Egypt Majlis Fatwa in around June-July 2007 had indeed issued a fatwa haram for female circumcision. This fatwa was based on the badness (dharar) resulting from the practice of circumcision that had been made public. Meanwhile in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)’s rules otherwise, any form of damage and deterioration must be eliminated (wa la la dharara dhirar). Majlis Fatwa in view of this, female circumcision is not including the issue of worship or religious. But the issue of human traditions and customs, so that could be banned because of medical certainty of the evil practice. 

   The fatwa was drawn protests from some scholars who are based Salafi-Wahhabi. The fatwa was considered a faux pas and the wounding of Islamic Shari’ah. According to some scholars, the various texts and traditions have been allowed not ban female circumcision at all. For them what is permitted and not prohibited Prophet can not be prohibited anyone, including scholars of Egypt or Al-Azhar. The issue is female circumcision sharia or religious issue, that can not be interfered with human affairs. Moreover, circumcision has also proven beneficial for HIV-AIDS prevention. Unfortunately, the example of circumcision for HIV-AIDS prevention is for male circumcision not for female circumcision. 

The same logic, also used by the Majlis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) in discussing the issue female circumcision. MUI Chairman of the Youth and Women’s Affairs, Prof. Dr. Chuzaimah Y. Tango, when commenting on the ban of the United Nations (UN) and the appeal of the Republic of Indonesia Ministry of Health (MOH) to not circumcise women, thought they had interfered with religious affairs that are not at all human authority. In the FAQ section of Religion, the MUI was only calling for moderation in terms of circumcises women. In the rubric, the MUI emphasized as shariah female circumcision, in which one benefit is to reduce the female libido. MUI seems reluctant to ensure the prohibition of female circumcision, not as assertiveness of prohibition from the Egypt Majlis Fatwa and scholars of al-Azhar, Cairo. 

Readings on several hadith text below, may be able to clarify the extent to which human ijtihad into the female circumcision issue. As in the study of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh), hadith, not all the specified act or the Prophet decided as worship or Shari’ah. There are things from the Prophet’s deeds deemed Shari’ah and there are things that are considered as human daily deeds. Moreover, if the texts of hadiths about certain things, it is still questioned by various groups such as the text of the hadith scholars regarding female circumcision. 

Source Text Hadith Female Circumcision 

As reported by Imam Ibn al-Athir (Abu Sa’adat Mubarak bin Muhammad. W 606H/1210M), the main books of Hadith, or the so-called book of six (pole as-Sitta), does not narrate the hadith texts on female circumcision except Sunan Abu Dawud (Sulayman ibn al-As’ats as-Sijistani, W. 275H/889M). Imam Abu Dawud himself states, Hadith texts concerning female circumcision are weak (dha’if). Hadith in question is a text known with a history of Umm ‘Athiyyah. 

From Umm ‘Athiyah ra. said, “That there was a female interpreter of female circumcision Medina. Rasullah peace be upon him. said to him, “Do not go overboard, because it is part (pleasure) of women and the love of a husband.” In a history of the Prophet. said, “Cut off the tip only and do not over do it, because it part (pleasure) for husband”. 

   Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallani (Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Hajar, W. 852H/1422M) mentions several other transmitters on the text of Umm’ Athiyyah in the books of Hadith Sunan Abu Dawud in addition to the book. That the books of hadith, written Imam al-Hakim (Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad ibn’ Abdillah an-Naisaburi, W. 405H/1014M), al-Bayhaqi (Ahmad ibn Husayn, W. 458H/1066M), and ath-Thabrani ( Abu al-Qasim Sulayman ibn Ahmad, W. 360H/971M). There again, the book written by Abu Na’im hadith (Ahmad ibn ‘Abdillah al-Ishfihani, W. 430H/1038M) and al-Bazzar (Ahmad ibn’ Amr ibn ‘Abd al-Khaliq, W. 292H/905M). In the history of al-Bazzar, the statement is different. Namely, that the Prophet. said to the women Ansar, “Circumcise! just a little, do not overdo it, because part of it (pleasure) your husband.” 

   Ibn Hajar himself did not seem satisfied with all the history of female circumcision in the books of hadith. In every history is presented, Ibn Hajar always ends with a comment Hadith scholars who pitched sideways, there is a history which is considered problematic (ma’lul), there are considered to be weak (dha’if) and there are not known narrator (evil). Even Ibn Hajar end the discussion of the hadith narrations about female circumcision with the statement of Ibn al-Mundhir, there is no hadith text that could be a reference and can not be followed. 

   Text another tradition of female circumcision, is the Prophet., “The sunnah circumcision for men and noble women.” The text of this hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad (Ahmad ibn Hanbal ash-Syaibani, W. 241H/855M) and Imam al-Bayhaqi. But both this history, as stated Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallani, is weak (dha’if). 

   The comments which undermine the hadith texts about female circumcision, also can be found in the book Nayl Awthar min ahaadeeth al-Sayyid al-Akhbar, by Imam al-Syawkani (Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, W. 1250H/1834M). The possibility of Imam ash-Syawkani just quoting from Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallani who had already been declared so. But at least, the Imam ash-Syawkani approved the texts of female circumcision tradition that has many problems. From the contemporary scholars who assert this is Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq, author of a famous Fiqh al-Sunnah encyclopedia among the people of the Islamic world. Expressed in the book that, “All the traditions relating to female circumcision command is dla’if (weak), none of the valid”. 

   Top cleric’s comments on the text of this hadith, Shaykh Muhammad Syaltut (W. 1963), professor of al-Azhar University and distinguished scholar in the early twentieth century in Egypt, firmly stating, female circumcision is not included religious or sharia. This statement was submitted well in advance of the Egyptian Fatwa Majlis decision that female circumcision did not enter the category of ritual as well as Shari’ah. Female circumcision is more precisely categorized as traditions and customs of mankind. So that humanity ijtihad more freely into it. 

Prohibition of Female Circumcision Ijtihad 

The claim that female circumcision as a Shari’ah or religion rule, is not really based on a verse of the Qur’an and Hadith texts. This statement is based on the views of scholars of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) regarding female circumcision. In some books of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) encyclopedic mentioned, there are scholars who claim female circumcision is an obligation as a man, who claimed only a sunnah there alone and there are only limited states ‘glory’ (makramah). 

Regarding to the schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) scholars view in the case of female circumcision, Wahbah al-Zuhayli describes, “Circumcision for men, following the Hanafi and Maliki schools, is mu’akkadah sunnah (sunnah which is close to mandatory), and for women is a honor (which if implemented, it is suggested to not excessive so as not to cut off pussy lips, for she still easy to feel pleasure when do Jima ‘(sexual intercourse). According to Imam Syaf’i, circumcision is obligatory for men and women. While Imam Ahmad said, that circumcision is obligatory for men and a honor for women who usually carried out in hot areas. ” 

The argument presented regarding the liability or the honor of female circumcision is legal analogy (qiyas). Namely, that as men are required or suggested to do circumcision, then women so. Male circumcision was included as a practice of Prophet Ibrahim. (Al-fithrah al-hanifiyyah). Narrated, Prophet Ibrahim. commanded circumcision at the age of 80 years. Coupled with the various texts of hadith, which as noted above, none of them are strong (valid) as basis of law. Thus, the hadith texts used as a reason for female circumcision is a hadith texts to male circumcision. 

Of course, the analogy of this text can not be accepted. Therefore, circumcision for men is for goodness, cleanliness, health and the perceived benefits of a biological male. While female circumcision is the opposite, will bring evil, destruction of biological and women can be difficult to obtain benefits (orgasm) from sexual relations with her husband. In the language of Ushul Fiqh, the analogy is exactly opposite (qiyas’ ala al-fariq) and is therefore unacceptable. 

   Supposedly, if the reason (‘illat) of male circumcision to facilitate sexual pleasure for men, for the same reason is also used for female circumcision law. When in practice, circumcised women had an orgasm clit harder than women who are not circumcised, the circumcision of women should be prohibited. Easy for women to feel the benefits of sexual intercourse (orgasm) as a man easily to feel it too. Moreover, the Qur’an recognizes equality between husband and wife’s sexual relationships with the phrase “wa lakum libasun hunna libasun lahunn you yourselves” (wife is a cloth for her husband, and vice versa are also clothes for his wife) 

   There are other legal logic used by Sheikh Muhammad Syaltut for female circumcision law. According to him, injuring members of the body (jarh), in principle, is forbidden, except if there are greater benefits or because there is an urgent need (dharurah). Female circumcision is included in the category of ‘hurt the body’, because it is unlawful. Moreover, if confirmed there is no benefit at all that could be the reason to allow it, and it brings damage and deterioration. Means, the prohibition or banning female circumcision real return on the legal origin (istishhab al-ashl) in Islam which forbids harm the body. 

   Meanwhile, scholars who are members of the Majlis Fatwa Egyptians used the main logic, namely prohibited something that brings destruction (wa la la dharara dhirar). This logic is recognized all the scholars of Islamic jurispruden (fiqh) and stated in a hadith text. In the decision, Majlis Fatwa considers female circumcision issue was not included in religious affairs. Therefore, it must submit to the logic of ‘if damage’ should be forbidden. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi also include people who believe female circumcision law only permissible or allowed only in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). And the things that allowed sharia, can be banned if obviously bring in damage. Including female circumcision which brought destruction and badness (dharar) and the ruling became forbidden, or haram. 

Cultural Strategy

The logic that allowed sharia, fiqh, or rather, should not be interfered with human affairs, as stated by MUI, is not appropriate. Even if female circumcision is considered permissible Shariah or Shariah, ijtihad is still very possible. In the discussion of fiqh, ijtihad can get into the things that are considered Shari’ah and things that are not considered Shariah. Although the first probably far more stringent than the second. Fasting Ramadan is obligatory, as worship and Shari’ah for example, could be unlawful if it is a real medical illness brings to a particular person. This means, something that sharia can still enter ijtihad fiqh. 

   The logic presented by MUI, indeed rooted in cultural awareness in the minds of many parties. This logic is often used to harass issues of strengthening the rights of women, not just a question of female circumcision. These issues are often crashed symmetrically with sharia, even in its own fiqh known too many parties have debated and many offerings. Challenges faced by women’s rights issues including female circumcision issue, actually not just a question of jurisprudence alone, but a culture that lives in the consciousness of many parties. In the context of MUI, can be penetrated in political issues, where there validity struggle between the Ministry of Health and the MUI itself.  

Walny Sri Rahayu, Chairman of the PSG Unsyiah Aceh, never faced a case in which a midwife in the area Beneur Meuriah local community rejected simply because she was not willing to circumcise girls. According to her, in a state of public rejection of the ban on female circumcision, a midwife may perform only the practice of circumcision with glue and without the slightest harm. Although this practice may also still denied the public. But it’s in the context of the culture that flourished in the community, various strategies that should be done to facilitate their education and acceptance. While the political context, it is necessary firmness leader in the pro-rights and women’s sexual health. (Wallahu a’lam). 


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