FGM

AWSEA’s Summary of Yusuf al-Qaraawi’s paper on FGM.

 

Qaradawi states that it is up to us [learned scholars of Islam] of today to resolve the issue of the legitimacy of FGM; we must review the matter from its roots, we must examine the evidence adopted by various parties and judge the reliability of this evidence, in that it has reached its conclusion by the correct process; that is to say it followed the four steps one must take to reach a conclusion on matters concerning Islam. The four sources one must turn to in this specific order are;

  1. The Quran
  2. The Sunnah
  3. Scholarly consensus
  4. Manual measurement

 

  1. The Quran on FGM:

The Quran did not specifically mention the issue of circumcision in any surah, But Shafi jurists who believe that both males and females should undergo circumcision; they use Surah Al-Nahl verse 123 as a source {Then, We have inspired you (O Muhammad                           saying): "Follow the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism - to worship none but Allah) and he was not of theMushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers, etc.).}. They say to follow Ibrahim A.S we must do as he did, Ibrahim A.S was circumcised at the age of 80 years.

Qaradawi stipulates the matter on following the religion of Ibrahim is much greater than circumcision, and that the verse relates rather to unity in religion and was in no way intended to mean that both men and women should be circumcised, and it relates to calling people to the oneness of God; as we saw Ibrahim A.S’s first challenge came to him as a youth when he called his father and his people to Islamic monotheism.  

Qaradawi backs this point by quoting Surah Al-Anaam, verse 161 {Say (O Muhammad SAW): "Truly, my Lord has guided me to a Straight Path, a right religion, the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) (i.e. the true Islamic Monotheism - to believe in One God (Allah i.e. to worship none but Allah, Alone)) and he was not of Al-Mushrikoon (see V.2:105)."}.

And surah Mumtahina, verse 4 {Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: "Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever, until you believe in Allah Alone,"}

Again affirming that when Allah asked Mohammed SAW to follow the religion of Abraham he was referring to religious monotheism. Further he states if one were to deduce that Allah intended from these verses that we follow Ibrahim in that we must undergo circumcision like Abraham did, then this just covers male circumcision, there is no entrance from these verses to deduce that it is intended for females too.

  1. The Sunnah on FGM:

The three most important conversations inferred in this topic are ;

  1. The Hadith narrated by Aisha (RA) meaning that if khitanan (an Arabic word means a circumcised genital organ) met, then wash is a must for both couples.This is a strong Hadith and it indicates that ladies circumcision was in practice. But this is not our argue, the argue is if its obligatory or mustahhab (you will be rewarded from God by doing it). So people who support the ladies circumcision idea use this hadith as a proof to support their idea???

Some people say the word khitanan used as a masculine word for male genital parts ,but, its not the case her because a nother similar hadith was narrarted with stating the ward khitanan in single form.

 

  1. The second is a weak hadith and its narrated by UmAttia's narration in Sunan Abi Dawood that a lady was carrying a circumcision on a girl when the prophet (pbuh) pass by and ask her if you have to do it then don’t cut deep cut thinly (similar to an act of smelling a thing you don’t take any part from the thing) because its for the lady benefit during intercourse and for the husband favourite.  This is again a weak hadith because one of his narrator is not known and this is Mohamed bin Hassan who fabricated 4000 hadith and was killed for that.

It must be noted that this hadith does not encourage the practise of FGM, nor does it discourage, it just states that if it must be practised it should be done in a manner which is not harmful for the girl. Further since one cannot find any benefits from this practise and it is very often harmful to the health of the child this is something that should not be practised, at least not in the name of Islam. 

 

  1. There is a hadith which is believed states that the carrying out of FGM is an “honour for women”- this is a weak hadith. If this was the case and the hadith was authentic, like those who follow it claim, then it would be practised across the entire Muslim world. None of the Arabian Gulf countries practise circumcision of their daughters nor do any of the North African countries other than Egypt, Sudan and Somalia. The countries it is practised in, like Egypt is more due to cultural practises that have survived over time, as opposed to Islam as it is claimed.

 

It is well established consensus among all Muslim scholars, traditionalists, jurists and fundamentalists: that a weak hadith( tradition) is not considered regarding rules in Islam. But those who have tolerated in reporting this kind of tradition and to make use of it with regard to bringing interest or intimidating and virtuous deeds and the like. But certainly rules of Islam and issues relate to halal ( what is permitted ),Haram ( what is prohibited), obligations and Sunnah ( recommendations) could by no means based on this kind of traditions. And this is a certain consensus. ,

 

 

 

3.Scholarly Consensus:

There are differing beliefs amongst the scholars on the topic of FGM, some believe it to be compulsory, and some who say it is an honour and is recommended (Mustahabb).

Clearly there is no universal consensus on the matter amongst the scholars. Since there is no outright hadith or mention in the Quran that states FGM is forbidden, those in support of it then take it to mean that this indicates that it is permissible and with the weak hadiths presented above justify it in the name of Islam. So we present three things regarding the practise which should clarify the position of FGM in Islam and limit the degree of legitimacy.

  1. If too much of the clitoris is cut off as is the tradition in most parts of Egypt, known as Pharaohnic FGM (as the name so states, it was before Islam came about and was practised during the time of the Pharaohs.), this gets rid of a women’s sexual desire; this is contradictory to Islam’s view that women have a right to be pleasured by their husbands just as much as a man has the right to be pleasured by his wife. Is this form FGM is practised then it is forbidden in Islam.
  2. If FGM is something that must be carried out, then it must be done in a proper manner. I.e. by the assistance of a Doctor and not by a ‘daya’ (elder woman) in the village.
  3. Proper sterilised tools need to be used, and it needs to be carried out in proper medical facilities, like hospitals or medical clinics.

If these three things are adhered to and taken into consideration then we cannot say that female circumcision is haram or is a crime of brutality on the women, especially if it is carried out by a physician who determines the need of it.

4.Manual Measurement:.

Inference can be made by analysing the necessity of FGM or the recommendation of it (‘mustahabb’).

Some people say that because in the Quran Allah does not differentiate between man and women but rather states “o ye people” or  “o ye who believe” this then means that there is or should not be a differentiation between men and women when it comes to circumcision either and that both should get it done.

The Prophet PBUH said that “women are the twin halves of men” and in surah al- Imran it states “And their Lord responded to them, "Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another”  people thus take this to mean that because God has mentioned that men and women are equal that this must apply to circumcision too. But how can this be the case in terms of circumcision when God has created male and female organs differently. When a male is circumcised it does not cause any harm to him and has many health benefits for him, whereas circumcising a female does not provide any benefits for her, with regards her health or otherwise.

Further the fundamental belief is that you should not change Gods creation; by the cutting off, of a female’s clitoris that is exactly what is being done.

After analysing the Quran, Sunnah, Scholarly consensus and Measurement we can see how advantage can be taken from these to justify the practise of FGM. And that is why differing opinions may be held between people of diligence in jurisprudence.

At first glance: the legitimacy of preventing permissible interests.

There is no doubt that when looking at the Quran and Sunnah and scholarly consensus and analogy, we did not find evidence of the necessity of FGM nor any recommendation nor did we find any evidence for its prohibition.

In Islam anything that is not expressly stated as forbidden within the Quran or the Sunnah is allowed, thus because there is no express statement forbidding FGM it is considered to be allowed by those who support it. However, if the action/thing in question is harmful then it can be concluded by the scholars that this thing is forbidden in Islam as it states in Surah Al’nisa verse 28 “And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak”.

It is proven that when something that is not expressly forbidden and is thus permissible is harmful in some way to Muslims then it can be forbidden and thus become unlawful. In a hadith it is stated that Omar Bin Khattab made it unlawful for Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women because by doing so they were harming Muslim women and this was enough to be able to make that issue deemed unlawful. Therefore a thing which is seen as being harmful for Muslim women can be made unlawful; FGM is therefore a haram act if it harms women.

Some physicians claim that some girls require circumcision whilst others do not. When the procedure is done, it is carried out in the best interest if the girl because they fear the girls rising libido in adolescence or adulthood which will lead her to have sexual relations before she is married and thus be sinning. This is a false and exaggerated belief. The majority of Muslim countries do not carry out this act and there are no reported phenomena of the girls from these countries sleeping around outside of marriage.

Second glance: Rules governing logic jurist in question.

First: we cannot change Gods creation as stated in;

  • In Surah Sajdah verse 7 it states “Who [Allah] perfected everything which He created and began the creation of man from clay.”
  • In Surah An Naml verse 88 it states “And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things.”
  • In Surah Ali Imran it states “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly”
  • In surah Nisa verse 119 it states “And I [Satan] will mislead them, and I will arouse in them [sinful] desires, and I will command them so they will slit the ears of cattle, and I will command them so they will change the creation of Allah.”

These verses from the Quran are examples of how Allah’s creation should not be changed. We have been created perfect, to change anything would be to challenge the work of Allah and it is from Satan for he misleads people, and leads them to alter the creation of Allah.

There are also hadiths that cursed those who changed Gods creation. Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah has cursed those women who practise tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those who remove their face hairs, and those who create a space between their teeth artificially to look beautiful, and such women as change the features created by Allah. Why then should I not curse those whom the Prophet has cursed? And that is in Allah's Book. i.e. His Saying: 'And what the Apostle gives you take it and what he forbids you abstain (from it).' (59.7). 

It has been narrated that a group of the sahaba came to the Prophet PBUH because they wished to be castrated to remove any sexual desires, so that they may be able to devote their time to worshipping Allah, the Prophet PBUH forbade this.

These hadiths are used to show that Allah’s creation should not be changed.

Second: If the circumcision results in the harming of the women’s body or deprives her of the natural instinct of desiring her husband and having a sexual relationship with him then this is going against and changing the Allah’s creation. FGM is forbidden in Islam as it harms the women, and Islam prohibits any form of harm or damage to women.

Third: Circumcision for boys is a practiced that is carried out by the Abrahamic religions. Circumcision of a baby boy is one of the rituals carried out by the parents after birth, just like the reciting of the adhaan in the baby’s ear or going to pray Eid prayers are rituals in Islam. There is medical proof that circumcision for boys has many health benefits for them, there is a consensus by all medical professions and doctors of this. Circumcision for boys prevents various diseases and decreases the chances of cancer. In America today many non-Muslim and non-Jews are opting to get their boys circumcised because of these health benefits. But even for boys the circumcision must be done by a trained professional or doctor and it must be done with sterile tools.

Fourth: IF there is so much support on the benefits of male circumcision, all the Abrahamic religions practise it, this therefore does not fall under the wing of changing Allah’s creation as there are clear health benefits and there is a strong theoretical and practical consensus for it. However there are no such health benefits or anything of the like for female circumcision, and medical practitioners of the time have campaigned against it, this is painful and causes damage to the girl, therefore, FGM should not be practised.

Opinion of Medicine and science in Female Circumcision:

It is confirmed by Doctors, gynaecologist and other experts that female circumcision is painful for women and depletes their sexual desire. And therefore could affect the relationship between her and her husband.

Some doctors have proven that circumcision not only affects a woman’s physical health but may also have detrimental effects on her psychological health.

Medically it is known that sexual nerves in women are found in the clitoris, and the men’s sexual nerves are found on the tip of the penis. When circumcising a female the clitoris is cut, in practise this means depriving the woman of all feeling in that area. This impacts a woman’s femininity and her desire to have sex; it is like castrating a man. The woman is unable to feel anything during sex; this affects the sexual relations between husband and wife, leaving both dissatisfied and is often the cause of divorce and family disintegration in Islam.

It also should be noted that there is a serious phenomenon prevalent in countries where FGM is practised of men turning to drugs and cannabis in order to prolong intercourse, so that he can satisfy his wife sexually. Scientists have unanimously said that unless FGM is stopped the drug phenomenon amongst men in Muslim countries will not stop.

Further let us not forget the health complications a girl may face as a result of FGM, that are not sex related, that may be down to the person doing the circumcision not using sterile equipment, or the wound not be treated properly and thus becomes inflamed and infected, this infection can reach the uterus and ovaries and may prevent the girl from having children in the future. Many midwives after doing the circumcision make girls press their legs together which results in the adhesion of the vagina this in turns causes dystocia, which means when the girl falls pregnant the vagina needs to be cut open so as not to choke the baby during birth.

The medical problems mentioned in all of the above may not be a result of the correct method of circumcision; if it is to be carried out the Prophet PBUH stated that you only cut a little bit. The methods of FGM practised in Egypt and Sudan are Pharaohanic methods and remove too much, which diminishes a females sexual desires as well as causing her many health problems. If something is proven to cause harm to a people Islamically and there is no need for it and the majority of people do not practise it then it should no longer be practised, unless a doctor or gynaecologist sees a reason for this procedure to take place.

I have seen that most Arab countries do not circumcise females; Arabian Gulf countries, morocco and the Levant countries do not circumcise their women. For males it is done and should be done but for females it is not.   

People should be made aware of the religious and medical take on the issue of FGM, as these to go hand in hand to raise awareness on the matter. I do not know if there is a law forbidding FGM in Arab-Muslim countries or is it left to the awareness of each society and its culture.