14.11.08

Islam and the eunuch



I cannot decide whether the news item about Indonesia’s transvestites getting into an Islamic school is good news or bad news.

Let me reproduce excerpts from the report and respond to the points:


Heavyset and wearing the pink Islamic headscarf and matching flowing clothes of a pious Indonesian housewife, 48-year-old Maryani says her penis is a gift from God. Born as a boy and raised as a Catholic, Maryani spent years of drinking and selling sex on the streets as part of this city’s transgendered community before discovering Islam.

If the penis is a gift from god, then why play the role of a woman? She was born with it, so isn’t this the gift of her Christian god? Where does Islam come into the picture? I am beginning to think that people are just getting onto the Islamic bandwagon because it is convenient.

You might wonder how it is possible when people are suffering because of it. Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country. Besides, the convert always has great value.

Maryani’s house has been turned into Indonesia’s first Islamic school set up specifically for waria, the transgendered people. Twice a week, around 20 waria in tight jeans, skirts, straightened hair and fastidiously applied makeup come in—many bleary eyed from a long night of drinking and searching for clients—to study the Koran and get better acquainted with their religion. “Waria are people too, we want to be religious. We have a right to heaven and we have a right to hell. Because we’ve been given life we have to remember god,” Maryani says.

This sounds like chicken soup for the soul or, more appropriately, some lime juice after a hangover. Drinking and soliciting clients is not a part of Islam. I am not being judgmental about the profession these people follow because there are few avenues for them, and most earn barely $ 1.86. As one of them said, “If you ask me going out at night is not good, but this is the only way we can meet our everyday needs. My principle is that I’ll stay like this in the future, when I’m old I’ll still be like this.”

Isn’t it unfortunate? Is learning the Koran helping them in any way, if they are so fatalistic? Belief in god and prayer can be essential for them, and for a believer heaven and hell are there whether they pray or not. If they have been doing their kind of work for years, I suspect they will be put on a guilt trip. What happens then?

The teachers teach skills such as baking and beauty therapy to get the waria off the streets, but their main focus remains religious guidance.

How many transgendered people get employed in such professions? What is the religious guidance being given to them that will help them in their daily lives? Do they need to go to school for this? The only advantage as I see it is that it could be a way of getting them to bond.

Said one, “We have hopes like other women. We hope to live with someone beside us, hope for a son. To live like regular people.”

No religion can give them that. Such hopes can be realised only through scientific methods and that too in certain cases.

Heaven and hell are situations we encounter on earth. And we have the benefit and the bruises from both to show and learn from.

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Image: Maryani at her home-school

3 comments:

  1. Islamic eunuchs are halal ones...LOL

    So, once you have this title of being Islamic, no matter who you're? you become Halal and you know what Halal means?

    It means everything is alright under the shadow to Islam.....

    You can be eunuch, lesbian, gay, bisexula, pervert and blah blah blah.....

    Oh, boy If you're anyone of above you better should wrap yourself with Islamic garb ,if, you wish to be blessed...LOL

    As soon as you're not under Islamic shadows, your sexuality and perversion becomes SHADOWY............
    circle

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  2. At School, we learnt an important lesson, each subject is different and one should keep it that way, can’t apply progressive algebra to salt formulae in chemistry. Doesn’t same apply to life , Transvestites are a Biological issue , same way as you may be born with an mole or an extra thumb, one may be born as transvestite, why pull Religion into this, Islam or Christianity is unlikely to change the biological reality, the veil , the Islamic school and the bakery class might create a social smokescreen …at best. Religions conversions always scout for people on the edge, Islam has strong push on faith and I am not surprised that a lot of people get pulled in, a batch mate of mine at IIMB , born Marwari Jain married a Kashmiri Muslim, converted on her will and is more devout than most kashmiri Muslims. She gave me long lecture on why being vegetarian is bad idea ….It is conviction …….new religion gives people more conviction, sheer conviction drives them …….
    You are right, Heaven and Hell are state of mind and not state of material, a illusionistic picture drawn on canvas of faith …. I agree, we all face it here ….sometimes within a day, sometimes within a relationship…sometimes with the same person …..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Circle:

    Besides the social issues, I do not like Islam being used for any and everything. Unfortunately, the real religious people think they have a 'theka' and start promoting all this as a good thing.
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    Manish:

    As I said in the post and the comment above, it becomes convenient.

    In my work I have interacted with eunuchs and they are exceedingly religious, but most come with their interesting to watch how they follow these customs.

    Btw, you might like to read this for some Saturday amusement right here:

    http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-eunuch-self.html

    ReplyDelete

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