Gender

Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity.

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Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from... Answered 4 days ago

Bismihi ta'ala 

It is indeed a dilemma many of us face. Some Muslims have resorted to showing too much leniency in this area, and saying we need to get with times and shake hands with those of the opposite gender who are non-mahram. One of the misunderstandings is that it is a matter of cleanliness, where the female is seen as "unclean", and hence the male should not shake her hand. Another is that it is a matter of sexualising the shaking of hands. 

As Muslims we know our boundaries when it comes to non-mahrams, and it is natural for us as well. We just need to have a sense of pride and respect our Islamic culture and religious laws. We also know that if we are in such a predicament and wont be able to explain or might result in distress, or have time to decline, then it is permissible for us to shake hands. 

 I have a video tutorial on this issue which might be useful, where I give alternative ideas when dealing with this. 

With prayers for your success.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 3 weeks ago

This may come across as a non-answer, but I wanted to point out that there is a difference between "male" and "husband" and "female" and "wife". I am pointing this out because in most popular Islamic discourse about gender (at least up until recently), any discussion of "woman" was basically equivalent to a discussion of "wife" and the two terms were used interchangeably. 

Whereas, in reality, a woman's existence is more than being a wife (there are times in her life when she won't be a wife, and times when she may be), and so one can't entirely reduce the question of gender in Islam to shariah laws regarding marriage. 

Regarding the Quran, the only place where it actually discusses men and women differently is with respect to a few details about marriage (such as the 'iddah after divorce), pregnancy, or related issues (I would categorize the verse about khimar as relating to marital issues). By and large, the Qur'an doesn't have a lot to say about the nature or "role" of women in society or everyday life and seems to leave it open to people to choose how they want to live.

Regarding laws of shariah which might seem to be unbalanced, there are two views. One is that they are all correct and reflect the will of God in a perfect system. The other is that many of them are correct but some of them might have been misunderstood over the ages and are worth another look. For instance some people question the view why a husband should be allowed to prohibit his wife from leaving the home, since marriage is not supposed to be imprisonment, and in extreme cases this can disadvantage a woman severely. (Even though most people do not live this way and actually keep their wives imprisoned at home, but it does happen and is justified in the name of religion.) This is not the dominant "mainstream" view and is more of a reformist view but may become more mainstream in the future. God knows best. 

Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from... Answered 3 weeks ago

Bismihi ta'ala

Islam does not discriminate people based on gender. Islam allocates roles and responsibilities and duties for us as individuals and as a collective society. We function not alone, but also within a family and a community. We have certain roles and responsibilities, based on our position and where we fit as far as our involvement and authority as well. 

A husband has a certain status, as far as his managerial role, or being the "director" of the family within the capacity he has, and a wive also has certain managerial roles, within the area that she is good at and within the capacity she has.

For the sake of keeping this answer brief, I would like to direct you to reading important books on the topic of Islam and gender roles, and you will become familiar with how our religion deals with this issue. 

With prayers for your success.

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Abbas Di Palma, Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in... Answered 1 month ago

as salam alaikum

from a psychological perspective, even the mere presence of a person of the opposite gender have a particular influence that mold behavioral tendencies and attitudes that not necessarily relate to lust. That is also why many Islamic places, and traditional societies in general, always had a specific code to limit promiscuity and social contact between genders. 

There is no problem in dealing with the opposite gender in the prescribed shar'i way and in case of necessity as long as all Islamic etiquettes are observed but one should try as much as possible to move forward what Allah has commanded in all circumstances.

With prayer for your success.

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Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answer updated 2 months ago

Bismillah

Thank you for your question. Marriage in Islam is not compulsory (except in certain situations when a person fears falling into sins), even if it is highly recommended. So if a person doesn't want to get married for any reason, they are not required to.

May you always be successful 

Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answer updated 2 months ago

Marriage is either highly recommended or obligatory depending on the situation of the person. It is highly recommended for people in general to get married as the prophetic orders to Muslims: تناكحوا تناسلوا Get married, Have children. Hadeeth states: Marriage is from Sunnah, so any one who abandons my Sunnah is not from me. النكاح من سنتي فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني.

Marriage becomes obligatory when a person is in danger of falling in sinful acts just because of being unmarried.

In the case mentioned in the question we must emphasize that marriage should never cause injustice to your spouse if you do have any interest in other gender. You need to consult medical and psychological experts and get proper treatment then go for marriage. Some times, marriage itself can help in treatment. 
You should never give up or surrender to abnormal situation which is away from the teachings of Allah (SWT).

Leaving marriage might worsen such cases, but with out proper treatment, you might do injustice on an innocent person whom you want to live with when you are still not adequate to be a proper spouse.

Wassalam.

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 4 months ago

Human life is based since its start from time of Adam and Eve and continuing on the marriage between man and woman. With out this clean and instinct relation of marriage between man and woman, no life can continue. 
Losing attraction in opposite gender and feeling attracted to same gender is an abnormal situation which needs to be dealt with by specialist psychiatrists.
Sexual attraction can be deviated and go in wrong direction as we see some abnormal persons feel attracted to a married woman or a close family member or even to an animal. This means that not every attraction is legitimate but it can be wrong and sinful even if some people think it normal.
The person who feels such abnormal attraction needs to deal with himself to understand and treat the reasons and seek help and advice from specialists and trusted scholars.
No doubt, the believer in Allah, the Prophet and Ahlul Bayt should read what the holy texts said about such feelings and acts and why such acts are mentioned in holy texts as major sin which led to destroying Communities which used to do it as we read in Quran about people during the time of Prophet Lut.

Wassalam.

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Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answered 5 months ago

Bismillah

Thank you for your question. Islam has stressed the equality of men and women when it comes to their relationship with God. Their actions and attitudes are their own and they will be recompensed with justice and mercy. When it comes to some of the rulings on a sociological level, while they may not be the same for a man and woman, that doesn't affect their equality in front of God and certainly doesn't indicate inferiority as the Qur'an has clearly defined the benchmark of superiority being that of God-consciousness. There is also no ownership as the woman is a free woman and is responsible in front of God. It is her choice to follow these rules in her obedience to God, and for that she achieves the spiritual progression which is the benchmark of excellence.

At the same time, there is much discussion on the rulings related to women and the paradigms that have been used throughout our intellectual history to determine the rulings in different epochs. While that discussion has not resulted in a change of view of many scholars in regards to the specific ruling in your question, research is continually being made to apply our understanding of Islamic law in each time and the concern that you have raised is one that is taken seriously in intellectual circles, bearing in mind the changing roles of women in the modern world.

May you always be successful

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 7 months ago

Islamic rules forbidding seeing or touching other gender (Non Mahram) are very clear but exceptions come if there is a real necessity to save life. Necessity must be assessed and the exception should meet no more than the necessity. Any act more than the real necessity is not permissible.

Wassalam.

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 7 months ago

First of all we need to be sure that she is really a woman. This assurance does not come from her recent appearance which looks like a woman but must come
through medical confirmed results that the DNA belongs to a female
human being. When a person is a female by genetic structure but
because of abnormality she looked like a male and then she went
through a surgery to remove the abnormal organs and develop the female
organs, in this case she is a female and marriage between a Muslim man
and a Muslim woman is possible. But if she does not have female DNA
and the operation was just for removing the male organs and creating or implanting 
female organs instead, she is in fact not a female, so there is no
question of marriage between a Muslim man and such a person.

Same situation applies on a woman who undergoes a surgery to look like a man wth out a DNA confirmation about the real gender.
Wassalam.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 8 months ago

There isn't full agreement on whether the soul has a gender, although a common view is that the soul does not have a gender. However one can deduce from Qur'an and hadith that we will appear in the afterlife similar to how we appear in this world including gender. It is said that the soul is affixed to a sort of body in the afterlife (less "heavy" than the physical body but still a sort of body) and so perhaps this is why it will appear gendered. 

[Edit: Hereby is demonstration that there is no agreement on the matter! In tafsir of 4:1, Allamah Tabataba'i expresses the view that the Qur'anic reference to creating the "nafs" of a person and its mate is the compound of worldly body and soul, not the soul in and of itself or what persists after the worldly life.

However, it should be said that there have been multiple trends of thought in the Islamic world regarding the nature of the soul, and some scholars accept some views - like Molla Sadra's - whereas others do not. As for non-Islamic sources, while it is true that extra-Islamic philosophical ideas were introduced to the Islamic world early on and became part of Islamic thought, just because something is extra-Islamic does not automatically mean it is wrong. For instance, pre-Islamic sources also say that 2+2=4, and we do not disagree with that. What can be said is that non-Islamic sources cannot be taken as proof of matters known through revelation, although one could consider the logic presented in them.

In any case, this may not be what the question is actually intending to ask, because it seems that the question is aimed at asking whether we will appear gendered in the barzakh and heaven/hell. From the Qur'an and hadith, it seems as if we will appear recognizably gendered, regardless of whether or not that is an inherent nature of the soul. In any case, we will all find out.

In contrast, some people ask whether the soul is essentially gendered because they have an interest in questions such as the position of women and men spiritually in Islamic thought.

An interesting read on the spiritual aspects of gender in the Islamic, including Shi'i, tradition is _The Tao of Islam_.]

Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 8 months ago

Non Islamic sources claim that souls have no gender but Quran and authentic Hadeeths are clear that human soul is linked with human body, and as every human being has a gender either male of female, so, the souls has the same gender of the human being . Allah (SWT) says in Quran : (O mankind, We have Created you from a male and a female and made you in people and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is most pious (Sura 49, Verse 13).

Wassalam.