Female Genital Mutilation not Islamic - say Top Egyptian clerics

24 November 2006

The Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD) and the London Central Mosque Trust & the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) welcome the break through announcements by top Muslim clerics to dissociate Islam from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The declaration was announced on 22 November 2006 during an international conference on FGM in Cairo, Egypt.

The Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic institution in the world, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi categorically stated "FGM has neither been mentioned in Quran nor Sunnah". [A Sunnah is a saying or action ascribed to Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) or an act approved by the prophet.]

This statement was reaffirmed by the top official cleric and Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomma who said "Prophet Mohammed didn't circumcise his four daughters". Sheikh Yousif Algaradawi, a prominent Islamic figure, also addressed the conference by avowing that "FGM is not an Islamic requirement". These statements have come from the highest Islamic figures in the world which should be binding for all FGM practicing communities who are Sunni Muslims.

These announcements have long been waited for by FORWARD and ICC who are working jointly to eradicate FGM in the UK where some Muslims mistakenly think that FGM is an Islamic requirement.

For the last two decades FORWARD has maintained its position that the only way to eradicate FGM is to engage with FGM practicing communities particularly the religious and community leaders.

FORWARD and ICC urge all Imams and Muslim clerics in the UK and Europe to take notice of the declarations made in Cairo and follow the example of their counterparts in Egypt. We would urge all UK clerics to make similar statements and to actively educate their followers that female genital mutilation is not an Islamic requirement.

The FGM Act 2003 makes FGM illegal in the UK and anywhere in the world for UK citizens and permanent residents. The penalty for carrying out, aiding, abetting or counselling to procure FGM is 14 years imprisonment, a fine or both.

Today, on the eve of the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women FORWARD and ICC call upon all religious and non religious institutions to take up their moral and religious responsibility and actively work to put an end to this abuse of girls and women - Female Genital Mutilation.

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