FGM is not a « muslim practice »
FGM is sometimes, wrongfully, seen as a “Muslim practice”, including by the general public in non-practicing or practicing communities. However, although FGM are performed by some Muslim communities, the practice is also common in Christian and animist communities.
=> In Eritrea for example, 98% of Muslim women have undergone FGM, but so have 88% of Catholic women and 84% of women belonging to other religious communities. Likewise, in Mali 89% of Muslim women, 84% of Christian and 86% of animist women have undergone the practice. (1)
=> In Niger, Tanzania and Nigeria, FGM is more prevalent in Christian communities than in any other religious group : In Niger over 50 % of girls and women having undergone the practice are Christian while the Muslims represent only a few percent. (1)
FGM IS NOT REQUIRED BY THE FOUNDING DOCTRINES OF THE THREE GREAT MONOTHEIST RELIGIONS
While FGM is practiced by some Christian (e.g. Gambia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Erithrea), and Muslim communities (e.g Indonesia, Djibouti, Guinea, Mali, Egypt), and historically by a Jewish community in Ethiopia (Falashas), the practice is not imposed by any monotheist religious script, or any other religion.
- Christian : FGM is not mentioned in the Bible, or recommended in the texts. Female genital mutilations are in fundamental contradiction with the Christian principle of body sanctity and the respect due to the human body. (3)
- Jewish : FGM is neither mentioned in the Torah nor in any sources constituting the Jewish law. It falls within the act of body mutilation, a strongly forbidden and rejected practice according to Jewish precepts. (3)
- Muslim : Islam appears to be the religion that is the most commonly associated with FGM, as it is frequently used and understood as a justification of the practice. It has been observed that the respect of the Islamic law could even be the first motive of FGM-practising communities …
=> FGM cannot be defined as an « Islamic act » in regard of the four main sources funding the Islamic obligations (4) :
- Quran -> FGM is not in any way present in the text as such.
- Sunna -> the Hadiths that may have been used to justify FGM have been denounced and recognized as inauthentic (4). Moreover, there is no proofs that the daughters of the Prophet or the ones of his companions were cut, while it appears that the Prophet would never order a practice that he did not apply himself.
- Ijma’a -> there is no consensus between Muslim scholars or between the four great schools of thoughts on the thematic of FGM. Thus, the practice cannot be performed in the name of a global scholar consensus around the question.
- Qiyas -> although some people argue that FGM is the female equivalent of male circumcision and that the same rules could be applied to it in terms of Islamic jurisprudence, in the name of the Qiyas principle, many others point out that FGM is not similar to male circumcision and therefore cannot be subject to the same religious injunctions and affirmations.
=> Not only is FGM not required by Islam, but it is in fact in contradiction with the commandments recognized as such by the sources of Islamic law : do no harm, do not change Allah’s creation, do not punish an innocent (FGM anticipate a girl’s « fault » – sexual intercourse before or out of marriage – and thus punish a girl who has not yet done anything) … They are also in opposition with the human rights recognized by Islam: the right to life, the right to physical integrity, the right to sexual pleasure for women wishing marriage …. (4)
FGM is not requested by any of the three monotheist religions. They have in fact been observed before the emergence of these three religions and are similarly practiced by animist communities.