Transgenders and related rulings.

Question:

Are transgender females (those who were born males but later transitioned into females) considered to be females with regards to the laws of Islaam?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

On the onset, the difference between transgenderism and intersex/hermaphrodites (Khunthaa as mentioned in the books of Fiqh) must be understood.

Hermaphrodite/pseudo-hermaphrodites/Intersex: “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types. For example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of the cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY. Though we speak of intersex as an inborn condition, intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth[1].

Transgenderism: “People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” For example, a person who identifies as transgender or transsexual may have typical female anatomy but feel like a male and seek to become male by taking hormones or electing to have sex reassignment surgeries[2].

Therefore an individual classified with intersex/hermaphroditism conditions naturally have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Such biological conditions would have occurred naturally, without external medication or procedures etc. In contrast, people who are transgendered are born with a typical male or female body, and may develop psychological and internal issues of gender identity, which may lead to superficial alteration of their physical body and appearance to resemble the opposite gender.

The Shari’ah has recognized the first category – intersex/hermaphroditism as legitimate medical and natural conditions. The same cannot be said of transgenderism/gender dysphoria.

Intersex people are referred to as ‘Khunthaa’ in the Arabic language. Some guidelines have been provided in our Books of Fiqh. Understand that at that time, the idea of ‘sex’ being determined by chromosomes etc. did not exist. As such, the following guidelines were stipulated by the Jurists. The rulings are more applicable to an individual who has developed both male and female genitals[3].

See footnote for details on Khunthaa as mentioned in books of Fiqh.[4], [5].

The Fuqaha mentioned that with puberty, more often than not, the ‘sex’ can be established by those methods.

However, given that ‘sex’ today is generally defined through the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, the type of gonads, the sex hormones, the internal genitalia (such as the uterus in females), and the external genitalia, different rulings may be applicable based on the differences in sex development. As such, rulings would be based on more of a case by case study,[6] in the absence of external signs that point to a specific gender.

Our Creator, Allah Ta’ala in the Qur’an clearly confines humankind to only two genders, either male or female. The laws of Shar’iah are based on these only two genders.

Our Creator Allah the Almighty clearly defines these two sexes in the following verses,

يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

Translation: “O men, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul, and from it created its match, and spread many men and women from the two. Fear Allah in whose name you ask each other (for your rights), and fear (the violation of the rights of) the womb-relations. Surely, Allah is watchful over you.- (Surah An-Nisa’, Ayah 1)

فَجَعَلَ مِنۡہُ الزَّوۡجَیۡنِ الذَّکَرَ وَالۡاُنۡثٰی

Translation: and made from him two kinds, male and female.(Surah Al-Qiyamah, Ayah 3)

Our pristine Sharia recognizes neither a third sex nor a combination of both sexes in one individual. The concept of transgenderism goes totally against the nature of which Allah Ta’ala has created human, and is totally forbidden.

A person who is physically male or female is not permitted to alter his/her behavior or appearance in a way that makes him/her resemble the opposite gender. It is a major sin for a person to undergo surgical procedures to “change” his or her gender. People who do so are under the curse of Allah and Rasūlullāh (). Such prohibition has been mentioned in many Ahadith,

لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المتشبهين من الرجال بالنساء والمتشبهات من النساء بالرجال

“Rasūlullāh () cursed those men who imitate women and those women who imitate men.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ لَعَنَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْمُخَنَّثِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ، وَالْمُتَرَجِّلاَتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَقَالَ ‏ ‏ أَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ بُيُوتِكُمْ ‏‏‏.‏ قَالَ فَأَخْرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فُلاَنًا، وَأَخْرَجَ عُمَرُ فُلاَنًا‏.‏

The Prophet () cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, “Turn them out of your houses.” The Prophet () turned out such-and-such man, and `Umar turned out such-and-such woman. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Mannish characteristics (for women) and effeminate characteristics, dressing, speaking (for men) are im­permissible if adopted deliberately.

If, however, effeminate behaviour man­ifests in a male by their nature (khilqatan), outside of his con­scious control then those unintentional mannerisms are not sinful.

In conclusion, transgenderism is a major sin and has no place in Shari’ah. A person will remain the gender Allah has created them on, regardless how they feel or think about their body.

The American Fiqh Academy concludes,

Even if, in certain cases of gender dysphoria, a psychological condition where one feels at odds with their biological sex, may encourage a person to undergo such procedures, one must remain aware of the grave sin in doing so. 

Although one’s gender dysphoria, a psychological condition where one feels at odds with their biological sex, may encourage one to undergo such procedures, one must remain aware of the grave sin in doing so.  One does not have full rights over one’s body, but rather one must treat it in accordance with the laws of the Sharia. At the same time, although one regards and treats such individuals as per their original sex, one must also maintain compassion for the individuals themselves, even if one disapproves of their actions, especially since psychological illness underlies such behavior.[7] 

As Muslims, we believe each one of the concepts of LGBTQ are explicitly prohibited by our creator Allah Ta’ala under the clear verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith. A person who regards these major sins to be lawful and acceptable cannot claim to be a Muslim.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Arshad Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net


[1] https://isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex/

[2] https://isna.org/faq/transgender/

[3] http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/43237

  • [4] If the intersex child urinates from the male genitals, it will be male.
  • If it urinates from the female genitals, it will be female.
  • If it urinates from both, preference will be given to where it urinated from first.
  • If one still cannot distinguish the ‘sex’, and no other signs point towards its gender, one will have to wait and see as the child reaches the age of puberty.
  • If that person is able to have intercourse with the male genitals then he is male.
  • If the person is unable to have intercourse with the male genitals, but grows a beard, he will be male.
  •  If the person is unable to have intercourse as a male, nor able to grow a beard, rather grows breasts like women, then she will be a woman
  • If breast do not grow, but the person experiences menstruation, then she will be female.

[5] تحفة الفقهاء (3/ 357)

والشخص الْوَاحِد لَا يكون ذكرا وَأُنْثَى وَلَكِن يحْتَمل أَن يكون ذكرا وَآلَة النِّسَاء فِي حَقه نُقْصَان بِمَنْزِلَة مَوضِع شجة لم تلتئم وَيحْتَمل أَن يكون أُنْثَى وَآلَة الرِّجَال فِي حَقّهَا زِيَادَة بِمَنْزِلَة الْأصْبع الزَّائِدَة

وَالشَّرْع جعل الْعَلامَة الفاصلة بَينهمَا قبل الْبلُوغ هُوَ المبال على مَا رُوِيَ عَن النَّبِي عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام أَنه قَالَ الْخُنْثَى يُورث من حَيْثُ يَبُول فَلَمَّا جعل الأمارة هَذَا فِي حق الْإِرْث فَكَذَا فِي حق الْأَحْكَام الَّتِي تخْتَص بالخنثى يجب أَن يكون هُوَ الْعَلامَة

فَإِن كَانَ يَبُول من مبال الرِّجَال فَهُوَ ذكر

وَإِن كَانَ يَبُول من مبال النِّسَاء فَهُوَ أُنْثَى وَإِن كَانَ يَبُول مِنْهُمَا جَمِيعًا فَالْحكم للأسبق مِنْهُمَا

وَإِذا اسْتَويَا فِي السَّبق قَالَ أَبُو حنيفَة أتوقف فِيهِ

وَقَالا يعْتَبر الْأَكْثَر فِي ذَلِك ثمَّ إِذا اسْتَويَا فِي الْكَثْرَة والقلة توقفا فِيهِ أَيْضا كَمَا توقف أَبُو حنيفَة

والتوقف فِي مَوضِع عدم الدَّلِيل وَاجِب وَهُوَ الْخُنْثَى الْمُشكل

وَإِنَّمَا يظْهر الْحَال وَيَزُول الْإِشْكَال بِالْبُلُوغِ بِظُهُور الْحيض وَالْحَبل ونهود الثديين ونبات اللِّحْيَة والاحتلام وَنَحْوهَا فَيجْرِي عَلَيْهِ أَحْكَام الذّكر أَو الْأُنْثَى

[6] http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/43237

[7] https://fiqhacademy.com/res03/