2 Madinah   Al Rawdah  1

Circumcision

The most common types of genital operation differ from region to region but they can be described as follows.

1. Circumcision: the removal of the prepuce or hood of the clitoris

2. Clitoridectomy: the removal of the clitoris

3: Excision: The removal of the clitoris and all or part of the labia minora

4: Infibulation: The removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and all or parts of of the labia mojora. This form is referred to as pharonic circumcision.

It should be noted that other than the first type the rest are seen as genital mutilation.

In 1994 the sheikhul Azhar Sheikh al-Tantawi (then mufti Azam) made an official statement in which he challenged the belief that their are any sahih or even hasan hadith which permits female circumcision or makes it compulsory.

The opinions of the madhhabs are: (taken from wahba al-zuhaili’s book)

1. Hanafi and Maliki: Circumcison for men is sunna and noble (makrama) for women, (musnad ahmad, musnad basriyin, 19794), al-Zuhaili mentions that this hadith has been classified as daeef by al-bayhaqi.

2. Hanbali: circumcision for men is obligatory and for women noble. because of the above hadith and the hadith of umm atiyya the prophet (saw) Told her , as she used to perform circumcision in medina, “when you reduce (khafad) then remove only little and do not ruin it (tunhik) (al-Zuahili 1989, vol:1 307, sunan abi dawud, book of manners, no. 4587). It has lapsed al-Zuahili to mention that this hadith has been classified as weak by Imam abu dawud.

3: Shafi: circumcision is obligatory for both men and women. Imam Shafi’s argument is based on the general meaning of the hadiths were the prophet (saw) called circumcision a part of fitra.

In reliance of the traveller, sheikh nuh says that this part is the bizr, the hood of the clitoris and not the clitoris itself as mistaken by many.

It is quite interesting to note that clitoridectomy, excision and infibulation is mostly practiced in Africa, around the geographical belt known as the nomadic belt, this belt covers the north east of africa and far south of arabia. Circumcision on the other hand is practiced in indonesia and Malaysia.

Another interesting point to be noticed is that circumcision is not practiced in the region of the nomadic belt because of religion, but on the contrary it is practiced because of cultural traditions. It is not practiced in Morrocco, Algeria and Tunisia who are all maliki’s where as it is practiced in Sudan who are also Malikis. It is not practiced is Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, the majority of whom are Shafi’s but it is practiced in Shafi dominant Egypt and Yemen. Conversly Malysia and Indonesia have no cultural roots of circumcision, but because of the Shafi dominance there it has become a religious postulate and is incoporated in the states islamic creed, these two countries are the only countries in the muslim world that we can safely assume that they do female circumcision because of religious reasons.

as far as the hanbalis are concerned then, they tend not to reject circumcision nor promote, because of Sheikh al-Alabani’s tashih of the hadith of umm atiyya.

However, we find salafi scholars within and without egypt talking about the permissibilty of female circumcision, but the illa (juris ratio) is different, where the salafi scholars of egypt deem it permissible because it curbs sexual desire, those living in the west say the removal of the hood gives more sexual pleasure.

One scholar who talked a lot about this issue is an egyptian salafi scholar, sheikh Abu al-Ashbal al-Zuhri, who wrote a response to the fatwa of sheikhul azhar. Other than the above mentioned hadiths, he also used the hadith iza iltaqa al-khitanaan, to prove the permissibilty of female circumcision, however the response to this has been given that khitanaan here is for taghleeb, such as aswadayn, umarayn and qamarayn.

and last of all, Sayyid Sabiq writes in fiqh al-sunna that the hadiths which oreder the circumcision for women are all weak and the content therefore is not authentic .

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