A video in which a Muslim leader decries the transgender and intersex community has gone viral on YouTube.
The interview, translated from Hindi, shows the founder and president of India's Islamic Research Center (IRC), a non-profit organization that promotes Islamic teachings, answering a question about how the 'other' gender that is neither man nor woman fits in Islam.
Faiz Syed said in his response: 'They are what we call hijra, in our language. They are neither male nor female.'
Hijra, a slang term in Hindu, is the only word to describe a trans individual.
Syed continued, emphasizing that 'They are Allah's creations, expect their are some physiological and hormonal difficulties. They have changes in their bodies, what we call "gene defects" in our language.'
According to his bio on the IRC website, Syed is a university-educated leader with two bachelor's degrees in law and one in computer science. He has reportedly given over 1,000 lectures in topics including humanitarian and Islamic law, and moral, educational, and economic welfare activities. Syed is also the president and director of other Islamic groups including the Al-Huda Educational Foundation.
In the interview, Syed quoted the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, also called the Hadith, to support his position against the hijra community. 'Secondly, they are not bad, but the Hadith says that those who are "dirty", you must get rid of from your home, house and village.
'Because of their defect they are not like, or act like, men or women, and because of that they work day and night sexually.'
Many hijra are forced to work as sex workers to survive, as they are often ostracized from their homes and shunned from typical work in their local communities because they don't fit the typical gender mold.
In many predominantly Muslim countries, including Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by death. Some countries such as Iran go so far as to encourage sex changes for homosexuals to force them to have a gender-normative sex life.
According to Iranian news services reports, Iran conducts more sex changes than any country in the world, followed by Thailand. This practice offers an option with 'no sin' for people struggling with gender identity in the homophobic country.
The BBC article reads: 'The government even provides up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance and a sex change is recognized on your birth certificate'.
The original video is posted below.