Muslimabad mosque, graveyard refuse transgender body funeral
Noor, an elderly transgender person from Muslimabad, Karachi, died on Friday of ill health. Hina Baloch, a transgender rights activist wrote on her Instagram about her experience of arranging Noor’s burial and funeral.
Noor died on the evening of Friday, which was also chaand raat in Pakistan. Noor’s chelas or disciple or child in the khwajasira family system, contacted her relatives, but they refused to come to her funeral.
The neighborhood mosque and graveyard staff refused to hold funeral prayers and a burial because of her transgender identity.
Hina Baloch called Edhi Foundation for help. They were polite and willing to help, but needed police verification before proceeding. So Hina went to Mominabad police station to get the paperwork done.
The police demanded more paperwork, a confirmation of death from a hospital. “Confirmation on chaand raat from a government hospital for someone who died at her home in another corner of the city where even an ambulance is not coming to carry her corpse,” Hina wrote. “It was almost impossible & extremely frustrating, and the body had started to decompose already.”
Hina then called Shahzadi Rai for help, as she is the transgender representative for the Sindh Police and has contacts with senior police officers. The police cooperated after Shahzadi made a few calls. They issued Hina the permission letter and a forensics team was sent to Noor’s house. The body was then finally taken by Edhi’s ambulance for a burial.
Noor had been going to hospitals on and off for checkups since 2016. She was suffering from hypertension and diabetes. Her disciples have multiple folders with all her medical records. The files show medical tests done at private hospitals over the past seven years. But all those hospital trips and tests were not helping her get any better, her chelas told Aaj News.
According to her disciples, in the last few months of her life, Noor was going to Jinnah hospital for treatment. The disciples suspect she had cancer.
Noor hailed from Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but her family had abandoned her early in her life, and seized all her land. She lived in a small, rented apartment in Muslimabad, Orangi Town in Karachi. Like many transgender people in Pakistan, her source of income was to go to people’s houses at times of celebration to give blessings and receive money in return.
Rulings on transgender funerals
Aaj News contacted scholar Dr Khalid Zaheer from our program Aaj Islam to ask about the refusal to bury or conduct funeral prayers for a transgender person. The following has been transcribed from his voice notes verbatim:
“Human beings, We created you all from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing of you,” - Quran (Chapter 49, Verse 13)“
The Holy Quran says anyone born from a man and a woman is human, and does not specify gender. Any human has the potential to be the most respected human, irrespective of their gender because the Holy Quran does not mention gender here.
Unfortunately, in our country a lot of religious people, including scholars, try to find all rulings from the Holy Quran, Sunnah or Hadith. The fact of the matter is that Allah (SWT) has provided important principles in the text. And Allah (swt) has given man intelligence so he can solve issues by deducing from the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
It doesn’t matter if the Holy Quran or Sunnah do not mention Khwajasira directly in the text. Humans know naturally that all humans are humans. If a human is visibly disadvantaged, the Holy Quran is clear about respecting such people of society. The Holy Quran extensively talks about orphans, poor people and those who are in need of assistance; transgender people should be treated similarly. Instead of mistreating or making fun of them, they should be given utmost respect. This is what our faith teaches us.“
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