Vice President of the Figh Academy Dr Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef has endorsed female genital mutilation in response to a question posed by a reader on mvislamqa.com.
Iyaz said several credible hadiths from the Prophet Mohamed demonstrated female circumcision is obligatory in Islam.
“The Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Five things are part of the fitrah [nature] – circumcision, shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.’ The circumcision in this hadith applies to both men and women,” Iyaz said.
Today is international day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilation. Executive Director of the UNFPA Dr Babatunde Osotimehin said female genital mutilation threatens the lives and futures of women and girls and is “an affront to their human dignity, an assault on their health and an impediment to the well-being of their families, communities and countries.”
“Human development cannot be fully achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from this human rights violation or live in fear of it,” he added.
In 2011, then Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan expressed concern over a reported increase in female circumcision in the Maldives.
“We are beginning to hear reports of this occurring, and I have heard on radio and television people justifying the practice. It is quite disheartening,” he said at the time.
Obligatory or recommended
Islam calls for female circumcision, but there is dissent between scholars on whether circumcision is obligatory (farl) or highly recommended (mustahabb), Iyaz said.
“A hadith relayed by Aisha [Prophet Mohamed’s wife] says: ‘A bath becomes obligatory if one sleeps with your wife and the circumcised parts touch each other.’ The word circumcision has been applied to both men and women here. The hadith demonstrates that women must be circumcised as well,” said Iyaz.
He also quoted Saudi Arabia’s Fatwa Comittee which expressed concern over the decline of female circumcision in Muslim countries.
“Circumcision of girls is a religious obligation that is slowly fading from many Muslim communities. It is an obligation or Sunnah that we must not let go of. It is the symbol that differentiates Muslims from non-Muslims.”
The fatwa said female circumcision must be carried out by specialised doctors, and added: “In a woman, the small sliver of muscle and the surrounding skin above the urinary tract is cut during circumcision.”
Iyaz said the Prophet Mohamed has ordered circumcision practitioners not to cut severely during circumcision.
Iyaz was elected as the VP of the Figh Academy in 2012. The organisation is a body established by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to advise the government on Islamic jurisprudence.
In early January, Iyaz condemned MPs for approving the sexual offenses bill which recognises marital rape, and advised MPs who voted for the bill to repent.
More than 125 million girls and women have been cut in the 29 countries in the Middle East and Africa where female genital mutilation is practiced, the UNFPA has said in a press release today.
The organisation is committed to work with partners to end harmful practices including violence against women and female genital mutilation, the UNFPA said.
“We strongly believe that when young people, especially young women claim their right to health, including sexual and reproductive health, education and decent work, they become powerful agents for social and economic development.”