Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Female Circumcision

Assalam o allaikum Brother Atif,
I hope, by the grace of Allah SWT, you and your family are doing fine.
Brother Atif, the other day at your place we briefly talked about female circumcision. I told you at that time that in Islam there is a permissibility of female circumcision. I was going through some old notes and I found the following that maybe are of valuable information to you.
Hadeeth 1:
The hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (SAW) said: "The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the moustache." [Bukhari - 5889 : Muslim - 257]
The rule of hadeeth is that if it is not mentioned specifically or if the pronouns do not point to a certain gender, the the hadeeth is valid for both sexes. Hence, the above hadeeth is valid for men and women.
Hadeeth 2:
Muslim narrated that 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory." [Muslim - 349]
The two circumcised parts means both men and women may be circumcised.
Hadeeth 3:
Abu Dawood narrated from Umm Atiyyah al-Ansari that a woman used to do circumcisions in Madinah and the Prophet (SAW) said to her: "Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman and more liked by the husband." [Abu Dawood - 5271]
This last hadeeth, although has a direct reference to female circumcision, but this hadeeth is debated among the scholars. It is classified as saheeh by some scholars, like those of Shafii madhab and some from Hanbali madhab, and is classified as Mursal (missing a link) by those of Hanafi madhab and Maliki Madhab.
Regardless of the classification of the above hadeeth, it is not the last hadeeth that is basis of permissibility of female circumcision, rather its the first two ahadeeth. The rule of the hadeeth is that if a weak hadeeth supports the stronger hadeeth, then the weak hadeeth can be used for the purpose of obtaining ahkaam since it is only supplementing the evidence of the sahih hatheeth. In this case the Hadeeth 3 is Mursal, a relatively higher level of classification of weak ahadeeth.
Now, there is no dispute on the permissibility of the female circumcision among the ulama. The debatable matter is , weather it is Fard, Sunna or Mustahab (recommended).
In the book Umdaatus Salik, by Imam Shaafi we see the following riwayah:
ویجب (علی کل من الذکر والأنثی) الختان (وھو قطع الجلدۃ التي علی حشفة الذکر وأما ختان الأنثی فھو قطع البظر [ویسمی خفاضًا])
Circumcision is obligatory ( for both men and women). For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert).
Therefore Shaafi Madhab makes it obligatory.

Imam Nawawy ( who is a shafii scholar) says, 'Circumcision is obligatory for both men and women in our view. This is the view of many of the salaf, as was narrated by al-Khattaabi.It is the correct view that is well known and was stated by al-Shafi'i (may Allaah have mercy on him), and the majority stated definitively that it is obligatory for both men and women. [al Majmoo 1/367].
This is the view of the Hanafis and Maalikis, and was narrated in one report from Ahmad Ibn 'Aabideen al-Hanafi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Haashiyah (6/751): 'Know that circumcision is Sunnah in our (hanafi) view for both men and women.'
The present day Hanafi jurists also hold this opinion that female circumcision is a sunnah.
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal is of the opinion that it is obligatory to have circumcision for men ( derived from the incident of Prophet Ibrahim AS that he went through the trouble of circumcising himself at a very late stage in his life) and it is Mustahab (recommended) to have circumcision for women (based on the above ahadeeth).
May Allah SWT give us the taufeeq to understand this deen in its entirety.. amiin.
ابو حلیمۃ

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