Female genital mutilation and Islam

Contrary to popular hysteria that argues that female genital mutilation (FGM: cutting or performing a “circumcision” on the vagina, labia, clitoris or other part of the female sexual organ) is sanctioned by the Qur’an, there is nothing in the Qur’an that sanctions or condones the act.  The act of narrowing the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation) is far older than Islam–dating back to pharaonic Egypt, and detailed in an ancient Greek papyrus dating to 163 BCE. (Skaine, R (2005). Female genital mutilation: Legal, cultural and medical issues. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland). It was claimed then (and even today) that it can both heighten as well as lessen sexual pleasure, but was used, in most cases, for the benefit of males who wanted a tighter vaginal opening. The nations where it primarily exists today, basically in 28 different African nations in a stretch from Senegal to Egypt, plus in Indonesia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are Muslim controlled states (see: http://www.irinnews.org/IndepthMain.aspx?IndepthId=15&ReportId=62462) or where Muslims are in the majority (there are accounts of where it is also practiced by a few ethnic groups in South America and among the aborigine Gedje tribe of central Serbia). In Egypt it has been estimated that between 90% and 97% of all females have undergone the painful, and frequently deadly operation, with Islamic doctors claiming that the mutilation is required by the Qur’an and enjoined as necessary by Muhammad. There is one Hadith in the collection of Sunan Abu Dawud which claims that Mohammed approved of the practice for girls. Book 41 (Kitab Al-Adab or “General Behavior”), Hadith 5251 states: “Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision 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”. As the UN reported: The function of this practice, whether mild or severe, is ultimately to reduce a woman’s sexual desire, and so ensure her virginity until marriage. The more extensive procedure, involving stitching of the vagina, has the same aim, but reducing the size of the vagina is also intended to increase the husband’s enjoyment of the sexual act. (See: http://www.irinnews.org/IndepthMain.aspx?IndepthId=15&ReportId=62462)  The woman has no value except sexually satisfying her man.

Where female genital mutilation is practiced, the cutting is almost always done by Muslim clerics; in nations where Muslims live but no cleric is willing to risk breaking the law against performing female genital mutilation, fathers frequently take their daughters (usually under the age of 12) to Muslim controlled nations such as Somalia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Yemen. In such instances, the prophet Muhammad is cited as the source of this barbaric act (on both males and females), as noted by the “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who stated:  “It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: ‘Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands’. The hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman’s health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. It’s noteworthy that the Prophet’s saying ‘do not exceed the limit’ means do not totally remove the clitoris… Anyhow, it is not obligatory, whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world.” (See: Islam on-line, at http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503543886) Parents who do not circumcise (or have circumcised) their sons are equally guilty of a grave sin against Islam. (See: http://www.islam-watch.org/AdrianMorgan/Women-Under-Islam4.htm)

All violence in the name of Allah is sanctioned by the Taliban (literally: student, but in most cases “theological students”). They argue “Women must not mix with men in public.  Deoband tradition teaches that men are more intelligent than women and that there is no point in educating girls beyond the age of eight.”

When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan on September 27, 1996, they castrated and tortured the president and hung him beside his brother from a lamp-post before establishing the Department for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice to enforce their decree that women should stay at home and not be in employment. They beat women with sticks, wire cables and hose pipes. Women were forced to wear the burka, which even covers the eyes with a grille of crochet work, for the Taliban ruled that the human form of the female might tempt males into sins of the flesh, and that women should consider their bodies as spoiled meat meriting being hidden from public view. Confined indoors away from sunlight and starved, many  Afghan women developed osteomalacia, a symptom of rickets, caused by a lack of sunlight and Vitamin D.

When the Taliban were ultimately overthrown, they retired to the thunderous mountain ranges to begin a guerrilla war “for Allah”. No excessive force, no brutal act, no barbaric ritual was to be denied to Allah, who, according to the Taliban, fed on the grotesque actions of his faithful servants (the Taliban). Girls who tried to obtain an education were gang raped or had acid thrown in their eyes as their clerical attackers (Taliban) rode off on motorcycles giving praise to Allah for enabling them to scar and blind women for being unfaithful to Allah’s cruel laws (that, historically,  came from ancient Bedouin society where Allah was but one of thousands of petty gods the Bedouins worshipped especially as the feasted on pig meat). When fathers sent their daughters to schools, they too were denounced and received a similar fate: carnage, murder, and rape–all sanctioned by Allah, according to the Taliban and numerous imams. The Taliban claimed, since females who sought an education were living outside of the confines of Islamic law, and their fathers did not enforce the rigid law as defined by the Taliban, both must suffer “blows, whips, and even death.”  In November 2006, 46-year-old Mohammed Halim from Ghazni paid the price for educating girls.  Late at night members of the  Taliban kidnapped Halim whom they partially disembowelled (but did not killed outright) and tied his limbs to  four motorbikes each heading in a different direction: north, east, west, and south. As the bikes sped apart, his body was ripped apart to the sounds of prayers thanking Allah for his mercy.

Giving praise to Allah, the Taliban publicly displayed Halim’s remains as a warning to any who dared to teach girls. Halim was not the first to suffer such a fate, but  was the fourth teacher in succession to be killed in the region.

Women who continued to teach after the Taliban came to power (like Fatima Mustaq, a woman director of education in Ghazni) were frequented by Taliban preaching the love of Allah and being promised that they and their family (including all children) would be executed if they continued educating girls. (See: Sengupta, Kim, “Disembowelled and murdered for teaching girls,” New Zealand Herald at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/human-rights/news/article.cfm?c_id=500838&objectid=10413099)

Other atrocities committed in the name of Love for Allah abound. A woman doctor was stopped while traveling without a male escort (mahram) in a taxi. She said: “The Religious Police chased my taxi, and when I got out in front of the hospital, they stopped me and asked why I was traveling alone. I said I was a doctor and had to go to work, but they said women of Kabul are just prostitutes and addicted to traveling in cars alone. I had to call my boss to identify me as an employee of the hospital, but my boss said he could not confirm who it was because I was wearing a chadari (burka). The Taliban asked me to put up my veil, and once my boss identified me, they hit me with their wire on my head and injured my eye. It took fifteen to twenty days to heal.” (For numerous accounts read: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/afghan3/afgwrd1001-05.htm#P249_36082).

The Taliban is not an unique group. It is identical to all intolerant sects worldwide, from evangelical fundamentalists, as is the case with Mormons, Christian extremists (such as the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas; its website is www.godhatesfags.com; cf. http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/WBC/default.asp?LEARN_Cat=Extremism&LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=3&item=WBC) and other cults ranging from the Adventists and Pentecostals to Jehovah Witnesses) to fundamentalist Jews and followers of voodoo rituals.

Muslim women are more oppressed today by fundamentalist Islamist conventions than they were 20 years ago.  In 1990 women did not have to wear veils to prove their religiosity–except in Afghanistan. Today, women who do not cover their hair, or even their faces, are bullied by their female and male peers into compliance not just in Egypt, Nigeria and Chad but especially in France and the UK as their religious leaders push for the establishment of Sharia law to be put on the same level as western civil law.

For women to have genuine equal rights under Islam, the tenets and texts of that faith would have to be interpreted allegorically and not literally. Yet Muslims are taught that the Qur’an was dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, and that he remembered as he could not write down a single word as Muhammad was totally illiterate. His task in receiving the sentences of Allah, it was claimed, was to make certain that the men he selected to preserve the divine message would remember it precisely–for which reason their title became Remembrancers. They remembered the stumbling chaotic words of the former camel driver, memorising each ranting word for word, and passed down the remembrances to future generations of remembrances.  How authentic is or was the remembrances?

Muhammad (a word that means “Praiseworthy”–but it appears only four times in the Qur’an) was allegedly born in 570 CE and died on June 8, 632 CE. He grew up, like other males in the Bedouin world, believing in  the Kaaba shrine in Mecca that housed 360 idol statues of tribal patron deities. He became monotheistic only after talking with Jews and Christians  who he believed would convert to his new faith once he had it formulated–and thus began to set himself apart from others. At some point Muhammad adopted the practice of meditating alone for several weeks every year in a cave on Mount Hira near Mecca.  It was there Muhammad met Gabriel–which initially terrified him–forcing him to run back to his wife and family. Only later did he return and discover comfort with the angel. (Brown, Daniel (2003). A New Introduction to Islam. Blackwell Publishing Professional, pp. 72-73.) What really happened is we have no objective source. The earliest Greek account does not appear until the 9th century, chronicled by the writer Theophanes–approximately 200 years after Muhammad died. What is interesting to note is that Muhammad had a difficult time accepting monotheism, for there is an account that relates how Muhammad pronounced a verse acknowledging the existence of three Meccan goddesses considered to be the daughters of Allah, praising them, and appealing for their intercession. This became the famous “Satanic verses”. According to this account, Muhammad later retracted the verses at the behest of Gabriel–which he did but not truly willing (see: Shahab Ahmed, Satanic Verses, in McAuliffe, Jane Dammen et al. (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Qur’an 1st Edition., 5 vols., Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2001-2006).

Two ancient partial copies of Koran that are in existence are the Samarqand MSS is in Tashkent, and the MSS housed in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. What many Muslim’s do not know, is that because these two manuscripts were written in a script style called “Kufic”, practicing Muslim scholars generally date these manuscripts no earlier than 200 years after Muhammad died. Had these two manuscripts been compiled any earlier, they would have been written in either the Ma’il or Mashq script style.

Even the earliest fragmentary manuscripts of the Koran are dated no earlier than 100 years after Muhammad died. The first full copy of the Qur’an does not appear anywhere until 200 years or more after the death of Muhammad–and there is no historical proof that Muhammad ever lived, any more than there is historical proof for the existence of Joseph in Egypt, Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, or the existence of Jesus, Peter or Paul.

Islamists do not understand allegory. They are slaves to dogma and expect everyone else, their women especially, eventually to become their slaves. Those who dare to disagree in public or in print are threatened with fatwas to have them “silenced with death”. There is no freedom in Islam.

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Filed under Islam, Doctrines, Islam, History, Muhammad

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