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Female Circumcision in Islam (part 1 of 2): The History of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) and its Types

 

Description: The various types of female genital cutting (FGC), its geography, and the different reasons it was performed in various societies.

By IslamReligion.com

Published on 13 Nov 2006 - Last modified on 19 Nov 2006

 

 

 

A common phenomenon which has been regretfully associated almost exclusively with Islam is the various forms of female genital cutting, or FGC[1]. Although many of those who are involved in this act attribute to the religion of Islam, the majority of the forms of FGC present in the world today which are acts truly abominable, acts of which the religion of Islam is innocent. In no way does Islam condone these actions, and they should be looked at something purely culture and not Islamic. Amnesty International asserts, “FGC [female genital cutting] predates Islam and is not practiced by the majority of Muslims, but has acquired a religious dimension.”[2] The Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project states, “...it is not an Islamic practice. FGC is a cross-cultural and cross-religious ritual. In Africa and the Middle East, it is performed by Muslims, Coptic Christians, members of various indigenous groups, Protestants, and Catholics, to name a few.”[3] One sect of Jews, the Falashas, also circumcise both sexes.[4] We will first look into the various types of FGC, and then examine why various cultures implemented these techniques upon their female constituencies.

 

Types of Female Genital Cutting

 

Female genital cutting is “term used to refer to any practice which includes the removal or the alteration of the female genitalia.”[5] There are three basic types of FGC[6]:

Type I:
This is the mildest form of FGC, which includes removing or splitting the prepuce (foreskin or ‘hood’) which covers the clitoris of females, thus exposing the glans. This may be couple with partial or total excision of the clitoris. This is known as clitoridotomy (
slang:
hoodectomy). According to the United Nations Population Fund, this form is comparable to male circumcision.
[7]
This is sometimes also called “sunna circumcision” due to the fact that it is this type which is performed commonly by those Muslims who believe it to be legislated in Islam.

 

Type II:
In this type, known as clitoridectomy, the clitoris and labia minora is partially or totally removed.

 

 

Type III:
This is one of the most extreme forms of FGC, involving the total excision of the clitoris, both the labia minora and majora, and the joining of the two sides of the vulva across the vagina, sewn with thread or secured with other items, until it heals joining together. Only a small, pencil-size hole is left to allow passage of menstrual blood and urine. This is known as infibulation or
Pharaonic Circumcision
, in reference to its origins.

 

 

Type IV:
This type is inclusive of all other forms of genital cutting, such as: pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia; stretching of the clitoris and/or labia; cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue; introcision, scraping (angurya cuts) or cutting (gishri cuts) of the vagina or surrounding tissue; and introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina.

 

 

Geography

Female_Circumcision_in_Islam_%28part_1_of_2%29_001.gif

 

 

 

Various forms of FGC is practiced throughout the world, but it is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, in a band stretching East from Senegal to Somalia, as shown on the map. It also exists in the Middle East, North and South America, Indonesia and Malaysia. Type III is almost exclusive to Somalia, Sudan and southern Egypt, along with some areas in Mali and Nigeria.

We find that in some societies, such as Somalia, Eritrea , and Ethiopia, almost all women undergo type III of FGC. Reasons range from regarding the woman as unclean if the clitoris is not completely removed, to ensuring that women remain chaste until marriage. This is practice is an age old custom in these societies, and members fear to leave it out of fear of chastisement. Women may not be able to get married, or even be accused of committing fornication. Families may also loose their honor if this tradition is not kept with.

 

 

Female_Circumcision_in_Islam_%28part_1_of_2%29_002.gif

 

FGC was also a common practice in North America, and specifically in the U.S., type I, II and III was common until the 1950’s in order to control female sexuality. Clitoridectomy was performed for various reasons. One of the most common reasons was to reduce masturbation. In England, Isaac Baker Brown published a book about his successes in treating female masturbation with clitoridectomy. He also claimed it to cure obscure nervous disorders such as hysteria and epilepsy.[8] Many more solutions were offered for masturbation, such as chastity belts, first used in medieval times to ensure that wives remain chaste while their husbands were away. In order to prevent masturbation in boys, spiked rings even more drastic measures were employed, such as cauterization and even castration.[9]

 

 

Female_Circumcision_in_Islam_%28part_1_of_2%29_003.jpg

 

 

In one of the most classic of pediatric textbooks, Diseases of Infancy and Childhood, published 11 times from 1897 to 1940, the author L.E. Holt advocated cauterization of the clitoris as well as blistering the vulva as a preventive measures for masturbation. Masturbation was seen as the reason of many ills, such as neuroticism, disobedience, and disrespect of parents.[10]

 

In the U.S. an organization known as the Orificial Surgery Society was formed, publishing journals mentioning the various benefits of clitoridectomy, even for things as trivial as headaches.

There were also many hygienic benefits that were thought to be produced by clitoridotomy. C.F. McDonald states in a 1958 paper entitled Circumcision of the Female[11]: “If the male needs circumcision for cleanliness and hygiene, why not the female? I have operated on perhaps 40 patients who needed this attention.” The author states that it remedies “irritation, scratching, irritability, masturbation, frequency and urgency,” and smegmaliths causing “dyspareunia and frigidity.”

 

Until recently the clitoris was seen as un unclean thing. Even Sigmund Freud, one of the founders of modern psychology, stated in one of his books Sexuality and the Psychology of Love, the “elimination of clitoral sexuality is a necessary precondition for the development of femininity.”

 

Today in the west, many adults choose to undergo clitoridotomy, as some doctors[12] and others[13] advocate clitoridotomy, claiming that it increases sexual pleasure. They state that over-sized clitoral hood may impede in the stimulation of the clitoris. Some websites, such as Circlist, BMEzine, and geocities, even have testimonials of people who underwent the process, as well as medical reports promoting the practice. They show that the majority of women reported increased sexual pleasure after the procedure (87.5% in Rathmann’s 1959 study[14] and 75% in Knowles’).

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Some opponents of this practice use the term Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, but the term FGC is being used more commonly these days in order to avoid stirring social sensitivities.

 

[2] What is Female Genital Mutilation? Amnesty International.. (http://web.amnesty.o...open&of=ENG-370)

 

[3] Female Genital Cutting (FGC): An Introduction, Marianne Sarkis. (http://www.fgmnetwor...o/fgmintro.html).

 

[4] Andree, “Zur Volkskunde der Juden,” p. 84.

 

[5] Female Genital Cutting (FGC): An Introduction, by Marianne Sarkis (http://www.fgmnetwor...ntro/index.html).

 

[6] Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a WHO Technical Working Group, Geneva, 17-19 July 1995.” World Health Organization: Geneva. 1996.

 

[7] Frequently Asked Questions on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (http://www.unfpa.org...ractices2.htm#4).

 

[8] “The Ritual of Circumcision”, by Karen Ericksen Paige. Human Nature, pp 40-48, May 1978.

 

[9] ibid.

 

[10] ibid.

 

[11] McDonald, C.F., M.D (September, 1958). “Circumcision of the Female.

 

[12] Ezzell, Carol (October 31, 2000). “Anatomy and Sexual Dysfunction”.

 

[13] Clitoral Circumcision. Tantra * Kama Sutra * Tantric Sex & Tantric philosophy.

 

[14] Rathmann, W.G., M.D. (September, 1959). “Female Circumcision: Indications and a New Technique.”

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Female Circumcision in Islam (part 2 of 2): Circumcision amongst Muslims

 

Description: A discussion of the notion that female “sunnah” circumcision, or Type I FGC, has an Islamic basis.

By IslamReligion.com

Published on 20 Nov 2006 - Last modified on 04 Oct 2009

 

 

 

A Difference of Opinion

Although circumcision of males is an act regarded as commendable in Islam, the scholars have differed in regards to females. Some scholars have regarded the act as commendable, while others regard it as merely permissible. Lately, some have even stated its impermissibility. All these opinions are based upon a number of Prophetic narrations (hadeeths) relating to this subject.

 

The scholars of Islam who state that circumcision is a commendable act mainly do so due to a hadeeth in which the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“Circumcision is Sunnah for men and an honorable thing for women.” (Musnad Ahmad)

From this narration, the scholars of Islam understand the encouragement of the Prophet to circumcise both men and women to be a commendable act in the religion, based about known principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.

 

Those who regard it as merely being something permissible base their opinion on an additional narration, known as the narration of Umm Atiyyah, in which the Prophet came to know of a circumcision being performed upon a female child. He related instruction to the woman performing it saying:

“Trim, but do not cut into it, for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband.” (Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Awsat)

 

From this hadeeth, the scholars deduce the permissibility of the circumcision of females, as the Prophet did not clearly forbid it. They also deduce, however, the impermissibility of going to extremes in doing so, based upon his prohibition of “cutting into it”.

 

When one looks into the statements of the scholars of hadeeth, however, they will find that quite a number of the most prominent of them, such as Ibn Hajar, al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, al-Bayhaqi, ibn-ul-Mundthir, ash-Shawkani, state that they are weak and cannot be relied upon. Ibn ul-Mundthir said:

“There is no report about circumcision that can be relied upon, and no chain of transmission that can be followed.”[1]

 

It is known amongst the scholars of Islam that if a hadeeth is found to be weak and unreliable, it is impermissible that it be used as evidence to establish a ruling in Islam, as all legal rulings in the religion must be verified with authentic, unambiguous proofs

 

“Sunnah” Circumcision

 

What one can see is that Type I FGC, sometimes called “Sunnah” circumcision, does have some basis in the religion of Islam, however weak this basis may be. It is key to note, however, that it is only this first type which some of the scholars regarded as permissible or commendable, which is the clipping of the prepuce until the glans becomes visible, or less. This procedure is harmless and has no detrimental effects upon women, and is similar to the circumcision of men, as mentioned previously. Rather, some have even argued that there are some benefits to this procedure, as mentioned earlier, such as increase of sexual pleasure, prevention of unpleasant odors which result from foul secretions beneath the prepuce, and reduction of the incidence of urinary tract infections and infections affecting the reproductive system.[2]

 

As for the other types of FGC, there is no basis for this practice in Islam, rather it is strictly prohibited, as in the hadeeth which implies its permissibility is a prohibition from going to extremes. Also, Islamic law protects women’s right to sexual enjoyment, demonstrated by the fact that a woman has the right to divorce on the grounds that her husband does not provide sexual satisfaction. As for those Muslims in certain parts of the world which do practice this form of female genital mutilation, as they grow in their understanding of Islam, they will start to put aside these abominable actions. A clear example of this is that that one of the various groups in Kenya who do not practice FGM are the Muslims, although it is a country whose people are known to practice it,.

 

We must emphasize, however, that the correct stance is that there is no reliable text which directly encourages any form of circumcision, and thus the matter is left to other general texts which prohibit infliction of harm and those which encourage all things healthy and beneficial. One fundamental of Islamic jurisprudence is that what is not specifically prohibited is allowed, but still subject to other indirect texts. This makes for a great deal of tolerance in religion, but also allows it to cope with new issues brought by time. If it is found that circumcision is medically beneficial to females or to society, then it would be at the most something encouraged by Islam, as all things beneficial to life are regarded as commendable in religion. But if it is found, on the other hand, that circumcision is harmful, then it would definitely be regarded as something forbidden in Islam, as Dr. Abd al-Rahmân b. Hasan al-Nafisah, editor of the Contemporary Jurisprudence Research Journal based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia stated in his article entitles Female Circumcision & Islam: “In Islamic Law, preservation of the person – the life and bodily soundness of the person – is a legal necessity. Anything that compromises this legal necessity by bringing harm to the person is unlawful.”[3]

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Talkhees al-Habeer. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. Hadeeth #2140.

 

[2] Female Circumcision: A Medical Perspective, Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid. 2003.

 

[3] (http://islamtoday.co...&sub_cat_id=822).

 

 

-----------------------End of Article 1----------------------

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IS FEMALE CIRCUMCISION REQUIRED?

 

One of the common misconceptions is to connect female circumcision with the teachings of Islam. This appendix addresses the following three questions:

 

 

1. WAS FEMALE CIRCUMCISION INTRODUCED BY Islam?

 

While the exact origin of female circumcision is not known, "it preceded Christianity and Islam." [1] The most radical form of female circumcision (infibulation) is known as the Pharaonic Procedure. This may signify that it may have been practiced long before the rise of Islam, Christianity and possibly Judaism. It is not clear, however, whether this practice originated in Egypt or in some other African countries then spread to Egypt. [2]

 

It is common knowledge that in some countries like Egypt, female circumcision has been practiced by both Muslims and Christians. [3] In the meantime, this practice is not known in most Muslim countries including Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. [4] This leads to the conclusion that female circumcision is connected with cultural practices rather than with Islam itself as a world religion. It was made clear in the introduction of this book that some cultural practices, whether by Muslims alone or Muslims and others (such as the case with female circumcision), are not part of Islam and in some instances may violate its teachings as embodied in its primary sources, Qur'an and Hadeeth. These sources are examined next.

 

 

2. IS THERE ANY AUTHENTIC TEXT IN THE PRIMARY SOURCES OF Islam WHICH REQUIRES FEMALE CIRCUMCISION FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS?

 

No mention of female circumcision is to be found in the Qur'an either directly or indirectly. There is no known Hadeeth which requires female circumcision. Some argued, however, that one Hadeeth, while not requiring female circumcision, appears to accept it: "Circumcision is a commedable act for men (Sunnah) and is an honorable thing for women (Makromah)." [5]

There are two observations on this Hadeeth:

a) A distinction is made between male circumcision which is described in a stronger religious term (Sunnah) [6] or commendable while another weaker description is given to female circumcision (Makromah) which implies no religious obligation.

 

b) This Hadeeth is of weak authenticity (dha'eef) according to Hadeeth scholars. [7]

 

There is, however, a more authentic Hadeeth in which Prophet Muhammad (P) is reported to have passed by a woman performing circumcision on a young girl. He instructed the woman by saying:

 

"Cut off only the foreskin (outer fold of skin over the clitoris; the prepuce) but do not cut off deeply (i.e. the clitoris itself), for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband." [8]

 

While the Prophet (P) did not explicitly ban this practice, his words project a great deal of sensitivity to the instinctive needs of females and their matrimonal happiness and legitimate enjoyment. Reference to the brightness of the face and to better relationship with the husband are clear indications of his senstivity and compassion. They also stand in contrast to the arguments that female circumcision "controls" the woman's sexual appetite and hence contributes to sexual morality and virtue in society. It is true that Islam requires adherents of both genders to be chaste. Yet, there is no text in the Qur'an or Sunnah which requires selective curtailment or control of the sexual desire of one specific gender. Furthermore, chastity and virtue are not contingent on "cutting off" part of any sensitive and crucial human organ. Rather, they are contingent on spiritual and moral values of the person and the supporting virtuous environments.

 

 

3. SHOULD FEMALE CIRCUMCISION BE BANNED OR RESTRICTED?

 

Shari'ah (Islamic law) divides actions into five categories; mandatory, commendable, permissible, detestable and strictly forbidden. Female circumcision falls within the category of the permissible. It was probably on this basis that some scholars opposed a sweeping ban of this practice. Before discussing this view, it is important to distinguish between different types of procedures that were and still are called circumcision.

TYPES OF CIRCUMCISION

a) Removal of the hood (or prepuce) of the clitoris. This procedure is, to some degree, analgous to male circumcision since in both cases, no part of the sexual organ is cut off. In both cases also, it is only the foreskin, or outer fold of the skin, which is cut off. Properly done, it is not likely to cause any "matrimonial" problem. While some may call it "sunnah circumcision," this is their own appellation and not that of the Prophet (P) who used the term Sunnah only in the context of male circumcision.

 

b) Removal of the entire clitoris (clitorectomy) along with part of the labia minora, which is satured together leaving an opening. This is a form of mutilation.

 

c) Removal of the entire clitoris, labia minora and medial part of the labia majora, whith both sides of the female organ stitched together leaving a small opeing. This procedure requires tying together the child's legs of nearly three weeks. [9] It is called the Pharaonic procedure but may as well be called "mutilation".

 

It is obvious that the second and third procedures were never mandated, encouraged or even consented to by the Prophet (P). They even violate a known rule in Shari'ah prohibiting the cutting off of any part of the human body except for unavoidable reasons (e.g. medical treatment, trimming nails or hair, or for an explicitly specified reason such as male circumcision). Such necessity or need does not exist in female circumcision. Nothing justifies genital mutilation. In fact, no mutilation is allowed by Islam even in the battlefield. Not only are these two procedures unjustifiable, they are brutal, inhumane and in violation of Islam.

 

The remaining question then relates to the first procedure. Some (e.g. the late Rector of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Gad Al-Haque) argued that since the Prophet (P) did not ban female circumcision, it falls within the category of the permissble. As such, there is no ground for a total ban on it. However, it is within the spirit of Shari'ah to restrict something that is permissible if discovered to be harmful. For example, all fish are permisible to eat. Should a particular type of fish be proven to be poisonous or harmful, it could be banned based on a known Shari'ah rule (Al-dharar Yozaal), or harm must be removed. The real issue then boils down to whether the first procedure is harmful or not. Granted that such a procedure may not be seriously damaging like the other two, it may be argued that it is painful, traumatic and often performed in an unhygienic setting leading to infection and other problems. [10] Even if the procedure is performed by a physician, it is so delicate that not all physicians master it. [11]

It should be noted that some people oppose female circumcision as part of their opposition to any "tradition" as old and invalid. This is as inappropriate as practicing female circumcision because it is a "tradition," regardless of its consistency with Islam or not. The practice should be evaluated objectively, on the basis of

 

a)whether it is required religiously or not

 

b) whether there are medical and other relevant issues to be considered in evaluating this practice.

 

 

While any form of female circumcision is already legally banned in some countries [12] and may be banned in others in the future, it is not suggested here that this is the only option. In societies and cultures where the practice is well entrenched and socio-cultural pressures for it are great [13], abrupt legal banning may not end the practice. It may cause it to be practiced "underground" and under more problematic circumstances. However the problem is serious enough that some action is needed. A starting point, perhaps, is to begin by educationg the masses in countries where female circumcision is commonly practiced. All possible media should be used in the process. The contents of this appendix may serve as an outline of such an educational program, or it is so hoped. In any case, the conclusion which appears to be certain is that there is no single text of the Qur'an and Hadeeth which requires [14] female circumcision.

 

 

Footnotes:

  1. Stewart, Rosemary, "Female Circumcision: Implicaitons for North American Nurses, " in Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, vol. 35, no.4, 1997, p. 35.
     
     
  2. Haqa'iq Ilmiyya Hawla Khitan Al-Inaath (in Arabic), Jam'iyyat Tanzeem Al-Usrah, Cairo, 1983, p.7.
     
     
  3. Ibid, p. 8.
     
     
  4. Ibid, p. 8.
     
     
  5. Al-shawkani, Nayl Al-awtar, Dar Al-Jeel, Beirut, 1973, vol. 1, p. 139.
     
     
  6. A broader definition of Sunnah is "the words, actions and approval (or consent) of Prophet Muhammad (P)." In the context of religious obligations, however, Sunnah refers to acts that are commendable but not obligatory. It is in that context that the Prophet Muhammad (P) used the term Sunnah to refer to male circumcision but not female circumcision.
     
     
  7. Al-Shawkani, op. cit, p.139.
     
     
  8. Al-Tabarani, quoted in Al-albani, Muhammad N., Silsilat al-Ahadeeth Al-Sahihah, Al Maktab Al-Islami, Beirut, Lebanon, 1983, vol. 2, Hadeeth no. 722, pp. 353-358 espeically pp. 356-257. See also N. keller (translator/editor), The Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad al-Masri, Modern Printing Press, Dubai, 1991, e 4.3, p. 59.
     
     
  9. Stewart, op. cit, p.35
     
     
  10. Including bleeding, scars, painful intercourse, difficulty to achieve sexual fulfillment which may lead to pain, reducing chances of pregnancy, causing infertility in some instances, chronic pelvic infection, urinary tract infection, psychological problems and unhappy husbands. See Stewart, op. cit, pp. 36-37.
     
     
  11. The author was informed by some physicians that since the clitoris itself is quite tiny, even tinier in younger girls it is very diffucult to do the first procedure proberly even by a non-specialist physician. The much easier procedure of male circumcision is usually referred to a physician with expeirence in that particular procedure.
     
     
  12. Presently female circumcision is illegal in Britain and other European countries through the passage of the Prophibition of Female Circumcision Act of 1985. Due to the publicity given to this topic recently, other countries are expected to follow suit, especially those with large number of immigrants from countries which practice this procedure. Stewart, op. cit, p. 36.
     
     
  13. Some such pressure is the non-Islamically based cultural norms that only a circumcised woman is fit for marriage, other superstitious ideas that a child born to an uncircumcised woman is likely to die. See for example Stewart, op. cit, p. 36.
     
     
  14. Reference is sometimes made to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (P) narrated in Ahmad, also in Malik with similar wordings to the effect that if the two areas of circumcision (for a male and female) touch one another, than Ghusl (bathing) is required. This expression simply signified that after the intimate matrimonial relationship, both husband and wife must take a complete bath before they perform their daily prayers. The relevant part of this Hadeeth, however, is its reference to the two circumcised parts. Imam Ahmad uses this Hadeeth as an evidence that women (in Madinah) used to be circumcised. This is no evidence, however, that it was religiously required. It could have been a cultural practice which was not prohibited.
    Even the few Ahadeeth which Al-Albani considered to be authentic do not require female circumcision as discussed earlier. In fact, some of them speak against radical forms of circumcision.
    See Sabiq, Al-Sayyid, Fiqh Al-Sunnah, Darl Al-Kitab Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 37 and 66. Also Al-Albani, Muhammad N., Tamam Al-Minnah Fi Al-Ta'leeq Ala Fiq Al-Sunnah, Al-Maktabah Al-Islamiyyah, Amman, 3rd printing, 1409 A.H., p. 67, and Muwatta' Al-Imam Malik, Dar Al-Qalam, Beirut, n.d., pp 50-51.

-----------------------End of Article 2----------------------

 

Source: http://www.jannah.or...tyappendix.html

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I call this a pretty thorough compilation of what primary and secondary literature exists in Islam on this topic.

 

A close friend here in Europe is a gynaecologist and we hear the horror stories of Muslim women coming for help after complications arose due to FGM. This is quite frequent and not isolated incidents.

 

In Germany a high court has recently declared male circumcision on babies illegal too and insist on consent. No circumcision helps or hinders anyone believing or practising their belief, yet religious groups claim their freedom of religion is impeded.

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Excellent post. FGM is a disgusting practice and we should pray that the people who practice it will be guided to the right way and that we can continue to highlight how awful it is.

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I couldn't agree more with ParadiseLost! However, I do wish that more Muslim Leaders and clerics would speak out strongly on the subject. Silence is hardly golden!

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alsalamo alykom,

first of all, let me say i don't have a final oninion in the FGC "female genital circumcision" subjet tell now, tell an honost profissional Islamic Medical Authority give it's final (or margened/conditional) opinion in the subject.

 

but let me ask some questions,

 

1- if the non-moslems see both male and female circumcesion as harmful, why they stress all their efforts to the female's?!

 

2- which is more risky (from medical point of view) a 3 days/ or 40 days or even 3 month, 10 inch, boy circuncission or 7-10 years old female circumcision?

 

3- if the non-moslems launch a propaganda campain, through whatever orgnization and media they control, attacking male circumcision (mutlation at this time), will the moslems stop it?

 

4- do the size/form of the woman private parts have any effect over the women sexual sensitivity (need/ intiation/control/response)?

 

5- do the climate/ area/ ethnic/ any circumstances can affect male/female sexual sensitivity?

 

6- who's opinion, Moslems can accept in such sensitive issues?

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      Question : What is the significance of the superiority of a free person to a slave if slavery is not condemned or abolished ?
       
      The way the issue of slavery is raised by Christian missionaries and critics of Islam outrages the sensibility of honest people. It is more than probable that such issues are raised with the most dishonest purposes.
       
      We say that after examining Jewish and Christian scriptures where slavery is legitimized in its worst forms. The practice of slavery is accepted and praised throughout those texts. Therefore, we may counter their attack by asking : How do the missionaries call people to be converted to Christianity, when this religion legitimizes slavery ? In other words we wonder here : why do these people express abhorrence at an issue which is clearly part of their belief?
       
      As against these beliefs, Islam presents an entirely different picture, contrasting with both the two earlier religions and with the state of slavery in the world just before the advent of Islam.
       
      Some elaboration is necessary here to exonerate Islam of the undeserved aspersion cast on it in connection with its position on slavery.
       
       
      Islam and Slavery
       
      It is an Islamic principle that God created man as a fully responsible creature to carry out all religious duties, to be accountable for doing so, having the necessary volition and free behavior. No other human may restrict that freedom, and if he does he is an oppressor.
       
      This is as plain a principle in Islam as plain can be. When someone wonders" How was it that Islam legitimized slavery?"; we reply without embarrassment: “Yes, Islam did legitimize slavery.” But fairness and on honest search for truth would demand that one follow up his inquiry and try to comprehend in detail the Islamic legislation concerning slavery. He should comprehend how a slave is treated in Islam, the equality between a free person and a slave in rights and duties, and also he should learn how many methods have been provided for in shariah for freeing slaves. Such legislation will be all the more admirable if it is contracted with other systems, and if contrasted with the modern version of slavery in the so-called civilized world.
       
      The reader will observe that there are here numerous quotations from the Qur'an and sunnah, as the practice of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, is of special significance here, and to emphasize the importance of separating faulty applications from the original teachings.
       
      We may say here that Islam's position on slavery is superior to that of any other creed or system. If things had developed in accordance with the teachings of the Islamic shariah the unfortunate practices that were perpetrated later on would have been avoided. One major faulty practice has been the enslavement of free people through snatching, overpowering, or trickery in both old and recent past. This has led to a horrible custom of slavery in all continents, especially in Europe and Amereica in the last few centuries.
       
      Islam takes a very strong exception to such practices. In a qudsi [1] tradition the Prophet says:
       
      “Three types of people will stand apart on the day of Resurrection as My enemies - and an enemy of Mine will be doomed; a man who vowed in My name then betrayed, a man who sold a free person as a slave and appropriated his price, and a man who employed a worker and had him do the assigned work then failed to pay him his wages."[2].
       
       
      The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, says : “
       
      Three types of people will not have rewards for their prayer : a man who forces himself as an imam[3], a man who postpones prayer until its time is out and a man who enslaves a free person.” [4]
       
       
      It is interesting to note that there is no statement in Al-Qur'an or sunnah ordering a Muslim to enslave, while statements abound in the hundreds which urge the setting free of slaves.
       
      At the advent of Islam the ways and means of enslavement were numerous while the outlets to freeing were almost nil; so Islam reversed this formula, by multiplying the outlets to freedom and drying up the sources of enslavement.
       
      One such source of enslavement were captives taken in war who were routinely enslaved or killed off.
       
      But Islam introduced a third alternative in which a prisoner-of- war is treated well and set free. This is the purport of the following verses of the Sacred Qur'an :
       
      " (The devotees of God ).. feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, -(saying), " We feed you for the sake of God alone : no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks." (76, 8-9)
       
      The above verses indicate such sympathy and kindness that need no commentary. We may quote here a tradition of the Prophet's, peace be upon him, exhorting noble conduct :
       
      "Visit the sick, feed the hungry, and set free the captives'[5].
       
      In the first clash between Muslims and their enemies, the Battle of Badr, the Muslims won, and a number of the noblest Arabs fell captives in the hands of Muslims. If such dignitaries were punished severely they would have deserved such punishment - they had done so much harm to Muslims at the early stage of Islamic da'wah (call to Islam). Nevertheless, the Sacred Qur'an directs the Prophet and his companions in these words :
       
      "O Apostle ! say to those who are captives in your hands : 'If God findeth any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you : for God is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. But if they have treacherous designs against thee (O Apostle), they have already been in treason against God, And God is He who hath (full) knowledge and wisdom." (8, 70-71).
       
       
      Since the beginning of the Islamic da'wah and up to the battle, those men had done Muslims all kinds of injury and cruelty with the intention of overpowering and exterminating them. In a state like this, would it have been good policy to set the captives free at once ?
       
      The situation is obviously related to the state's high interests. Therefore, the Muslims accepted ransom to free prisoners-of-war after the Battle of Badr, while after the fall of Makkah its inhabitants were told (by the Prophet): "You may go, for I give you your freedom." At the Raid of Al-Mustalak the Prophet married a noble captive from the defeated tribe, thus raising her status. The result of this was that all Muslims set free all the captives in their hands.
       
      It must be clear by now how few ways of enslavement were left open through Islamic legislation. To abolish it completely would not do, since the disbelieving captives had been fierce in confronting the cause of justice and truth at least in being a tool in the hands of oppressors. To set them free as a routine would only have led to the supremacy of oppression and tyranny.
       
      After all, the chances of regaining freedom in Islam are numerous and frequent. And the rules of treating slaves are just and merciful.
       
      Let's just mention some of the ways of freeing slaves : A share of zakat (i.e. the enjoined charity) is allotted to the freeing of slaves, the atonement for unintended killing, the vow of thihar[6], atonement for broken oaths, for breaking the fast during the day of Ramadan. There is besides this a general appeal to the human sentiment of Muslims to set slaves free for the pleasure of God.
       
      As for the treatment of slaves, let's survey here some of the rules laid down by Islam to ensure a decent and kind treatment for them.
       
       
      1/ Giving them the same food and clothing as taken by their masters
       
      Abu Dawood reports on the authority of Al-Ma'roor bin Suwaid that he said : "We entered Abu Thar's house at Al-Ribthah [7] and found him dressed in a garment called 'burd', and found his slave dressed in an identical 'burd'. So we said : ' Why don't you, 0 Abu Thar, wear that 'burd' of your slaves so that you may have a full suit, and give him instead a less sumptuous garment ?' He replied : 'I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of God be upon him say
       
      : " Those slaves are your brothers, only God gave you an upper hand over them. So let that who has his brother (i.e. slave) under him give him the same food he himself eats, and the same clothing as he himself wears. The master may not give his brother a task that is beyond his ability. If he does give him such task, let him lend him a hand.".
       
       
       
      2/ Recognizing their dignity
       
      Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet of Repentance (i.e. Prophet Muhammad) said
       
      : " Any one who slanders his slave with adultery, and it is a false charge, will receive on the Day of Resurrection the same punishment his slave would have received in the world had the charge been true." [8]
       
      Abdul-Lah bin 'Umar freed a slave of his then picked a twig from the ground and said:
       
      " I shall not receive for freeing him the worth of this in the Hereafter. I heard the Messenger of Allah say : ' If a man hits or beats his slave, his atonement is the freeing of that slave."[9]
       
       
      3/ A slave is given the lead in religious or mundane matters which he is skilful at.
       
      He can be imam (i.e. to lead the prayer). Aishah had a slave who led her prayer. The believers are even ordered to heed and obey if a slave becomes their ruler, so long as he proves to be better qualified than others.
       
      Freedom is man's natural right. No one may be deprived of this right except for an exceptional reason. Although Islam recognizes slavery within the limits we have explained, it strictly warned those who have the upper hand of freedom against manipulating their position for cruel ends. Beyond that, we assert that it is justified to hold a person who falls captive as a result of his aggression, but it is necessary to treat him nicely.
       
      If someone does fall a captive and becomes a slave, then shows signs of repentance, gives up his old way of life, forsakes the way of evil and follows a well-guided life, such a person should be set free : Islam favours such response to a slave's conduct. Some Islamic jurists enjoin freeing him and other recommend it !
       
      The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, again and again ordered kindness to the slaves. For instance, when the captives taken in the Battle of Badr were distributed he directed : "Be kind to your captives."
       
      Uthman bin 'Affan once punished a slave of his by pinching his ear-lobe. But he told him later : " come and pinch my ear." And when the slave would not do, he insisted. So the slave proceeded to pinch Uthman's ear lightly, but Uthman said : "pinch more painfully, I have no endurance for punishment on the Day of Resurrection." "Well Sir," rejoined the slave, "the day you fear I fear, too."
      When Abdul-Rahman bin 'Awf walked in the company of his slaves, people would not know who is master and who is slave - nor did he have smarter clothing.
       
      'Umar bin Al-Khattab once walked in Makkah and saw some slaves standing aside waiting, while their master ate. He was angry at this and inquired of the master :
       
      "Why do some masters regard themselves as superior to their slaves ? "
       
      Then he ordered the slaves to advance and eat.
       
      A man once entered the house of Salman, may God be pleased with him, and saw him kneading his dough. "What are you doing, Abu 'Abdullah[10]? " " I have sent my servant on an errand, " he answered. " So I didn't like to give him some more work." This is some of what Islam did for slaves !
       
       
       
       

       
       
       
       
      The Jews' Attitude to Slaves
       
      According to the Jews, people are of two classes, Jews and gentiles.
       
      As for Jews, they may be enslaved in some cases within the teachings of the Old Testament.
       
      All the others are worthless gentiles. They may be enslaved through subjugation and conquest. They are condemned races who have been written off for misery since an early age. In this regard, some verses from the Book of Exodus are significant:
       
      “When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ' I love my master, my wife, and may children; I will not go out free, ' then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt faithfully with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money." (21,2-11.)
       
       
      As for enslaving a non-israelite, it might be effected through overpowering or snatching, because they believe that their race is superior to other races. They try to justify such enslavement by referring to texts in their Old Testament. According to that Scripture Ham, son of Noah, father of Canaan, raised the anger of his fater. That was because Noah drank wine one day and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. Ham, the Father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. When his father knew what Ham had done to him be said:
       
      :" Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers. " He also said, " Blessed by the lord my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. " (Genesis, 9, 24-27).
       
      Queen Elizabeth I used the above text to justify her trading in slaves in which she was, as we shall see, an active trader.
       
       
      The Christians' Attitude to Slavery
       
      There is no condemnation or prohibition of slavery anywhere in the Bible. It is surprising, therefore, that historian William Moyer should reprimand our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be on him, for failing to abolish slavery at once, while he condones the Bible's attitude. Neither Christ, nor his apostles, nor the church make any statement in that connection. On the other hand, St. Paul commands slaves to be loyal to their masters, as may be seen in his Epistle to Ephesos.
       
      St. Thomas Aquinas, for his part, added the voice of philosophy to that of churchmen. He did not object his master Aristotle who had accepted slavery as a natural state suitable for a certain type of people.
       
      The saints asserted that nature had prepared certain types of people to be slaves. In the Grand Larousse of the nineteenth century one reads : " It is no wonder that slavery lingers among Christians up to the present - the formal representatives of religion still assert its legitimacy and justify it." It also adds : " To sum up, Christianity approved completely of slavery, and it still does, so that no one can prove that this religion endeavoured to abolish slavery,".
       
      In the 'Dictionary of the Bible' by Dr. George Joseph, it is stated that Christianity did not object to slavery on either political or economic ground. It did not exhort the believers to argue with their generation about slavery, and not even to raise the issue.
       
      It said nothing against the rights of slave owners, nor did it rouse the slaves to seek freedom. It neither discussed the woes and cruelty of slavery, nor did it ordain the immediate freeing of slaves. It is unanimously agreed that Christianity did nothing to alter the relative status of master and slave - it rather endorsed the rights and duties of both parties.' So we call upon all white fathers of the church and the respected reader to contrast the Islamic legislation and the other systems in the world.
       
       
      Modern Europe and Slavery
       
      The reader would be right to inquire at this time of progress and development about the attitude of Europe, the pioneer of progress and development, toward slavery.
       
      When Europe found its way to Africa it was a disaster for the latter that lasted for five centuries. The Europeans had a genius for devising ways to ensnare the Africans, to take them to Europe or its colonies, and to force them to such drudgery that contributed to a development of economic life. Later on, America joined Europe in subjugating the Africans, and the latter had to serve one more master.
       
      The Encyclopaedia Britannica has the following to say about slavery:
       
      "The hunting of of slaves from their villages in the midst of jungles was effected by setting fire to the straw used in building barns around the village. Once the villagers ran out for their lives, the English hunted them.”
       
       
      Apart from Africans who died during their flight, or on the way to the coast for shipment, one third of the survivors died of bad weather, 45% in traspartation overland, 12% during the sea voyage, and some more died on plantations.
       
      The English companies were given the monopoly of trading in slaves by a license from the British government. But, at a later stage, all citizens were given a free hand to import slaves. Experts estimate the total number of Africans imported by the British alone to be slaves between 1680-1786 A.D. at about two million one hundred and thirty thousand.
       
      One article of the so called ' Black Code' states that any slave who attacks his master is to be executed, and if he runs away his hands and feet are to be cut off. If he runs away a second time, he is to be killed. (Although how he can do that with his hands and feet cut off beats me. Maybe he will risk it as the kind of life awaiting him is worse than death).
       
      One article prohibits education for blacks. Another prohibits a black person from professions preserved for whites. In America one of the laws decreed : It is a felony for seven slaves to meet, and if a white person passes by and sees that they have met, he has the right to spit on them and to give each twenty lashes.
       
      Another law stated : Slaves have no souls, no wit, no intelligence, and no will. The life is concentrated in their muscles. In summary: the slave had to take full responsibility for duties, and if he failed to do his full service he was to be punished; but as for his rights, he was no better than an animal without soul or feeling. It is only in this century that the Westerners felt the prick of conscience. It is great injustice on their part to feel superior to Islamic legislations, which were ordained more than fourteen centuries back. It is rather a case of ‘projection'; charging others with one's own faults.
       

      1 A tradition in which the prophet speaks for God.
      2 Reported by Al-Bukhari.
      3 A person who loads congregational prayer.
      4 Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah, both on the authority of Abdul-Rahman bin Zaid Al-Ifreegi.
      5 Reported by Al-Bukhari.
      6 A vow by which a husband would not cohabit with his wife for a known period.
      7 A village in the suburbs of Al-Madinah.
      8 Reported by Al-Bukhari.
      9 Reported by Muslim and Abu Dawood.
      10 I.e. father of Abdullah, a traditional Arabic way of calling a man as father of his eldest son.
       
      Extracted from “A Refutation of Doubts about Current Issues” published by Al-Manara Publishing & Distribution
       
       
      Source: http://www.islaam.ne...iew.php?id=1211
    • By Saracen21stC
      Cut the hand of the Thief. (al Ma’ida 5:38)
       
       
      وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا جَزَاءً بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَالًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
       
      Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allâh. And Allâh is All Powerful, All Wise.
      (Qur’an Al Ma’ida 5:38)
       
       
      When Amputation is/is not Applied
       
      A couple of points to note on the punishment of amputation for theft:
       
      a- the punishment will not be applied if there is any doubt as to the guilt of the suspect
      b- the punishment will not be applied if the value of the stolen goods is below something of great value -> determined by ‘urf [customs of society]
      c- the punishment will not be applied if the thief stole out of need/poverty
      d- the punishment will not be applied if the goods weren’t in proper storage (al-hirz) -> also determined by ‘urf (customs of society)
      e- the punishment will not be applied if the thief returns the goods and seeks forgiveness of the victim of the theft, before the case enters the judicial system
      f- the punishment will not be applied if the culprit is not a sane adult and the crime was not committed under duress
      g- the punishment will not be applied if the goods were not legally owned
      h- the punishment will not be applied if it is a child stealing from parents or parents stealing from children or one spouse from another according to the opinion of all jurists except Imam Malik.
      i- the punishment will not be applied if the person is permitted to enter the place from where he stole because in such a case there is no proper custody (al-hirz)
      j- according to Imam Abu Hanifa the punishment is not applied to the non-muslim living in the muslim state, however Imam Shafi’, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal have said that it is.
       
       
      If the theft passes these restrictions, then it recieves the hadd punishment of hand amputation. Any theft that does not meet these restrictions recieves ta’azir (discretionary punishment – the Judges decided punishment). In such cases the Islamic society would most likely follow case/common law by rule of precedent where like cases are treated alike.
       
       
       
      Effects of the Punishment for Stealing in Society
       
       
      Effect of it’s Application in Society:
       
      Coming to the scenario where amputation is applied in theft, it is interesting to note the effect this has on society.I’d like to quote some parts of a discussion at a conference of the Saudi scholars:
       
      At this point Dr. Dawalbi made a comment:
       
       
      “I have been in this country for seven years”, he said, “and I never saw of heard of, any amputation of the hand for stealing. This is because the crime is extremely rare. So, all that remains of that punishment is its harshness, which has made it possible for those who are tempted to steal, to keep their hands whole. Formerly, when these regions were ruled by the french-inspired Penal Code, under the Ottoman Empire, pilgrims travelling between the two Holy Cities – Mecca and Medina, could not feel secure for their purse or their life, unless they had a strong escort.
       
      But when this country became the Saudi Kingdom, the Qur’anic Law was enforced, crime immediately disappeared. A traveller, then, could journey, not only between the Holy Cities, but even from Al-Dahran on the Gulf to Jeddah on the Red Sea, and traverse a distance of more than one thousand and five hundred kilometres across the desert all alone in his private car, without harbouring any fear or worry about his life or property, be it worth millions of dollars, and he be a complete foreigner.”
       
      The Saudi Delegation resumed:
       
       
      “In this manner, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where [some] Islamic law is enforced, state money is transferred from one town to another, from one bank to another, in an ordinary car, without any escort or protection, but the car driver.
       
      Tell me, Gentlemen: in any of your Western States, would you be ready to transfer money from one bank to another, in any of your capitals without the protection of a strong police force and the necessary number of armoured cars?
       
      …Only here, Gentlemen, in this country where Islamic Law is enforced, the American Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. William Rogers, during his visit last year, could, he and his suit, dispense with the armoured cars, which had been carried in by special planes, and which accompanied them in their tour of more than ten countries. Only here, Gentlemen, did the Government of the Kingdom not allow its visitors to go around in these cars. Eventually, Mr. Rogers spontaneously declined the guard of honour usually placed by the Government at the disposal of their foreign guests; he walked through the soulks by himself, and confessed that, in this Kingdom, and in this Kingdom alone, one had such a feeling of security that one had no more need of a guard.
       
      ...Stealing is almost unknown in our Kingdom, when people, in the great Capitals of Western countries under secular regimes, have no more security for their lives of their possessions.
      (Doi, Shari’ah: The Islamic Law, Ta Ha Publishers 1984, pp. 260-261)
       
       
      Personally, I know many people who have lived for ten or twenty years in Saudi Arabia and they have testified that they have never come across such a case of amputation for theft. When you implement such a balanced code, theft becomes unheard of.
       
       
       
      Positive Results
       
       
      Positive Results:
      I want you to look at this UN survey of burglaries between 1998-2000*. Tell me who is at the bottom of the list? Who is at the top?
      1. United States 2,099,700 burglaries (year 1999)
      2. United Kingdom 836,027 burglaries (year 2000)
      .
      .
      .
      54. Saudi Arabia 11 burglaries (year 2000)!!!!
       
      REFERENCE: *http://www.NationMas...graph-T/cri_bur
       
       
      Which law is more successful?
       
      These are concrete statistics here. There is no doubt when the UN conducts a survey and the country implementing Islamic law has the fewest burglaries, it demonstrates which is the most successful law in this regard.
       
       
       
       
      Source: http://idawah.com/responses/thief/
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