Sometimes when Westerners read about a practice like FGM (female genital mutilation), we have difficulty understanding why anyone would allow their daughter to go through such a horrendous procedure. It is easy as Westerners to simply read the statistics, condemn the practice, and pass laws to prevent and criminalize those who may practice it. Passing laws, however, does not change hearts, attitudes, or cultures.
FGM is practiced for a number of reasons. Some cultures have wrongly taught that the clitoris will continue to grow and therefore it needs to be removed. Others have been taught the external genitalia are unclean and can cause the death of an infant during delivery. Many Muslims believe that the failure to perform FGM on their daughters will bring shame to the family. Surveys in Middle Eastern nations have shown that FGM is considered to be both a traditional and religious practice. These attitudes and practices follow immigrants to their new nations, along with their “shame/honor” mindset if the immigrant happens to be Muslim.
Increasingly those that have undergone FGM within Islamic cultures are stopping the practice, and there are brave Muslim women that are speaking out against FGM despite the fact that female sexuality is rarely spoken of in Muslim cultures. However, prayer and awareness is still needed because there is often great pressure from Islamic families to continue with the tradition so the family will not experience “shame.”
There are some Islamic clerics that condone and encourage FGM. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leader within the Muslim Brotherhood said, “…the most moderate opinion and the most likely one to be correct is in favor of practicing circumcision in the moderate Islamic way indicated in some of the Prophet’s hadiths even though such hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic. …The [Islamic] hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman’s health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband. … I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. But whoever chooses not to do it is not considered to have committed a sin for it is mainly meant to dignify women as held by scholars.”
Other Muslim groups have declared FGM is un-Islamic. It is very significant that the male Muslim Council of Britain, the most prominent Muslim organization in the nation closely linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, has chosen to disagree with al-Qaradawi. The group has promised to distribute leaflets to 500 mosques and community centers across the UK in an effort to end FGM. The leaflet says that one of the basic principles of Islam is that followers should not harm themselves or others, and continues by saying that FGM is bringing Islam “into disrepute.”
Praise God that organizations such as the Muslim Council of Britain have condemned the practice of female genital mutilation and are moving to see this procedure ended. Pray that they will stand firm against the practice and not bow to pressure from other members of the Muslim Brotherhood or similar organizations that may still condone it.
Ask God to move on hearts, softening them to His love and truth, and giving them understanding and a new mind-set that the practice of FGM brings trauma and pain in the lives of their women and girls.
Pray for the parents of young girls that may be under tremendous pressure from their families and communities who are encouraging them to circumcise their daughters. Pray they will not give into the community pressure – and receive God’s revelation that the “honorable” thing will be to reject female circumcision.
The practice of FGM is a perfect example of why it is so important for western Christians to be the “relevant majorities” in their nations – speaking out against harmful cultural and religious practices such as FGM. Pray that Christians in the West will take their place before the Lord in society and become the “relevant majority” and make a godly difference in society.