Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I have a friend who is transgender. She wishes people to refer to her as a he even though she is biologically a girl. I don’t want to offend her or lose her friendship, but I also don’t want to do anything unIslamic. Should I use that pronoun when I am with her and speak about her to non-Muslims?
Thank you for your question. This is a new and challenging problem that has arisen in our era. May Allah reward you for not accepting it without checking whether it is aligned with Islam.
Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)
Allah Most High has explained to us in the Quran the plot of the Devil: “‘I will mislead them and incite vain desires in them; I will command them to slit the ears of cattle; I will command them to tamper with God’s creation.’ Whoever chooses Satan as a patron instead of God is utterly ruined: he makes them promises and raises false hopes, but Satan’s promises are nothing but delusion. Such people will have Hell for their home and will find no escape from it.” [Quran, 4:119-121]
And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us, “God has cursed men who imitate women and women who imitate men.” [Bukhari]
Consequences of Gender Fluidity
Changing one’s gender will have detrimental effects on the fabric of society.
- It changes the very meaning of a traditional family,
- It bars reproduction when coupled with homosexuality,
- It confuses children about their identity, their roles, and what is expected of them,
- It blurs the lines of gender interaction limits that are obligatory in Islam,
- It makes people go against the very nature that Allah intended,
- It will lead to a loss of religious freedom
- It means men will (and have already) begun competing with women in sports, crushing the competition and breaking previous records.
- It will lead to the loss of female spaces because locker rooms, bathrooms, and facilities will be shared with transgender folk, endangering the safety of girls (see this story about a transgender boy who assaulted a girl in a girl’s bathroom)
If the basic first principles of nature are continuously ignored, society will eventually usher in greater sin and corruption, such as incest. Please listen to the links below which speak about this.
Why Do We Care
So, when transgender or pansexual people ask Muslims why they care about what other people do, the reasons are plain. We believe in preserving the traditional family dynamic, which preserves society, and we believe that this is the healthiest way to live for all people. Left unchecked, these distortions will enter our mainstream media, schools, curriculums, and perhaps even our mosques. Unfortunately, some of these have already appeared, and we seek refuge in God from it.
Allah Most High told us in the Quran, “And We created pairs of all things, so perhaps you would be mindful.” [Quran, 51:49]
Trying to change one’s identity, gender, or calling oneself non-binary, which is only reserved for God, is unlawful and unacceptable in our religion. It contradicts the reality and truth that genders are fixed. Being a male or female is a great blessing, one that must not be squandered. Sadly, many Muslims are confused about this, and I want to explain in the gentlest way possible that Muslims cannot support non-conforming gender pronouns, nor should they be forced to use them. Using another pronoun for your friend is not within the realm of choice as a Muslim.
As with any challenging situation, you should approach this with gentleness, kindness, and understanding. You can explain to your friend that you cannot consent to her requests and that although you respect her very much, you cannot contradict your Lord and your religion. Be unwavering in your stance, do not think yourself above her, and do not insult or look down on her; that is contrary to righteousness. Remember that we hate the sin/action, not the person.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The believer does not insult the honor of others, nor curse, nor commit indecencies, nor is he foul.” [Tirmidhi]
Please use the advice of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who said, “Allah is kind and loves kindness, and He rewards for compassion in a way that He does not reward for harshness. “[Ahmad]
This may or may not have a bearing on your friendship, and honestly, if she deserts the company, show patience and be reassured that there is some benefit for you. Use this as a reminder to strengthen your faith, build your relationship with Allah Most High, deepen your knowledge of our religion, and learn the tremendous wisdom and equality behind our perfect shari’ah (Islamic law). Keeping good company is of the utmost importance. Beware of whom you love because one will be raised with them on the day of Judgment.
Anas narrated,” A man asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) about the Hour, saying, ‘When will the Hour be?’ The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘What have you prepared for it?’ The man said,” nothing, except that I love Allah and His Apostle.’ The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘You will be with those you love.’ We had never been so glad as we were on hearing that saying of the Prophet (‘You will be with those whom you love.’) Therefore, I love the Prophet, Abu Bakr and `Umar, and I hope that I will be with them because of my love for them though my deeds are not similar to theirs.” [Bukhari]
Please see these links, some of which mention going back to the first principles from which these ideas first arose:
Do We Hate the Sinner or the Sin for the Sake of Allah?
What Is the Islamic Perspective On Gender?
The Rejection of Gender in Today’s Society – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
Hamza Yusuf on Modern Gender Issues and Islam
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.