Former transgender artisan provides respectful burials for LGBTQ in Malaysia

Muhammad Asrul has learned the craft of creating coffins to ensure a dignified burial for unclaimed bodies of LGBTQ individuals. Image credits to S. Mahfuz of Benar News.
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In Malaysia, a compassionate individual has taken up a meaningful role in providing dignified burials for LGBTQ individuals often neglected by their families. Muhammad Asrul Abdul Kadir is a 38-year-old craftsman based in Alor Mengkudu, Alor Setar. Despite facing rejection from his own family when he transitioned as a trans woman, Muhammad Asrul returned to his hometown after his mother’s passing in 2016, deciding to embrace his identity as a man once again.

Operating from his workshop, Muhammad Asrul skillfully crafts coffins and headstones while also honoring Islamic traditions of bathing and shrouding bodies. His journey has not been without challenges; many in his community have been slow to accept him and have even questioned his decision to pursue coffin-making. However, his commitment to providing a proper farewell for those often marginalized in death remains unwavering.

Beyond his workshop, Muhammad Asrul extends his compassion to unclaimed bodies, particularly those from the transgender community, ensuring they receive the respect and care they deserve. He is often called by hospitals to collect the bodies of those afflicted by HIV/AIDS. 

Despite lacking formal training, he has taught himself the art of coffin-making through self-study and online resources, driven by a lifelong fascination with the craft. Initially, he expressed that he had borrowed money from loan sharks to buy wood to craft coffins. He also extends his services to help families who cannot afford funeral arrangements. 

Muhammad Asrul’s dedication serves as a beacon of hope, offering solace to those who have been overlooked and marginalized, even in death.

About Korina Estrada 178 Articles
A writer and an advocate of self-love and body positivity. She loves baking cookies, practicing her calligraphy, and creating short stories of local folklore.

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