People behind this initiative believe this madrasa will pave the way for the transgender community to be included in mainstream education system in near future
In a historic move, a madrasa — a school for religious instruction and education in the Muslim world — has been established in Bangladesh that is solely dedicated for the third gender in the country.
Named Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa, the institute has been built in the Lohar Bridge area of Kamrangirchar, Dhaka. Over 150 hijras or third gender people from Badda, Jatrabari, Sylhety Bazar and Kamrangirchar areas of Dhaka will get admitted to the Qawmi madrasa.
They were previously studying separately in those areas but now they will be tutored together at the newly-established madrasa, said Md Abdul Aziz Hussaini, the institute’s education and training secretary.
Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa is presumed to be the first madrasa that is dedicated for the people of the third gender since no report has been found of a similar institution in the country so far. The madrasa has been set up in a three-storey building and each floor has 1,200 square feet of space, said Hussaini. The madrasa has been established by the Late Ahmed Ferdaus Bari Chowdhury Foundation.
The accommodation and the study arrangements will also be managed by the same foundation, he added. “People of the hijra community are neglected by their families and the society.
This madrasa has been established with the aim of bringing them back to a normal life by providing them with moral education through the teachings of the Holy Quran,” said Hussaini. Ten teachers have been appointed to teach the students, informed Md Abdur Rahman Azad, the secretary general of the institute.
The organization that is funding the madrasa is named after the late Ahmed Ferdaus Bari Chowdhury, a freedom fighter from Chittagong’s Mirsharai upazila, he said. “I thought it was my social responsibility to do something for the hijra community as they are neglected everywhere. As soon as the idea came to my mind, I approached the foundation and it was approved,” he added.
He continued: “The foundation was established around three years ago and is financed by the three sons of the late freedom fighter — Colonel Rehanul Bari Chowdhury, Rakibul Bari Chowdhury and Ehsanul Bari Chowdhury.”
“There is no age restriction here. Anyone from the hijra community can get admitted here regardless of their age,” Azad mentioned.
Azad said transgender people, known as Hijras in Bangladesh, have suffered too much.
“For too long they have been living a miserable life. They can’t go to schools, madrasas or mosques. They have been victims of discrimination. We, society and the state are to blame for this,” he said.
“We want to end this discrimination. Allah does not discriminate between people. Islam treats everyone as a human being. Hijras should enjoy all rights like any other human being.”
In 2015 Islamist extremists hacked to death a leading gay activist and editor of an LGBT magazine, while other prominent homosexuals have since fled the country.
But steps forward have been made for the community. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has since 2013 allowed trans to be identified as a separate gender.
Last year they were allowed to register to vote as a third gender, and their numbers will be counted in a census to be carried out next year across the country of 168 million.