath into two important types:
1. Mukhannath min Kalqin: This type belongs to those males who born with feminine traits. There is no sin of being in that situation as long as individual prevent itself from all kind of forbidden activities. In accordance with our society these individuals are also known as “Transsexual”
2. Mukhannath bi al-takalluf: These are those men who purposely act like women without being born with feminine traits or without having any gender identity problem. According to the teachings of Islam, commence of these kinds of activities are sinful and punishable.
Mukhannathun – Status in the Islamic Society
Throughout the Islamic history, mukhannathun were being accepted and treated very well, it was not like our society where we even don’t let the queer perform their religious rights.
Many scholars also mention that the status of a mukhannath during the days of Islam was mostly being accepted by the people of Medina and Mecca. They have a strong affiliation with the field of music and entertainment and even consider as the companions of women.
During the period of Holy Prophet (PBUH) mukhannath was given a higher place of honor like they were given the title of“Guardians of sacred boundaries” in which they were given the privileged to guard some of the most sacred harem of Madina and Mecca.
But beside this, here were few restrictions which were imposed on mukhannath at that time like they were not allowed to enter the sacred places like “Harem” which can be explainable with this hadith below
Narrated by Bibi Aisha R.A, Ummul Mu’minin:
A mukhannath used to enter upon the wives of Prophet. They (the people) counted him among those who were free of physical needs. One day the Prophet entered upon us when he was with one of his wives, and was describing the qualities of a woman, saying: When she comes forward, she comes forward with four (folds in her stomach), and when she goes backward, she goes backward with eight (folds in her stomach). The Prophet said: Do I not see that this (man) knows what here lies. Then they (the wives) observed veil from him.(Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 32, Number 4095)
In another hadith, it was forbidden by Holy Prophet (PBUH) for a mukhannath to resemble in its physical appearance like a woman, as it is also mention in the hadith below.
Narrated by AbuHurayrah:
A mukhannath who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was brought to the Prophet. He asked: What is the matter with this man? He was told: Apostle of Allah! he affects women’s get-up. So he ordered regarding him and he was banished to an-Naqi’. The people said: Apostle of Allah! should we not kill him? He said: I have been prohibited from killing people who pray. AbuUsamah said: Naqi’ is a region near Medina and not a Baqi (in other words not referring to Jannat al-Baqi’ cemetery).(Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41, Number 4910)
This hadith also highlight that in any case Holy Prophet (PBUH) never allow the killing of mukhannath, which is unfortunately quite common in today’s Arab societies.
Sadly the status of transgender in our society is in miserable condition besides knowing the fact that Islam itself accept their individuality and give them the freedom to practice their rights with one condition that they are not going to make their gender identity vulnerable and get themselves involved in forbidden activities.
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