Question Nbr: 7395

Question Date: 6/23/2005

Topic: Women: Circumcision

Question:
Assalaam alaikum, I have been reading an article -"Understanding the Basics" on the medical website www.webmd.com In that article, under a subtitle "Female Genital Mutilation(FGM)" is a tradition with the name of the prophet Muhammad(saws). It says "Religious Pressures: Islamic cultural and religious pressure to continue FGM boils down to a famous debate between Muhammad and Um Habibah, an exciser, or circumciser, of female slaves. When Muhammad asks her if she is currently practicing female circumcision, she replies, "Unless it is forbidden and you order me to stop doing it." Muhammad then gives her some tips on improving her craft. This passage has come to be known as "the exciser's narration." It is the Islamic equivalent of the Abraham/Isaac sacrifice tale from the Old Testament, and many religious leaders cite this passage when defending FGM as a cultural practice, comparing it to male circumcision in Jewish tradition..." I would like to request information about the authenticity of this tradition. I am refering to it as tradition since it is mentioned it that way in a previous paragraph - "The term sunna means "tradition" in Arabic, but in English it refers to the removal...." The url link is - http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/85/98745.htm?pagenumber=2 I appreciate any response to my question. Thankyou and Best Regards, A.Mirza

Answer:
As-Salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. 
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. 
We commend your keenness on getting your self well-acquainted with Islam and its teachings, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake. 
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, issues the following Fatwa:  
 
“Circumcision for males is considered an important rite of initiation in Islam. It is a part of the legacy of the Prophet Ibrahim, peace and blessings be upon him, whose role model we have been ordered to follow in the Qur’an. It is, therefore, a highly significant rite in Islam, which distinguishes Muslim males from others.  
 
When we come to the issue of “Female circumcision”, however, the mater is quite different. There is nothing in the sources, either the Qur’an or the Sunnah, to suggest that it is a PRESCRIBED ritual of initiation for women in Islam.  
 
While one finds a number of traditions from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, which clearly indicates that he ordered pagan males who converted to undergo circumcision, it is not stated anywhere that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, ordered any woman who entered Islam to undergo this practice.  
 
Because there is no absolute proof from the sources of Islam prescribing female circumcision, the vast majority of scholars do not include it in the OBLIGATORY rituals of Islam.  
 
It is common knowledge in Islam that if the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had wanted female circumcision to be an integral aspect of religious practice in Islam the same way that male circumcision is, he would have said so clearly. Since he did not do so, we can safely assume it is not a prescribed ritual of Islam."  
 
Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:  
 
“Actually, this is a controversial issue among jurists and even among doctors. It has sparked off fierce debate in Egypt whereby scholars and doctors are split into proponents and opponents.  
 
However, the most moderate opinion and the most likely one to be correct is in favor of practicing circumcision in the moderate Islamic way indicated in some of the Prophet's hadiths - even though such hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: "Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands". The hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman's health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. It’s noteworthy that the Prophet's saying "do not exceed the limit" means do not totally remove the clitoris.  
 
Actually, Muslim countries differ over the issue of female circumcision; some countries sanction it whereas others do not. Anyhow, it is not obligatory, whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. But whoever chooses not to do it is not considered to have committed a sin for it is mainly meant to dignify women as held by scholars.  
 
As for male circumcision, it is one of the obligatory practices in Islam. Scholars even hold that whoever finds that some Muslims have stopped practicing male circumcision should force them to revert to this Sunnah that characterizes the Muslim nation.”  
If you are still in need of more information, don't hesitate to contact us. Do keep in touch. May Allah guide us all to the straight path!  
Wassalam and Allah Almighty knows best. 

Reference:
IslamiCity