Female Genital Mutilation — Is It an Islamic Problem?

I recently got into a discussion with a friend who commented on my piece about Islam and the discourse around it.

He affirmed Reza Aslan’s statement of:

“Female Genital Mutilation is not an Islamic problem, it’s a Central African problem,”

by linking to this Politifacts research piece which rated Aslan’s statement as “MOSTLY TRUE.”

So, I decided to take an in-depth look. Right off the bat, I’ll openly say that I’m using David Pakman’s video as the skeleton for this short piece — so don’t think of this as an original, but, rather, a complementary addendum to go along with his video.

While the Politifacts reporter does a good job at disecting Central Africa, writing:

“Seven of the top eight countries with very high rates of female circumcision are majority Muslim, including the “almost universal” levels in Somalia, Egypt, Guinea and Djibouti. But Eritrea, as Aslan said, is №5 among countries with high prevalence at 89 percent, and it is home to more Christians than Muslims, according to Pew Research’s Religion and Public Life Project.

Ethiopia, which is 63 percent Christian and 34 percent Muslim, has a moderately high rate of 74 percent, making it №11 on the list.

So the countries in which female genital cutting is a practice are mostly Muslim, but they are not exclusively Muslim. Of the 29 countries tracked by UNICEF, 14 are home to more Christians than Muslims.

The two Middle Eastern, and predominantly Muslim, countries, Yemen and Iraq, have much lower rates of 23 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Other majority-Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, are not listed,”

she fails to reach the accurate conclusion with the information provided, or rather, importantly, NOT provided.

Meaning, while FGM might not be isolated simply in Muslim majority countries in Central Africa, there are many countries and communities in the Middle East and Southeast Asia which the UNICEF Report does not provide numbers on.

Reza Aslan says:

“No where else in the Muslim, Muslim-majority states is Female Genital Mutilation a problem (other than Central Africa)”

He makes this statement at the 2:06 mark

This is a blatant lie — whether told out of ignorance or with the intent of deception is another issue to cover.

Female Genital Mutilation is something found almost exclusively in Muslim majority countries and Muslim communities outside of Africa.

I’ll use eight examples to solidify my point.

  1. Iraqi Kurdistan: A vast majority of women in Iraqi-Kurdistan have undergone FGM with some regions reaching a top ratio of more than 80%
  2. Malaysia: ~93% of Muslim women surveyed were circumcised
  3. Pakistan: in the Bohra community
  4. Indonesia: despite it being banned, communities seem to be continuing the practice
  5. Kuwait: A study found 38% of women surveyed had been mutilated
  6. United Arab Emirates: where ~34% of women are mutilated
  7. Qatar: the practice persists
  8. Oman: Up to ~78% of women could face Female Genital Mutilation

These are only eight instances. Pakman’s video lists much more.

An issue is that many Middle Eastern countries are not open to being surveyed about these private, cultural, and often religious practices. As a result, the numbers are often not accurate representations of reality, being suppressed due to the taboo of talking about closed sexual practices etc.

You could perhaps say that Female Genital Mutilation is not strictly limited to Islamic countries and cite Central Africa — that statement would be true.

You could also say that this is not something from solely Islam but an Abrahamic religious tradition as observed by its occurrence in Christian and Jewish communities — but then you would have to concede the fact that the majority of countries and communities where Female Genital Mutilation still occurs are practicing Muslim.

Perhaps an explanation is that when Islam swallowed large swaths of land through colonialism in North and Central Africa (this will come as a surprise to some readers: whites are not the only ones who colonized and did barbarous things in the past) the practice was not eradicated, which is why it continues today — but then you would also have to consider why these practices are still happening around the world where it wasn’t always a cultural tradition.

So, yes, while saying “Female Genital Mutilation is solely an Islamic problem” is not true due to the Christian majority countries in Central Africa that still practice it, it would be a mistake to characterize it as something that is not found exceedingly in Islamic countries and communities.

The problem with good sophists like Reza Aslan (I’ll give him that much) is that they often skirt around the truth; mixing in fallacious statements with slices of objective facts; dancing quickly with light words, and endearing with grins which enable those who are clutching at strands to hold tight onto their particular view of the world — and not take a critical look at what exactly is being said.

Tl;dr: Yes, to a degree, Female Genital Mutilation is an Islamic problem — in that it is, for the most part, only still practiced in Islamic countries and communities.

Malhar Mali

Malhar Mali is the founder and editor of Areo. He can be reached via malhar@areomagazine.com

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Malhar Mali

Malhar Mali is the founder and editor of Areo. He can be reached via malhar@areomagazine.com

7 thoughts on “Female Genital Mutilation — Is It an Islamic Problem?

  1. THE BUTCHERS OF WOMANHOOD- FGM ( THE COVENANT OF THE FLESH). When God told Abraham to sign the covenant of the flesh, he circumcised all the men, male children up of eight days old and he was circumcised. The message was direct and in a plain language. GENESIS 17: 1-27. The agreement was strategically initiated and the male child grew beholding daily his agreement with God at every call of nature throughout his married life. The covenant of the flesh for a man is with ease to behold with no ill feelings or regrets without medication required afterwards in life. When God warned in a spiritual language and told Moses that the Children of Israel shall not mutilate girls in honor of the dead ( satanic sacrifice since there is no circumcision of girls in God), the message was well understood and was given in a spiritual language which bears two warnings, Leviticus19:28-29. The Israelis parents shall not sexually mutilate daughters and fathers we commanded not have carnal knowledge (incest) of daughters making them prostitutes. Fgm prostitution is a prime satanic sacrifice for a woman prohibited by God, of secrecy with miseries and constrains of disgrace to behold accompanied by many cases of traumatic child delivery requiring medication. Fgm sin of crime of honor humiliation for womanhood persists for many girls globally. There is no open fold of a foreskin in a sexual organ of a woman to cut round that hides dirty stuffs that stinks. There are no undue growths that warrant scrapping. Esther4: 1-17. The King of Persia and Media had a law also on women and only the king’s favor on a wife’s uninvited paid visit to inner court would save her from eminent death punishment by his held out golden scepter an act of favour and approval. This law had sexual control on womanhood. From the fall of man from the garden of Aden man’s further fall from grace was subjected to demonic competitive lust to womanhood in polygamous marriages ( which later turned to enmity against womanhood also in form of fgm) which was not in favor with God and He reduced his old age to 120yrs Genesis 6:1-7. Satan has convinced men and parents to demand and shift girls’ natural Divine onset to maturity from monthly period to fgm prostitution castration in honor of the dead and breast branding as part of cultural hate crime of honor against lustrous beauty of womanhood in Divine sexuality. Fgm remains a satanic sexual sacrifice honorary prescribed by parents and endorsed by men in tearing down the helm of womanhood from the apex. Sadly fgm is the only offered satanic sacrifice cerebrated beneficial for men in crippling womanhood.
    As far as parents in honor remain the relentless heinous bedrock of fgm in co-host of old women in pursuing ensured satanic cultural sacrifice honor offered, there is no equal reprieve for girls from onslaught on womanhood by men in honor of the dead who are hell bent on executing falsely claimed benefits in fgm to men in a deviated demonically controlled sexual life style in marriage life. It is the most sadly unfortunate tragedy for Christians parents being involved in fgm satanic cultural sacrificial goals honored which sin will follow them beyond the grave unless they repent and get saved. I have heard men say women like children and in Christians marriages women encourage the brides to take their husbands as their first born. Initially the two statements were too contradictory to each other and crushing in my mind but I found women forthright and forthcoming. The bridegroom is first satisfied with her blessed fountain of love and her breasts before any child birth. Proverbs 5:18-19. Fgm dehumanized and deforms womanhood being the worst honored satanic cultural religious sacrifice in honor of the dead taxed on womanhood globally. Fgm heinous atrocities destroy the divine sexual entity and dignity of man that establishes him more honorary culturally religiously in demonic world. All men must be saved from satanically tailored cultural honor in fgm slavery endorsed by cultural elites. Fgm status has remained the worst disguised honored and cerebrated cultural sexual castration performed on womanhood worldwide.
    A woman to man, she is a garden and a fountain. The man plants a seed and a child grows in the womb and is born. The man quench his marital thirst with her in shared joy for woman is a keeper at home. A fountain with a cover has more flesh safe water than uncovered well. A fenced garden has a defense and is a safe comfort. Song of Solomon 5:1-2. Song of Solomon 4:12, Proverbs 5:18-19. Man approach to love intimacy prove him in epitome of moral deprivation in demonic world, in case for him to prop up the garden of love without the freshly coals thus making the king of marriage un intruder to the fountain of love without alert notification aerials done away with in fgm. The banner of love is at even state over the garden of love at Divine state when his hand lands at the garden of love to prop it up undisturbed as the king of marriage mark and flag the fleshy coals for un intimate marital relationship in common joy. Song of Solomon 2:2-5. Man is instructed by God not to be immoral or do any severe harm to his wife of his youth and give her conjugal wrights and benefits in shared joy as one body in common control. Malachi2;12-17. 1 Corinthians7:1-5. The devil has vested harbored honorable demonic powers to some parents to permanently control and deform girls sexual organs in fgm castration atrocities before marriage for demonic chastity status acceptance which leaves man sexually morally dry and at a loose at jetty of love. Circumcision in man does not destroy his body integrity and his sexual articulation ability base remains intact ready for joy. Fgm remains a deadly liability to girls’ spiritual and physical live. Nothing more gratifying against fgm than hearing present generation of fathers say that they will never allow their daughters to be mutilated and forfeit their marital joy. More satisfying is to hear young men tell fathers to circumcise daughters minds and let them proceed on with education.
    If fgm instill holiness in women as paramount foundation for a holy life before marriage and in marriage, then there would never be divorce in marriages where women have undergone fgm. This notion stipulate the mutilated sex organ of a woman as center of holiness and un institution of worship since in it mutilated state chastity can be delivered. It would mean men loosing personal holiness in God and having secondary holiness in God received from mutilated sex organ of a woman there by making the sex of a woman a center of worship. This is demonic way of thinking and practice in life. Fgm has zero benefit for a man and a woman. Fgm suppresses libido for a woman in marriage .She is not adventurous in sexual relationship and the man takes the marriage supper under dark set rules to hind her shortcoming in love. It makes a woman a land without fence and a well without a cover. It is a barbaric culture imposed on womanhood by parents and the society at large .Song of Solomon 4:1-2. Men make fgm a scapegoat for their immorality. Men are demonically wrongly in pegging their dignity in faith in God to the sex organ of a woman. A woman body in Divine state is a natural refresher for the man in trace of his Holy Creator. Men should appreciated they are delivered safely to the world from the womb and should never wage waves of wars of atrocities against womanhood. Men can break the satanic cultural religious zeal in fgm for the dignity of the girl child. Fathers bear the absolute responsibilities in delivering girls to the platform of victory against fgm predicaments. When fathers say no to fgm without seemingly taking the back seat ,young men are automatically on board against fgm. Fgm is the chronic moral disorder in a man bonded to satan in fear of divine sexuality of womanhood in culture. Fgm was dearly started by men as a tool of sexual deprivation and suppression in womanhood in war of virgins waged by men who later brought it forward to women to propagate it in inherent zeal unknown before. Where is even the spiritual virginity of girls mutilated by men in martyrdom of womanhood to a bride price beyond love integrity in womanhood ? Fgm has remained un honored satanic sacrifice for men’s autocratic satanic cultural religious sexual goals in demonizing womanhood.

  2. FMG is Islamic practise period. I am from Middle East and Muslim women are subjected to FMG.

  3. Thank you so much for this detailed and scholarly piece of writing. This issue is indeed even more complicated than I realized. I will make a point at looking at some of your other articles. Nevertheless, I think you are being misleading when you use the word “circumcision” to describe such radically different procedures as removing the clitoris and hoodectomies. The Idea that Islam requires removing the clitoris was not generated by the so-called “Jewish Media”. (that bigoted term besmirches an otherwise excellent article, and I would request that you remove it.) Many conservative Muslims and Islamaphobes believe this, and it is important that they be told they are mistaken. Using the same word to describe two very different operations is not going to help clear things up.

    I also would recommend that Muslims go with their scholarly traditions that makes this operation optional rather than mandatory. One of Muhammad’s many great contributions to humanity was his extension of new rights to women. I think having a bunch of men tell women what they should do with their Lady Parts is not in the spirit of his fundamentally progressive vision.

  4. Female circumcision is certainly Islamic. The female circumcision that Islam requires involves removing the skin (prepuce) around the clitoris, which enhances, not curbs women’s sexuality. This procedure allows the clitoris to be exposed for greater stimulation since it does away with the prepuce which serves as an obstacle to sexual satisfaction. The clitoral prepuce also harbours germs such as the cancer-causing HPV. Thus female circumcision as required by Islam prevents urinary tract Infections and transmission of cancer-causing HPV to husbands through oral sex. Even Western women are going for it under the name hoodectomy. See: http://asiffhussein.com/2015/04/02/female-circumcision-the-hidden-truth/

  5. I did some online research on this sometime ago.This is a complicated question, as the following additional facts illustrate.

    FGM is illegal in both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran sends imams to African Countries to give lectures urging them to abandon FGM bcause they claim that it is UnIslamic The fact that the two most reactionary purveyors of Conservative Islam see this practice as UnIslamic is a pretty strong argument against describing it as an Islamic practice. There are some imams in Egypt who claim that it is Islamic. However the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, the highest religious authority in Egypt, issued a statement that FGM had no basis in core Islamic law, and this enabled the government to outlaw it entirely. In Mauritania, where almost all the girls in minority communities undergo FGM, 34 Islamic scholars signed a fatwa in January 2010 banning the practice.

    In the Arab peninsula, the practice is done primarily by Kurds and Bedouins. As these people have wandered throughout the Arab world, there many countries where the practice occurs, but usually the majority Islamic cultures condemn it as something done by these ignorant tribal peoples. The Kurdish state in Iraq has banned FGM, and several Kurdish clerics have protested this law as unIslamic. But once again, the establishment position is that it is not a proper Islamic practice.

    The Muslims did not bring FGM to Indonesia. It was already there, as a practice in Pagan Micronesia. It’s also practiced by Australian Aborigines. According to a report prepared by the US state department, the practice in Indonesia is largely symbolic, involving a very light pinprick that heals without leaving permanent damage. In some cases, it is even performed symbolically on a plant stalk. I don’t like the symbolic implications of such an act, but it’s clearly misleading to identify the symbolic act with the barbarism of real FGM.

    It appears that the Clerics who defended the practice are the Islamic analog to redneck backwoods preachers. Those on the top of the Islamic hierarchies are at worst neutral, and frequently openly condemn the practice. This is true not only of Muslim Liberals but of even the most conservative fundamentalists. The only reason that more Muslims are involved in the practice today is that Islam spread into areas where it was already there, and either tolerated the practice or were unsuccessful at stamping it out. Those few FGM countries that are majority Christian or Animist had no more success. And in countries that are majority Muslim, the Christian and Animist Minorities also perform FGM at the same rate.

    Most of the arguments you present could also be used to argue that eating hummus is an Islamic practice (or was until Trader Joe’s got the rest of us eating it.) Even if most people who eat hummus are Muslims, that does not make eating hummus an Islamic practice. Nether FGM or hummus have anything to do with Islam, It’s a purely cultural correlation, not a tenet of the faith.There is one Hadith that allegedly supports FGM, but that Hadith is considered to be fraudulent by most of the sources I have encountered, for purely historical reasons. Muslim scholars have a very elaborate system of scholarship for determining the authenticity of Hadith, and by that standard this Hadith is on the bottom rung. The most obvious reason for thinking it fraudulent, however, Is that it says that this practice was done by members of Muhammad’s tribe, and there is very strong evidence that they never did it. (Such as the fact that they don’t do it now.)

What are your thoughts?