Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » female circumcision?

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: female circumcision?
Member # 19128

Icon 1 posted      Profile for christinejones     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
does anyone here know whether female circumcision is in fact advised/promoted in the koran?
i read the most distressing article about 'pharoanic circumcision' which is where not only the clitoris but i think the inner labia etc. are taken out and the lips are then sown together just leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to come out - the article (which was in a 1980 cosmopolitan magazine which i found lying around in a friends house) then went on to detail a case where the hole was not exactly close to the vaginal entrance and when the bride was married and the man tried to force her open (as it were) he was trying to create an opening in the wrong place and instead forced a fissure and basically created an open wound - which he used as a vagina until (i presume) the obvious infections/complications forced the woman to be taken to a doctor....
when i read that i felt absolutely sickened but although i do spend time in Juba and Khartoum it is not a subject I could ever feel able to bring up -
does anyone here have any knowledge of the koran and its tenets???
why is religion seemingly constantly used as a tool to degrade and oppress women - what is it that they hate/fear so much in us that we have to be controlled and smashed so badly?

Posts: 139 | From: los angeles | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 19128

Icon 1 posted      Profile for christinejones     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
oh well - i looked on google and found this (in case anyone apart from me was wondering about it...)
basically almost all the sites said female circumcision was not mentioned in the koran and many imam's have publicly stated that it is not an essential part of islam - which is good but according to some statistics on the web it is still practised particularly in sudan somalia and eritrea where upto 97% of the women in those countries are still circumsized. i copied in one of the articles that sort of explained where it came from below....

The Koran

The Koran mentions neither male nor female circumcision. An extensive interpretation of verse2 : 124shows some barely traceable indication of it:

When Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commandments, he carried them out. God then said: "I am appointing you a guide for the people".

One of the commands given to Abraham, as a test, was circumcision, as mentioned in some of the sayings of Mohammed. Abraham is a model for the Muslim faithful by virtue of verse16 :123:

Then we inspired you (Mohammed) to follow the religion (millat) of Abraham, a true believer...[35].

It is relevant to note the rule of the Muslim law according to which norms that were revealed to the prophets prior to Mohammed are valid until unmistakably nullified. Thus the Bible, by a process of referral, becomes a source of law for the Muslims. One can read:

God told Abraham: "...Here is our alliance which shall be observed between me and you, i.e. thy race after thee, may all your males be circumcised. You shall have the flesh of your foreskin cut off and it shall be a sign of alliance between me and you...When they reach their8 th day all your males shall be circumcised from generation to genera­tion... My alliance shall be branded in your flesh as a perpetual alliance. The uncircum­cised, the male whose foreskin has not been cut off, this very life shall be cut off. He violated my alliance"[36].

Circumcision as a sign of alliance can only be found in two other passages of the Bible[37]. Elsewhere, it is more narrative: King Saul demanded one hundred Philistine foreskins from David, before he gave his consent to David marrying his daughter Mikal: "David... thought it was a good deal in order to become the king's son in law... He went to war...He killed200 Philistine men, brought back their foreskins, counted them in front of the king....So Saul... had to admit that Jehovah was on David's side"[38].

This interpretation of the Koranic verses with reference to the Bible is considered abusive by Imam Mahmud Shaltut (israf fil-istidlal)[39]. What is more, this textual argument based on Jewish law concerns male circumcision only, not female circumcision that the Bible does not mention and that the Jews do not practice (Falachas excepted). Al-Sukkari answers that, according to Ibn Hagar, the Jews used to circumcise both sexes, which is why he rejects male and female circumcision on the7 th day, so as not to look like them. Even the authentic Bible - today's one is considered falsified - does not contain any text related to female circumcision. Nonetheless, the Muslims must practice it, if the Muslim law makes provision for it[40].

3. The Sunnah

We will try here to glean, from the works of contemporary Arab authors, the different sayings of Mohammed related to male and female circumcision.

- The most often mentioned narration reports a debate between Mohammed and Um Habibah (or Umﺵ Atiyyah). This woman, known as an exciser of female slaves, was one of a group of women who had immigrated with Mohammed. Having seen her, Mohammed asked her if she kept practicing her profession. She answered affirmatively adding: "unless it is for­bidden and you order me to stop doing it". Mohammed replied: "Yes, it is allowed. Come clo­ser so I can teach you: if you cut, do not overdo it (la tanhaki), because it brings more radiance to the face (ashraq) and it is more pleasant (ahza) for the husband". According to others, he said: "Cut slightly and do not overdo it (ashimmi wa-la tanhaki), because it is more pleasant (ahza) for the woman and better (ahab, from other sources abha) for the husband". We shall he­reinafter refer to this narration as the exciser's narration.

- Mohammed said: "Circumcision is a sunnah for the men and makrumah for the women". The term sunnah here means that it is conform to the tradition of Mohammed himself, or simply a custom at the time of Mohammed. The term makrumah is far from clear but we can translate it into a honorable deed.

- Speaking to the Ansars' wives, Mohammed said: "Cut slightly without exaggeration (ikhtafidna wa-la tanhikna), because it is more pleasant (ahza) for your husbands".

- Someone came to Mohammed and became a convert before him. Mohammed told him: "Shave off your unbeliever's hair and be circumcised".

- Mohammed said: "Let him who becomes a Muslim be circumcised, even if he is old".

- One asked Mohammed if an uncircumcised man could go to pilgrimage. He answered: "Not as long as he is not circumcised".

- Mohammed said: "Five norms define fitrah: shaving of the pubis, circumcision, mous­tache trimming, armpit depilation and nail clipping". Other narrations name ten norms amongst which circumcision is always mentioned. The norms of fitrah are believed to be those taught by God to His creation. The man in pursuit of perfection must conform to those norms. They are not compulsory, but simply advisable (mandubah), except for circumcision which is manda­tory. Based on these premises, Al-Sukkari believes Adam to have been the first circumcised man. His descendants having neglected their obligation, it was reconfirmed to Abraham and his descendants. Thus circumcision would be the sign which would differentiate the believer from the non-believer. Therefore, circumcision is the sign of Islam[41].

- Mohammed has stipulated: "If both circumcised parts (khitanan) meet or if they touch each other, it is necessary to wash before prayer". From this, it may be deduced that men and wo­men were circumcised in Mohammed's time.

The Shiites add a narration by Imam Al-Sadiq stating: "Female circumcision is a makrumah, and is there anything better than a makrumah?" They cite Al-Sadiq as the reporter of the exci­ser's narration[42].

The supporters of circumcision themselves (male or female) acknowledge that those narrations attributed to Mohammed offer little credibility[43]. Mahmud Shaltut states that they are neither clear nor authentic[44]. Sheikh Abbas, Rector of the Muslim Institute at the Mosque of Paris, is even more adamant:

If circumcision for the man (though not compulsory) has an aesthetic and hygienic pur­pose, there is no existing religious Islamic text of value to be considered in favour of female excision, as proven by the fact that this practice is totally non-existent in most of the Islamic countries. And if unfortunately some people keep practicing excision, to the great prejudice of women, it is probably due to customs practised prior to the conver­sion of these people to Islam[45].

Posts: 139 | From: los angeles | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 19128

Icon 1 posted      Profile for christinejones     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
and in case anyone wanted to know how the husband could have created an open wound in the first place (which i also wondered) here is what the same article says on the types of circumcision:

There are as well many different kinds of female circumcision:

- The female circumcision called sunnah or according to the tradition of Mohammed. The reli­gious circles in favour of this type of female circumcision do not always give details on what is done. According to a classical author, Al-Mawardi, "it is limited to cutting off the skin in the shape of a kernel located above the genitalia. One must cut the protruding epidermis without performing a complete ablation"[25]. For Doctor Hamid Al-Ghawabi, it is the ablation of the cli­toris as well as labia minora[26]. According to Doctor Mahran, the hood of the clitoris is excised as well as the most important parts of the labia minora[27].

- Clitoridectomy or excision. It consists of the ablation of the clitoris as well as labia minora. It is the operation of choice in Egypt.

- Infibulation or pharaonic circumcision. It is practiced in Sudan and Somalia and involves the complete ablation of clitoris, labia minora and part of labia majora. The two sides of the vulva are then sewn together with silk or catgut stitches (Sudan) or with thorns (Somalia) in order to close the vulva, except a very small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual flow[28]. On the wedding night, the groom will have to open his bride, more often than not with a double edged dagger. In some tribes, the woman is sewn back each time her husband goes travelling and is opened again each time he comes back.

Posts: 139 | From: los angeles | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 17924

Icon 1 posted      Profile for JamsessionVT     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It makes me sick to read such stories...

I am mainly referring to the horrible practice going on in parts of Africa.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how ANYONE could go through with that and not feel so ashamed and women could be treated like nothing, little more than property to a man. And, not to mention, how the practice has been allowed to go on for so long. If America and other nations can intervene in places where they shouldn't, why don't we intervene when we should? It brings, (and I am serious) tears to my eyes to think of the innocent women who are having one of the very things that makes them a woman taken away from them.

Does anyone know if there is anything going on to prevent this practice?

Posts: 3987 | From: Greater Burlington Area, Vermont | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(Pssssst: thre's an article right here on the site whose last page talks about FGM prevention efforts:
Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 19128

Icon 1 posted      Profile for christinejones     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
hey miz scarlet - i cliked on your link and it came up with 'whoops silly you - you clicked on a link that ain't there' or whatever... is it my computer or is there a problem with the link? thanks cj
Posts: 139 | From: los angeles | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 4764

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ashy     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post

The other link just had a parentheses on the end.

Posts: 1784 | From: USA | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 22008

Icon 9 posted      Profile for MomOfTeenDaughter     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree that FGM is a terrible thing and I cringe anytime I think about it, but on the other hand this is something that is so accepted in that culture that not having it done is considered as much of a taboo as having it done is taboo to us.

Another thing to remember is (and I heard about this say 10 years ago so am not sure if it is still happening {yeah right}) that in some areas of somalia when a mother has to choose between the life of her children the girl/s will always be the ones to die. The story I heard was of a mother who was going to feed her young twin baby girls unhusked grain which would swell in the childs throat and suffocate her.

Which brings me to the next questions were those babies actually more fortunate than the baby girls mutilated and then sold to their husbands.

Posts: 4 | From: Louisville, Ky, USA | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 5640

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Dude_who_writes     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Originally posted by MomOfTeenDaughter:
Which brings me to the next questions were those babies actually more fortunate than the baby girls mutilated and then sold to their husbands.

I think what we would all like to ideally see is a case where neither of these things happen. Both cases are horrible and perpetuate the notion that a woman is not a being of her own, but rather the property of whomever "owns" her by virtue of marriage or lineage. Personally, I find either idea atrocious, whether it's a woman forcibly having parts of her genitals removed or killed on the basis of her gender alone.

So, ultimately, I think it's inappropiate and morally wrong to consider anyone in either curmstance more fortnatute than someone in the other. Instead, neither of these situations need exist at all.

Tim, as in "Donate"

"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me... and I'm feeling good."

Posts: 712 | From: Michigan, US | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3