| ||Islam and circumcision
These pages are firmly opposed to all
infant circumcision, the Islamic variety no more or less than any
other. The Muslim traditions of rationality and compassion will
ultimately prevail over physical circumcision.
"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful!"
That invocation itself is a good argument not to circumcise:
what could be less compassionate or merciful than to hold a boy down
and cut off his most intimate part?
Muslims are the largest single group in the world
who circumcise boys. An Intactivist website would be lacking if it said
nothing against this variety of the practice. Ideally, opposition to
Islamic circumcison must begin within Islam itself. The problem is
where to start and how to proceed, when it is so entrenched, and the Islamic Intactivist movement is so tiny.
The Qur'an does not mention circumcision.
The main reason given for Islamic circumcision is (ritual)
cleanliness. Against this it is hard to argue, except to point out that
there is no more reason for the male genitalia to be ritually unclean
than the female.
What has Islam got to say on female genital
As far as female genital mutilation is concerned in
Islam, it is permissible and not obligatory. Even male
circumcision is not compulsory but a Sunnah. If there
is any harm in female circumcision then it can even
be banned in the sense that it has been proven by
scientific and medical Islamic scholars that the way it
is done is harmful to the health of the girl child.
Imam Baba Leigh On Child Rights in
The Independent (Banjul, Gambia) INTERVIEW
August 3, 2001
This site also says male circumcision is not compulsory:
According to the Maliki madhab, the circumcision of a male is a
highly recommended act (sunna). It is not an obligation (wajib). The
ruling is the same whether the male is a child or an adult.
[Risala of Ibn Abi Zayd]
There is ample evidence on other pages that male circumcision itself
(not just "the way it is done") is harmful to the health of the male
child. It is painful, risky, often deforming, sexually diminishing and confers no health benefits.
Another reason given is "to be like Muhammad, who was 'born
circumcised'". This can easily be refuted: if the Prophet was born
without a foreskin (aposthetic), he was not circumcised, and that is the way to be like him.
Like Judaism, Islam forbids disfiguring the body:
"A body - be it alive or dead - should be respected. It cannot be
disfigured at any stage," the Jamiatul Ulama, a council of Muslim
theologians in Durban, said on Monday ... the Ulama's Ahmed Kathrada said: "We respect the human body in any
form... our primary concern is that we cannot reduce it to disfigurement whether living or dead...".
"Durban dithers over frozen corpse disposal"
Independent On Line (South Africa)
October 1, 2002
It is hard to reconcile this respect with deliberately cutting any part off a baby's genitals.
Some relevant quotations from the Qu'ran:
He created everything in exact measure; He precisely designed everything
He designed you, and designed you well.
He created the heavens and the earth for a specific purpose, designed you
and perfected your design.
He created man in the best design.
[Satan said:] " I will mislead them, I will entice them, I will command them
to mark the ears of livestock, and I will command them to distort the
creation of GOD."
We did not leave anything out of this book.
The word of your lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall
abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
Say, "Did you note how GOD sends down to you all kinds of provisions, then
you render some of them unlawful, and some lawful? Say, Did God give you
permission to do this? Or, do you fabricate lies and attribute them to God?"
Edip YŁksel is a Kurdish-Turkish-American author and
progressive activist who spent four years in Turkish prisons in the
1980's for his political writings and activities promoting an Islamic
revolution in Turkey. He experienced a paradigm change in 1986
transforming him from a Sunni Muslim leader to a reformed Muslim or
rational monotheist. He is the founder of 19.org and the Islamic Reform organization. His personal site is yuksel.org . His recent major work, Quran: a Reformist Translation,
has been recently published by BrainbowPress, after being cancelled by
Palgrave-Macmillan, which followed the fatwa of a "very established
narrations falsely attributed to Muhammad and his companions) and their
collections have been the prime tool in distorting the progressive
message of Islam. The reactionary forces, misogynistic ideas and
practices, racism, tribalism, superstitions, despotism, and many other
vices of the "days of ignorance" were resurrected and sneaked back into
the minds and lives of Muslim communities after they were rejected by
the early Muslims at great cost.
God's creation for religious purposes is considered evil (See 4:119).
Obviously, foreskin is not an abnormality in God's creation; it is the
norm. Attempting to change such a creation through surgery to attain
salvation is superstition (13:8; 25:2; 32:7; 40:64; 64:3; 82:6-9).
sources report many contradictory stories regarding circumcision. For
instance, Ahmed B. Hanbal in his Musnad reports that Usman bin el-As
refused to participate in a circumcision ceremony, since he considered
circumcision an innovation. The Sunni historian Taberi reports that
Caliph Abd al-Aziz rejected the suggestion of his advisors that the
people of Khurasan should be circumcised; they were converted to
"Islam" to avoid paying extra tax! Bukhari gives contradictory numbers
for the year Abraham was allegedly circumcised, 80 versus 120. Bukhari
who reports hearsay regarding the circumcision of converts and women,
also reports that when Greeks and Abyssinians embraced islam they were
not examined at all by Muhammad.
books, including Bukhari, contain numerous hadiths promoting
circumcision including female circumcision, which is a torturous
mutilation. However, hadith fabricators somehow forgot to fabricate
hadiths about the circumcision of prominent figures during the time of
Muhammad. More interestingly, since the practice of circumcision was
adopted centuries later, they missed the opportunity to attribute this
practice to Muhammad himself. Sunni scholars, therefore, came up with
another so-called miracle: Muhammad was born circumcised. This would
answer those who wondered about the absence of such an "important"
record in the books of hadith and sunna.
- The Fictional Muhammad?
The Prophet was not circumcised
The American Muslim
July 24, 2012
Did You Know Prophet Muhammad Wasn't Circumcised?
By Dr. David Liepert
Itís not surprising, but it is disappointing. After a German
District Court Judge partially banned pediatric circumcisions in
Germany earlier this month (when a young Muslim boy almost bled to
death after a botched one) Muslims, Jews, Christians, religious rights
advocates, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel erupted in condemnation,
consternation, Nazi allusions and apologies respectively.
I wonder though, whether Muhammad might have backed the German Judge
this time. Because Muhammad wasnít circumcised, and most Muslim
scholars agree Muslims donít actually have to be either.
Reverts are not required to be circumcised
May 27, 2008
From Suhaib Jobst
As Salaam Alaykum
... No one claims that it is not an accepted Islamic practice.
Everyone accepts that it was practiced by the prophets. However,
calling to this practice is not one of the necessary elements for a
Muslim, i.e. it is not one of the Five Pillars, Six Fundamentals, or
wajib such as Salat five times a day.
It also ignores the fact that people are coming to Islam in great
numbers and many of them come from peoples who do not practice this. So
it becomes a needless stumbling block from acceptance to Islam, and
makes Islam appear to be a cultural phenomenon rather than the
... I have found some interesting fatawa which explain the matter distinctly and wisely, masha'Allah:
"While circumcision is an incumbent religious duty in Islam, it is not
a condition for being a Muslim. Given that, it doesn't affect the
validity of his prayer, or your marriage." http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...=1&cate0&t=rss
"Because of this difference of opinion, scholars are generally
easy-going and gentle with recent converts to Islam on the issue of
"Hence it is a greatly meritorious sunnah as well as physically
beneficial to perform this act. However it is not a pre-requisite for
conversion to Islam." http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...ID=1376&CATE=3
"However, it should be remembered here, that he who opts not to be
circumcised should regularly clean the area underneath the foreskin of
his sex organ because, in Islam cleanliness of the body is obligatory
for performing prayers." http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...=1731&CATE=115
"In any case, it is not a condition for the validity of a person's
profession of accepting the Islamic faith or the performance of his
religious duties." www.islamset.com/hip/health5/circum.html
In any case, like I said no one debates its merituous place in our Din
but most can only quote the hadith about the five acts of Fitra. So you
are exactly right about the matter.
I myself am a proud Muslim revert of German, Spanish and Flemish
ancestry. I was a former catholic who was guided to Islam, masha'Allah.
That being said, I came from peoples who do not practice circumcision,
yet who are naturally eager for the message of Islam, as it would solve
many of the social ills in European and Latin societies.
So I would ask our Arab, Pakistani and other brothers who were raised
Muslims to keep in mind how early scholars tackled this issue in
relation to their Da'wa and their concern with spreading Islam:
"That all peoples, white and black, Romans, Persians and Abbysinians
accepted Islam in the time of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa
sallam) and none of them were investigated concerning circumcision." -
"It has been narrated from Al-Hasan that he allowed adult converts to
Islam relaxation in getting themselves circumcised. He did not see any
harm in their being uncircumcised. He did not see anything wrong with
their being called as witnesses or their slaughtering animals or their
going for Hajj or their offering prayers." (Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr, Al-Tamheed)
"If a male adult embraces Islam and feels apprehensive about
circumcision, it is waived in his case, since ablution, ghusl or grand
ablution, and other obligations are waived in his case if he feels any
of these is hazardous. It makes then more sense for circumcision to be
waived in such a case." (Imam Ibn Qudama, Al-Mughni)
After the conversion of many people stopped the revenues from Jizya,
Jarrah the governor in Khurasan, advised that circumcision be adopted
as the religious test for true acceptance of Islam. However, Khalifa
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (rahimahullah) replied in a letter: "Allah sent
Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) to summon men [to Islam] and
not to circumcise." (Ibn Jarir At-Tabari, Annales, vol. II, p. 1354)
So what are our priorities? Is it not to call ALL the people to Islam?
Should we focus on those matters which it is OBLIGATORY for them to
believe or practice, such that failure to do so would cause them to
leave the fold of Islam? Such as not believing in the Six Fundamentals,
not practicing the Five Pillars, and failure to pray five times a day.
So I ask that we become wise and realistic in this regard. Wa Allahu
I believe there can be an open debate on this subject and once many in
Western Islamic communities become aware of this matter, then what
commonly happens in one area of the Islamic umma never fails to have
ripple effects on other areas of the umma. There can be a flow of
knowledge and debate, which may originate in the periphery (i.e. Islamic
communities in the West) but ultimately lead to positive results in the
core (i.e. the Islamic world). The well-known "golden age" of Islam
occurred in much the same manner.
How many practices have been amended due to advancing knowledge of health
and medicine? The same old claims about circumcision being "hygienic" come
from those who naturally accept their own cultural status, without
realizing circumcision has not stopped medical problems in the United
States or that the lack of circumcision has not led to some horrible
epidemic in much of the world that doesn't practice it. How hard is it to
simply clean the area? This is something which is required for the Muslim
in any case, so how can this logically be used as an excuse?
There is a growing movement which opposes Female Genital Mutilation, based
on a re-evaluation of Islamic religious evidences. This is because they
recognize it was a cultural practice which was falsely justified under the
guise of religion. So they are freely re-examining the issue, why not open
up a dialogue on circumcision across the board?
The Muslims are agreed that it is not obligatory, even though it is deeply
ingrained in most Islamic cultures. Verses of the Qur'an indicate that
there is no compulsion in the Deen. So how can the practice of coercive
circumcision be justified? As it is not compulsory, should it not be left
up to the individual when they reach the age of consent? Even recommended
or Sunna practices are not forced upon the individual, but rather left for
them to choose whether to implement them or not. Faith must be sincere and
voluntary, otherwise it is coercive and therefore false.
It is a well-known fact that circumcision is not even mentioned in the
Qur'an, which itself says that it is a Divine Book from which nothing has
been left out of consequence. The Qur'an addresses itself to all of
humanity, obviously to people with diverse practices and unique
life-experiences. Islam accomodates the various cultures, rejecting that
which is contrary to the worship of the One God and accepting all that is
compatible to this belief. So if the Qur'an does not even mention
circumcision, how can some Muslims make it an issue?
Rather circumcision is mentioned in the Ahadith largely in relation to
Semitic tradition: The Prophet Abraham was circumcised, as was also
mentioned in the Bible. The Qur'an indicates that the central message of
all prophets was the same, while there were unique differences in their
Sunna, or practice. For example, the followers of Prophet Joseph would
prostrate to him as a sign of respect whereas it is forbidden to prostrate
to another human being in Islam.
Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad completed and abrogated the messages
of the previous prophets. Abraham was circumcised, but what role does this
fact have in the ability of the Muslims to achieve their religious duties
or hold those core Islamic beliefs? There are other aspects of his times
which are not followed by Muslims, so why make some special exception for
circumcision? How does circumcision have any bearing on the belief and
worship of One God?
The second "evidence" used by Muslim advocates of circumsion is the
"Five practices are characteristics of the Fitra: circumcision, shaving
the pubic region, cutting the moustaches short, clipping the nails, and
depilating the hair of the armpits"
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book #72, Hadith
Let us examine the role of Fitra under Islamic law: these are acts which
are recommended but not necessarily obligatory. Notice the key word
"characteristics", implying that Fitra is not a status which can be
attained by the human being in its perfect sense. But the most significant
fact lies in how other ahadith describe the practices of Fitra:
"Five things are included in the fitra: trimming the moustache, cutting
the nails, shaving the pubic hair, plucking the armpits, and using the
siwak (arak stick for cleaning the teeth).
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab
"Ten are the acts according to Fitra: clipping moustache, letting the
beard grow, using the tooth-stick, snuffing water in the nose, cutting the
nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the hair under the armpits,
shaving the pubes and cleaning one's private parts with water." The
narrator said: "I have forgotten the tenth, but it may have been rinsing
(Sahih Muslim, Book #2, Hadith #502. Also reported by Ahmad,
al-Nasa'i, and at-Tirmidhi)
In neither of these other versions is circumcision even mentioned. These
ahadith about acts of Fitra are general, but what about specifics? There
is one hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was visited by two Persian
envoys whose moustaches were long, and he indicated how his Sunna is to
keep the moustache trimmed. Another hadith which specifies these acts of
"A time limit has been prescribed for us for clipping the moustache,
cutting the nails, plucking hair under the armpits, shaving the pubes,
that it should not be neglected for more than forty nights."
Muslim, Book #2, Hadith #497)
There is one singe hadith mentioning circumcision as one of these acts of
Fitra, while at least two other versions do not even mention it and
ahadith which go into specific rulings do not mention circumcision either.
These acts are mentioned in relation to hygiene, as is the Islamic
practice of Istinja', i.e. keeping the private parts clean. We intact men
all know that it takes little time or effort to clean the penis - a
foreskin certainly serves as no impediment to hygiene.
There is also much to the story about the caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. The
majority Sunni Muslims believe that there were four Rightly Guided
Caliphs, after which followed a degeneration of the rulers - except for
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz, whose status was such that he is often considered
the fifth, even though he came later. His knowledge and piety was such
that he is even regarded as the Mujaddid (reviver of Islam) for the first
Islamic century. Hence, if he refused making circumcision an issue for
following Islam, how can the less-knowledgeable regard it otherwise?
website includes some finely detailed argument, noting that "[Satan
said], 'I will lead them astray and fill them with false hopes. I will
command them and they will cut off cattle's ears. I will command them
and they will change Allah's creation.' (4:119) seems to suggest
circumcision is also of Satan.
But depending on where they are, any campaigners against Islamic circumcision will have to proceed with extreme caution....
The New York Times
May 12, 2001
Death to Blasphemers: Islam's Grip on Pakistan
By BARRY BEARAK
Blasphemy is a capital crime in this volatile Islamic nation, so
Dr. Younus Shaikh, while teaching at a medical college, might have
wisely avoided any discussion of the personal hygiene of the holy
the topic came up during a morning physiology class. And the doctor
talked briefly about seventh-century Arabia and its practices regarding
circumcision and the removal of underarm hair. Some students found his
remarks deeply offensive. "Only out of respect, because he was our
teacher, did we not beat him to death on the spot," said Syed Bilal,
they informed a group of powerful mullahs, who in turn filed a criminal
complaint. Lest the matter be treated with insufficient urgency, these
clerics dispatched a mob to the medical school and the police station,
threatening to burn them down.
what Dr. Shaikh said in class last October is now a matter of mortal
dispute, but he has been jailed ever since, awaiting trial and
pondering the noose. Defending himself presents a conundrum. What can
he safely say?
Shaikh is charged under Provision 295-C of the law: the use of
derogatory remarks about the holy Prophet Muhammad. Whether such an
offense is intentional or not, the mandatory punishment is death.
statements about the holy Prophet, peace be upon him, were made in his
praise only, and these have now been twisted out of context," he said
in measured phrases.
later, pressed for specifics, he said: "My students asked me about the
shaving of pubic and armpit hair, and I, in describing the glory of
Allah's revelations, said that before the arrival of Islam, the Arabs
did not have these practices. And they did not."
Dr. Shaikh's digressions embarrassed his students; occasionally, they
seemed impious. One irksome topic was how Muslims had come to practice
circumcision and, for purposes of cleanliness, the removal of pubic and
underarm hair. A question arose: Had Muhammad been circumcised before
receiving God's revelations at age 40?
ensuing discussion brought on no great ado, and Dr. Shaikh said he only
remembers saying, "The Prophet's tribe did not practice circumcision."
But the offended students repeat a different version.
told us the Prophet hadn't been circumcised before," insisted Majid
Lodhi, 22. "We asked, 'In what book is this knowledge?' And he said,
'I'm telling you the way it was, and if you have evidence to the
contrary, bring in your proof.' "
blasphemy has been committed in this case," proclaimed Maulana Abdul
Hafiz. An elderly, stern-faced man, he, too, heads a chapter of the
Movement for the Finality of the Prophet, his being in Bahawalnagar.
"Blasphemy can be committed only if issues are raised about the period
after the holy Prophet declared his prophethood. These issues are
Circumcision is not universal among Muslims:
"Muslims, mostly ethnic Chams, make up about 0.5% of the population. The
Chams consider themselves Muslims, but in practice they follow a localised
adaptation of Islamic theology and law. Though Muslims usually pray five
times a day, the Chams pray only on Fridays and celebrate Ramadan (a month
of dawn to dusk fasting) for only three days. In addition their Islam
based religious rituals co-exist with animism and the worship of Hindu
deities. Circumcision is symbolically performed on boys at age 15, when a
religious leader makes the gestures of circumcision with a wooden knife."
- the Lonely Planet Guide to Vietnam,
Edition 1991, 2005, pp 47-8