National Fatwa Council Forbids Tomboyism


The National Fatwa Council has ruled that tomboyism is forbidden (haram) in Islam. The Council goes on to describe tomboys as girls who dress up or behave in a boyish manner because there had been cases of young women inclined to behave like men to indulge in homosexuality.

Back in 1992, I had a female recruit under my charge. She looked like a boy, a pretty one at that, wore jeans and pants, shirts and jackets, could beat up 3 guys as she was a silat exponent. Would you say that she is a tomboy? There was also an officer more senior in rank than I was, who looked like a butch, behaved like a guy, but liked younger guys. So would you brand her a homosexual?

My eldest daughter, Hana, is a very outdoor person. Ever since she was a year plus, I had exposed her to the world of skydiving, and now, scuba diving. She’s very active in sports at school. She doesn’t wear skirts. I know she has a boyfriend in school. So would you brand her a homosexual?

How a person dresses up does not say whether one is a homosexual or straight. A man can look very manly, dashing-looks with 6-packs and all, but most I have met at the gym who are like that are homosexuals. And branding a person as homosexual does not win points for Islam either. In fact, we might drive them away from Islam. So, is that Islamic? Is branding someone negatively an Islamic act?

We cannot stop how a person feels. For as long as the person recites the Testimony of Faith (Shahadah); pray five times a day, or tries to; fast during the month of Ramadhan; give out alms (Zakat); and, perform the Haj once in a lifetime if able to, then he/she fulfils the requirements of being a Muslim. No one can question his/her faith (aqidah). I have met a gay man whose sexual preference is undeniable. He prays more than I do in any given day, has performed the Haj, and returns to Mecca every single year for the Umrah (minor pilgrimage). So, how are we supposed to see him as?

But to brand a homosexual as that, to me, is not on. We will only further alienate these people just because of their sexual preference. In the case of lesbians, find the root cause for it – maybe they saw their mother being beaten up by their abusive father, or maybe they were molested or raped as a child – they have problems in trying to communicate with the male species due to those causes, and maybe many more that I have failed to mention here, therefore, they feel more comfortable being with a member of their own gender. Maybe they feel that another female will not hurt them the way males have hurt them.

Even in the case of transvestites: I have two cousins who are very female – not just in touch with their feminine side, but very female. One used to be a drag queen, and used to perform on stage as one; the other is still a makeup artist for local entertainers. Both are in their 40s now. While I can’t discuss much about the former, but in the case of the latter, he was brought up by his paternal grandparents, and lived amongst his aunts. They dressed him up like a girl and so on. When he went for his secondary education, his peers treated him like a female, ridiculing him at first, then got him to perform sexual acts with them.

Imagine the looks they’d get from members of the public who care less about their feelings, getting more ammunition from the Fatwa Council to further isolate them from society. Islam is a great way of life, and God is Most Compassionate. If we alienate these people through our own doings, then we go to prove how intolerant Islam is, and how zalim (cruel) our God is. The correct approach is through education and counselling. Prophet Muhammad’s methods of dealing with wrongdoings have never been harsh, but more towards making others understand the consequences and impacts of their acts on the community as a whole.

We should stop issuing vertiginous edicts that will not bring about any benefit to the society as a whole, not just the Muslim community. Maybe, we Muslims should keep reminding ourselves that the God that we worship is the God for all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Indians; and any wrongdoing towards any one of them, or towards another Muslim, be they straight or gay, is a wrongdoing done to God Himself.