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FGM: Violation of Fulfillment in Marriage

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    FGM: Violation of Fulfillment in Marriage By Zahrah Awaleh** Nov. 23, 2005 http://islamonline.net/English/family/2005/11/article04.shtml Male circumcision is
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2005
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      FGM: Violation of Fulfillment in Marriage

      By Zahrah Awaleh**
      Nov. 23, 2005
      http://islamonline.net/English/family/2005/11/article04.shtml


      Male circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin on the penis to
      enhance cleanliness (taharah). Female circumcision involves the
      cutting of part of the clitoris. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is
      the partial or total elimination of the external female genitalia for
      cultural or non-therapeutic reasons. FGM is not equivalent to male
      circumcision, as many people have misconceived.

      FGM has no therapeutic benefits. Instead it has long-term and
      short-term health consequences that have damaged the lives of some
      100–140 million girls and women in 28 countries in Africa, the Middle
      East, Asia, and increasingly among the communities of the United
      States, Europe, and Australasia ( WHO Female Genital Mutilation Fact
      Sheet). FGM is a violation of the bodily integrity and dignity of
      women and girls. In the short term, one can suffer violent pain,
      post-operative shock and clitoral hemorrhage. These two outcomes can
      lead to death. The long-term consequences include problems with
      menstruation, urinary and kidney infections, sexual frigidity, and
      psychological problems regarding body image.

      FGM is prohibited in the United Kingdom by the 2003 FGM Act (Local
      Authority Social Services Letter ). Any UK national or permanent
      resident caught practicing FGM in the United Kingdom or abroad, or
      being an accomplice to it, is liable fine or imprisonment for up to 12
      years, or both, in the United Kingdom. This is irrespective of whether
      the other countries have laws against FGM or not. There are many
      African countries that have passed laws against FGM, including Kenya,
      Ghana, Togo, and the Ivory Coast. Thus anyone who practices or aids
      someone in doing so in these countries could face imprisonment, fines
      or both.

      What Muslims and Islam Say About FGM

      The typical reasons given by Sunni Muslims (the majority of Muslims
      are Sunni) for the practice of FGM are

      To protect chastity/virginity

      To reduce sexual desire

      To enhance fertility and childbirth



      However, FGM doesn't guarantee any of these. Rather, FGM Type 3, which
      involves closing over the urethral and vaginal openings with the
      gutted labia minora/majora, leaves a hole that traps traces of urine
      and menstrual blood. This can cause infections in the woman or girl
      and complicate childbirth if the individual is not opened in time to
      prevent this from happening. No form of FGM has been proven to reduce
      sexual desire or promiscuity, but FGM may hinder sexual intercourse,
      having a devastating effect on women in later life when they marry.

      Men and women are said to originate from one soul, nafsun wahida
      (An-Nisaa' 4:1), making them equal before God in Islam. Men are said
      to be protectors, qawwamun (An-Nisaa' 4:34), of women. And God has
      ordered both men and women to be modest in their gaze and guard their
      chastity. These verses prove that FGM in Muslim communities is
      unnecessary, and it is God-consciousness (taqwa) that keeps Muslim men
      and women from illegal sexual intercourse or indecent thoughts, and
      not the absence of any part of their genitalia.

      The well-known Canadian-Egyptian Islamic scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi used
      the term "Female Circumcision" in his work Gender Equity in Islam,
      Appendix: Is Female Circumcision Required (1995). He refers to the
      following types of FGM:

      1. Type I: Removal of the hood (prepuce) of the clitoris only.

      2. Type II: Removal of the entire clitoris (cliterodectomy) along with
      part of the labia minora, which is sutured together leaving an opening.

      3. Type III: Removal of the entire clitoris, labia minora and medial
      part of the labia majora, stitching both sides of the vulva together
      leaving a small opening. This is known as "Pharonic Procedure."

      Dr. Badawi clearly states that the second and the third procedures
      were never mandated, encouraged or even consented to by the Prophet
      (peace and blessings be upon him). Furthermore he condemns Types II
      and III as mutilation. He says nothing justifies genital mutilation.
      In fact, no mutilation is allowed by Islam, even on the battlefield.
      It is unjustifiable, brutal, inhumane, and it violates Islam. Dr.
      Badawi continues that female circumcision is not in the Qur'an and no
      hadith requires it, but some appear to accept it. "Circumcision is a
      commendable act for men (sunnah) and is an honorable thing (makrumah)
      for women" (Ash-Shawkani, Vol 1. p. 139). Badawi explains the hadith
      term makrumah has no religious obligation, and that the hadith is weak
      according to scholars of Hadith. Badawi cites the following hadith as
      being more authentic: Umm Atiyyah Al-Ansariyyah reported: "A woman
      used to perform circumcision in Madinah. The Prophet (peace and
      blessings be upon him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is
      better for a woman and more desirable for a husband" (Dawud 41:5251);
      or Cut off only the foreskin [outer fold of the skin over the
      clitoris, the prepuce], but do not cut off deeply [the clitoris
      itself], for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more
      favorable with the husband" (At-Tabarani, Vol. 2, Hadith 722).

      If cutting the prepuce of the clitoris is allowed in Islam, according
      to this hadith, it is meant to enhance sexual pleasure, not curtail
      it! This is clear from the wording "for this is brighter for the face
      (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband"—meaning both she
      and her husband will derive pleasure from the intimacy.

      Therefore, female circumcision in this case stands in direct
      contradiction to the arguments for it by its proponents, as it does
      not control by reducing female sexual appetites; rather it increases them!

      For those that argue that Type I is sunnah, Badawi argues that the
      Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) only used "sunnah" while
      referring to male circumcision; female circumcision is not obligatory.
      In addition, Badawi comments on the public welfare, al-masalih
      al-mursala, as a principle in Islamic jurisprudence that is used by
      all Sunni schools. It advocates the general principle of no hardship;
      a sub-clause to it is sadd adh-dharai, blocking the ways to evil. This
      involves preventing the spread of evil practices, even if they are
      halal in theory but become haram in practice.

      The Islamic Right to Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage

      The Qur'an says:

      [And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves
      that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and
      compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who
      reflect.] (Ar-Rum 30:21)

      The above verse describes the ideal marital relationship for Muslims,
      and it is the right of every Muslim to find a mate and achieve all the
      benefits that come with that. FGM, however, does not allow a woman to
      enjoy sexual intercourse fully because of

      Lack of sensation, due to not having a full and healthy clitoris and
      other external genitalia

      Flashbacks of FGM operation on her wedding night

      Problems relating to the infibulations when in many cases the husband
      opens her with an object on the wedding night and thereafter he can
      penetrate more easily

      Other problems trying to sexually relate to her husband because of the
      negative attitude towards her sexuality

      Not understanding her Islamic right to sexual enjoyment

      Conclusion

      [Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you
      difficulty.] (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

      Islam came to bring glad tidings, not bad news, and enlighten the
      ignorant, not keep them in the darkness. Islam does not allow its
      followers to harm themselves intentionally, and it vehemently protects
      the rights of women and children, who are among the weakest of the
      groups in every society. "And the best among you are those who are
      best to their women" (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban).

      All that we can conclude from the above is that all forms of female
      circumcision or FGM are not Islamic; rather they are harmful and
      require a total ban in order to safeguard the health and well-being of
      all Muslim women throughout the world for all time.

      Sources:

      Badawi, Jamal. Gender Equity in Islam.

      Ash-Shawkani. Nayl al-Awtar. Beirut: Dar al-Jeel, 1973.

      Al-Tabarani. Quoted in Al-Albani, Muhammed N. Silsilat al-Ahadith
      as–Sahiihah. Beirut: Al-Maktab al-Islami, 1983. Vol 2 Hadith Nos: 722,
      pp. 353-358.


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      ** Zahrah Awaleh is a mother of two who works part-time for a Somali
      women's refugee group in West London. She is working on an anti-FGM
      leaflet for use with Muslim practicing communities, primarily in the
      West.

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