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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 27
Pakistani mullahs OK Transgender marriages
Section One
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Pakistani mullahs OK Transgender marriages

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A group of Muslim religious scholars based in Lahore, Pakistan, have issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, saying that Transgender people may marry one another and should be treated with respect.

The ruling by the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat group said that Trans people should be treated as male or female depending on the way they present.

A Trans person with 'visible signs of being a male' may marry a woman or another Trans person with 'visible signs of being a female,' the mullahs said, but someone with 'visible signs of both genders' may not marry anyone.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the Tanzeem group is made up of 50 mullahs but is 'little-known.' A Nigerian website, on the other hand, says they have 'tens of thousands' of followers in Pakistan.

In addition to marriage rights, the mullahs also ruled on property rights for Trans people. Robbing them of their share in inheritance was unlawful, the mullahs said, and parents who deprive their Transgender sons or daughters of inheritance were 'inviting the wrath of God.' The mullahs called on the Pakistani government to take action against such parents.

They added that people should respect Trans folks in day-to-day interactions.

'Making noises at transgender people, making fun of them, teasing them, or thinking of them as inferior is against sharia [Islamic] law, because such an act amounts to objecting to one of Allah's creations, which is not correct,' the mullahs said.

'We need to accept them as God's creation, too,' Zia-ul-Haq Naqshbandi, spokesperson for the group that issued the fatwa, told the Washington Post. 'Whoever treats them badly - society, the government, their own parents - are sinners.'

'We are glad that somebody's talked about us too,' Transgender rights worker Almas Bobby told BBC Urdu. 'By sharia, we already had the right [to marry], but unless measures are taken to remove the misconceptions about us in society, the condition of our community will not be changed.'

Social worker Qamar Nasim told BBC Urdu that the fatwa was a 'good step,' but that issues would remain until the government legalized Trans marriages.

Police officers have arrested people in Transgender marriages, Nasim said, 'due to a lack of knowledge... they consider it same-sex marriage.

'This practice can only be stopped when [the] government spreads awareness about rights of a transgender person.'

In November 2015, the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat group issued a fatwa condemning ISIS suicide attacks as haram, or forbidden by sharia law. At that time, Naqshbandi said ISIS-style jihadism was based on poor knowledge of Islam and on ignorance.

In 2011, however, as the spokesperson for the Tahafuz Namoos-i-Risalat Mahaz group, Naqshbandi supported the assassination of a Pakistani provincial governor but condemned the kidnapping of the governor's son. It is un-Islamic to punish someone 'for the sins of his parents,' he said.

According to the Pakistani Express Tribune newspaper, Naqshbandi is associated with the Barelvi school of Islam, which is often identified as Sufi and is opposed to the Salafi or Wahhabi school followed by ISIS and al-Qaeda.

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