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November 22, 2014

Circumcision or Khatna in Islam, Benefits, Debate, Why Muslim Khatna

The role of circumcision (khitan) in Islamic society has shifted dramatically due to issues of gender, custom, and law. Nowhere mentioned in the Qur_an, circumcision was a common practice in Arabia that was incorporated into the Islamic legal system to varying degrees and for a variety of reasons. Both Josephus and Philo of Alexandria note its presence in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Arabia prior to the coming of Islam. Philo observes that Egyptian males and females were circumcised after the fourteenth year before marriage, while Josephus claims the Arabs performed it just after the thirteenth year, at the time Ishmael was circumcised.
Legally, Islamic scholars debate whether the practice is obligatory or sunna (customary), or whether its obligations be extended solely to males, or to males and females. Al Shafi_a considers the practice an equal duty for both sexes, while Malik and others consider it sunna for males. The disagreement over gender requirements continues in current cultural practice. Female circumcision is embraced in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan, and West Africa, and a minor form is practiced by Southeast Asian Shafi_is in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is condemned by many Muslims and non-Muslims who reside outside of these areas, mostly for humanitarian and health reasons. Many legal schools also deliberate the time a circumcision should be performed. Some recommend the seventh day following the birth of a male child, while others propose its performance after a child reaches his tenth birthday. Again, such legal variation is mirrored in contemporary practice. In the Middle East, circumcision occurs between the ages of two and seven, while in Europe and North Africa male Muslims are circumcised in hospitals immediately after birth. Suffice it to say that today there is no standard orthodox practice when it comes to circumcision.

Not all Muslims practice circumcision (specifically, those in China), and many who do adhere to vastly different cultural norms. The justifications for circumcision also vary dramatically in Islamic sources and practice. Many hadith link circumcision with purification (tahara). It often appears in lists that include other acts of general hygiene, including the clipping of nails, the use of the tooth-stick, the trimming of mustaches, and the depilation of both the armpits and the pubic region. Some hadith also link the practice back to Ibrahim, who circumcised himself at the age of eighty with a pickax. Unlike Judaism, Islam does not view circumcision as the sole signifier of the covenant between God and his people. Circumcision stands as just one of many tests Ibrahim performed to demonstrate his adherence to the true faith. Many Muslims bypass these exegetical intricacies and simply take the view that Muhammad mandated the practice. The legal and customary support for circumcising just prior to the onset of puberty also suggests the practice was performed as a rite of passage, one that would ready an individual for marriage. As a rite of passage, male circumcision ceremonies in places like Java and Morocco are accompanied with purificatory rites, sacrifices, and feasts. When conducted today, female circumcision is a much less celebratory act, rarely accompanied by such festivities. To interpret circumcision in Islam from a religious studies standpoint, the manipulation of the genitalia exemplifies ultimate divine control over one’s human, procreative instincts. Thus one cut symbolizes a total submission to God.

Comments

  1. Female Circumcision is one of the most misunderstood practices of Islam. Here’s an excellent article showing that it is not the kind of mutilation it is commonly believed to be and that is the same as hoodectomy which western women are increasingly choosing to undergo for better genital hygiene and an enhanced sex life :

    There exist many ahadith or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to show the important place, circumcision, whether of males or females, occupies in Islam.

    Among these traditions is the one where the Prophet is reported to have declared circumcision (khitan) to be sunnat for men and ennobling for women (Baihaqi).

    He is also known to have declared that the bath (following sexual intercourse without which no prayer is valid) becomes obligatory when both the circumcised parts meet (Tirmidhi). The fact that the Prophet defined sexual intercourse as the meeting of the male and female circumcised parts (khitanul khitan or khitanain) when stressing on the need for the obligatory post-coital bath could be taken as pre-supposing or indicative of the obligatory nature of circumcision in the case of both males and females.

    Stronger still is his statement classing circumcision (khitan) as one of the acts characteristic of the fitra or God-given nature (Or in other words, Divinely-inspired natural inclinations of humans) such as the shaving of pubic hair, removing the hair of the armpits and the paring of nails (Bukhari) which again shows its strongly emphasized if not obligatory character in the case of both males and females. Muslim scholars are of the view that acts constituting fitra which the Prophet expected Muslims to follow are to be included in the category of wajib or obligatory.

    That the early Muslims regarded female circumcision as obligatory even for those Muslims who embraced Islam later in life is suggested by a tradition occurring in the Adab al Mufrad of Bukhari where Umm Al Muhajir is reported to have said: “I was captured with some girls from Byzantium. (Caliph) Uthman offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. Uthman said: ‘Go and circumcise them and purify them.’”

    More recently, we had Sheikh Jadul Haqq, the distinguished head of Al Azhar declaring both male and female circumcision to be obligatory religious duties (Khitan Al Banat in Fatawa Al-Islamiyyah. 1983). The fatwa by his successor Tantawi who opposed the practice cannot be taken seriously as we all know that he has pronounced a number of unislamic fatwas such as declaring bank interest halal and questioning the obligation of women wearing headscarves.

    At the same time, however, what is required in Islam, is the removal of only the prepuce of the clitoris, and not the clitoris itself as is widely believed. The Prophet is reported to have told Umm Atiyyah, a lady who circumcised girls in Medina: “When you circumcise, cut plainly and do not cut severely, for it is beauty for the face and desirable for the husband” (idha khafadti fa ashimmi wa la tanhaki fa innahu ashraq li’l wajh wa ahza ind al zawj) (Abu Dawud, Al Awsat of Tabarani and Tarikh Baghdad of Al Baghdadi).

    This hadith clearly explains the procedure to be followed in the circumcision of girls. The words: “Cut plainly and do not cut severely” (ashimmi wa la tanhaki) is to be understood in the sense of removing the skin covering the clitoris, and not the clitoris. The expression “It is beauty (more properly brightness or radiance) for the face” (ashraq li’l wajh) is further proof of this as it simply means the joyous countenance of a woman, arising out of her being sexually satisfied by her husband. The idea here is that it is only with the removal of the clitoral prepuce that real sexual satisfaction could be realized. The procedure enhances sexual feeling in women during the sex act since a circumcised clitoris is much more likely to be stimulated as a result of direct oral, penile or tactile contact than the uncircumcised organ whose prepuce serves as an obstacle to direct stimulation.

    A number of religious works by the classical scholars such as Fath Al Bari by Ibn Hajar Asqalani and Sharhul Muhadhdhab of Imam Nawawi have stressed on the necessity of removing only the prepuce of the clitoris and not any part of the organ itself. It is recorded in the Majmu Al Fatawa that when Ibn Taymiyyah was asked whether the woman is circumcised, he replied: “Yes we circumcise. Her circumcision is to cut the uppermost skin (jilda) like the cock’s comb.” More recently Sheikh Jadul Haqq declared that the circumcision of females consists of the removal of the clitoral prepuce (Khitan Al Banat in Fatawa Al Islamiyya. 1983).

    Besides being a religious duty, the procedure is believed to facilitate good hygiene since the removal of the prepuce of the clitoris serves to prevent the accumulation of smegma, a foul-smelling, germ-containing cheese- like substance that collects underneath the prepuces of uncircumcised women (See Al Hidaayah. August 1997).

    A recent study by Sitt Al Banat Khalid ‘Khitan Al-Banat Ru’ yah Sihhiyyah’ (2003) has shown that female circumcision, like male circumcision, offers considerable health benefits, such as prevention of urinary tract infections and other diseases such as cystitis affecting the female reproductive organs.

    The latest is the study Orgasmic Dysfunction Among Women at a Primary Care Setting in Malaysia. Hatta Sidi, and Marhani Midin, and Sharifah Ezat Wan Puteh, and Norni Abdullah, (2008) Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 20 (4) accessible http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my/4480/ which shows that being Non-Malay is a higher risk factor for Orgasmic Sexual Dysfunction in women, implying that Malay women experience less problems in achieving orgasm than non-Malay women. As you know almost all Malay women in Malaysia are circumcised (undergo hoodectomy) in contrast to non-Malay women who are not. This would suggest that hoodectomy does in fact contribute to an improved sex life in women rather than diminishing it as some argue.

    For more benefits of Islamic female circumcision also known as hoodectomy see http://www.hoodectomyinformation.com

  2. Here’s another great website on Islamic female circumcision also known as hoodectomy http://www.umatia.org/2011/Safe%20Female%20circumcision.doc

  3. poor baby says:

    nobody have the right to cut parts of babies
    I was cut when I was a little boy I hate it

  4. aur sab apni khatna ki discuss karay

  5. It’s very unfortunate that some organisations like Darul Arqam in Singapore are being influenced by the Jews. They are saying that its only necessary for males and hiding the importance of circumcision for females. It’s time somebody told them off!

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