Q; Could you please tell me the Islamic ruling on Women Circumcision (Genital Mutilation)??? As this has been practicing in some African Islamic countries for over many centuries.
A; All-Praise is due to Allah,
It has been stated in a Fatwa in regards to your question as follows, Circumcision is one of the Sunnahs of the fitrah, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): "The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, plucking the armpit hairs, cutting the nails, and trimming the moustache." narrated by al-Bukhaari (5889) and Muslim (257).
Undoubtedly with regard to the Sunnahs of the fitrah, some of the wisdom behind them is obvious, and that includes circumcision. There are clear benefits to it which we should pay attention to and understand the wisdom behind it.
In the answer to question no. 9412 we have discussed circumcision, how it is to be done and the ruling on it. In the answer to question no. 7073 we have explained the health and shar’i benefits of circumcision for males.
Circumcision is prescribed for both males and females. The correct view is that circumcision is obligatory for males and that it is one of the symbols of Islam, and that circumcision of women is mustahabb but not obligatory.
There are reports in the Sunnah which indicate that circumcision for women is prescribed in Islam. In Madeenah there was a woman who circumcised women and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to her: “Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman and more liked by the husband.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (5271), classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Female circumcision has not been prescribed for no reason, rather there is wisdom behind it and it brings many benefits.
Mentioning some of these benefits, Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi says:
The secretions of the labia minora accumulate in uncircumcised women and turn rancid, so they develop an unpleasant odour which may lead to infections of the vagina or urethra. I have seen many cases of sickness caused by the lack of circumcision.
Circumcision reduces excessive sensitivity of the clitoris which may cause it to increase in size to 3 centimeters when aroused, which is very annoying to the husband, especially at the time of intercourse.
Another benefit of circumcision is that it prevents stimulation of the clitoris which makes it grow large in such a manner that it causes pain.
Circumcision prevents spasms of the clitoris which are a kind of inflammation.
Circumcision reduces excessive sexual desire.
Then Dr al-Ghawaabi refutes those who claim that female circumcision leads to frigidity by noting:
Frigidity has many causes, and this claim is not based on any sound statistics comparing circumcised women with uncircumcised women, except in the case of Pharaonic circumcision which is where the clitoris is excised completely. This does in fact lead to frigidity but it is contrary to the kind of circumcision enjoined by the Prophet of mercy (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “Do not destroy” i.e., do not uproot or excise. This alone is evidence that speaks for itself, because medicine at that time knew very little about this sensitive organ (the clitoris) and its nerves.
From Liwa’ al-Islam magazine, issue 8 and 10; article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat (circumcision of girls).
The female gynaecologist Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid says in an article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat Ru’yah Sihhiyyah (Female circumcision from a health point of view):
For us in the Muslim world female circumcision is, above all else, obedience to Islam, which means acting in accordance with the fitrah and following the Sunnah which encourages it. We all know the dimensions of Islam, and that everything in it must be good in all aspects, including health aspects. If the benefits are not apparent now, they will become known in the future, as has happened with regard to male circumcision – the world now knows its benefits and it has become widespread among all nations despite the opposition of some groups.
Then she mentioned some of the health benefits of female circumcision and said:
It takes away excessive libido from women
It prevents unpleasant odours which result from foul secretions beneath the prepuce.
It reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections
It reduces the incidence of infections of the reproductive system. (Islam Q&A Fatwa: 45228)
In another Fatwa it was stated, Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said, in his book al-Mughni: "Circumcision is obligatory for men, and it is an honour for women, but it is not obligatory for them. This is the opinion of many scholars. (Imam) Ahmad said: For men it is more strictly required, but for women it is less strictly required." (al-Mughni 1/70).
Circumcision of the female consists of the removal of a part of the clitoris, which is situated above the opening of the urethra. The Sunnah is not to remove all of it, but only a part. (al-Mawsu‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah 19/28).
In this matter, it is wise to follow the interests of the female: if the clitoris is large, then part of it should be removed, otherwise it should be left alone. This size of the clitoris will vary from woman to woman, and there may be differences between those from hot climates and those from cold climates.
A hadith on the topic of female circumcision has been attributed to the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Him), according to which he said: "Circumcision is a Sunnah for men, and an honour for women," but there is some debate as to the authenticity of this hadith. See Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah by al-Albani, no. 1935.
How circumcision is to be performed is mentioned in the hadith narrated by Umm ‘Atiyah, may Allah be pleased with her, according to which a woman used to perform circumcisions in Madinah. The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Him) told her: "Do not abuse (i.e. do not go to extremes in circumcising); that is better for the woman and more liked by her husband." (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Kitab al-Adab; he said this hadith is da‘if).
The scholars’ opinions cited above should be sufficient explanation. (Islam Q&A Fatwa: 427)
And Allah knows best....