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1. The sources of Muslim law

Muslim law has two main sources: the Koran and the Sunnah (tradition: words and actions) of Mohammed, to which one must add the igtihad, tenets of the schools of Muslim law through the centuries.

Nowadays a specific part of igtihad is getting more and more important: namely the fatwas (opinions of Muslim religious scholars), which are often worded in a language accessible to the masses, defining which behaviour conforms to the Divine Will 33. Though juridically non binding, the fatwas are nonetheless morally obligatory for the believer and at times the first step toward the promulgation or the modification of laws. They are given in writing or orally and are often published and sold on a wide scale34. Many pertain to male and female circumcision.

We confine our study here to the works and anthologies of modern fatwas, mostly Egyptian ones, referring to classical books of Muslim law. This choice is justified by the fact that the public at large seldom has access to the classical books.

2. The Koran

The Koran mentions neither male nor female circumcision. An extensive interpretation of verse 2:124 shows some barely traceable indication of it:

 When Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commandments, he carried them out. God then said: "I am appointing you a guide for the people".

 One of the commands given to Abraham, as a test, was circumcision, as mentioned in some of the sayings of Mohammed. Abraham is a model for the Muslim faithful by virtue of verse 16:123:

 Then we inspired you (Mohammed) to follow the religion (millat) of Abraham, a true believer...35.

 It is relevant to note the rule of the Muslim law according to which norms that were revealed to the prophets prior to Mohammed are valid until unmistakably nullified. Thus the Bible, by a process of referral, becomes a source of law for the Muslims. One can read:

 God told Abraham: "...Here is our alliance which shall be observed between me and you, i.e. thy race after thee, may all your males be circumcised. You shall have the flesh of your foreskin cut off and it shall be a sign of alliance between me and you...When they reach their 8th day all your males shall be circumcised from generation to generation... My alliance shall be branded in your flesh as a perpetual alliance. The uncircumcised, the male whose foreskin has not been cut off, this very life shall be cut off. He violated my alliance" 36.

 Circumcision as a sign of alliance can only be found in two other passages of the Bible 37. Elsewhere, it is more narrative: King Saul demanded one hundred Philistine foreskins from David, before he gave his consent to David marrying his daughter Mikal: "David... thought it was a good deal in order to become the king's son in law... He went to war...He killed 200 Philistine men, brought back their foreskins, counted them in front of the king....So Saul... had to admit that Jehovah was on David's side" 38.

 This interpretation of the Koranic verses with reference to the Bible is considered abusive by Imam Mahmud Shaltut (israf fil-istidlal) 39. What is more, this textual argument based on Jewish law concerns male circumcision only, not female circumcision that the Bible does not mention and that the Jews do not practice (Falachas excepted). Al-Sukkari answers that, according to Ibn Hagar, the Jews used to circumcise both sexes, which is why he rejects male and female circumcision on the 7th day, so as not to look like them. Even the authentic Bible - today's one is considered falsified - does not contain any text related to female circumcision. Nonetheless, the Muslims must practice it, if the Muslim law makes provision for it 40.

3. The Sunnah

We will try here to glean, from the works of contemporary Arab authors, the different sayings of Mohammed related to male and female circumcision.

 - The most often mentioned narration reports a debate between Mohammed and Um Habibah (or Um 'Atiyyah). This woman, known as an exciser of female slaves, was one of a group of women who had immigrated with Mohammed. Having seen her, Mohammed asked her if she kept practicing her profession. She answered affirmatively adding: "unless it is forbidden and you order me to stop doing it". Mohammed replied: "Yes, it is allowed. Come closer so I can teach you: if you cut, do not overdo it (la tanhaki), because it brings more radiance to the face (ashraq) and it is more pleasant (ahza) for the husband". According to others, he said: "Cut slightly and do not overdo it (ashimmi wa-la tanhaki), because it is more pleasant (ahza) for the woman and better (ahab, from other sources abha) for the husband". We shall hereinafter refer to this narration as the exciser's narration.

 - Mohammed said: "Circumcision is a sunnah for the men and makrumah for the women". The term sunnah here means that it is conform to the tradition of Mohammed himself, or simply a custom at the time of Mohammed. The term makrumah is far from clear but we can translate it into a honorable deed.

 - Speaking to the Ansars' wives, Mohammed said: "Cut slightly without exaggeration (ikhtafidna wa-la tanhikna), because it is more pleasant (ahza) for your husbands".

 - Someone came to Mohammed and became a convert before him. Mohammed told him: "Shave off your unbeliever's hair and be circumcised".

 - Mohammed said: "Let him who becomes a Muslim be circumcised, even if he is old".

 - One asked Mohammed if an uncircumcised man could go to pilgrimage. He answered: "Not as long as he is not circumcised".

 - Mohammed said: "Five norms define fitrah: shaving of the pubis, circumcision, moustache trimming, armpit depilation and nail clipping". Other narrations name ten norms amongst which circumcision is always mentioned. The norms of fitrah are believed to be those taught by God to His creation. The man in pursuit of perfection must conform to those norms. They are not compulsory, but simply advisable (mandubah), except for circumcision which is mandatory. Based on these premises, Al-Sukkari believes Adam to have been the first circumcised man. His descendants having neglected their obligation, it was reconfirmed to Abraham and his descendants. Thus circumcision would be the sign which would differentiate the believer from the non-believer. Therefore, circumcision is the sign of Islam 41.

 - Mohammed has stipulated: "If both circumcised parts (khitanan) meet or if they touch each other, it is necessary to wash before prayer". From this, it may be deduced that men and women were circumcised in Mohammed's time.

 The Shiites add a narration by Imam Al-Sadiq stating: "Female circumcision is a makrumah, and is there anything better than a makrumah?" They cite Al-Sadiq as the reporter of the exciser's narration 42.

 The supporters of circumcision themselves (male or female) acknowledge that those narrations attributed to Mohammed offer little credibility 43. Mahmud Shaltut states that they are neither clear nor authentic44. Sheikh Abbas, Rector of the Muslim Institute at the Mosque of Paris, is even more adamant:

 If circumcision for the man (though not compulsory) has an aesthetic and hygienic purpose, there is no existing religious Islamic text of value to be considered in favour of female excision, as proven by the fact that this practice is totally non-existent in most of the Islamic countries. And if unfortunately some people keep practicing excision, to the great prejudice of women, it is probably due to customs practised prior to the conversion of these people to Islam 45.

4. Custom and silence of the law

Female circumcision having fragile foundations in the Koran and the Sunnah, Al-Sukkari tries to strengthen those foundations in calling upon custom, which constitutes a source of Muslim law. For him, female circumcision has become the norm in as much as it is general, it has been practiced for a long time and it is not contrary to any text of religious law.

 He refers to the rule according to which what is not forbidden is allowed. Thus female circumcision, not being expressly forbidden, remains permitted46. Even if narrations related to female circumcision are not credible, none has shown up to forbid it or declare it blameworthy. One of the principles of Muslim law is that it is better to apply the norm that to give it up 47.

 However, this author forgets that the Muslim law allows a custom based on ignorance to be abolished. In effect, the Koran states:

 When they are told: "Come to what God has revealed and to the Messenger". they say: "Sufficient for us is what we found our parents doing". What if their parents lacked the knowledge? And the guidance? (5:104).

 Indeed, he reverses the rule. Instead of supporting physical integrity, indirectly he speaks in favour of the principle of mutilation.


1. God does not mutilate

This argument can be summed up as follows: Can we imagine a God who demands that his believers be mutilated and branded on their genitals the same as cattle? Doctor Nawal El-Saadawi, an Egyptian woman, herself excised, writes:

 If religion comes from God, how can it order man to cut off an organ created by Him as long as that organ is not deceased or deformed? God does not create the organs of the body haphazardly without a plan. It is not possible that He should have created the clitoris in a woman's body only in order that it be cut off at an early stage in life. This is a contradiction into which neither true religion nor the Creator could possibly fall. If God has created the clitoris as a sexually sensitive organ, whose sole function seems to be the procurement of sexual pleasure for women, it follows that He also considers such pleasure for women as normal and legitimate, and therefore as an integral part of mental health 48.

 It has very often been proclaimed that Islam is at the root of female circumcision, and is also responsible for the under-privileged and backward situation of women in Egypt and the Arab countries. Such a contention is not true... Religion, if authentic in the principles it stands for, aims at truth, equality, justice, love and a healthy wholesome life for all people, whether men or women. There can be no true religion that aims at disease, mutilation of the bodies of female children, and amputation of an essential part of their reproductive organs 49.

 Ren,e Saurel goes over the argument again. She writes:

 The Koran, contrary to Christianism and Judaism, permits and recommends that the woman be given physical and psychological pleasure, pleasure found by both partners during the act of love. Forcibly split, torn, and severed tissues are neither conducive to sensuality nor to the blessed feeling given and shared when participating in the quest for pleasure and the escape from pain This verse appears to condemn any change of God's creation. It is referred to by Islamists to oppose permanent birth control, be it by measures affecting the man or the woman 51. Oddly, male and female circumcision enthusiasts forget this verse completely. They also forget the following one: "He perfected everything He created" (32:7). Aziza Kamel, adversary of female circumcision, refers to this verse and adds: "Excision is a distortion of what God created because God is satisfied with His creation" 52.

3. Man knows best

Mohammed had told some farmers not to pollinate their date trees. That very year, the trees did not bear any dates. Having returned to Mohammed for explanations, they were told: "You know your worldly business better [than I do]".

 The last passage of the narration was quoted by Sheikh Hassan Ahmed Abu-Sabib from Sudan in his presentation to the Seminar on Traditional Practices having consequences on the Health of Women and Children (affecting Women's and Children's Health) in Africa (Dakar, Feb. 6-10, 1984). Strengthened by this narration, he comes to the conclusion that female circumcision must be banned because medical science has proved it to be harmful. Then, he says, the Koran forbids man to harm himself by virtue of verse 2:195: "Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into disaster". Elsewhere, Mohammed said: "Who harms a believer, harms me and who harms me, harms God".

 This Sudanese Sheikh did not pursue his reasoning to its end. In the narration about the date trees, Mohammed did not want to consider himself as infallible in botany and so admitted that the farmers knew more than he did on the subject in spite of his quality as a prophet. By analogy with female and male circumcision, this narration means that Mohammed indeed could not be infallible on the subject and could be contradicted by medical science. Our Sheikh does not go so far. He separates Mohammed's answer from the whole narration about the date trees and just states that Mohammed's narrations on female circumcision are not reliable, calling on the authority of his counterpart, Imam Shaltut. He concludes that the issue of male and female circumcision must be judged according to its disadvantages and advantages 53.

 In spite of this minor inconsistency, his advice against female circumcision is the most explicit known to us on the part of a contemporary religious Muslim leader.

4. The Al-Mahdawi case

All of the aforementioned religious arguments are written solely and exclusively against female circumcision. Though they could very well be used against male circumcision, their authors never do so and not without purpose.

 Indeed, the only Muslim author to have cast doubts on male circumcision has had legal action brought against him and might be sentenced to death for apostasy. I am speaking of (retired) Judge Mustafa Kamal Al-Mahdawi, a personal friend of mine, who is today under a ferocious attack lead by Libyan religious circles in the mosques as well in the press. The preacher of the Mosque of the Prophet, in Medina, Saudi Arabia, published in July 1992 a pamphlet handed out free of charge in Libya. In this pamphlet, he asks the Muslim Arab League and the Islamic Conference to set up a collective fatwa of all Muslim scholars against this judge and to execute him as an apostate if he does not retract. As for his book, the preacher asks that it be removed from the shelves, burned and forbidden to any reader. He blames the judge for having, among other things, denied that male circumcision is compulsory when there is unanimity in favour of it and when Mohammed was Himself circumcised 54.

 In fact, this Libyan judge insists that male circumcision is a Jewish custom; the Jews believe that God would only see them if they had distinctive marks such as circumcision or blood stained doors. He refers here to God's command given to the Jews that the blood from sacrificed cattle be put on jambs and lintel of houses at the time of Passover because He intended to kill all firstborn in Egypt. God said to Moses and Aaron: "The blood shall be a sign on the houses where you live. Seeing this sign, I shall pass over those doorways and you shall escape the destructive calamity when I strike down the people of Egypt" 55. The Libyan judge adds that the Koran does not mention this "peculiar logic". For him, God does not devote Himself to such banter no more than He created the foreskin as a superfluous object destined only to be cut off56. He quotes verse 3:191 which states:

 Our Lord, You did not create all this in vain! Glory be to You! So spare us the agony of hell 57


To define an act means to declare it forbidden, reprehensible, permitted, advisable or mandatory. Those are the five categories into which a Muslim believer classifies any act.

 The adversaries of circumcision regard it as forbidden when it concerns girls. On the other hand, they do not oppose male circumcision and even consider it mandatory.

 As for the supporters of male and female circumcision, they are divided on the qualification that should be attached to it. Three opinions have been expressed:

1. Mandatory for boys and girls

Imam Ahmad deems only the prayer and pilgrimage of the circumcised to be worthy of acceptance. Imam Malik refuses access to public office to, and testimony from, a non-circumcised person. Others go as far as forbidding that meat killed by a non-circumcised person be eaten58. This school puts forward the following justifications:

 - Verse 16:120 requests that Mohammed follow the path of Abraham. Abraham was circumcised at a very old age, when he was 80 years old, according to others 120, in spite of the suffering that circumcision could cause him. Had it not been mandatory in Abraham's opinion, he would not have subjected himself to it.

 - Different sayings of Mohammed related to circumcision and mentioned earlier.

 - During the era of the Companions of Mohammed, male and female circumcision was carried out.

 - The condition of being non circumcised keeps impurity in the body and renders prayer null and void, the same way as an unclean mouth does.

 - Circumcision (male and female) causes pain. Pain is permissible only for benefit, punishment and obligation. Since benefit and punishment are inapplicable, circumcision (male and female) is an obligation 59.

2. Sunnah for both sexes

According to this school of thought, male and female circumcision falls under sunnah, the meaning of which jurists disagree upon. It can have two meanings: the tradition of Mohammed himself, or simply a custom at the time of Mohammed60. Considered as sunnah, it would be advisable and not mandatory 61.

 Those in favour of this qualification call upon the narration which compares circumcision (male and female) to a norm of the above mentioned fitrah. As such, it has man's perfection as a purpose. Though it is desirable, the Muslim believer is under no obligation to have it done. They add that many persons joined Islam without Mohammed ever searching [under their clothes] to see if they were circumcised or not 62.

3. Compulsory for the boys, sunnah or makrumah for the girls

The modern authors opt for this opinion. Al-Sukkari states that male circumcision is mandatory because of the smell and the repugnant, greasy substances secreted and kept under the foreskin. This uncleanness renders prayer invalid. But as purity is necessary for prayer, circumcision becomes compulsory according to the legal rule which states: what is necessary to fulfil an obligation becomes in turn mandatory.

 On the other hand, the female having no foreskin and therefore no source of impurity "down there", female circumcision is only advisable. Two reasons underlie the recommendation of female circumcision:

 - to fulfil makrumah granted by Mohammed.

 - to avoid falling into a taboo 63.

 For Professor 'Abd-al-Wahhab Khallaf, the term makrumah means that female circumcision adds to the man's pleasure 64. Shaltut states that female circumcision is a makrumah for the men who are not used to feeling this protruding piece (za'idah) piece of flesh 65.

 The majority leans toward the meaning of a commendable or meritorious act on the part of the woman. It is Professor Zakariyya Al-Birri's opinion that it is better to carry out female circumcision. Anyone who does not do it does not sin if he is convinced in the light of religious texts and doctor's advice that he is under no obligation to conform (to it) 66. Al-Qaradawi leaves the choice to parents according to their beliefs, in spite of the fact that he favours female circumcision, because it protects girls' morality "especially nowadays" 67.

 A fatwa from the Egyptian Fatwa Committee dated May 28, 1949, has declared that abandoning female circumcision does not constitute a sin68. Another fatwa from the same body dated June 23, 1951, is more rigid. Not only does this fatwa not recognise the abandonment of female circumcision as an option, but is further of the opinion that it is advisable to carry it out because it curbs "nature". Moreover, this fatwa considers doctors' opinions on the disadvantages of female circumcision irrelevant (see Chapter III, Paragraph 3, point 2) 69. A third much more detailed fatwa from the same institution dated January 29, 1981, is adamantly opposed to giving up female circumcision. The author of this fatwa is the present Great Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the most famous University of the Islamic World in Cairo. He insists that it is impossible to abandon the lessons of Mohammed in favour of the teaching of others, be they doctors, because medical science evolves and does not remain constant. The responsibility of female circumcision lies with the parents and with those in charge of the girl's welfare. Those who do not abide by it do not do their duty 70.

4. Motives for the difference between boy and girl

Al-Sukkari tries to explain the difference between boy and girl vis-...-vis the religious norm:

 - Abraham circumcised himself and he would not have done it, had it not been a duty. But there is no evidence that Abraham ordered female circumcision 71. This is instead a command from Mohammed according to the above mentioned exciser's narration.

 - Male circumcision is a sign which separates Muslim men from the non-Muslim ones. As for the woman, one should adopt a respectful attitude toward her and not impose a physical examination to see if she is circumcised or not.

 - Male circumcision helps prevent many diseases, cancer among them, and reduces having to resort to masturbation. This opinion is also put forward by Imam Mahmud Shaltut for whom the boy's foreskin hides germs harmful to his health, which is not the case for the girls 72.

5. Consequences of the qualification

Jurists have asked themselves if public authority can force a Muslim to submit to circumcision, especially if he is getting on years. The Zaydites and the Shafiites answer affirmatively. According to the Hanafite School, if a group rejects male circumcision, the Head of State must declare war (against this group). However, some say that a man may be spared circumcision if it endangers his health. Al-Sukkari, a modern author, is of the opinion that health nowadays is not a problem. The Muslim man who fears for his health can ask a doctor to carry out the operation under anaesthesia and with the help of modern equipment.

 The Hanbalites say that male and female circumcision is an Islamic ritual; the man can force his wife to be excised as well as to force her to pray. The Ibadites consider as invalid the marriage of a non-circumcised Muslim even if it was consummated. The woman may ask for legal separation. If the husband gets circumcised after its consummation, the marriage remains invalid; he must go through another ceremony in order to get his wife back. For the Hanbalites, the non-circumcision of the husband is a breach of contract giving the woman the choice of asking for divorce or continuing the marriage. For some, the non-circumcised man has no right of guardianship of a Muslim and no right to give his consent to the marriage of a Muslim relative. In this case, the marriage is dissolved, except if it was consummated.

 Al-Sukkari, a modern author, grants the woman the right to dissolve the marriage if the husband is not circumcised, because his foreskin can be a vector of diseases. It can also be a source of repulsion, thus preventing the realization of the objectives of marriage, id est love and understanding between partners. The woman has a right to be married to someone handsome and clean, Islam being the religion of cleanness and purity 73. Ahmad Amin emphasizes the importance of circumcision in the Egyptian's mind by telling this anecdote: a Sudanese tribe wanted to join Islam. The chief wrote to a scholar of the Al-Azhar to ask him what was to be done. The scholar sent him a list of demands, putting circumcision in first place. The tribe then refused to become Muslim 74.

 For the majority of believers, to belong to Islam implies de facto male circumcision. In Java, to circumcise a boy is translated by: to welcome someone in the bosom of Islam; in Algiers, during the colonial era, the printed invitation to the religious ceremony named it in French: bapt^me (baptism). In Muslim life, it is an important cause for family celebration, which is not the case for female circumcision, always carried out secretly 75. According to the Saudi religious authorities, a man who converts to Islam must get circumcised, but in case he refuses to join Islam for fear of the procedure, this demand may be postponed until the faith is stronger in his heart 76.

 On a social level, the non-circumcision of a female has serious consequences. In some countries, the non-circumcised girls do not get married and people then start talking about them, as if they were guilty of misbehaviour, possessed by the devil. In the Egyptian countryside, the matron practicing female circumcision delivers a certificate which is used for the marriage 77. Wedad Zenie-Ziegler writes that the Egyptian country women are surprised to learn that their sisters in Cairo are not excised. They burst into laughter, interrupted by scandalized comments: "Really it is not done? Girls remain like that uncut? And they don't become wild?" 78. El-Masry reports the statement of an Egyptian midwifewho had circumcised more than 1000 girls. To her," one should lynch the fathers who were opposed to excision of their daughters, because these fathers were in fact willing to see their girls become whores" 79. In Sudan, where infibulation is practiced, brothers have tried to protect their young sisters from this torture. Most of them were evicted from the paternal home after terrible quarrels, the parents accusing them of being depraved and of trying to transform their sisters into shameless creatures. Very few succeeded: but, to put an end to the neighbours' gossip, they had to bring their sisters to live under their own rooves in Khartoum or Atbara. "Because in Sudan, it is as unusual not to sew girls' genitals as in the West, it is unusual not to bath the children. It sets the tongues wagging" 80.


1. Male circumcision

According to classical Muslim jurists, male circumcision involves the cutting of the foreskin, preferably the whole foreskin. If the man has two penises, some say that both should be circumcised, others say that only the one passing urine should be circumcised. If the child was born circumcised, some are of the opinion he should be left as such, while for others, the knife should be passed over the emplacement of the foreskin to fulfil the Commandment. If the circumcision is incomplete, it should be completed 81.

2. Female circumcision

Al-Sukkari, a modern author, describes female circumcision as follows: "For a start, God should be called upon by saying the opening statement: in the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, followed by praise to God and prayer to the Prophet, the author of this supreme makrumah". Female circumcision must be carried out by one male or female surgeon of Muslim faith and devout appearance, knowledgeable of the teaching of Mohammed. The best medical means must be used to reduce pain. Female circumcision must be done by day to allow the physician to perform in full day light, but also in full secrecy; only her mother or her tutor must be present, or the one who feels the most compassion for the girl 82. He does not clarify what female circumcision consists of. For Gad-al-Haq, female circumcision consists of "cutting the skin which is located above the urinary orifice without exaggeration and without rooting it out" 83. Al-Sha'rawi stipulates that if the girl does not have any flesh protruding, circumcision should not be done 84.

 What is described above as in compliance with sunnah remains theoretical. In fact, it is rather clitoridectomy (performed in Egypt) or infibulation (performed in Sudan and Somalia). In Sudan, a study has brought to light that 64% of female circumcisions are done by the traditional matrons, 35% by midwives and 0.7% by physicians 85.

3. Circumcision of the hermaphrodite

Classical authors' opinions have differed regarding hermaphrodites, persons with both male and female genitalia. Some say that both must be circumcised, while others say that only the organ passing urine should be cut because it implies rights of inheritance 86. Finally, for others, one must delay circumcision until it is possible to tell which one of the two is predominant. Cautiously, Al-Sukkari, a modern author, chooses the first opinion, meaning circumcision of both sexes, to minimize the chances of mistake 87.

4. Age for male and female circumcision

Jurists are not unanimous regarding the age at which circumcision should be carried out. Different opinions are presented: any time; at puberty; before 10 years of age (the age when one has often to hit the child to force him to pray); at about 7 years for the boy; on the seventh day (some take the day of birth into consideration, others not); especially not on the seventh day or before (because it is a Jewish custom and one does not want to be put in the same category with them). Al-Mawardi suggests that circumcision be done at 7 years of age at the latest, but preferably at 7 days or at 40 days, except in case of inconvenience. That is Al-Sukkari's opinion for the boys. For the girls, he suggests the age of 7 to 10 years, to help them cope with the procedure 88.

 According to testimony gathered by Wedad Zenie-Ziegler, female circumcision in Egypt is done in principle one week after birth, but it can be done at 2 months, sometimes at 7 months or even 7 years89. Nawal El-Saadawi says that in Egypt it takes place at the age of 7 or 8, before the girl starts menstruating 90.

 Jurists have asked themselves if persons who died without circumcision should be circumcised. The majority of legists reject such an idea because it affects the deceased's physical integrity (hurmah) and exhibits his private part ('awrah); moreover, it is useless, the goal of circumcision being to fulfil an act of worship and to be clean for prayer, which is of no use to the deceased. For others, circumcision of the deceased is necessary; his foreskin is placed in the shroud. They call on a narration by Mohammed, according to which one must do to the dead what is done to those getting married. Al-Sukkari, a modern author, leans toward the first opinion 91.

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Index | Chapter1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Conclusion


    33  It is by a fatwa of February 13, 1989, that Imam Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to the death penalty.

    34  Concerning this institution, see Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh, Sami A.: L'institution du mufti et de sa fatwa/d,cision en Islam, in Praxis juridique et religion, 7.2.1990, pp. 125-148.

    35  Sukkari, 'Abd-al-Salam 'Abd-al-Rahim Al-: Khitan al-dhakar wa-khifad al-untha min manzur islami, Dar al-manar, Heliopolis, 1988, pp. 13-17 and 21-22.

    36  Genesis 17:9-14. Talking of alliance, Doctor G,rard Zwang writes: "After their circumcision, some Africans wear their foreskin around a finger, it is a ring symbolically vulvar, worn on the ring fingers of married civilized persons. It is an alliance that Jehovah has established with the circumcised". (Zwang, G,rard: La fonction ,rotique , Editions Robert Laffont, Paris, 3rd
    edition, Vol. 3, Supplement, 1978, p. 271, note 2).

    37  Exodus 12:44; Leviticus 12:3. In other passages, circumcision is a rite of initiation to marriage and to life in a group (Genesis 34:14; Exodus 4:24-26; Leviticus 19:23). See comment about Genesis 17:10 in the Bible de Jerusalem, Editions du Cerf, Paris, 1986, p. 46.

    38  First Book of Samuel 18:24-28.

    39  Shaltut, Mahmud: Al-fatawi, Dar al-shuruq, Cairo & Beirut, 10th edition, 1980, p. 332.

    40  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., p. 97.

    41  Ibid.,  pp. 11-12. 'Abd-al-Razzaq quotes comments by Christ out of the Gospel according to Barnabe: Adam, after his sin, swore to cut his body. The Archangel Gabriel is said to have reprimanded him. As he was unwilling to commit perjury, the Archangel is said to have shown him the foreskin which he then cut off. Therefore, according to 'Abd-al-Razzaq, "each of Adam's descendant must fulfil Adam's oath and be circumcised". ('Abd-al-Raziq, Abu-Bakr: Al-khitan, ra'y ad-din wal-'ilm fi khitan al-awlad wal-banat, Dar Al-i'tissam, Cairo, 1989, p. 16).

    42  Gamri, 'Abd-al-Amir Mansur Al-: Al-mar'ah fi zil al-islam, Dar al-hilal, Beirut, 4th edition, 1986, pp. 170-171.

    43  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 103-107.

    44  Shaltut: Al-fatawi, op. cit., p. 331.

    45  Excerpt from a text read during an undated broadcast of Resistance and forwarded by the Muslim Institute of the Mosque of Paris to Mr. Edmond Kaiser, founder of Terre des Hommes.

    46  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 99-100.

    47  Ibid., pp. 103-106.

    48  El-Saadawi: The hidden, op. cit., p. 42.

    49  Ibid., pp. 41-42.

    50  Saurel, Ren,e: L'enterr,e vive, in Les Temps modernes, No. 393, April 1979, Paris, p.1659, cited by El-Khayat-Bennai: Le monde arabe, op. cit., p. 43.

    51  Buti, Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan Al-: Mas'alat tahdid al-nasl wiqayatan wa-'ilagan, Matba'at Al-Farabi, 2nd edition, Damascus, [1982?], pp. 33-34; Khatib, Um Kulthum Yahya Mustafa Al-: Qadiyyat tahdid al-nasl fil-shari'ah al-islamiyyah, Al-Dar al-su'udiyyah, 2nd edition, Jeddah, 1982, pp. 143-146. In one of the narrations, some of Mohammed's companions were taking part in a razzia. As they were experiencing deprivation, they asked Mohammed if they could castrate themselves. Mohammed forbade it. Commenting on the narration, Ibn-Hagar wrote: "Emasculation brings among other damage much suffering and deformity as well as a probability of death; it deprives someone of his manhood and transforms God's creation. It is ungratefulness toward God's blessings because to be created a man is one of God's supreme blessings. Without it, the man looks like a woman and in fact chooses imperfection versus perfection". According to other commentators, the interdiction comes from the fact that castration changes the creation and brings an end to having progeny (Ibn-al-Dardir, Abd-al-'Aziz: Li-maslahat man tahdid al-nasl wa-tanzimuh, Maktabat al-Qur'an, Cairo, 1990, pp. 52, 54-55).

    52  Rapport sur les pratiques traditionnelles, Addis Abeba, 1987, p. 83. This verse can also be read on the cover of a Sudanese pamphlet against circumcision (Al-Darir, Asma' 'Abd-al-Rahman: Murshid muharabat al-khifad, [Khartoum, 1982]).

    53  Unabridged arab text on the issue in Report on Traditional Practices, Dakar, 1984, pp. 247-250; basic french translation, pp. 72-73.

    54  Gaza'iri, Abu-Bakr Gabir Al-: Ya 'ulama' al-islam iftuna, Matabi' al-Rashid, Medina, 1992, p. 28.

    55  Exodus  12:7-13.

    56  He refers here to verse 86:14: "It is not vain talk".

    57  Mahdawi Mustafa Kamal Al-: Al-Bayan bil-Qur'an, 2 Volumes, Al-dar al-gamahiriyyah, Misratah and Dar al-afaq al-gadidah, Casablanca, 1990, Vol. 1, pp. 348-350.

    58  Sukkari: Khitan, Op. cit., p. 45.

    59  Ibid., pp. 47-54.

    60  Shaltut: Al-fatawi, op. cit., p. 332.

    61  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., p. 46.

    62  Ibid., pp. 55-61

    63  Ibid., pp. 46, 62-63.

    64  Khallaf, 'Abd-al-Wahhab: Khitan al-banat, in 'Abd-al-Raziq: Al-khitan, op. cit. p. 76.

    65  Shaltut: Al-fatawi, op. cit., pp. 333-334.

    66  Birri, Zakariyya Al-: Ma hukm khitan al-bint wa-hal huwa daruri, in 'Abd-al-Raziq: Al-khitan, op. cit., pp. 95-96.

    67  Qaradawi, Youssef Al-: Huda al-islam, fatawi mu'assirah, Dar al-qalam, Kuwait, 3rd edition, 1987, p. 443.

    68  Makhluf, Hassanayn Muhammad: Hukm al-khitan, in Al-fatawi al-islamiyyah min dar al-ifta' al-masriyyah, Wazarat al-awqaf, Cairo, Vol. 2, 1981, p. 449.

    69  Nassar, 'Allam: Khitan al-banat, in Al-fatawi al-islamiyyah min dar al-ifta' al-masriyyah, Wazarat al-awqaf, Cairo, Vol. 6, 1982, p. 1986.

    70  Gad-al-Haq, Gad-al-Haq 'Ali: Khitan al-banat, in Al-fatawi al-islamiyyah min dar al-ifta' al-masriyyah, Wazarat al-awqaf, Cairo, Vol. 9, 1983, pp. 3119-3125.

    71  This author contradicts himself as he earlier relied upon the circumcision of Jewish women as a basis for the circumcision of Muslim women.

    72  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 63-66; Shaltut, Mahmud: Khitan al-banat, in 'Abd-al-Raziq: Al-Khitan, op. cit., pp. 89-90.

    73  Ibid, pp. 70-77.

    74  Amin: Qamus, op. cit., 1992, p. 187.

    75  Bousquet, G.-H.: L',thique sexuelle de l'Islam, Descl,e de Brouwer, Paris, 1990, pp.102-103.

    76  See the two Saudi fatwas in Magallat al-buhuth al-islamiyyah, Riyadh, No. 20, 1987, p.161, and No. 25, 1989, p. 62.

    77  Zenie-Ziegler: La face voil,e, op. cit., pp. 66-67.

    78  Ibid., pp. 64-65.

    79  El-Masry: Le drame sexuel, op. cit., p. 3.

    80  Ibid., p. 62.

    81  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 65-67. Some jurists believe that Mohammed was born circumcised. Others insist that he was circumcised on the seventh day.

    82  Ibid., p. 86.

    83  Gad-al-Haq: Khitan al-banat, op. cit., p. 3121.

    84  Sha'rawi, Muhammad Mitwalli Al-: Al-fatawi, Maktabat al-Qur'an, Cairo, 1981, Vol. 1, p.27.

    85  Report on Traditional Practices, Addis Abeba, 1990, p. 64.

    86  According to Muslim law, a girl's share of an inheritance is half the size of her brother's. If a person is hermaphrodite, this person will inherit according to which sex can pass urine.

    87  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 87-89.

    88  Ibid., pp. 86 and 90-95.

    89  Zenie-Ziegler: La face voil,e, op. cit., p. 62.

    90  El-Saadawi: The hidden, op. cit., pp. 33-34.

    91  Sukkari: Khitan, op. cit., pp. 78-81.