As a faith community, we are facing a serious crisis in human (and God given) rights violations. Many of those “in charge” are and have been misusing religious texts to cripple more than half of our population- women.
We are a global community and these issues have infected our lives on a global scale. Because of these issues, Saadia Haq and I are “Excavating Shariah” in an attempt to chip away at the fiqh interpretations (human understanding of the Shariah (Islamic) law) that have either intentionally or unintentionally ignored the female experience, oppressed women, or co-opted women’s religious dedication.
Part 2 Written by Theresa Corbin
We take it as a serious matter that Islam has been wrongfully used as a weapon against women. We feel we have the right and an obligation, as Muslims, to speak on these issues. Currently we are “excavating” the affront that is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
What is FGM
“Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” -The World Health Organization (WHO)
There are four types of FMG that increase in horrific nature from the removal of the clitoris to the removal of all external genital tissue and creation of a seal over the vagina, leaving only a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to escape.
It’s hard to read, I know. But imagine having to live through it. A few years ago, I read about the procedures in depth and I was beyond shocked by the brutality and severe physical and emotional scars and complication the victims are left with. Read more here if you want to know more about this brutal reality.
History of FGM
This history of FGM is not well known. However, we know a few things 1- It predates Islam 2- It is mostly practiced in Africa by different faith communities 3- Until recently, the majority of Muslims had scarcely heard of it. That is until Islamophobes decided it to rewrite history and attribute it entirely to Islam.
FMG: an extreme detriment to women
Women and girls who face the brutal practice of FGM have to come to terms with the fact that they might die during the procedure itself. Bleeding and shock are a reality and deadly side effects of the procedure that will leave its victims mutilated.
As Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, says, “The pain inflicted by FGM does not stop with the initial procedure, but often continues as ongoing torture throughout a woman’s life”.
Once a woman “recovers”, she is facing a life long battle with scar tissue, infection, chronic pain, development of cysts, abscesses and genital ulcers, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, painful intercourse sometimes requiring surgery before intercourse can occur, lack of sexual desire, and possible infertility. And the victim’s male sexual partner can even experience pain and complications.
If a woman who has been mutilated has not been made infertile by the procedure, she faces a plethora of complications that are not associated with normal pregnancy, including higher rates of death in child birth, infant mortality, and complications for the newborn child if he or she lives.
What do Islamic texts say about FGM
The Quran says nothing on the subject. And there are only a handful of hadith pertaining to the topic, all of which are strongly disputed, with many jurists throughout history discounting them as having nothing to do with the Prophet (PBUH).
Examples: “Cut, but don’t cut too much” and “Female ‘circumcision’ is a way of honoring [?!] women.”
The first quote is known to be a “weak” hadith, it only has one narrator, can only be found in one book of hadith, and it cannot be traced back to the Prophet (PBUH). In addition, all ahadith concerning female circumcision are considered non-authentic. And those that mention circumcision in general, do not directly mention female cutting i.e. they are discussing male circumcision.
The most alarming evidence that FGM has nothing to do with Islam is that the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) had many daughters, but never is it mentioned in any of the ahadith that any of them had been cut. However, it is mentioned that the Prophet (PBUH) performed the circumcision of his grandsons:
“The Prophet performed the aqiqah (celebration of a birth) of Hasan and Hussein (the Prophet’s grandsons) and circumcised them on the 7th. Day.” (Narrated in Tabarani)
Male circumcision is also mentioned in the Quran. Why is it is not mentioned– if it is required or even recommended as some male scholars suggest—in the Quran and why is it never mentioned that the Prophet (PBUH) over saw or performed the “circumcision” of his many daughters? We cannot claim that it was out of shyness, because if it is a religious edict as some erroneously and viciously claim, it would not be kept a secret for any reason including shyness.
Islamic rights of a woman that are denied through FGM
Despite the fact that torture, as FGM is, is unlawful in Islam, FMG also denies a woman of many the concrete rights she is guaranteed in Islamic law. For example, FGM denies a woman the right to be left as Allah made her and it denies a woman the right to sexual pleasure during martial intercourse, and it risks a woman’s fertility.
As Allah made us:
Islam is a religion that guarantees the integrity of the human being- both in body and in spirit. Female genital cutting violates that integrity, insulting Allah the Creator Whose creation needs no improvement:
“Such is He who knows all that is beyond the reach of a created being’s perception as well as all that can be witnessed by a creature’s senses or mind: The Almighty Dispenser of Grace, Who makes excellent everything He creates.” (Quran 32:6-7)
“It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape- and made your shapes beautiful.” (Quran 40:64)
“Our Sustainer! Thou hast not created (any of) this in vain.” (Quran 3:191)
“And spend in Allah’s cause and let not your own hands contribute to your own destruction and persevere in doing good: behold, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Quran 2:195)
Several sources maintain that it is a wife’s right over her husband to be sexual satisfied.
-Imam Malik recounts that a man should not interrupt sexual relations with his wife until she is fulfilled, unless she has given her permission.
-In the Qur’an we read: “Turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging” (Quran 4:129) .
– “and your wife has a right over you.” (Narrated in Bukhari)
-Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, correctly states:
“It is also emphasized in Islam that a husband should not deny his wife’s physical needs. Both of them are related to each other, as Allah says in the Qur’an, “They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them […]” (Quran 2:187)
How can it be that FGM—a practice that is not mentioned in the Quran and only in weak hadith–is a religious requirement, when it prevents a woman from having other rights she is given by Allah in the Quran and authentic hadith?
This is the one issue that gets me the most. FGM makes many of its victims infertile. It removes from a person their ability to procreate. Being a parent while it is not a right or even our purpose as human beings, it is one of the great joys of life. And to potentially take that away from someone through mutilation is reprehensible.
Allah recognizes that having children is a great joy to us: “And those who say: ‘Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us an example for the pious.” (Quran 25:74)
But still some male scholars claim it is required or recommended, while these same men try to prevent women from playing sports because of a lie they tell themselves that it causing infertility.
I just can’t understand why they would approve something that actually causes infertility along with a plethora of health issues and disprove of something like sports and exercise that increases good health and promotes fertility (if you don’t understand or deny the link between exercise, good health and fertility; I can’t help you). I guess it is hard to understand insanity when you aren’t suffering from it.
Double standard of FGM
“It was [is] believed that FGM would ensure women’s virginity and reduction in the female desire.” -FGM national group
FGM only highlights the double standards some men create. Some complain that women have too much “unnatural” sexual desire so they use (fake) religious texts to physically manipulate and mutilate women. But claim that their own sexual desire is natural and is used as to excuse for destructive criminal behavior.
As if that weren’t enough, the double standard is twisted in our backs when some men complain that we don’t have enough sexual desire or are “frigid”. So they use religious texts to manipulate and mutilate us spiritually. But claim that when a man’s desire is lacking it is entirely the wife fault and has nothing to do with the fact that the husband is too fat, or too perverted by a porn addiction, or too alcoholic to perform.
It seems like some men just want to be in control of women’s sexuality since they refuse to have control over their own.
A famous Islamic jurist, commentator on the Quran, and theologian, Ibn Qayyim said, “Should any ruling go from mercy to cruelty, it is not Islam. Should it go from wisdom to folly, it is not Islam. Should it go from benefit to harm, it is not Islam. And should it go from justice to injustice, it is not Islam.”
It is time we pull the rug out from underneath these “men” who rule on false claims of Islam.
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