Wednesday, June 6, 2007

FGM from an African, Muslim and Female point of view....

In Islam, if a woman is not sexually satisfied, she has the right to divorce her husband.

Female Genital Circumcision or simply Female circumcision is the excision of any part of the "female genitalia". FGM is common in African countries such as Burkina Faso ( 70%), Djibouti(90%), Egypt (97%), Guinea (98%), Somalia(90-98%), Sudan(90%) and some Arab countries in the Middle East or even the immigrant population in Europe and North America.
There are four types of FGM:
1-Clitoridectomy: total or partial removal fo the clitoris.
2-Excision: removal of the clitoris and the partial or complete removal of the labia minora.
3-Infibulation: removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora.
4-Other types: usually found among isolated ethnic groups and it involves "cutting". There is no removal of tissues.

Part 1
Why is FGM not Islamic?
Their are three main arguments against this widespread belief
A- FGM predates both Christianity and Islam since it is believed to date back to time of the Pharaohs.
Evidence 1- It is mentioned in an ancient Greek document that it was a common practice in Egypt (the document dates back to 163 B.C.)
Evidence 2- In Sudan, infibulation(type three) is referred to as the "pharonic circumcision".
B- FGM is found in non-Muslim societies example: Christians in Ghana and other non-Muslim societies in India and South America.
C-If FGM was obligatory in Islam then Muslim scholars from all over the world wouldn't be working together to ban its practice.
1-At a conference on female genital mutilation in Cairo, Muslim scholars from around the world called for female genital mutilation to be banned and for those who carry it out to face punishment carried out by the government.
2-Last year, a meeting was held at azhar university( the top Islamic university in the Middle East and North Africa ) and they finally banned FGM from all Muslim societies and they classified it as a "Crime".
3-In 2005, at an African Regional Conference on "Islam and the Family Well-Being" ,Dr Ahmend Talib, Dean of the Faculty of Sharia, Al Azhar University, Cairo, said: "All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs...it is not an obligation in Islam".
I would like to add this very important piece of information.
"Infibulation, or Pharaonic Circumcision is mutilation (Arabic: Muthla) and as such is chargeable as a crime in Islamic law. The practice, if perpetrated, would obligate that the defendant pay the full price of blood-money to the plaintiff for removal of the labia. If sexual stimulus is lost then another compensatory payment would be paid equal to the first, and if procreation is impossible then another of equal value. This view means that FGM in Islamic law is equal to wrongful death. The judge presiding over the case may opt for jail time as a deterrent, or public reprimand, or any other non-proscribed punishment that is seen as fitting to deter the rest of the public for the act "". (http://islamiclawetc.wordpress.com/).

Part 2
Social custom...Yes..No...Mabye?

The evidence presented above leads us to to believe that FGM could be a "social custom" or a "cultural practice" and not a religious one. It is true that FGM is very prevalent in Africa but it is also found in parts of Asia such as Indonesia.
"Type I (commonly referred to as clitoridectomy) and less invasive procedures (Type IV) are the forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) practiced in Indonesia. The practice is generally referred to as female circumcision in Indonesia. It occurs in parts of East, Central and West Java, North Sumatra, Aceh, South Sulawesi and on Madura Island, as well as in many other parts of the archipelago
Virginity in Africa
-It is very important to understand that a girls virginity is very important in almost all African societies. It is assumed that FGM controls a woman's sexuality. In other words, it makes sure a woman stays a virgin until marriage ( For example:- After infibulation, the labia majora are held together using stitching so when a girl gets married she must undergo reverse infibulation which involves her husband using a "knife") .
-In some African societies, social conformity is always emphasized upon ( e.g:- my aunt told me a story about a girl who wanted to be circumcised because her friends and cousins were circumcised and she felt singled out).

Why is FGM a symbol of Islam's oppression?

In the last few decades, FGM started to be considered as another symbol of the "woman-hatting", "gender apartheid enforcing "and "oppressive" religion called "Islam". This is mainly due to the constant association of Islam with FGM perpetuated by "literature". Beyond the veil: Male-female dynamics in a modern Muslim society by Fatima Mernissi, Desert Flower by Waris Dirie, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali are all books that portray FGM as a savage practice mandated for Muslim women.
Interestingly, old researches about FGM in Africa usually concentrated on FGM as a social costum or tradition but now it is usually discussed from a religious perspective. Living in a post-9/11 world we should expect things to be very religionized and not culturized . Let's say a Christian man is killed by a Christian man, it will be reported as " man killed man" but if a Muslim man killed a Christian or a Jewish man, it will be reported as "Muslim man killed Christian man". I don't see why we should blame religion for everything or even view religion as the only cause of things. We should look at other factors affecting a society such as "culture. I know that the cultures of both African and Arab societies are generally affected by "religion" but there are things that are banned by religion but accepted by culture (A common example is forced or arranged marriages. There is no evidence in Islam to justify "arranged marriages". In fact, a girl has the right to marry any man she believes is the right one for her even if her family disapproves.) In other words, arranged marriages are usually influenced by the society a personal lives in and the culture they have to conform to.
My favorite culture vs. religion example is "pre-martial sex". I believe that pre-martial sex is prohibited in Islam/Christianity and Judaism but one can't help but notice that most Muslim societies are very strict about this. This is not necessarily because of religious beliefs, it is also because of pre-martial sex being so culturally-unacceptable here.
This brings us back to the importance of virginity in the Muslim world.

Wholeheartedly Not oppressed Sudaniya

12 comments:

Daana Lost in Translation said...

kizzie

Once again a great post. I can't wait 4 the day that u become a full feldged journalist and then I am going 2 brag that I know u :)

One of my friends in college took a class about Sociology of women ang gender and they had a whole chapter in the book about it. SHe is a muslim lebanese. She was shocked when her teacher started attributing this practice 2 Islam since my muslim lebanese friend has never heard of that practice in lebanon or all belad al sham 4 that matter. So I came 2 class with her the following class and had a long discussion about how it is an african practice not an islamic one, and that prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu Alihi wa Salaam never circumcized his daughters (thus it is not islamic because otherwise he would have had his daughters circumcized).

Another important point is why ppl are trying 2 attribute everything that is wrong with muslim in islamic communities 2 Islam, which is part of this media propaganda post 9/11 like u mentioned. IF a woman is wearing hijab they she is oppressed and forced to wear it and didn't choose that 4 herself bc of her religion, even though the majority of al mohajabat did choose to wear the hijab. A woman who is forced to wear it by her family unfortunately lives in a family or a society that doesn't understand the aya in the quran that says (there is no compulsion in religion). A Muslim woman who has an arranged marriage is also considered to be oppressed by religion although it is a cultural issue (for example hindu women in india, women in part of china, women in part of africa who are not muslim) The list can go on and on. I left a comment on pommygrante's post about Hirsi Ali, whom I don't give any credibility 2 because she is a liar and that's not my opinion that's the fact that the parliament discovered in the Netherlands which caused her to be expelled from the country. So I don't know why I would believe a woman who was declared an official liar. (she lied about her background and life circumstances to get refugee status)

ex-Muslims who bash Islam are the hottest thing right now because media, political, social, and religious groups that have an anti-islamic agenda want these ppl 2 talk just to prove their points. Unfortunately though for those who fall for these lies and never try to find out information about islam from alternative resources is that they just can't for one second think outside the box. Why are there so many muslims in the world who still feel so passionately about their religion unlike any other religious group. Why now more than ever before is Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. Or are they going to use the lie of "Islam spread by the sword again."

ya3ni in the past few years I have seen an enormous amount of books, websites, radio shows, Evangelical TV shows, newspaper articles that are just dedicated to bashing Islam. My word for anybody like that is go study Islam not the Muslims. Because if I want to find out about any religion I will study it not its followers.

Back to FGM, I am really proud to say that Sudan was the first country to outlaw the practice years and years ago, but unfortunately it was never implemented because of our own internal problems. However, Al Ahfaad University has done a great step in that. It is the first All women university in Africa that mandates graduates to go to rural areas in Sudan to speak and teach the population about the problems of FGM. I hope one day that will help eradicate this bad habit.

Kizzie said...

Dana,
Thanks for your reply walahi.
This is only part 1, I will do many other posts from an african,muslim, female point of view such as the veil/arranged marriages/women's rights in Africa and the Middle East.
I wrote the article after I had a very interesting dicussion with pommygranate:)
Everything you said is very true, like I said it's a pharonic practice not muslim lakeen people don't bother to find out, they just accept things the way they are told.

I have mixed feelings about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I might write an article about her sometime. I would like to purchase her book.
Yes, Sudan outlawed fgm in 1946, the first country to do so lakeen zay ma golti its really hard to implement laws in a country like Sudan but I will be working on that!
'
Thanks so much 4 ur comment, it means alot to me!

Amjad said...

I first knew about FGM exactly a year ago, in May '06. I never thought such a thing even exists.

Anyhow, I personally think that FGM is a mere action of barbarism. As soon as I knew about it, I started searching around about it and asking different people about it. By chance, I got to know that the Mufti of Oman once said that FGM is preferred because it will make the man enjoy his wife more. I was like huh? How on earth will he enjoy her more if she was circumcised? I then knew that he meant if a woman is circumcised, when she has sexual intercourses with her husband, she won't feel anything. I mean pleasure, not pain, lol. Hence, she won't reach an orgasm and her husband will be enjoying her. And if she was not circumcised, her husband might not fully sexually enjoy her when she reaches an orgasm, because most of woman don't like to be touched after reaching an orgasm.

I think that thought is really sick. It makes me wonder if there are men out there who prefer to marry circumcised girls, to "enjoy" them more. I personally think it's sick and unfair. Satisfaction is not only about men, it's about both partners, not only one partner.

Kizzie said...

I'm both glad and shocked that u only found out about fgm last year!
I'm glad you know about this barbaric,savage and horrible practice enforced on many young sudanese girls.
I'm also shocked you found out about it only last year! I've known about it ever since I was a little girl..its mainly because I was a girl and it was a common topic in al ga3dat al nesa2eya plus, you hear about girls getting circumcised every now and then!
Amjad, now that you know about it mabye you can help out by spreading awareness about this horrible practice. Although fgm is banned in the sudan, it is still widespread. Men and women should work together to end it e.g:- men should not allow their wives to do it to their daughters.

It is usually done due to ignorance and social conformity so we should educate people and spread awareness about it!

pommygranate said...

Kizzie

Posted here.

Thanks. A very interesting post.

Alphamale said...

Awesome post Kizzie. Though I doubt it will help, some people are so full of their hatred for all things islamic that they will blame islam for things islam CANNOT in any way be blamed upon. You brought up actual facts, yet som will simply ignore it.

For example honour killings occur in the middle east (and North Africa+Pakistan and India, though hindus practice it as well), we africans do NOT have that practice. Neither do east asians, such indonesians, Bruneias, Chinese Uighur etc. If that honour killings were a muslim practice then we would practice it as well. Not to mention there is no BASIS at all for it in Islam.

Dana, good comment as well. As I mentioned earlier in the arab world proper FGM is VERY, VERY rare. Same thing goes for pakistan, Indonesia, Sinagpore etc.

FGM is an AFrican which AFRICANS (WE) must deal with. Sure all help we can get is welcome.

Here is a country-sister (I can't say country-men can I :D) of yours (oki she 75 % sudanense though 100 % fine and smart) whi aided some sudanese refugess

http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-6-2/42246.html

pommygranate said...

kizzie

A bunch of comments have appeared for you at my blog and also i recommend you look at this site Larvatus Prodeo if you get time.

Folk here in Oz are keen to hear an African perspective.

cheers!

Kizzie said...

pommygranate
I replied to alot ot comments:)
The problem is the time difference, I'm sleeping when u r awake and vice versa!

pommygranate said...

no problems! thanks for coming over.

blkdahlia said...

Hey Kizzie!

I loved ur post on FGM, it was educating, even to me. :) I had an argument a while back with a somalian male he was trying to tell me that it was an islamic practice (we were arguing on the matters of cultural preservation and the need to sometimes neglect certain practices because of their harm...I was also trying to tell him of how most so called "religious" practices are actually culturally induced and are NOT of religious nature), I was shocked and angry, I knew that it wasn't and asked him for verses from the Koran to back up his argument...in which he never answered directly...he said something about a "woman's virtue" and I was like oh NO NO NO, give me SOMETHING that says a WOMAN HAS TO BE MUTILATED, and he got all defensive (instead of answering, he asked me my nationality and I told him that I was Sudanese...which invalidated me in his eyes *sigh*) and told me that I should mind my own business because I wasn't Muslim or Somalian. *sigh*

What angered me even more was that this was part of a cultural presentation in a cultural Anthropology class. He had many other problematic things with his presentation...

Wow, I ranted more than I wanted to, lol...anyway, Will you be willing to post that in our blog? I in fact want a whole section devoted to that act of barbarism. I am also going to look for links regarding that matter.

Kizzie said...

Daloooya al 3sal,
Sure I can do that.
I know I wanted to educate people about this not just non-muslims but muslims too:)
Thanks for ur comment and yes print this n let ur friend read it!

Anonymous said...

FGM is not fair. Personally I prefer a circusized male sexually, but I need my clitoris and my mind in tact as god created. If he didnt want me to have this stimulus, why make it. Man made this vile practice, not god. Abraham circumsized only men not women. Muhammad knew of this practice and said dont cut too much. He never said no, like he never stopped slavery, just released one man who was part Arab and Sudanese! TELL THE TRUTH! As an AA i thank all of the African and Arab Muslims who sold my relatives to Europeans and not to Arabs. If squatting to use the bathroom was better why make inside baths? Moving on up is better than backwards.