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The War Within Islam (16 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why the Mindless Ritual of Male Circumcision Should be Done Away With

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

16 September 2017

Certain Religious practices make us dogmatic, even to the point of becoming an unthinking, unreflective community. Some commentators have pointed out that as a religion, Islam asks us to constantly reflect on the world and ourselves, and yet at times, we end up doing exactly the opposite.

The issue of male circumcision amongst Muslims is a case in point. How come this mindless ritual continues in Muslim society without any debate regarding the necessity of this procedure? There is some talk now about banning female circumcision in practiced is some Muslim communities in Africa and amongst the Bohras worldwide. And it is a healthy development that some women have started to raise their voices against such a horrific practice which actually is correctly understood as female genital mutilation. Yet there is surprising silence when it comes to mutilating the genitals of Muslim boys. After all, cutting of the foreskin is nothing but genital mutilation. The problem gets compounded due to the fact that in majority of the cases, this mutilation happens with boys who are of a very tender age and thus unable to give their informed consent. In the name of religious tradition, the average Muslim family today may be guilty and responsible for scarring their baby boys for life.

Today the ritual, which has its basis in religion, is justified in the name of science and hygiene. Ask any educated Muslim and he will tell you the medical benefits of circumcision including the ‘fact’ that it prevents HIV-AIDS. They will also tell you that circumcision is done due to considerations of hygiene. None of this is either logical or even true. If the reason for circumcision was personal hygiene, then the simple thing to do is to remain clean rather than cut of part of a human body.

There are other parts of the human body which require to be clean and that are what we do: we clean it. We do not cut it off! So why is it that when it comes to the foreskin, we are obligate to cut it off rather than keep it clean. The medical value of circumcision, especially in terms of containing sexually transmitted diseases is still a contested one rather than a matter of finality. The one study conducted by the UN in Africa did link circumcised men with low risk of STDs but then it was later found that the experimental group was already less prone to such diseases calling into question the whole methodology behind this research. Moreover, this study of the UN was specifically concerned with adult circumcision.

What we are talking about is infant and child circumcision where the risk of sexually transmitted diseases is nearly absent. There is nothing to suggest therefore that circumcised boys and men are better off in terms of health and hygiene as compared to non-circumcised men and boys. In fact this linkage of circumcision with medical benefits has to so with its popularization in the Anglo-Saxon world during the 19th century. Operating in a very different world and subscribing to a very morality, the medical science of that time in that part of the world linked a lot of problems in men’s youth to their ‘unhealthy’ practice of masturbation.

Circumcision initially came as a deterrent for masturbation as the doctors opined that the pain would be so much that it will train the mind not to think about baser instincts for the whole life. Such Victorian morality was the reason for the popularization of male circumcision both in Britain and in America. It was only much later that it was linked with medical benefits and issues of hygiene, obviously as an attempt to justify the practice which started for completely non-medical reasons. But since the Whites were doing it, the Muslims across the world bought into this medical benefit of circumcision thesis in an attempt to validate their own practice and partly to proclaim the superiority of Islam.

Scientific rationalizations apart, the fact remains that the practice is fundamentally religious in its calling. Obligated in Judaism through the covenant which Abraham made with God, the practice is fundamental to their religion. However, there is some evidence to claim that the Jews borrowed this practice from the Egyptians among whom the practice was present as a marker of higher social status. And yet we find that circumcision has been practiced widely in different cultures. From the Australian aborigines to many cultures in Africa, we find evidence of this practice. It is beyond comprehension that different Gods at different places and different times would make the same demand of sacrificing the male foreskin as a mark of the covenant between men and God. The origins of this practice therefore must have a much more deeper anthropological reason but that’s another debate for another time.

The Quran however does not obligate Muslims to undertake the practice and yet today if you are not circumcised then you will have difficulty in making the claim that you are a Muslim. It is considered a Sunna but then there is no evidence to suggest that the Prophet himself was circumcised. There is a fantastic Hadis which says that he was born circumcised but then again it is not the same thing as saying that he underwent circumcision. In short, there is no religious justification also for this practice to continue amongst the Muslims. If God says that he has made man perfect and that bodily integrity should not be harmed even after one’s death, then why are Muslim hell bent to make modifications in God’s plan? Isn’t it playing with the divinity to cut a part of human body which is part of the original design of God?

It must be welcomed that now there are some women groups who are raising the voice against female circumcision, but then we should also raise our voices against male circumcision. The pain that is felt after the body is cut is perhaps common to both genders. So why this silence about circumcision and the pain that it inflicts on the male body. Is it because we believe that males need to undergo pain as a sign of future masculinity?

Arshad Alam is a columnist with www.NewAgeIslam.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/the-war-within-islam/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/why-the-mindless-ritual-of-male-circumcision-should-be-done-away-with/d/112550

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  • circumcision causes dull / insensitive  penis tip, which is against the will of God . insentitive penis tip is good,Allah would have created insensitive penis - tips.It makes man sexually dissatisfied and deprive real sex pleasure. The sensitive tip of the man and the sensitive tube of the vagina fondle each other -that is sexual pleasure.SO circumcsiion is highly idiotic and nonsense

    By dr.A.Anburaj - 9/18/2017 2:11:16 AM

  • A poignant piece! It's time we change offering voices to all who suffer in the name of tradition!!
    By Meera - 9/17/2017 9:20:28 AM

  • It is given (not in Quran) that Hagar/Hajira was an Egyptian handmaid to the barren Sarah, who offered her to her husband Abraham/Ibrahim so that he may sire a child with Hagar. According to African custom uncircumcised Abraham could not marry Hagar and therefore at the age of ninety Abraham was required to circumcise and so he did so himself; with an adze!

    By Skepticle - 9/16/2017 6:49:56 PM

  • There is no religious  reason to circumcise. It should be a medical decision based on scientific studies.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/16/2017 1:38:08 PM

  • “…and yet at times, we end up doing exactly the opposite.”
    Not surprising at all.
    A Sheikh-Imam-Hafiz-Maulana had written in his news sheet stressing that circumcision is Muslims’ identity(?!) and Muslim females should not shave their legs(?!).
    But how would that be applied as say……required passport identity or at security gates?
    By Skepticle - 9/16/2017 5:35:40 AM

  • From my previous comments on the subject:
    4/2/2017 12:08:13 AMNaseer AhmedThere isn't a single verse in the Quran on circumcision. Going by the Quran, circumcision is inspired by Satan.

     (4:118) Allah did curse him (Satan), but he said: "I will take of Thy servants a portion Marked off;

     (4:119) "I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah." Whoever, forsaking Allah, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest.

     Circumcision is nothing but defacing the fair nature created by Allah.

     There are however scores of verses on the subject in the Bible and the earlier scriptures. It is a covenant that God had with Abraham (Genesis 17). Why such a covenant is not mentioned in the Quran when according to verse 5:3, God has laid down the Islamic way of life in complete detail?

     According to the Bible, Abraham (pbuh) was 99 years old when he entered into such a covenant and was circumcised at this age. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) however, never underwent circumcision.

     The Muslims have adopted circumcision as a sunnat of Abraham (pbuh) and not as a sunnat of Muhammad (pbuh).

     Among the Africans, and the Egyptians, this practice precedes Abraham and is common among the pagan tribes.

     The Prophet preached only for 22 years and those who came under his direct influence may have been just a few hundred. Islam spread very rapidly to areas with large Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish populations. The new converts brought their own beliefs, legends, stories and concepts to Islam and greatly modified the new religion.

     Shariat law on apostasy, blasphemy and adultery are not based on the Quran but based on the Judeo/Christian laws.

     Islam is anything but exclusive. Christianity and Judaism are however exclusive. The non-Christian is an infidel and redemption is possible only through Christ in Christianity. In Judaism, non Jews are simply heathen or Gentile.

     Kafir in the Quran is neither infidel nor Gentile but has acquired this meaning!

     Shuhuda is not martyr but has acquired this meaning.

     Neither Ruh nor nafs is soul in the Quran and there is no concept of soul in the Quran but Ruh/Nafs have strangely acquired this meaning when Ruh and Nafs are not even synonyms!

     View Article

    Today, many Anthropologists disagree on the origins of circumcision. Some, such as English Egyptologist Sir Elliot Smith, believing that circumcision originated in the 'Heliolithic' culture over 15,000 years ago and was adopted by other cultures, while others believe that circumcision developed independently within separate cultures.  Although the origins of circumcision are uncertain, it is documented that circumcision has been practiced in areas throughout Africa, in the Near East, and by Australian Aborigines. 
    The practice therefore was prevalent among the tribal and pre dates prophet Ibrahim  (PBUH). For the tribal, it may not have been anything except cosmetic surgery (especially if nudity was common) or a rite of passing into manhood. This practice may therefore have been common in the times of prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and later generations being a carryover of ancient tribal practices. The old and the new testaments are written by men centuries after the Prophet Musa (PBUH) and Prophet Isa (PBUH). A religious significance may have been given to this practice in their scriptures. 
    It is a point to be noted that there is no reference to circumcision in the Quran. Nor does the Quran say that this practice was prescribed for earlier generations. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recommended this practice on the basis that it has been the practice of all the previous prophets. There is no record of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself having undergone the procedure. It is said that he was not in need of it without having been physically circumcised.
    It is also not obligatory in Islam but only a sunnat or practice of the previous Prophets (and not of Muhammad) although highly recommended. We also know from the hadiths that when we are raised on the day of judgement, we will be uncircumcised. Also, in general, Islam looks upon any bodily mutilation with disfavour even for animals. The only point in its favour as far as Islam is concerned, is that the Prophet did not disallow it.
    I think the decision of whether to circumcise or not may be left to the individual. It should cease to be a religious issue. My advice to people who have converted to Islam has consistently been that it is neither necessary nor advisable for them to get circumcised.View Article

    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/16/2017 3:43:45 AM

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