Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Female Genital Mutilation

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Female Genital Mutilation (Arabic: ختان المرأة) is the practice of cutting away and altering the external female genitalia for ritual or religious purposes. It can involve both or either Clitoridectomy and Excision. Clitoridectomy is the amputation of part or all of the clitoris (or the removal of the clitoral prepuce). Excision is the cutting away of either or both the inner or outer labia. A third practice, Infibulation (or Pharaonic circumcision), is the paring back of the outer labia, whose cut edges are then stitched together to form, once healed, a seal that covers both the openings of the vagina and the urethra. Infibulation usually includes clitoridectomy.

Neither male nor female circumcision are mentioned in the Quran, though the Banu Quraysh, Muhammad's native tribe, appears to have practiced FGM. Muhammad maintained the practice after migrating to Medina and is recorded as approving of the practice in four hadith. Two other hadith record the sahabah (Companions of Mohammed) engaging in the practice. The FGM hadith give very few clues as to the nature of the practice they approve. Hence the nature, incidence and distribution of FGM varies between countries and communities. The most significant determining factor appears to be the presiding school of Islam (fiqh). Other factors include the culture's level of anxiety around female sexuality, its proximity to Islamic slave-trade routes (Infibulation is associated with the transportation of slaves), and the nature and degree of historical Christian influence (which tends to eliminate FGM).

Professor Kecia Ali remarks that "female circumcision of some type is either recommended or required by the dominant classical view of all Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and seems to have been generally approved by Shi'i jurists as well."[1] She also observes that in the Shafi'i school it is obligatory, which may explain why the practice occurs among Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia where that school is pre-eminent and seems not to have been practicsed there before Islam. In other regions where FGM more commonly occurs, Ali says it was a pre-existing custom, while in most parts of the Muslim World FGM is not generally practised.[2] In modern times an increasing number of Muslim activist groups and even fatwas have attempted to reduce the occurrence of FGM. Help and advice for those at risk is available from a number of sources.[3]

It should be noted that those who practice FGM refer to it as Female Circumcision rather than Female Genital Mutilation. The Hadith and fatwas reproduced on this page are translations. Which term is used is generally the translator's choice, rather than that of the text's original author.


Abu Hurayrah said: I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision [الْخِتَانُ - khitan], shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.”
Abu al- Malih ibn `Usama's father relates that the Prophet said: "Circumcision [الْخِتَانُ - khitan] is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women'."
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 20:719; Al-Baihaqqy 8:324
Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision [الْخِتَانُ - khitan] in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: "Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband".
Abu Musa reported: There cropped up a difference of opinion between a group of Muhajirs (Emigrants and a group of Ansar (Helpers) (and the point of dispute was) that the Ansar said: The bath (because of sexual intercourse) becomes obligatory only-when the semen spurts out or ejaculates. But the Muhajirs said: When a man has sexual intercourse (with the woman), a bath becomes obligatory (no matter whether or not there is seminal emission or ejaculation). Abu Musa said: Well, I satisfy you on this (issue). He (Abu Musa, the narrator) said: I got up (and went) to 'A'isha and sought her permission and it was granted, and I said to her: 0 Mother, or Mother of the Faithful, I want to ask you about a matter on which I feel shy. She said: Don't feel shy of asking me about a thing which you can ask your mother, who gave you birth, for I am too your mother. Upon this I said: What makes a bath obligatory for a person? She replied: You have come across one well informed! The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When anyone sits amidst four parts (of the woman) and the circumcised [الْخِتَانُ - khitan] parts touch each other a bath becomes obligatory.

To 'sit amidst four parts' of a woman is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

"[Abu Musa has told us that Muhammad bin Almuthanna has told him that Alwaleed Bin Muslim, from Al-Awza'i, from Abdulrahman bin Alqasim from his father from Aisha]: when the circumcised meets the circumcised, then indeed Ghusl is required. Myself and Allah's Messenger did that, so we performed Ghusl."

“[…]Then 'Ubaidullah uncovered his face and said (to Wahshi), "Will you tell us (the story of) the killing of Hamza?" Wahshi replied "Yes, Hamza killed Tuaima bin `Adi bin Al-Khaiyar at Badr (battle) so my master, Jubair bin Mut`im said to me, 'If you kill Hamza in revenge for my uncle, then you will be set free." When the people set out (for the battle of Uhud) in the year of 'Ainain..'Ainain is a mountain near the mountain of Uhud, and between it and Uhud there is a valley.. I went out with the people for the battle. When the army aligned for the fight, Siba’ came out and said, ‘Is there any (Muslim) to accept my challenge to a duel?’ Hamza bin `Abdul Muttalib came out and said, ‘O Siba’. O Ibn Um Anmar, the one who circumcises [أَنْمَارٍ مُقَطِّعَةِ الْبُظُورِ - muqaṭwiʿaẗi al-ْbuẓūri] other ladies! Do you challenge Allah and His Apostle?’ Then Hamza attacked and killed him, causing him to be non-extant like the bygone yesterday […]”

أَنْمَارٍ مُقَطِّعَةِ الْبُظُورِ (muqaṭwiʿaẗi al-ْbuẓūri) translates as 'cutter of clitorises'.

“Umm ‘Alqama related that when the daughters of ‘A’isha’s brother were circumcised [اخْتُتِنَّ - khitan], ‘A’isha was asked, “Shall we call someone to amuse them?” “Yes,” she replied. ‘Adi was sent for and he came to them. ‘A’isha passed by the room and saw him singing and shaking his head in rapture – and he had a large head of hair. ‘Uff!’ she exclaimed, ‘A shaytan! Get him out! Get him out!'””
[Muhammad said] “Oh women of the Ansâr! Apply henna and circumcise [فَاخْفِضُو - khaffad]!  But do not exaggerate for it is more pleasing for your women folks when they are with their husbands."
Mukhtassar Zawa’id Musnad Al -Bazzar of Ibn Hajar, Item 1227, I, 669

فَاخْفِضُو (khaffad) also translates as 'lower them' or 'trim them'.

An old woman from Kufa, the grandmother of 'Ali ibn Ghurab, reported that Umm al-Muhajir said, "I was captured with some girls from Byzantium. 'Uthman offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. 'Uthman said, "Go and circumcise [فَاخْفِضُو - khaffad] them and purify them."'


Maliki Madhab

Maliki hold the view that it is wajib (obligatory) for males and sunnah (optional) for females
'Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam' by Ibrahim Lethome Asmani & Maryam Sheikh Abdi (2008)
Female circumcision is recommended.
Al-Dardir (died 1786, malikite)
Circumcision is Sunnah for men and women.
Ibn-al-jallab (died 988, Malikite)

Hanafi Madhab

The Hanafi view is that it is a sunnah (optional act) for both females and males
'Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam' by Ibrahim Lethome Asmani & Maryam Sheikh Abdi (2008)
Circumcision is sunnah and fitrah. For women, circumcision is makrumah. If the inhabitants of a country reach a unanimous decision to abandon circumcision, the Imam has to wage war against them as it is one of the rituals and a specificity of Islam.
Al-Musuli (died 1284, hanafite)

Shafi'i Madhab

Shafi’i view it as wajib (obligatory) for both females and males
'Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam' by Ibrahim Lethome Asmani & Maryam Sheikh Abdi (2008)
Obligatory (on every male and female) is circumcision. (And it is the cutting-off of the skin [qat' al-jaldah] on the glans of the male member and, as for the circumcision of the female, that is the cutting-off of the clitoris')
Reliance of the Traveler [Umdat al-Salik], Section e4.3 on Circumcision

Hanbali Madhab

Hanbali have two opinions: -it is wajib (obligatory) for both males and females – it is wajib (obligatory) for males and makrumah (honourable) for females.
'Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam' by Ibrahim Lethome Asmani & Maryam Sheikh Abdi (2008)
Circumcision is obligatory for men, and noble deed for women and not obligatory according to many scholars. Ahmad said: circumcision for men is more important for men than for women, as the foreskin is pending over the glans, therefore what is behind cannot be cleaned. Female circumcision is also prescribed for women. Abu-Abdallah said that the hadith “If the two circumcised membranes meet, ghusl is necessary” means that female circumcision was practiced. According to the hadith of Umar, a circumciser woman performed circumcision; he told her: leave some of it if you circumcise. It is also reported that the Prophet Muhammad said to the circumciser woman: Cut very slightly and do not exaggerate as it is preferable for the husband and better for the face.
Al-Qudamah (died 1223, hanbalite)
male and female circumcision are obligatory.
Al-Bahuti (died 1641, Hanbalite)
Praise be to Allah. Yes, they should be circumcised, i.e., the top of the piece of skin that looks like a rooster’s comb should be cut. The Messenger of Allah said to the woman who did circumcisions: “Leave something sticking out and do not go to extremes in cutting. That makes her face look brighter and is more pleasing to her husband.” That is because the purpose of circumcising a man is to make him clean from the impurity that may collect beneath the foreskin. But the purpose of circumcising women is to regulate their desire, because if a woman is not circumcised her desire will be strong. Hence the words “O son of an uncircumcised woman” are used as an insult, because the uncircumcised woman has stronger desire. Hence immoral actions are more common among the women of the Tatars and the Franks, that are not found among the Muslim women. If the circumcision is too severe, the desire is weakened altogether, which is unpleasing for men; but if it is cut without going to extremes in that, the purpose will be achieved, which is moderating desire. And Allah knows best.
Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (died 1328, Hanbalite)
Khitaan is a noun describing the action of the circumciser (khaatin). It is also used to describe the site of the circumcision, as in the hadith, “When the two circumcised parts (al-khitaanaan) meet, ghusl become obligatory.” In the case of a female the word used is khafad. In the male it is also called i’dhaar. The one who is uncircumcised is called aghlaf or aqlaf.
Ibn Qayyim (died 1350, Hanbalite)
[FGM's] purpose is to reduce the woman's desire; if she is uncircumcised, she becomes lustful and tends to long more for men.
Ibn Taymiyya (1263 - 1328), Hanbalite)

Shia Islam


Ayatollah Khamenei, the leading scholar among contemporary jurists of Iran, says that FGM is permissible but not obligatory for women. He also states that if the husband wants his wife to be circumcised then it might be carried out if it isn’t harmful for her.
Ayatullah ali al hussaini ali Sistani form Iraq said in his fatwa in 2010 that FGM is not haram (prohibited). Later in 2014 he revised his fatwa and said that FGM is harmful for the female victims and it isn’t permissible or part of any Islamic injunction.
Boys must be circumcised when they become adult…. and it is preferable that women be circumcised even if they are adult.
Al-Amili (died 1559, shiite)
The circumcision of female slaves, if performed, is great honor and precious merit. If not, nothing bad in it.
Al-Tusi (died 1067, shiite)


Circumcision is obligatory for every Muslim…. If somebody refuses to submit to circumcision after being ordered to do, he should be killed if he exaggerates in delaying. Circumcision is not obligatory for women but they are ordered to submit to circumcision in honor of their husbands. Women are not obliged as circumcision for women is makrumah and for men it is sunnah, and some said it is faridah (obligation).
Al-Nazawi (died 1162, ibadite)


A woman with clitoris has more pleasure than a woman without clitoris. The pleasure depends on the quantity which was cut from the clitoris. Muhammad said: “If you cut, cut the slightest part and do not exaggerate because it makes the face more beautiful and it is more pleasant for the husband”. It seems that Muhammad wanted to reduce the concupiscence of the women to moderate it. If concupiscence is reduced, the pleasure is also reduced as well as the love for the husbands. The love of the husband is an impediment against debauchery. Judge Janab Al-Khaskhash contends that he counted in one village the number of the women who were circumcised and those who were not, and he found that the circumcised were chaste and the majority of the debauched were uncircumcised. Indian, Byzantine and Persian women often commit adultery and run after men because their concupiscence towards men is greater. For this reason, India created brothels. This happened because of the massive presence of their clitorises and their hoots.
Al-Jahiz (Muʿtazila, died 868-9)

Modern Fatwas

Favourable Fatwas

“Female circumcision is only desirable, i.e., not compulsory, and it consists of cutting off part of the clitoris. More than that is forbidden in view of the Um Atiyah report: “Circumcise but do not go too far, for thus it is better for appearance and gives more pleasure to the husband”. This is the female circumcision which is desirable in Islam. Other forms such as that known among us as the Pharaonic are mutilations and mutilations are categorically forbidden.”
“Female circumcision is a part of the emblem of Islam and it is mentioned in the prophetic sunnah. [FGM’s bad effects] are neither certain nor proven, and therefore one cannot base himself on them to reject the circumcision in which the wise Legislator saw a wisdom”
“When it is proven by the precise research, and not by a temporary opinion given out to satisfy a particular tendency or to conform itself to traditions of given people, that a thing includes a damage for health or a depravity of the morals, it must be forbidden according to the religious law in order tho avoid the damage or the depravity. And until this is proven concerning female circumcision , this practice will continue according to what people are accustomed in the light of the Islamic law and the knowledge of the religious scholars since the time of the prophecy [of Muhammad] until this day, i.e. that the circumcision is a makrumah, and not an obligation or sunnah.”
“If a region stops, of common agreement, to practice male and female circumcision, the chief of the sate declares war against that region because circumcision is a part of the rituals of Islam and its specificities. This means that male and female circumcisions are obligatory.”
“This attack against the female circumcision […] is undertaken by its adepts and its propagators, either because of ignorance or distraction like parrots, or because of bad intentions and hidden motives like foxes and wolves, or because of hostility and hate like collaborators and agents paid by traitors and enemies[…]. Their only worry is to satisfy their instincts and their passions. Their goal is to free themselves of all limits, morals, traditions and customs. They try to reverse our society according to their limping opinions , their black hearts and their sly mind, to make a society base on corruption, wantonness, atheism, anarchy and immorality”
"Thus it is clear that female circumcision is prescribed in Islam, and that it is one of the Sunnahs of the fitrah and it has a good effect of moderating the individual’s behaviour. As for the opinions of doctors who say that female circumcision is harmful, these are individual opinions which are not derived from any agreed scientific basis, and they do not form an established scientific opinion. ..."
“I personally support [FGM] under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it [...] The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.”
Yusuf al-Qaradawi (born 1926) cited in ‘Modern Fatwas’ (1987)
"[Female] circumcision can lead to death? Well, riding the train can also lead to death. Flying in a plane can lead to death. Drinking water can lead to death. Eating eggplant can lead to death [...My mother, my sister, my daughter, and my wife [have all gone through this], and so have the mothers, sisters, and wives of those 'expert doctors,' and they did not die from it. According to our customs, and you are a village man like I am... Have we ever heard of a girl who died during circumcision? You are familiar with the village customs. They make a celebration out of i [...] Giving birth can lead to death, right? How many women have died during child birth? Many more than have died during [female] circumcision, by the way... So should women stop giving birth?"
“Ibn Quddamah said in al-Mughni: As for circumcision, it is obligatory for men and it is good in the case of woman, but it is not obligatory for them [...] the purpose of circumcising women is to regulate their desire, because if a woman is not circumcised her desire will be strong. Hence the words “O son of an uncircumcised woman” are used as an insult, because the uncircumcised woman has stronger desire. Hence immoral actions are more common among the women of the Tatars and the Franks, that are not found among the Muslim women. If the circumcision is too severe, the desire is weakened altogether, which is unpleasing for men; but if it is cut without going to extremes in that, the purpose will be achieved, which is moderating desire”
“Medical research […] does not show that the Sunnah circumcision – cutting only the outer part of the clitoris – has caused any medical complications […] Islam condones the Sunnah circumcision; it is acceptable. What’s forbidden in Islam is the pharaonic circumcision [...] Islamic scholars believe that female circumcision is different from male circumcision. They have a strong view that female circumcision is allowed, and that there is no evidence from Islamic sources prohibiting female circumcision, unless it is pharaonic.”
"It is also indicated by the general meaning of the evidence that has been narrated concerning circumcision, such as the hadeeth in al-Bukhaari (5891) and Muslim (527) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him): I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.”

[...]The Shaafa’is, the Hanbalis according to the well-known view of their madhhab, and others are of the view that circumcising women is obligatory. Many scholars are of the view that it is not obligatory in the case of women; rather it is Sunnah and is an honour for them.

But we would like to point out here that it has medical benefits to which attention should be paid, regardless of the difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether it is obligatory or mustahabb."
"The Prophet said that circumcision is obligatory for men, and is noble for women. This noble act can be either carried out or not. Moreover, this noble act is subject to restrictions nowadays [...]Guys, all these things appear in Islamic law. Don't think we are making these things up. It all exists [in religious law] and is determined..."
“[A]s far as Islam is concerned “we do observe circumcision not mutilation”
"The [Muslim] Brotherhood […] opposes banning [FGM] because it is a tradition that should remain an option for medical reasons and “beautification” purposes.”
“[The Hadiths] require […] every woman be circumcised, failing which she will be impure and not even able to handle food. Why, moreover, wish to forbid female circumcision in a country made up of 90% Muslims?” Abou Ly (l’Association des imams et oulémas du Sénégal), quoted and translated from“
"DECISION OF MUZAKARAH OF THE FATWA COMMITTEE, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS MALAYSIA The issue of Female Genital Mutilation was discussed by Muzakarah The 87th National Fatwa Committee convened on 23-25 June 2009. In this conference, Muzakarah members agreed decided that: After examining the evidence, arguments and views submitted, Muzakarah is of the view that the practice of circumcision for women is part of the syiar of the ummah Islam. While the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is contrary to the practice of circumcision prescribed by syarak. Accordingly, in line with the view jumhur ulama, Muzakarah agreed to decide that the law circumcision for women is compulsory. However, if it can bring harm to oneself, then it is should be avoided."
Then they come to the issue of circumcision. They have no problems left except the issue of female circumcision in Kurdistan. The mothers and sisters of more than half of your party members were circumcised. This means that you insult your own grandmother. You insult your own mother. You accuse them of ignorance. You dishonour your dead grandfather and burn his coffin for allowing the circumcision of your mother. Circumcision is a tenant[sic] of Islamic law (sharia)[…] (This bill is) to satisfy the Jews who in the conference of the Jews in Beijing discussed that female circumcision should be banned. You obey their orders and disregard the Sharia of Allah.

[…]They say if a mullah, a religious man, a father, a mother, a doctor or anyone else even mentions circumcision could be a good thing for women or if a woman feels uncomfortable and says that her mood was disturbed by that statement, she can complain to one of these organizations and agencies and they will take the mullah […] to jail. […] They can jail you for saying that circumcision is a good thing. The Imam Shafi’i (most Iraqi-Kurds belong to the Shafi’i law school) said circumcision is good! Aren’t you following his denomination? Didn’t the KRG president say that he is a Shafi’i? Your denomination says FGM is good, and that is why I am saying it is good. If you are honest in your denomination then don’t accept this discussion to be held in the parliament. Imam Shafi’i is one of those who say that FGM is an obligation, that girls and women should be circumcised

[…]If I get asked about the religious ruling on FGM I must keep my silence and not dare to open my mouth. I must request to avoid this subject. As soon as I utter that FGM is good then they can arrest me […] If you don’t accept this Mr. President you are the one who receives the project. You might say that you don’t approve of the MPs. The people will love you for doing that.

[…]No longer should they ridicule our religion and believes and honours. We have made you president, you have the parliament and the oil and the money and no one is bothering you, why don’t you leave our religion and honour intact?
Sermon by Iraqi-Kurd cleric Ismael Sosaae, protesting a 2011 Kurdish bill against domestic violence
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Muslim Brotherhood flyer promoting FGM (amongst other medical services)
“The second strategy of the [Muslim Brotherhood] to contest the undesirability of FGM is to present it as a medical operation or procedure. By doing so, they encourage people to go to doctors – rather than midwives – who will perform the “operation” under anaesthesia and in accordance with proper surgical procedures […] Some people talk about taking their daughters to the doctor to check whether “they need it or not”, as if there is a physiological condition that would justify mutilating a woman’s reproductive organs […] Some doctors believe that not circumcising females leads to sexual arousal and that this could lead to the committing unlawful acts. So circumcision is a duty for the protection of the honour of the believing woman and for the preservation of her chastity and purity […] The third strategy deployed by the Brothers to promote FGM is to push for its decriminalization, under the premise that it is a matter that should be left to the personal choice of the girls’ guardians […] “the decision is up to the guardian and the doctor who decides on the extent to which the girl needs this operation”
“The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) is in favour of female circumcision (and men) that, although it can not be considered mandatory, it is still “morally recommended.” Kiai Hajj Amin Ma’ruf [the head of the council], pointed out that it is an “advisable practise on moral grounds”, at the same time, he rejects any attempt to declare this practice illegal or contrary to the principles. It comes under the sphere of “human rights,” said the Islamist leader, and is “guaranteed by the Constitution.”"
“In the Maldives […circumcision] is the ‘symbol that differentiates Muslims from non-Muslims [...] All four schools of Sunni jurisprudence however regard it as either ‘obligatory’ or ‘preferable [...FGM] is one of the five things that are part of fitrah, or nature, says the fatwa by Dr. Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef, Vice President of the Fiqh Academy of the Maldives [...] the fatwa points to the increasing influence of Saudi Arabia. The cleric uses the Saudi Arabian Fatwa Committee’s concern over the decline of female circumcision in Muslim countries as a stamp of approval for the practice for all Muslims”
“For protecting our Islamic nation in Iraq and Syria, our land, and our people, we need to look after our women and their behavior while preventing them from the dreadful modern life they are surrounded with.“
“An Islamic cleric from Russia’s North Caucasus has called for all Russian women to undergo female genital mutilation […] Ismail Berdiev, a member of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Communities, said that FGM was needed to combat “sexual immorality […] All women must be cut, so that there will be no depravity on Earth.”
"[Circumcision is] a sunna for the boys, and the honorable thing to do - if needed - for the girls. This is something that a Muslim gynecologist can tell you if you need to or not. The Prophet... There used to be a lady who used to do this for women, or, I mean, young girls. She is expected to cut only the tip of the sexual sensitive part in the girl, so that she is not hypersexually active. This is the purpose."
"The discussion about female circumcision goes back to the past century. The first time that this subject was debated extensively was in the past century. Who were the first to talk about it? The Jews. They do not want Islam or the Muslims to be pure, developed, and civilized, so they started talking about it [...]In The Protocols of the Elders of Zion it is written: 'We must strive for the collapse of morals, so that it will be easier for us to dominate the world.'[...] Female circumcision is a preventive medical measure. Someone who is uncircumcised will be afflicted with many serious diseases{...]"
“On Feb. 6, Somaliland announced a new fatwa, or religious edict, banning two of the three types of female cutting […] According to the organizations, the ruling made a certain type of FGM/C “mandatory” for every girl in Somaliland and at the same time banning the most extreme forms.”
“[The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland’s] Secretary-General Ferah Uluca said that while the paper justifies the practice, it does not call on Muslims to perform it as a duty. Uluca said it is up to each parent to decide”
“Circumcision is prescribed for both males and females. The correct view is that […] circumcision of women is mustahabb [‘virtuous‘] but not obligatory […] Female circumcision has not been prescribed for no reason, rather there is wisdom behind it and it brings many benefits. Mentioning some of these benefits, Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi says […]”
“Circumcision is not an inherited custom as some people claim, rather it is prescribed in Islam and the scholars are unanimously agreed that it is prescribed. Not a single Muslim scholar – as far as we know – has said that circumcision is not prescribed. Their evidence is to be found in the saheeh ahaadeeth of the Prophet, which prove that it is prescribed [...] With regard to the criticism of circumcision by some doctors, and their claim that it is harmful both physically and psychologically, This criticism of theirs is not valid. It is sufficient for us Muslims that something be proven to be from the Prophet [...], then we will follow it, and we are certain that it is beneficial and not harmful. If it were harmful, Allaah and His Messenger [...] would not have prescribed it for us [...] As for the opinions of doctors who say that female circumcision is harmful, these are individual opinions which are not derived from any agreed scientific basis, and they do not form an established scientific opinion […] medical theories about disease and the way to treat it are not fixed, rather they change with time and with ongoing research. So it is not correct to rely on them when criticizing circumcision which the Wise and All-Knowing Lawgiver has decreed in His wisdom for mankind. Experience has taught us that the wisdom behind some rulings and Sunnahs may be hidden from us. May Allaah help us all to follow the right path.”
“[Dr Ali Selim, a spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh], who is also a lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin […] argued that female circumcision was unfairly framed as a “dark-skin practice” and “barbaric,” insinuating that criticism is racist or prejudiced.”
"The calls which urge the banning of female circumcision are call [sic] that go against Islam, because there is no clear text in the Qur’aan or Sunnah and there is no opinion of the fuqaha’ that says that female circumcision is haraam. Female circumcision is either obligatory or recommended [...] The words of the doctors and others are not definitive. Scientific discoveries are still opening doors every day which change our old perceptions."
“Some (e.g. the late Rector of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Gad Al-Haque) argued that since [Mohammed] did not ban female circumcision, it falls within the category of the permissble. As such, there is no ground for a total ban on it.”
“I don’t know why a German, British or American entity (thinks it can) come to us to decide for us the circumcision of our daughters! Why should they decide on matters of our girls and women? We base our religion on Allah’s book and the sayings of our beloved prophet and our scholars [...] Look at any of the books of fiqh from our imams, respected leaders, and scholars–ask them. You will find that our scholars have said that circumcision of women–there are some who say that it is obligatory while others say that it is commendable [...] this does not mean that I am subjecting the religion to inspection from a doctor. No, my brothers, this does not mean that I subject evidence from the shari'a to review from a doctor!”
Muhammad Hassan Female Circumcision (date unknown, but citation from modern film footage - see video below)

Critical Fatwas

“All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs… it is not an obligation in Islam.”
“Allah has endowed people with dignity. In the Qur'an, Allah says: "We have honored the children of Adam". Therefore, Allah forbids all harm to people, regardless of social status and gender. Female genital cutting is an inherited bad habit practiced in some societies and has been adopted in imitation by some Muslims in several countries. This without a textual basis in the Koran or an authentic tradition of the prophet. Female genital cutting practiced today causes physical and psychological damage to women. Therefore, these practices must be stopped, based on one of the highest values ​​of Islam, namely not to harm people - according to the saying of the Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him: "Do not harm and do no harm to anyone". Rather, it is considered a criminal aggression. The conference appeals to Muslims to put an end to this bad habit according to the teachings of Islam, which prohibit harming people in any way. The participants of the conference also call on the international and regional institutions and bodies to concentrate their efforts on educating and informing the population. This applies in particular to the basic hygienic and medical rules that must be adhered to towards women so that this bad habit is no longer practiced.The conference reminds educational institutions and the media that they have an absolute duty to educate about the harms of this bad habit and its devastating consequences for society in order to help eliminate this bad habit. The conference calls on the legislative bodies to pass a law that prohibits practitioners from the harmful bad habit of female genital cutting and declares it a crime, regardless of whether the practitioner is the perpetrator or the initiator. Furthermore, the conference calls on the international institutions and organizations to provide aid in all regions in which this bad habit is practiced, in order to contribute to its elimination.”
Female circumcision is supported by no decisive textual evidence. Only male circumcision is practiced, due to the authentic evidence in the Sunnah that it is part of the natural way (Fitrah).

Female circumcision is simply a regional custom in the places where it is practiced. We must then take into consideration that many medical professionals consider it to have detrimental affects for the girls who undergo the operation. On that basis, it would be impermissible to allow this custom to continue. As, bringing harm to oneself is unlawful in Islam.

In a Hadith it is mentioned:

Circumcision is Sunnah for men and an honorable thing for women. [Musnad Ahmad (19794)]

Due to the weakness of this hadith and other Hadiths that refer to female circumcision with some of their narrators being known for deceptiveness and others whose narrations carry no weight scholars of Islamic Law have differed widely regarding its legal ruling.

1. In the Hanaf school of law, female circumcision is permissible within itself but not considered to be a Sunnah. (i.e. no religious virtue). (Shami Fatawaa Rahimiyyah, Page 261, Vol. 6)

2. It is considered a preferred act (Mandub) for women in the Maliki school of law. They rely upon the Hadith of Umm `Atiyyah for this ruling. ( Bulghah al-Salik li-Aqrab al-Maslik and Ashal al-Madarik Sharh Irshad al-Salik)

3. In the Shaf'i school of law, circumcision is considered an obligation for both men and women. This is the official ruling of that school of thought. Some Shaf`i scholars express the view that circumcision is obligatory for men and merely Sunnah for women. ( al-Majmu`)

4. In the Hanbali school of law, circumcision is obligatory for men and merely an honorable thing for women. It is not obligatory for them. The Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudamah observes: This is the view of many people of knowledge. Imam Ahmad said that it is more emphatic for men. (al-Mughni (1/115))

Lastly, I would like to mention that there are no recorded evidences of circumcision done on the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)'s daughters.
“The traditional form of excision is a practice totally banned by Islam because of the compelling evidence of the extensive damage it causes to women’s bodies and minds” said the decree issued by the office of the mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa.
Circumcision of women is not an Islamic rule or permission; rather it was an Arab ritual before Islam. There are many Hadiths that connote the negative attitude of Islam as to this ritual. However, Islam did not forbid it at that time because it was not possible to suddenly forbid a ritual with strong roots in Arabic culture; rather it preferred to gradually express its negative opinions. This is how Islam treated slavery as well, (gradual preparation of the society for the final forbiddance of slavery). The Prophet had prevented people several times from circumcising women. In addition, the mere prevention may connote forbidding of that action as well. Furthermore, circumcising is accompanied by hurting and injuring the body of a woman; and we are not allowed to make any injury to our body unless we are expressly allowed to do so. Thus, we are dubious whether we are allowed or not, we should abide by the primary principle that is forbidding of injuring oneself.
“The Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, the highest Muslim authority in Iraqi Kurdistan for religious pronouncements and rulings, issued a fatwa or religious edict last month [...]this particular fatwa stated that "female circumcision" is not an Islamic practice.While the fatwa did not forbid the practice [...] its clear and unequivocal statement that the practice is not required by Islam was significant for women in Kurdistan, where the practice is widespread. The practice is not mentioned in the Quran, and many other Muslim scholars have disassociated the practice from Islam. Until last month, the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union had not joined those ranks [...] The fatwa will help dispel that belief and should begin to lead to a reduction of the practice in the name of Islam. But it's not all good news yet. The fatwa does not explicitly ban female genital mutilation, and the failure to prohibit it altogether remains troubling because parents may still decide to subject their daughters to this practice. ”
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fatwa - Ayatollah Khamenei
In response to a question of the author of the book Razor and Tradition, which discusses Female Genital Mutilation, [Khamenei] noted that female circumcision is permissible but not obligatory"

[...] "Today, female genital mutilation is not common among Shiites but the usage narrative show that it does not hurt if it can be done with its conditions, including compliance with health issues. But because the social norms have changed today, this action would not be acceptable like many other topics which their sentences were changed due to circumstances and facts"

[...] The question is asked to Ayatollah Khamenei: What is the wife`s duty to her husband`s request to circumcise herself?

The answer is: “Although implementation of husband’s order is obligatory for the wife if it does not have disadvantages or it is not harmful for the wife, she has to listen to her husband’s request.”
The group of jurists from different schools of thoughts reject the permissibility of FGM in Islam and do not consider it part of the injunctions of Islam. Their arguments are as follows:

Answer to the justifications from Holy Quran: The proponent jurists alleged that Allah said in the holy Quran to follow the Sunnah of Ibrahim (A.S). That meant following the Sunnah of Ibrahim (A.S) as he believed in the oneness of God. Also if Ibrahim (A.S) was circumcised because he was a male, that cannot be taken as precedent for the females because there is no resemblance between the male and female body structure. Allah Almighty prohibits in the Holy Quran to cut a body part of human beings without any reason because a human being is the most beloved creature to the omnipotent Allah, and is the creature in whose beautiful creation the Almighty takes pride in.

Answer to the justification from Holy Sunnah: Ahadith put forward by the proponents have ‘weak health’ (Dhuaee’f Sih’ha) mainly because of the chain of hadith and of the narrators, so we cannot rely on such ahadith on such delicate issues.

Answer to the Qiyas: First of all if we are making Qiyas a deciding factor for another analogy, the ill’at (cause) must be the same between the cases but in the case of FGM, how can we use the analogy of a male body for a female when they are both totally different and distinct from each other. The ill’at of circumcision of men is to increase pleasure, is also good for sexual life and includes many other medical benefits to men. But in case of women it reduces pleasure, is harmful for her physical as well as mental health, so the idea of Qiyas here is totally strange.
"The Muftiate of Daghestan, the traditional Islamic religious authority of the region, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as contrary to the laws of Islam. Zaynulla Atayev, the head of the Muftiate’s fatwa department, told independent outlet ROMB that Islam categorically prohibits any excision of vital organs without a competent medical opinion."

See Also


  1. Kecia Ali, Sexual Ethics in Islam, England: Oneworld Publications, p. 102
  2. Ibid. p. 100
  3. For example, in the UK the Metropolitan Police maintain a list of organisations aiming to help those at risk of FGM
    A list of international organizations can be found here