8 May 2009

Gambia: Senegambian Scholars Condemn FGM

Islamic scholars in The Gambia and Senegal are the latest to join gender and human rights activists in condemning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a phenomenon that has generated protracted debate over the years.

The scholars noted that Muslims should stay healthy - physically and mentally - in order to perform the duty of worship that human beings are created for, arguing that any practice that may tamper with the security of the body or mind of man should be looked into.

These remarks were made by the scholars during presentations on the topic 'Harmful traditional practices (Female Genital Mutilation)', on Thursday, at the Sheraton Hotel in Brufut. According to Ebrahim Touray, second secretary general of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, Allah warned believers in Suratul Ahsab, verse 36 in the Holy Qu'ran, that they should desist from contradicting His commandments as well as the orders of his prophet, Muhammad (SAW).

According to Touray, there are two Arabic words for the practice and each refers to a particular type: "Khifaadh" and "Khitan". He said Khifaadh was totally condemned by the prophet when he came to Madinah, and it was termed by the scholars of Islam as the 'pharaonic circumcision'. For this type, he said, there should not be any debate between Muslims and others. He noted that it is totally Haram because of its brutal nature and severe harm it causes to women.

He said Khitaan, which is the other practice is what they should discuss. Touray went further to make references to many Hadiths about female circumcision and recommended that a research team be established to study the matter empirically and that the team should comprise of scholars in Islamic jurisprudence, cultural figures, and medical doctors, among others.

According to Sheikh Jerry Ceesay, a representative of Senegalese scholars, research reveals that male circumcision was clearly mentioned in the Holy Qu'ran and Hadith, as stated in Suratul Baqarah verse 124. "Allah said to him that "verily I am going to make you an Imam for mankind," he said.

The scholars of Hadith said that the prophet told them that one of the commandments to Prophet Ibrahim was to circumcise himself and he did so at age 80. That is why this was practiced by all Muslims and the Jews and so many followers of the different religions of the world," he noted. According to Baba Leigh, in dealing with any case as Muslims, we should be aware of the five necessities in Islam which are supposed to be protected, including life, property, and lineage.

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