Women Under Islam: Female Genital Mutilation
06 Jul, 2007
Much has been written on the so-called "circumcising" of women, more appropriately called female genital mutilation or FGM. Globally, 130 million women and girls are said to have been "circumcised". As a cultural practice, FGM has probably been in existence for thousands of years. It has traditionally happened across Equatorial Africa, yet in the East and Horn of Africa it appears more widespread, probably as a result of Islamist influence.
after President Hosni Mubarak announced his intention to ban the practice, he
was persuaded to drop prohibitive legislation. The move to ban FGM had been
supported by Dr. Mohammed Syed Tantawi, the Mufti of Egypt, but had been
fiercely opposed by the Sheikh of Al Azhar University, the largest Sunni
theological college. Even a gynecologist from
November 2006 an international conference of scholars took place
at Al Azhar in
The edict by the Mufti
and health ministry had come after an 11-year-old girl, Budour Ahmed Shaker,
died after such an operation on June 21. Budour's mother had paid a doctor in
Mina, just south of
There is one Hadith in
the collection of
Sunan Abu Dawud which claims that Mohammed approved of the
practice for girls. Book 41 (Kitab Al-Adab or "General Behavior"),
Hadith 5251 states: “Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to
perform circumcision in
Though Sunan Abu Dawud is not regarded as "sahih" or "authentic" in the manner of the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim, the above Hadith is often quoted by Islamic scholars as a justification for FGM. The "spiritual leader" of the Muslim Brotherhood is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has stated: "It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: 'Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands'. The hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman's health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. It's noteworthy that the Prophet's saying 'do not exceed the limit' means do not totally remove the clitoris... Anyhow, it is not obligatory, whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world."
The World Health Organization has long campaigned for FGM to be abolished. Three "types" of FGM are described. The method approved of by Qaradawi is Type 1: "Excision (removal) of the clitoral hood with or without removal of all or part of the clitoris." Type 2 is "Excision of the clitoris, together with part or all of the labia minora (the inner vaginal lips). This is the most widely practiced form." Type 3 (sometimes called infibulation) is extreme: "Excision of part or all of the external genitalia (clitoris, labia minora and labia majora), and stitching or narrowing of the vaginal opening, leaving a very small opening, about the size of a matchstick, to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood. Also known as pharaonic circumcision." There is a Type 4, which refers to pricking, stretching or cauterizing. Type 4 rarely happens in Muslim communities.
Yemen, a 1999 study found that in the coastal region, 69 percent
of women had undergone some form of FGM. Overall, the figure for FGM was around
23 percent of women aged 15-49. In outlying areas, the prevalence of FGM rises
to 40 percent. Surprisingly, FGM was more common amongst educated women than the
illiterate, though most girls were subjected to FGM during infancy. Only 9
percent of those who had been operated upon had the procedure performed by a
FGM occurs in south
There have been moves by
many countries to outlaw FGM and to educate people of its dangers. However, in
the West, where immigrants and refugees have settled, some have imported with
them the problem of FGM. Many Western countries have introduced legislation to
combat the practice. In
France, where most victims of FGM come from
six out of eight states have outlawed FGM. In the
41-year-old Ali Elmi Hayow became the first person to be convicted under
The District Court at Gothenburg found him guilty of illegally taking the two children abroad, and guilty of arranging for his daughter to be mutilated. Both judgments were passed unanimously. Hayow was further told to pay his daughter 300,000 kronor ($41,000) in compensation, though she had demanded 650,000 kronor ($88,818).
The issue of FGM has
become political in
One famous Somali-born
Ayaan Hirsi Ali who fled to
In 2001, Lashkar Jihad
used FGM as a tool in its forced conversion of 3,928 Christians living on six
islands in the Moluccas (the
Violence In The Name Of Allah
The word "Taliban" meant
"students". They tried to revive the form of Islam practiced in the 7th century.
Most Taliban leaders had been educated at
madrassas, such as the
The Taliban came to power on September 27, 1996, when they castrated and tortured President Mohammed Najibullah, and hung him from a lamp-post alongside his brother. During their rule, the Department for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice enforced the Taliban decree that women should stay at home and not be in employment. They beat women with sticks, wire cables and hose pipes. Women were forced to wear the burka, which even covers the eyes with a grille of crochet work.
A US State Department
report claimed: "In 1977, women comprised over 15 percent of
Forced to live indoors, unable to make an income, with many widowed, the regime of poverty and privation led to women becoming malnourished. As one 35-year-old widow said in the State Department report: "The life of Afghan women is so bad. We are locked at home and cannot see the sun."
Confined indoors away
from sunlight and starved, many developed
osteomalacia, a symptom of rickets, caused by a lack of sunlight
and Vitamin D. The condition involves softening of the bone, making it liable to
green-stick fractures. Dr
Sima Samar was given the John Humphrey Freedom Award for her work
for the human rights of women in
In November last year, 46-year-old Mohammed Halim from Ghazni paid the price for educating girls. He was snatched at night by Taliban members. He was partially disembowelled and then his limbs were tied to motorbikes. As the bikes sped apart, his body was ripped. His remains were publicly displayed as a warning to any who dared to teach girls. Halim was the fourth teacher in succession to be killed in the region. Fatima Mustaq is a woman director of education in Ghazni, and she and her family of eight children were subjected to death threats for educating girls.
July 23, 2006,
Michael Frastacky, a Canadian carpenter from
On March 8 2006, on International Women's Day, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said: "From fear of terrorism, from threats of the enemies of Afghanistan, today as we speak, some 100,000 Afghan children who went to school last year, and the year before last, do not go to school."
A 2006 report by
Watch stated that last year, attacks upon teachers, students and
schools increased dramatically, particularly in the southern regions. In
January, there were 24 such attacks, in February there were 14, 8 attacks in
March, 28 in April, 22 in May and 12 in June. From January to June 2006, the
highest number of such attacks took place in
A report from
Oxfam from November last year paints a gloomy picture for the
future of education, particularly for girls, in
Only one in five girls is able to make her way to primary schools, but only one in 20 girls receives a secondary education. Human Rights Watch and Oxfam agree that the presence of accessible schools is a problem, and where there is access to education, it is often provided by poorly trained teachers working in run-down buildings, often with only one or two rooms. These schools can be in need of repair, and most have no clean drinking water or toilet facilities. Textbooks are few and far between.
Oxfam claimed that
53,000 trained primary school teachers are needed immediately, with a further
64,000 in the next five years. There is a need for more women teachers, as only
one in three is female. Teachers in Daikundi province in central
There are 20,000 "ghost"
teachers who are paid salaries but do not attend schools. The international
community, states Oxfam, must donate $563 million to rebuild 7,800 schools
across the country. An additional $210 million is needed to print and distribute
textbooks over the next five years. Currently, $125.6 million has been given to
Afghan's education sector. The largest donors of these funds are USAID and the
World Bank. Coalition military forces in
When the Taliban were in
behavior towards women was contemptuous. A woman doctor was
stopped while traveling without a male escort (mahram) in a taxi. She said: "The
Religious Police chased my taxi, and when I got out in front of the hospital,
they stopped me and asked why I was traveling alone. I said I was a doctor and
had to go to work, but they said women of
The Taliban may be seen as extremists, but there are plenty of "devout" Muslims who are still funding their activities. The Taliban experiment, which allowed Osama bin Laden a refuge where his cronies could plot atrocities such as 9/11 and work on chemical weapons and bombs in the Derunta training camp, was designed to be a return to original "Islamic values". Islamists and "devout" Muslims criticize the decadence of the West, but rarely if ever do these same people consider the social abomination that made up the Taliban regime.
All of the worst, most primitive aspects of Islam were exemplified by the Taliban - who were true "fundamentalists". They took to heart the notion that a woman's testimony was worth only half that of a man, and with their Deobandi ideology they even believed women were half as intelligent. They denied women education, health and human rights, and did nothing to prevent the Afghan culture of honor killings and violence against women. They believed in Sura 4:34 which gives a man the right to beat his wife to keep her under control.
Currently we have
politicians in both the
There are no women with positions of authority either in Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. Until there are, there is no point in discussing issues with these groups. Women in the West have equal rights to men, and that means having access to power. Islamists would deny women that power, and until they can acknowledge women as equals, they live in another ideological universe to our own.
Muslim women are probably more oppressed today by Islamist conventions than they were 20 years ago. Two decades ago women did not have to wear veils to prove their religiosity. Now, women who do not cover their hair, or even their faces, are bullied by their peers into compliance. For women to have genuine equal rights under Islam, the tenets and texts of that faith would have to be interpreted allegorically and not literally. Islamists do not understand allegory. They are slaves to dogma and expect everyone else, their womenfolk included, eventually to become their slaves.
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Adrian Morgan, aka
Western Resistance is a British based writer and artist. He also writes for
Family Security Matters and
Wednesday July 11, 2007
We are told to be tollerant of Islam, but EVERYTHING in Islam is considered a crime in the west. Islam is a virus infecting the world. Islam is the most cruel, barbaric and inhumane religion on earth. Islam is a CRIME. Islam must be crushed.
Death to Islam
Thursday July 12, 2007
To accept Islam, one must be a true vermin. Islam is the worst religion.
Monday August 13, 2007
Well.........I love and believe in Islam and have heard that hadeeth where the beloved Messenger of God is supposed to have said NOT to cut severly.......and it is my understanding that he later completely prohibited any "female circumcision".In Islam it is considered cruelty to cot anything on a female...and it is not a MUSLIM practise.As was said correctly,it is an ancient African practise and therefore perhaps the prophet gave converted Africans and south Yemenis time to understand and accept/realise how wrong and odd it was to cut girls ritually.I hate the practise and refuse to accept it is part of Islamic tradition.It is NOT.God-willing soon our Somali brothers and sisters will disguard of such an ugly practise too.Don`t blame Islam.....blame ancient African tradition and see it for what it is.