Islam Is OK With Transgender Marriages – Top Pakistani Clerics Issue Decree Granting Full Marital Rights And Protection

Islam doesn’t consider being transgender an aberration, ruled top religious clerics in Pakistan. For the first time, religious leaders in the predominantly Muslim country have put forth such a defining ruling that accords rights as well as protection to the transgender community.

The top fifty religious leaders in Pakistan have jointly issued a religious decree or fatwa, declaring that transgender people will now have full marriage rights. Besides being allowed to marry a person whose sexual identity is different from his or her biological gender, the person will now also stand to have equal inheritance rights as accorded in Islam.

That’s not all, the transgender person will also be buried with complete religious rites and will not be condemned for their sexual orientation, reported RT. The transgender community is referred to as the “hijras”, and they have rights too, said Muhammad Zia ul Haq Naqshbandi, the leader of the group of clerics:

“The hijras are human beings and they have rights given by Islam. Through this fatwa, we want to inform the public that they can marry.”

The fatwa categorically noted that any act intended to “humiliate, insult or tease” the community was “haraam” (sinful), and that transgender persons should not be deprived of family inheritances, nor the right to be buried in Muslim ceremonies. Moreover, the decree added that parents who deprived their transgender sons or daughters of inheritances were “inviting the wrath of God.”

“Making noises at transgender people, making fun of them, teasing them, or thinking of them as inferior is against sharia law, because such an act amounts to objecting to one of Allah’s creations, which is not correct.”

The fatwa states that a female-born transgender person having “visible signs of being a male” may marry a woman or a male-born transgender with “visible signs of being a female,” and vice versa, reported The Telegraph. Essentially this still restricts the Islamic legalization of marriage between “a man and a woman,” but significantly expands upon the concept to include the transgender community.

Incidentally, the fatwa also mentioned “normal men and women can also marry such transgender people as have clear indications on their body.”

Till date, transgender people were forbidden by Islamic law to be married in Pakistan. Irrespective of the sexual identity the members identified themselves with; any instance of gay marriage was punishable by life imprisonment. Members of the community routinely faced multiple legal hurdles. Since their own families disown them, they are not able to secure even a National Identity Card, which is similar to Social Security in the United States.

Many transgender people still live in utmost secrecy. The identity cards that the country issues, doesn’t even mention a third identity. Incidentally, Pakistan’s neighbor India added the third gender to all its official forms about two years ago and even extended multiple benefits. The country has a few prominent political leaders that belong to the transgender community as well, but in neighboring Pakistan, the situation was quite the opposite, until today. India seems to have a much evolved mindset about the LGBT community in general.

Besides the legality of the issue, the transgender community has always been severely marginalized in Islamic countries like Pakistan. Members of the community were not only shunned by their own families, they were berated and harassed by the entire community. Attacks on the activists are fairly common and people are even fired upon. Unfortunately, even the law doesn’t accord the members with basic human rights granted under the constitution owing to the “taboo” status. Incidentally, Russia too has some horrific concepts about the LGBT community.

Apart from being ostracized and denied any opportunity to earn a decent livelihood, the transgender people were often denied basic medical care. There have been cases where members of the community have died because they were refused medical treatment for life-threatening wounds.

Such atrocities should hopefully now diminish to a great extent following the fatwa issued by Muhammad Zia Ul Haq Naqshbandi, the Lahore-based head of the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat religious law organization, reported The Wall Street Journal. The organization is not political and its religious decrees are not legally binding. Still, the group holds significant influence in religious matters owing to thousands of followers who respect it, and treat their decrees with utmost reverence.

[Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images]

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