The “Whys” Behind the Practice of FGM
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.
Summer – The “Cutting Season”
Summer break is the time when most children enjoy time away from school. Many of us have happy memories of those days from our childhoods. However, with increased immigration of Muslims into western nations, there is a growing population of schoolgirls that will not remember their summer as a time of happiness. In fact, for some young girls the summer holiday is known as the “cutting season,” because it is the time of year when many young girls undergo FGM – female genital mutilation. FGM refers to the practice of partially or totally removing the external female genitalia, for non-medical reasons.
The procedure is frequently performed without anesthesia by people without any medical training, and with instruments such as scalpels, pieces of broken glass and tin can lids. The practice has no health benefits and can cause health problems including “severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth,” according to the World Health Organization.
One young Kenyan woman describes her experience; “Innocently like a sheep to be taken to a slaughter house, one woman came and told me that I should wake up as it was my day to become a woman…. By that time my mother was nowhere to be seen, at least to see the state I was in and to help me. … According to my community during this fateful day, your mother is not supposed to be present as they believe you will cry and call her for help and as a woman who bears the pain of giving birth, a mother can’t stand to see the pain that you are going through. …they took a piece of cloth, tied it around my eyes and held my head back and then they gave me another piece which they put in my mouth so that I could bite it during the whole process to ease the pain. Two women held my legs and hands so tight that I could not move. Then I felt a very sharp pain between my legs. This was a turning point in my life. The pain I felt can’t be described; thinking of it brings cold shivers inside me.”
Worldwide the UN estimates that 6,000 girls and women are circumcised every day with 140 million women currently living with the consequences of FGM. The countries with the highest rates of FGM are Muslim majority countries even though the practice predates Islam, and is practiced by people from other religious backgrounds.
Even though the practice predates Islam and is practiced by people from other religious backgrounds, the highest incidence of FGM is in Muslim majority countries such as Indonesia (86%), Sudan (89%), and Egypt (90%).
It is important to realize that many of the victims in western nations are immigrants who had the procedure done while still living in their former nation. British authorities estimate that more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at high risk of FGM (female genital mutilation) in England and Wales. The European parliament estimates that 500,000 girls and women in the European Union are living with FGM with approximately another 180,000 girls in Europe at risk of undergoing the procedure. Britain has had at least 66,000 women and girls who have experienced this practice and Australia’s Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital reported approximately 700 cases of FGM. Between 150-200,000 of women and girls in the United States are at risk of having this done. The practice has increased by 35% in the U.S. since 1996. Again, the majority has experienced this procedure before they immigrated to the western nation.
Most Western nations have laws against the practice of FGM, and the United States and Britain have laws prohibiting the transporting of a girl abroad for the purpose of undergoing FGM.
As difficult as it is to hear of this, it is so important that we as believers declare that communities will be awakened to the horrors of this cultural practice and realize the harm this procedure can cause women. Pray that those who have undergone the procedure will have the courage to speak out clearly so others do not have to suffer.
Pray that the authorities in western nations will have the necessary laws in place to be able to stop those who attempt to take their daughters abroad to be circumcised.
This procedure is physically painful and emotionally traumatizing. God has promised them in Psalm 147:3 that, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Ask the Lord to bring His healing and comfort to the victims of FGM and reveal His Son Jesus to their hearts.
Ramadan Prayer Day 10 – Family: “Shariah and FGM”
In 1776 the United States colonies declared their independence from Britain with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In part the Declaration reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This document is one of the foundations of our nation. Our adversaries also frequently twist it in their attempts to destroy, not enhance, the crucial underpinnings of our democracy as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Take the following example where Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) attempts to wrap the subjugating, medieval shariah law with the liberating political writings embodied in our founding documents.
In May, after signing legislation barring the use of foreign laws in court decisions, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback met with harsh criticism from Muslim groups. Nedhira Al-Khalili, the CAIR legal council said, “This clearly unconstitutional legislation, like all the others targeting Muslims’ religious rights nationwide, invites a legal challenge. The unmistakable and un-American bigotry espoused by the sponsors of these bills should be repudiated by Americans of all faiths.” Naeem Baig, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) VP of Public Affairs said, “This goes against the noble principles of freedom of religion in America. Most people don’t realize that outlawing the use of Shariah would be akin to outlawing the Ten Commandments, Talmudic law, or the Gospels of Jesus. American Muslims observing Shariah are being discriminated against.”
As you can see Muslim groups use the idea of religious discrimination (though Islam is certainly among the most discriminatory of the world’s faiths) as a basis to counter this type of legislation. However, we must question what happens when Islamic religious practices take away Americans’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in direct opposition to both the meaning and purpose of our founding documents.
An example of a portion of shariah law that is in direct conflict with U.S. Federal law is female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM refers to the practice of partially or totally removing the external female genitalia, frequently without anesthesia. In yet another example of politically correct terminology and multiculturalism, the procedure is also referred in a U.S. government flyer as female circumcision and female genital cutting (FGC). The flyer explains, “Some people fear that parents may resent the implication that they are ’mutilating’ their daughters by participating in this largely cultural event and so reject the term FGM in favor of FGC. Some people point out that the word ‘cutting’ is less judgmental and relates better to terms used in many local languages.”
Regardless, the practice often causes serious physical and psychological effects. The World Health Organization says the practice has no health benefits and can cause a range of health problems including “severe bleeding and problem urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth.” Federal law in the United States prohibited FGM in 1996, but the Center for Disease Control or CDC estimated in 2010 between 150,000 to 200,000 girls in the U.S. are in danger of being taken overseas to undergo the procedure.
The flyer produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services further says, “Although many people believe that FGC is associated with Islam, it is not. FGC is not supported by any religion and is condemned by many religious leaders.”
Although it is certainly true FGM predates Islam and is still practiced by people from different religious backgrounds, there are Islamic shariah scholars who support and encourage FGM. The “Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law” specifically addresses female circumcision. The International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Fiqh Council of North America and the prestigious Islamic Al Azhar University have endorsed this manual.
This shariah law text states, “Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna [meaning, the normal custom, or a practice decided by Mohammad], while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)
Dr. Hatem al-Haj, PhD, MD, senior committee member of the Association of Muslims Jurists of America (AMJA) said in his paper entitled, “Circumcision of Girls: Jurisprudence and Medicine,” female genital mutilation is “at the very least it can be said that for women it is an honor.” After his paper, written in Arabic, was translated in April of 2012 and posted in part by Jihad Watch, Dr. al-Haj was fired by the Mayo Clinic for his position. He has since stated he only supported a “ritual nick” which is still prohibited by federal law.
Even more revealing, especially with U.S. support of the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt is the legal ruling by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who said, “The [Islamic] hadith indicates that circumcision is better for a woman’s health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband.”
PRAYER FOR THE FAMILY:
- Pray that all Americans regardless of cultural or religious background will continue to possess and cherish the unalienable rights our forefathers considered self-evident – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- Pray that Islamist advocacy groups will not be able to twist American freedoms to push a system that is the opposite of the founding documents of our nation.
- Pray that Americans will demand that our government refuse to bow to multicultural and politically correct influences.
- Pray for young women in our nation and around the world that may become victims of FGM.