A group of transgender activists are trying to build a mosque on the outskirts of the capital, where they would be able to pray without falling prey to social stigmas.
The mosque will have the capacity for 1,000 people to offer prayers at a time.
According to foreign media, a madrassa would be part of the mosque. Nadeem Kashash, who is pursuing the cause of a mosque for transgender people, says: “In our locality Nurpur Shahan and Mohallah Jajal, there are about 150 houses, but no mosque for them at all.
“Therefore, we decided to build a mosque of our own about six months ago. It is a slum area, and the dwellers donated a one-kanal piece of land for the purpose,” Nadeem added. He said the mosque would be named ‘Rehmatulil Aalamin Masjid’, and so far seven lakh rupees have been spent on the construction work.
He said there are about 2,700 transgender people in Islamabad, and they don’t have any mosque where they could offer prayers. Nadeem said the mosque would not have any link with any sect of Islam and every person would be allowed to go there and offer prayers.
“We are Muslims, but we are not allowed to enter a mosque,” said a transgender woman who is currently raising funds for the Rehmatul Alameen mosque in the Bari Imam area.
“In our society, people only think of transgender women to be sex objects, so they don’t want to allow us to enter mosques to offer prayers,” she lamented.
Once complete, transgender people would be free to join the congregation at the mosque, especially for Friday prayers. Furthermore, the mosque would also serve as a seminary.
Nadeem Kashish, the founder of the Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (Safar), explained that they were building the mosque as a safe place for transgender people to offer prayers.
“The main reason for building this mosque is to convey a message to our society that people who are transgender are also Muslim, they too have a right to offer prayers in a mosque, to recite or teach the Holy Quran, and to preach Islam,” said Kashish.
Shafqat Shah, a transgender employee of Lucky Irani Circus, is excited about the mosque being built and is helping the community raise money for it.
“I do not feel ashamed if I have to beg for money for this project,” Shah says, referring to the stigma of beggary.
“But when I do tell people that the money is for the construction of a mosque, they make fun of me and pass offensive comments such as ‘how can you people build a mosque,” said Shah.
Explaining the root of the problem, Shah said that whenever they enter a mosque to offer prayers – especially for Taraveeh’s during Ramazan or for Eid prayers — “people make fun of us, pass insulting comments and question us about our religion.”
Shah said they are often asked to recite the Shahada or describe the procedure for performing ablution to ‘prove’ that they are Muslims.