Cross Dressing For Allah

So one of my friends asked me what did I think about the Red Mosque stand off. You know, the one where the pious Muslim leader tried to escape out the backdoor dressed as a woman. I’m not one to write too much about politics. I am also very careful about writing on events that I don’t understand. But who could ignore the dramatic events and the burqas. Umar Lee has made some very interesting comments on this piece in his blog. My response is delayed because I’ve been really swamped with my work and studies. But with the flurry of blog entries, here’s my two cents.

There is so much discussion about women’s dress, hijab, niqab, and burqa. A few years back, Michael Jackson made headlines by dressing in an abaya and veil and powdering his nose in a bathroom. Himesh Reshammiya pissed off a lot of Muslims in a shrine. Himesh and Michael were just trying to escape paparazzi. But there have been a growing number of stories where bank robbers and Muslim militants donned the burqa to escape police or military capture. In the case of the mosque standoff, I think I’d cut the brother some slack if he didn’t have such a hard core deen-or-die-rough-rider-pakistani-style rhetoric. So what’s up with that ready to die as a shaheed, but dressing up as a meek Muslimah? I’m really rusty on my Fiqh, but last I heard was that cross dressing was haram. In fact, I’ve read works by Muslim writers who condemn Muslim women for wearing jeans and pants like men. But maybe in this case they used ijtihad and came up with some ruling that it is okay to cross dress fi-subil-Allah.

15 thoughts on “Cross Dressing For Allah

  1. I have heard that he was paraded in burqa to give the impression that he was trying to escape wearing it. This whole situation seems very confusing, and I doubt we will be able to get to the bottom. In the end, everyone will think these people are crazy, and we may not know the truth (whatever that is!).


  2. The Red Mosque is definitely an example of blowback. I have no sympathy for these clerics who are really reactionaries and obssessed with power. There actions are contrary to Sharia’.
    I was saddened by the ending to the standoff. I wish it could have ended peacefully, but instead young people were killed and a mosque destroyed. Musharraf is hated even more and the clerics have lost even more confidence and trust with the people.


  3. Ilove those mujahideen,ulema,students,and the muslim women that were standing up to those evil government troops and what they did wasn’t contrary to the sunnah it was good.The people who say they are definately moderate and secular.


  4. The Burqua story sounds like disinformation. It sounds like something planted by the psychological warfare department of the Pakistani army. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.


  5. Well I’m a brother that likes occassionaly cross-dressing in musilminah attire: I own a niqab, gloves, abaya and a traditional Gulf-style dress with beautiful embroidery on it (dont know the technical name for this). I have huge admiration and respect for niqaabi sisters and for me its a case of ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’. In my niqaab etc theres an amazing feeling of being connected with ones self – one is very much aware of the body rather than the outside world. I have to say its a feeling I treasure and am jealous of niqaabi sisters in that. Its a feeling – which maybe I havent described too well’ its difficult to put a feeling into words – which guys are normally denied. I did one of those online gender id tests and came out as ‘androgynous’ rather than the binary opposites of masculine contrasted with feminine. My feminine side is a part of me and I’m not ashamed of getting in touch with it through cross-dressing. It has enriched my life, given me more insight into musilminahs and increased my respect and admiration for them. How can that be a bad thing?


  6. Dear Daud, it may be that Allah has created you as mukhannath, there were mukhannaths in Medina in the Prophet’s time (this is usually not spoken of), so to be one is not haram. Science has recently shown that gender identity is located in a structure in the brain, Shaykh Tantawi at al-Azhar made a fatwa that if a person’s body is intersexed (physical combination of male and female in one body), they should live as the gender they are most similar to… and the brain is part of the body… although blurring up the genders could be seen as problematic… if I were you I’d pray istikharah and ask Allah to help you with this.


  7. Dear Sister Jannah, I had no intention of posting again on the subject but your kind and insightful response to my (somewhat guarded and elliptical) post prompts this response. One problem for me in seeking to understand myself was that the discourses of ‘gay/transvestite/transexual’ originate in places and have connotations and associations that meant they never resonated with me as descriptions or analysis of who or what I am. It was only when I started reading about mukhannathun in early Islamic history that I said to myself ‘This is all about me!’ I realized then that Allah created me as a mukhannath, whch was finally a description/explanation that I could accept, and one that comes from within Muslim tradition itself. I have now read so much about mukhannathun that I could write a book on them! For those that don’t know, mukhannathun are Muslim men created by Allah with the strong desire to adopt the appearance, clothing, adornment and behaviors of women. In Islamic society eg at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) the mukannathun wore the clothing and ornamentation (anklets, bracelets, earrings etc) and adornment (eg henna designs on hands and feet) that women wore. They had special roles in matters pertaining to matchmaking and weddings, and they worked alongside women in mainly household/domestic related work. Mukhannathun had a valued role but women had certain rights over them (eg a woman could take a mukhannath as ‘abd’, but not vice versa). Essentially mukkannathun were the ‘handmaidens’/’abd’ of women, and in the same way that Allah granted certain rights to men over women, Allah granted authority over mukhannathun to women. Being a mukhannath, as you say sister Jannah, was not haram, since it was recognized as the expression of innate characteristics. The only time mukhannathun were penalized was for moral crimes such as prostitution, rather than for the cross-gender behavior itself (An-Nawawi is quite insistent on this point). This toleration of mukhannathun has a long tradition in Islamic history which continued eg in the Mughal and Ottoman Empires. Those who argue that cross-gender behaviours are anti-Islamic western imports have got it exactly the wrong way round: Muslim society has a long tradition of making tolerant accommodations towards gender variant people, dating back to the time of the Prophet himself. What is relatively new is the Western-derived notion that there is a binary male/female gender order to which all must conform.

    Turning to my personal situation Jannah, I have such a yearning to fulfil the role Allah has ordained for me as a mukhannath. I am more and more feeling it’s not a question of ‘if’ I will live the rest of my life as a muslimah, but a question of when. It would really be a logical culmination of the direction things have pointed since I was five, when I cross-dressed for the first time. So much has happened in the 22 years since then that points in the same direction, and above all the kind of person I am in terms of my sensibility and interests, for example I have so many female-identified interests. Superficial consumerist example: I love looking at and wearing things like beautiful high-heel shoes and bags. I think it would actually be a pretty smooth transition for me in some respects ,but I do worry about the reactions of those close to me. Thanks again for your comments, dear sister Jannah.


  8. Daud, it looks like you’ve gotten a good start on writing a book already, now let’s find you a literary agent to get it published. 🙂 Thanks for that very informative post. It’s a difficult path you’re on, may Allah be your support.


  9. I too crossdress as a niqaabi and have similar feelings to Daud when I am fully covered and veiled. In fact, I am planning to adopt the lifestyle of a muslimah on a full-time basis early in 2008. I too have the greatest respect for all muslims and especially for those sisters that wear hijab and niqab.


  10. Assalamualikum, i am a crossdresser too and i am a Muslim. And i have conflict in me, and it become worse. Now i resemble a woman physically. I got bashed on internet being a transgender Muslim. And some give death threat. Some accuse me as gay in which i am not. he way i understand, gay is an act. I don’t involve in gay sex(sodomy). I am really confuse, if Muhammad s.a.w is Rahmataan fil Alamin, why Muslims are so negative toward peoples like me? Is Islam only for certain type of peoples and reject other type of peoples? I have studey about SRS, it is legalized in Iran, and i took part in debate about it at YT. Why Sunni avoiding this topic? I have thinking about SRS many times…but…


  11. Hello
    Thanks for a very interesting post and comments! I am aiming to write an article about mukhannathun and transgender issues in Islam. If any of you with personal experience of the subject would like to help me with an interview or an email it would be extremely helpful and i would be so grateful! Or if anyone knows anyone who might be interested.

    Of course you would only participate as much as you’d like, and it would be completely anonymous and with a chance for you to read and approve of my text before it being published anywhere. Please email me at

    Thanks so much!


  12. daud i know this is late but still do you know that mukhannath were not allowed to have sex? some were castrated…. what do you have to say about that? i had the test online and came up with androgyny…. please help….


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