“Third Sex” : An Islamic Perspective

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the Islamic view of what is called (third sex), created by Allah, and was there such gender at the time of the Prophet(PBUH) or the companions?

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions. Islamic Law views the so called(third sex)-Individuals with doubtful gender identity due to a congenital disease-as part of believing in divine preordainment, and that Allah has created all creatures with His will and wisdom. Therefore, it is forbidden to look down upon someone because Allah has created him in a certain form, and it is also forbidden to discriminate between people on basis of race, color, or origin because all of them are equal before Allah. Allah, The Almighty, said: " O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."{Al-Hujurat/13}. Accordingly, Islam has granted individuals afflicted with defects and deformities the full rights granted to all human beings, and raised them in rank according to their contributions to Islam and the Muslim nation as well as their status before their Lord. Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) said: " The blood of every Muslims is equal, they are one hand against others. The asylum offered by the lowest of them in status applies to them (all), and the return is granted to the farthest of them………………………….”{Abu Dawood}. It has been proven that some "Third sex" individuals were present at the time of the Prophet(PBUH), such as "Anjasha" and "Heet" , as mentioned by Ibn Hajar in his book "Al-Isabah Fi Tameez As`sahabah". It was reported that they have led an honorable life among the companions and that they have enjoyed full rights, and have fulfilled their duties and responsibilities. It was never reported that they were looked down upon or persecuted. However, a special set of legal rules was drawn up for dealing with this type of people, and these mainly on the basis of what is more prudent. For example, men treat them as women, and women treat with them as men. For further details on these rules, please refer to juristic books on this topic. We advise people to fear Allah when dealing with such individuals, and help them get cured and pass this affliction, and that special organizations should be set up to help them get their full rights and live with dignity. However, if what is called "Third sex" refers to individuals who deliberately transfer their normal bodies to become as such, through undergoing surgery or imitating the opposite sex, then Muslim scholars unanimously agree that such procedures are forbidden because it is changing Allah`s creation. Allah, The Exalted, said in this regard: " (The Pagans), leaving Him, call but upon female deities: They call but upon satan the persistent rebel God did curse him, but he said: "I will take of Thy servants a portion Marked off; "I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by God." Whoever, forsaking God, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest. Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan’s promises are nothing but deception. They (his dupes) will have their dwelling in Hell, and from it they will find no way of escape."{An-Nisa`/117-121}. Moreover, Ibn Abbas narrated: "Allah's Messenger (PBUH) cursed those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners) of women and those women who are in the similitude (assume the manners) of men."{Bukhari}. And Allah knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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