FGM and Islam

The following information is taken from a paper entitled 'Female Genital Mutilation: Religious, Cultutal and Legal Myths' written in collaboration between FORWARD and The Islamic Cultural Centre and The London Central Mosque (ICCCM).

The full paper, available on the ICCCM website, seeks to provide a discussion of the myths and confusion that exists around the issue of FGM, paying particular attention to the relationship between Islam and FGM, given that many Muslim (as well as non-Muslim) communities tend to associate FGM with Islam. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, is a practice that predates Islam as well as Christianity and Judaism.

In communities where FGM is a traditional practice, it is practiced by community members who are Muslims, Christians, animist and even non believers. However, Muslims who practise FGM rationalize it as a Muslim religious obligation in spite of the fact that FGM predates Islam and it is interesting to note that globally most Muslims do not practise FGM.

FGM has no link with Islam and is a neither a requirement nor a Sunna in Islam. All FGM related Hadith [1] that are allegedly attributed to Prophet Muhammad {Peace Be Upon Him} have been proved to be inauthentic.

Words like "sunna" and "tahur" used for FGM by Muslims erroneously endorse the link of Islam to FGM and brings the great religion into disrepute. All religions say God created human beings in the best forms and wanted them to keep the nature in which they were created. It is forbidden to make changes in God's creation unless there is a compelling reason i.e. for medical reasons.

A number of Islamic scholars have issued various Islamic Fatwa on the issue of FGM most of which have disassociated FGM from Islam quoting both Quran [2] as well as Hadith.

Dr.Muhammad Lutfi al-Sabbagh, Professor of Islamic studies at King Saud University in Riyadh states:

"Since all these risks are involved in female circumcision, it cannot be legitimate under Islamic law, particularly since nothing that recommends it is definitely established as said by the Prophet {Peace Be Upon Him}. It is, however, established that he has said: "Do not harm yourself or others". This hadith is one of the basic principles of this True Religion.

Female Genital Mutilation is therefore neither a religious requirement or obligation, nor a sunna[3]. This is the view taken by a great number of scholars in the absence of any hadith that may be authentically attributed to the Prophet {Peace Be Upon Him}."[4]


Note 1A saying or action ascribed to the Prophet Mohamed peace upon him or an act approved by him.
Note 2The Holy book of Islam, it is the highest and most authentic authority in Islam.
Note 3Practices undertaken or approved by the Prophet Peace Upon Him and established as legally binding precedents.
Note 4Islamic Ruling on Male and Female Circumcision in The Right Path to Health, Health education through religion, Muhammad Lutfi al-Sabbagh, WHO, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, 1996, available on the WHO website.

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