CAIRO – A so-called Islamic school for transgender and bisexual students has reopened its doors in Yogyakarta, Java, with the declared goal of introducing Islamic education for all regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Everyone has the right to observe their religion in their own way,” Yogyakarta Abdul Muhaimin, advisory board member of the Faithful People Brotherhood Forum, said in his speech at the launch of Pesantren Waria Al Fatah in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, Jakarta Post reported on Monday, April 21.
At the opening ceremony, Abdul Muhaimin asserted that people were not allowed to undermine others, including transgender people, since everyone was made by God.
“According to the Qur’an, we are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values,” said Muhaimin, who also leads Nurul Umahat Islamic boarding school for girls in Kotagede.
He claimed that although transgenderism was not specifically mentioned in the Qur’an, it had been discussed in fiqh (Islamic legal jurisprudence).
“I hope the students here are strong as they must face stigma in society. We have to care for them [transgender people],” he added.
Abdul Muhaimin speech was given last Friday at the reopening ceremony of Pesantren Waria school a month after its closure due to the death of its founder Maryani.
The new school moved to a house belonging to Shinta Ratri, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual (LGBT) activist.
Waria is a portmanteau of the words for woman (wanita) and man (pria) and is often used to describe transgender women.
Maryani had received local and international media attention since 2008 when he transformed his home into a place for transgenders to study Islam.
He also made headlines last year after he failed to make pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia due to documentation problem.
His dream eventually came true when he flew to Makkah in April 2013 to perform umrah, performing all the pillars covered as a woman.
Hosting the new school, Shinta said the school was supported by the Nahdlatul Ulama University of Jepara, Central Java.
The school offered students various subjects, such as transgender and Islam, Qur’an reading and prayers lessons.
“There are currently 35 students at the school,” she said.
Along with Islamic studies, the school offered the students ways to make money.
“I hope the school can give students self confidence. Being transgender is not a sin. It is allowed in Islam as far as it’s genuine, not fake,” she added.
Wulan Agustina, a student at the school, said she could now read the Qur’an and perform prayers after enrolling at the school.
“I also took religious studies, which can strengthen our will to face the hardships of life,” Wulan said.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state where Muslims make up 80% percent of the 220 million population.
In Islam, changing one’s sex is not permissible if the person (male or female) has complete male or female sex organs.
However, it is possible for the hermaphrodites to get assigned a certain sex, by means of medical intervention (surgical and/or hormonal therapy) and behavioral training.
In 1988, sex-reassignment surgery was declared acceptable under Islamic law by scholars at the world’s oldest Islamic university, Al-Azhar, in Egypt but only for Hermaprodites - people born with both sexual characteristics, physically both male and female -
Sex changes have been deemed legal in Iran since Ayatolla Khomeini passed a fatwa authorizing them for “diagnosed transsexuals” over 25 years ago.
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