Q: Can you explain how Muslims justify female mutilation? Is that considered scriptural or cultural?
A: As Female Genital Mutilation/Modification (FGM) is *not* a part of Islam, most Muslims don't justify it! Hooray! That was easy.
I know I'm not quite off the hook yet, so let's chat:
For those of you who don't know, FGM is a cultural practice that was practiced prior to the start of Islam in parts of Northern Africa and spots in Western Asia in which some or all of the external female genitals are removed--mostly behind the patriarchal reasoning of limiting or removing sexual pleasure for women. Of course, there are many other reasons why FGM is practiced, including rituals that are not intended to be catered towards men (for example, some people who practice do so because they view the body as-is to be "incomplete" and requiring modification, and the procedure takes place without the desire or even knowledge of men). But, as the practice related to patriarchal recommendations (i.e for limitations of sexual pleasure) is the reasoning most attributed to Islam, I will working through this particular understanding of FGM in answering the question.
FGM is not mentioned at all in the Qur'an (the holy book for Muslims), and is practice by Muslims, Christians, and non-religious people alike. And while religious people who conduct this practice attribute it to religion, there seems to be no indication in either faith that FGM is obligated--or even encouraged.
In Islam specifically, not only does this practice prove counter to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)'s commandment to "accept no harm and do no harm to another," but women in Islam are actually granted the right to divorce their spouse if they are not sexually satisfied. So, if FGM is designated to remove sexual pleasure for women, this seems to clash strongly with women's rights under Islam.
I think a better question to ask would be: why is FGM attributed to Islam when only a minority of Muslims engage in this practice (as do a minority of Christians and non-religious people), even when it seems to stand in contrary to mainstream interpretations of the faith?
*cough* ask Western media *cough*
Hope that answered your question! Feel free to continue to submit questions/comments/disagreements in either the Anonymous Islam Q&A form or via comments below!
For those of you following along on snapchat (hodakay), you saw that I had my tripod and video recorder all ready to go this morning and are probably confused on why this post suddenly went all-text. Well friends, after several hours of video editing I went with my go-to idea of tossing it all out the window because I decided I didn't like it last minute, and needed some ice cream instead.
Welcome to my life.
Sorry you didn't get to see my sarcastic facial expressions that accompanies some of this text, but there is probably enough of that on my snapchat...
Islam Q&A is a series dedicated to helping challenge mainstream Western misconceptions and spread of Islamaphobia. Through knowledge comes understanding and through understanding comes peace.
More in this series: Notes from a Muslim Feminist; Why does Islam Treat Women Badly; What does Jihad REALLY mean?
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