In the outskirts of Islamabad’s Bari Imam area, there is an audacious plan being laid out by transgender activists to officially build Pakistan’s first trans-inclusive mosque, especially at a difficult time when Saudi Arabia has just banned transgenders from performing Umrah (religious pilgrimage) according to the News International.
At this stage, the local transgender community is only collecting the money to fund the construction of the mosque, which they plan to build on a donated land. Their plan is to build a trans friendly mosque and community space where transgender Muslims can worship and learn skills that will help them contribute to the welfare of their society without any fear of discrimination and restrictions to their religious freedom.
Nadeem Kashish, who happens to be the founder of the Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (Safar), the organization behind this initiative, said to VOA Urdu, “What we’re trying to do here is to spread the message of equality which defines Islam. Everyone is equal before Islam, no one is greater to anyone on the basis of their creed, color or gender. The message of equality that we’re trying to spread is for all, we want this mosque to be open for all.”
She further adds, “I’ve been working for the last 10 years as a makeup artist, I don’t like seeing members of my community begging on the streets. We have B.A graduates who are forced to beg because of unemployment, by opening this mosque I wish to change the perceptions people have for transgenders and end the discrimination they face.”
This project was originally started by few transgender people six months ago, who decided to raise money to open a mosque after facing much discrimination by other worshippers for wearing women’s clothes and acting in an effeminate way to the point that some were asked to leave the mosque, verbally abused and in the worseven had police called in.
Adnan Nazooh, who migrated to Islamabad after facing discrimination back at her rural hometown went on to say, “We believe in God too, it’s not like we don’t. I am proud to be a Muslim, I know my four Kalima (declaration of faith), I can perform Namaz (prayers) and yes I can’t recite Holy Quran but still I will learn it here and due to all this, I hope people will view us with respect and accept us as equal members of their society.”
Soon after this bold initiative was taken up by the transgender community of Bari Imam, members of the local community have now started to show their support by donating for the mosque, which hopefully will be a sect-less and inclusive environment that would be open to all without any discrimination and restrictions being applied.
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