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To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males. Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent. -- Qur'an 42:49-50

These ayat came up in my previous question Does the Qur'an 75:39 ("He made of him a pair, male and female?") exclude the possibility of people who are neither male nor female?

Question: Should "Or He makes them [both] males and females" be interpreted as referring to intersex people?

It seems plausible that this instead refers to instances of male-female twins.

4 Answers 4

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I skimmed over the Arabic tafsirs available at altafsir.com and I could not find anyone who has interpreted this part of the verse to mean an intersex person ( خنثى ).

Rather they all explain the verse as follows: To some people Allah gives only female children, and to some He gives only male children, and to some He gives both male and female children (as twins or in separate pregnancies), and to some He gives no children at all.

Many of them have also cited the examples of Prophets to illustrate this. For example Lut عليه السلام had only daughters, Abraham عليه السلام had only sons, Muhammad ﷺ had both sons and daughters, while Jesus عليه السلام and Yahya عليه السلام had no children. Here they ascribe the phrase "He makes them [both] males and females" to the children of Muhammad ﷺ, as he had three to four sons and four daughters.

ويعطي من يشاء من الناس الزوجين الذكر والأنثى ، أي : من هذا وهذا . قال البغوي : كمحمد ، عليه الصلاة والسلام ... فجعل الناس أربعة أقسام ، منهم من يعطيه البنات ، ومنهم من يعطيه البنين ، ومنهم من يعطيه من النوعين ذكورا وإناثا ، ومنهم من يمنعه هذا وهذا

It means, He gives to whomsoever He wills both males and females, sons and daughters. Al-Baghawi said, "Like Muhammad ﷺ" ...

So people are divided into four categories: some are given daughters, some are given sons, some are given both sons and daughters, and some are not given either sons or daughters

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki has discussed intersex people in his commentary on this verse, he says that they are included in the meaning of the previous verse يخلق ما يشاء ( He creates what he wills ). However he says that they are not mentioned in the part of the verse which you have asked about, because it only mentions what happens most often and is silent on what is rare:

وأما قوله: {يهب لمن يشاء إناثا ويهب لمن يشاء الذكور} [الشورى: ٤٩] {أو يزوجهم ذكرانا وإناثا ويجعل من يشاء عقيما إنه عليم قدير} [الشورى: ٥٠] فهذا إخبار عن الغالب في الموجودات، وسكت عن ذكر النادر لدخوله تحت عموم الكلام الأول

Ahkaam al-Qur’an

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The Qur'aan verse 42:50 says

"Or he(Allah) gives them [both] males and females"

It doesn't refers to Transgender. Allah says in verse 49 that he give male children for whom he wants or female children for whom he wants or give them [both] males and females or give them nothing,leave them barrens.

The previous verse says:

  • he gives male children -all children are male, like 5 male children,etc
  • he gives female children -all children are female, like 5 female children,etc

The 50th verse says:

  • or he give(both) males and females -twins or both like 2 male and 2 female or 2:1, etc
  • or leave them without child -no children at all.

You can understand from the verse that. he can give twins or one by one in next birth. Because Transgender is not from birth.

Eg: a male transgender don't have pubic region of both male and female, they just change the behavior. And a female transgender don't have pubic regios of both female and male, they also just change their behavior.

for more information about transgender refer this site.

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  • The question is clearly asking about intersex, not transgender.
    – goldPseudo
    Aug 24, 2016 at 15:29
  • Perhaps this spirit of the answer is the same though, i.e., that it's not referring to intersex infants, but "[both] males and females" could arise as twins, or through separate births. It'd be nice to have something to back this up though (I'm concerned about "lost in translation" issues). [Note that the linked website is at odds with the "transgender is not from birth" statement: "A trans man, though born with a reproductive system that is most commonly found in females, is not (and never has been) a woman; though he was labeled as a girl when he was young, that label was incorrect."] Aug 25, 2016 at 0:42
  • Transman are male in their birth, But they want others to see him as a woman. They get comfortable when others see them as female, he want him as a female. He doesn't want him as female from the birth, his hormones changes as he grows, so he wants to be a female. So Transgender, Transmale or Transfemale, etc are not from birth.
    – Hell Hater
    Aug 25, 2016 at 2:57
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When we have transgender child in our society it does not mean that we through that child into the garbage or abanded them as how they are. Allah (Subhana A Talla) says in the Quran "surely I will test you with your health, wealth and whom you love" it means the test might be upon parents as well as on that child. It is Allah (Subhana A Talla) what he creates what he knows better. When Allah (Subhana A Talla) mention about the prophet Lut (SAW) in the Holy Quran it is clearly says that transgender should not have however it does not mean that they are course it means Allah (Subhana A Talla) testing "YOU" with your behavior and transgender child with their behavior, hence we all blessed with our Lord who has created everything for us so never thing that you are incomplete. In fact you are the most blessed one. Allah (Subhana A Talla) shows so many sign around you so open your eye and keep open your ear. So you can understand the each sign of Allah (Subhana A Talla)... When Allah (Subhana A Talla) testing you it something it means HE loves you among a billion of them of his creation.

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    The people of Lut are definitely not transgender!
    – Medi1Saif
    Sep 19, 2017 at 15:02
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this aya is clear talking about transgenders person confirmed, by examens, be hermaphrodith khalki or hermaphrodith, and this include the real transgender confirmed and need do surgery. Not means about shemales

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    – nim
    Sep 7, 2016 at 8:04

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