and anyone that practices it, those that actively support it, and those that irresponsibly encourage the practice should be severely punished.
The German human rights group TARGET recently held a conference in Cairo to discuss the crime of FGM from an Islamic perspective. Muslim scholars from around the world including the leading Azhari scholars published a statement condemning the practice as un-Islamic and calling it an “attack on women”.
“The scholars said circumcision inflicts physical and mental harm on women. Furthermore, they said, Islam considers it to be an aggression against women. Those who perform it should be punished.”
“The conference reminds all teaching and media institutions of their role to explain to the people the harmful effects of this habit in order to eliminate it,” the scholars said in their recommendations.”
“The conference calls on judicial institutions to issue laws that prohibit and criminalise this habit … which appeared in several societies and was adopted by some Muslims although it is not sanctioned by the Quran or the Sunna,” the scholars said, referring to Islam’s holy book and the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad.”
Alhamdulillah, that there are scholars that are willing to condemn this practice in unequivocal terms. So often, we hear opinions using questionable hadith and absurd and insulting appeals to the contrived medical and social benefits of FGM. The usual nonsense about increasing the beauty, decreasing wanton sexual desire, and how it leaves no harmful mental or physical side effects. It’s all made to seem so innocent, respectable, and full of religious recommendation and blessings for the individual woman, her husband, and society at large. Nevermind the excesses, which are not at all permissible they say, rather what we are referring to is something so minor and pleasing to the soul.
These types of discussions are a major source of contention today, amongst many Muslims. It is very difficult to have an open and honest debate about sensitive issues, which are not so easily dismissed with appeals to hadeeth irrespective of their authenticity and patronizing examples of the supposed common sense or wisdom behind the situation.
FGM is a major problem in certain communities and parts of the world. Citing some questionable hadeeth does not solve the problem, it may actually make the problem worse, as now its practitioners feel emboldened by a sense of religious approval.
Domestic violence and abuse is a major problem in many communities and citing an ayah or hadeeth does not help resolve or alleviate the issue.
The poor and apathetic treatment of women and by extension their children in far too many Muslim communities is not solved by citing ayat or hadeeth about the equality of men and women in the sight of Allah or that paradise lies at the feet of the mother. Especially not when those opposed to allowing women to exercise their full rights and potential in Islam, cite hadeeth or supposed common wisdom to the opposite effect.
People look to their imams and scholars for guidance. So when a sincere questioner comes and asks one of those difficult questions about FGM, sex with slaves, homosexuality, or domestic violence, they deserve more than oft-quoted ayat and hadeeth and mealy-mouthed responses about the supposed harms and benefits. They deserve real, un-dogmatic, practical, and pragmatic answers or solutions to the issue. And if one cannot offer that, then perhaps it is better to remain silent.
SAFSpace: Female Circumcision in Islam
Islamic Law, Etc: Islamic Law on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and female circumcision
IPS News: Will FGM Fatwa Make a Difference?