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 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....
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".
Circumcision as a sign of alliance can only be found in two other passages of the Bible. 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".
This interpretation of the Koranic verses with reference to the Bible is considered abusive by Imam Mahmud Shaltut (israf fil-istidlal). 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.
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.
- 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.
The supporters of circumcision themselves (male or female) acknowledge that those narrations attributed to Mohammed offer little credibility. Mahmud Shaltut states that they are neither clear nor authentic. 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.