Does Islam prohibit homosexuality and transgenderism? — Abdul Rahman

SEPTEMBER 11 — Many LGBTs face discrimination, humiliation and hate-crimes simply by being who there are. Many are denied jobs because of their appearance and some are kicked out of their homes in their teens when their families discovered their gender identity or sexual orientation.

This violence spills to non-LGBTs as well. In school, kids who display non-gender conforming behaviour, whether they are LGBT or not, for example effeminate boys are often bullied and beaten up.

In a recent Seremban case, a transwoman was brutally assaulted by eight men and was hospitalised in critical condition. Recently, two women, accused of being lesbians were publicly caned and fined by the Kelantan Shariah court.

Religious institutions and their clerics give out the message that it is okay to punish and harm LGBTs. Many Muslims agree that LGBTs deserve punishment because of these three main beliefs:

1) LGBT di laknat Allah (LGBT is cursed by Allah)

2) LGBT berdosa/haram (LGBT is sinful/haram)

3) LGBT bertuhankan nafsu (LGBTs are lustful).

First of all let me clarify. LGBTs do not chose to be who they are. I know because I am one. I am a transgender and a Muslim. Being a transgender has nothing to do with lust. It is my gender identity.

I did not chose to be a transgender.

As for back as I can remember, I have been this way, and it took me a long time to accept myself. It was only my faith in God, that I did not try to commit suicide due to all the negative reactions from society. They say Allah Most High condemns me. It is not Allah who condemns me but unthinking humans without compassion.

To be true to my faith, I have researched on what really Islam has to say about people like me. And I want to share with you what I found from the works of distinguished Muslim scholars who have contributed greatly to the tenets of Islam. I have also given the references of my sources at the end of this article.

In the hadiths (sayings of the Prophet), the terminology for a gender variant individual (transgender or effeminiate men) is a mukkanath. The mukkanath was recognised in 5th Century Arabia as effeminate males who may or may not have lust for women.

According to respected Sunni scholar and Hadith collector Imam An-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.

It is important to differentiate the two, the first category are those whose effeminate qualities are in-born and do not have sexual attraction towards women. Hence, there is no blame, guilt or shame.

The other category are males who are lustful of women and who impersonate women in order to gain access into women's spaces deceitfully. The second category is the one that is often quoted by anti-LGBT Muslims who said that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had cursed LGBT.

They often rely on this hadith: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, cursed the effeminate men, who are males, and the male-impersonators, who are women, and he said: Evict them from your houses, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, evicted such-and-such...” — Bukhari, Authentic Traditions, Book LXXII (Dress), Chapter 62: (774)

The words “who are males” and “who are women” are obviously redundant here because the grammar does not really require them to be used.

Masculine gender is already provided grammatically by the endings on the words “impersonators” and “effeminates,” and feminine gender is already provided in the words “impersonators” and “male-pretenders.”

Given the emphasis, the curse is specifically directed only at “true males” (and “true women”) who deceitfully impersonate with the ulterior motive of gaining access to unsuspecting women or to the wives of unsuspecting husbands.

Hence, it is important to understand the historical context during Prophet Muhammad's time, where gender variant individuals were recognised and accepted as part of the fabric of society. The Prophet Muhammad did not punish gender variant people nor did he try to cure them. In one hadith, the Prophet was also recorded to have saved the life of a mukhannath, an effeminate man, when the others wanted to kill him.

Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41, Number 4910: Narrated AbuHurayrah:

A mukhannath who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him). 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.

In the Quran, Allah talks about his creation that comes in many colours and diversity (Fatir 35:27-28). The Quran asks us to be compassionate and merciful and learn from each other our differences, because if Allah wanted, He could have easily created all of us of One people.

“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind One People: but they will not cease to be diverse.” (Hood: 118)

Another Quranic verse has been intepreted by some scholars to show that the Quran recognises that there are some people who are “non-procreative,” thus neither male nor female:

“To Allah 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 non-procreative. Indeed He is the Knower, the Powerful.” (Al-Shura:49-50)

This leads to the fact that Islam recognises khunsa, or intersex, people who have both male and female genitals and are usually non-reproductive. Many people condemn LGBT, but they don't really know what it means. Within the LGBTs, there are also intersexed people whom Muslims condemn too easliy.

There are many variations, shades of khunsa. Some have both male and female genitals very clearly apparent, but most intersex have slightly more of one and less of the other. Some appear physically of one sex, but have the internal organs of the other sex.

Scientific and medical knowledge in endocrinology and genetics have revealed that what we call gender or sex morphology comes in shades, rather than black or white, depending on how you catergorise gender traits.

Since the Olympics introduced gender testing, they have had a surprisingly hard time determining a standard sex or gender test on female atheletes, the rationale being to eliminate men who pose as women to compete unfairly.

Olympians who have female genitals and appear female in all appearance have been found to have the XY “male chromosomes” or XX/XY chromosomes and many other variations.

Some who are clearly female in their appearence with XX chromosomes have unusually high naturally occuring testosterone level that might give them an “unfair” advantage to other women, and some have been found to have semblance of male internal reporductive organs whom the athelete themselves were not aware of.

This has caused much embarrassment to the atheletes that many have decried the use of gender testing on female atheletes.

Forn and an article about complexity of gender testing by the Olympics committee, click here.

Estimates of the number of intersex people vary widely, ranging from one in 5,000 to one in 60 because experts dispute which of the myriad conditions to include and how to tally them accurately.

At the top end, the estimate of 1 in 60 includes a very large population. Perhaps that is why khunsa or intersex

people are recognised and accepted in Islam, and Islam gives them the right to chose their gender.

I would just like to leave readers with this verse among many from the Quran, where we are reminded to have compassion and mercy and not to shame, revile and humiliate another.

“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that latter are better than the former. Nor taunt one another, nor revile another by nicknames....” (Hujrat: 11).

And finally, Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, and Allah is the Creator of all including all the diversity of humans, creatures and plants. As Muslims, we humbly say that we may not understand everything, so we leave all judgement to Allah, who in His infinte wisdom knows best.


1. Skovgaard-Peterson, Jakob. Defining Islam for the Egyption State. Muftis and Fatwas of Dar-Al Ifta. (pg 329)

2. Rowson, K. Everett (Oktober 1991). “The Effeminates Awal Madinah.” Jurnal American Oriental Society (Oriental American Society) 111 (4): 671-693

3. Queer Sexuality and Identity in the Quran and Hadith

4. Al Muqni, Matan. al Sharh al Kabeer. volume 7 347–348.

5. Bukhari, Hadith Sahih, Book LXXII (Pakaian), Bab 62: (774)

6. Olympics Gender Testing

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.