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ISLAMIC VIEWS ON TRANSSEXUALITY

There are no direct Quranic references to transexuality or being transgendered.

FATWA ON SEX CHANGE OPERATION, JUNE 8, 1988

This fatwa is exists according to a case of sex change operation which arise many issues.

In 1982, a student in Medicine Faculty of al-Azhar University, Sayyid ‘Abd Allah, consulted a

psychologist claiming to suffer from deep depression. The psychologist examined him and

concluded that the sexual identity of the young man was disturbed. After three years of

treatment, she decided to refer him to a surgeon so that he could undergo a sex change operation

that eventually took place on January 29, 1988. This operation involved many consequences of

administrative and legal order.

On May 14, 1988, the Doctors’ Syndicate sent a letter to the Mufti of the Republic,

Sayyid Tantawi, asking him to issue a fatwa on the matter. This one came on June 8, 1988,

concluding that if the doctor showed that it was the only cure for the patient, this treatment was

authorized. However, this treatment cannot result solely from the individual desire to change sex,

but must be the therapeutic result of a pathological diagnosis decided by the proper authorities.

This fatwa is not clear on whether the ‘psychological hermaphroditism’ from which Sayyid

suffered was an admissible medical reason or not. In November 1989, Sayyid with new name

Sally received a certificate establishing her status as a female.

Related by ibn Majah, abu Da’ud, at-Tirmidhi, and others, a hadith told: “Some

Bedouins said, “O, Messenger of God, can you cure?” And He said, “Yes, God’s servants can

cure themselves, for God never gave a disease without providing a cure or a medicine for it,

except for one disease.” They asked, ‘O, Prophet of God, what disease is that? He said “Old

age”.
As a condemnation of those who by word and deed resemble women, it must be confined

to one who does it deliberately. While one who is like this out of a natural disposition must be

ordered to abandon it, even if this can only be achieved step by step. Should he then comply, but

persist (in his manner), the blame shall include him, as well especially if he displays any pleasure

in doing so.

The person who is by nature a hermaphrodite (mukhannath khalqi - people with both

male and female genitalia) is not to be blamed. This is based on the consideration that if he is not

capable of abandoning the female, swinging his hips in walking and speaking in a feminine way,

after having been subjected to treatment against it, it is possible for him to abandon it, if only

gradually. But if he gives up the cure with no excuse, then he deserves blame.

At-Tabari took it as an example that the Prophet did not forbid the hermaphrodite from

entering the women’s quarters until he heard him giving a description of the women’s quarters in

great detail. Then he prohibited it. This proves that no blame is on the hermaphrodite for simply

being created that way.

That being so, the rulings derived from these and other noble hadiths on treatment grant

permission to perform an operation changing a man into a woman, or vice versa, as long as a

reliable doctor concludes that there are innate causes in the body itself, indicating a buried

(matmura) female nature, or a covered (maghmura) male nature, because the operation will

disclose these buried or covered organs, thereby curing a corporal disease which cannot be

removed, except by this operation.

This also dealt with in a hadith about cutting a vein, which is related through Jabir: “The

Messenger of God sent a physician to abu ibn Ka’b. The physician cut a vein and burned it.”

[hadith related by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muslim]. What support this view is what al-Qastallani
and al-Asqalani say in their commentaries on it: “This means that it is incumbent upon the

hermaphrodite to remove the symptoms of femininity.”

And this further sustained by the author of Fath al-Bari who says “… having given him

treatment in order to abandon it…” This is a clear proof that the duty prescribed for the

hermaphrodite can take the form of a treatment. The operation is such a treatment, perhaps even

the best treatment.

Many Islamic countries permit sex reassignment surgery. Hermaphrodites are allowed in

many Islamic regions to have surgery to help determine the sex of the person, also bearing in

mind the person’s gender identity. It has not been allowed for Muslims to have sex change

operations otherwise. However, the Iranian Ayatullah Khomeini permitted such operations for

transsexuals in 2004. Therefore for Shi’a Muslims this is allowed.

REFERENCES:

Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. Defining Islam for the Egyptian State: Muftis and Fatwas of the Dar

al-Ifta. Chapter 11. case study III: never change your sex in Cairo- Islamic reaction to some

modern surgery. Pg 319-334. Leiden; New York; Koln: Brill, 1997

http://books.google.com.my/books?id=f9uyFx-

TGuIC&pg=PA327&dq=islamic+views+on+sex+change+surgery&hl=en&ei=jUmgT

OqnOsHJccLt2b0J&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC0Q6AEwA

A#v=onepage&q&f=true

Esposito, John L. & Burgat, François . Modernizing Islam: Religion in the Public Sphere in the
Middle East and Europe. Pg 138-140. Bookcraft Ltd, Stroud, Gloucestershire. 2003

http://books.google.com.my/books?

id=8hjNFnAoLqkC&pg=PA138&dq=islamic+views+on+sex+change+surgery&hl=e
n&ei=JmegTIPPGYWlcdb4-e8J&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=book-

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