International Union for Muslim Scholars
Doha - March 3rd, 2009 (Rabi Al-Awwal 5th, 1430)
The brothers involved in female genital circumcision in the Islamic world have asked me to issue a short and accurate Fatwa (Islamic ruling) in order to clarify our legal point of view on this custom.
With our Fatwa stated below we wish we could succeed in making our opinion clear:
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
All Islamic rulings are based on the four sources of the Islamic jurisprudence (Koran, Sunna, Consensus and Analogy). The Muslim Community has agreed upon these sources.
By searching for evidence upon female genital circumcision in the whole Islamic jurisprudence one could find no written grounds for or against this custom. There are also other secondary sources such as the personal opinion and the general interest. If we examine these sources in relation to the matter of genital circumcision there is no evidence that requires or recommends this practice. The majority of scholars in the field have concluded that circumcision is an authorized tradition attached to customs and interests. Therefore Muslim countries differ over the issue of female genital circumcision. Some countries practice it but most Islamic countries do not do so without any objection from their scholars.
The female genital circumcision practiced today in many Islamic countries harms women because it is done by untrained staffs, who disregard the necessary medical knowledge as well as the related hygienic conditions.
There is no doubt that the four sources of Islam (Koran, Sunna, Consensus and Analogy) have no evidence that requires or recommends this practice. Moreover, we have found no evidence whatsoever which forbids this custom or considers it deplorable. This fact shows that, whoever finds it gut should do it. But whoever chooses not to do it is not considered to have committed a sin.
In the Islamic jurisprudence it is agreed upon that practices that are allowed can be banned completely or partially, in case they happen to cause any harm.
All practices allowed by God are to make our life easier. God said: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens, and man is created weak.” (Surat An-Nisa (Women), verse 28)
According to a religious point of view, permitted acts can be prevented if damages accrued. The level of this prevention could have the meaning of frowned upon or prohibited. This falls under the competence of experts and specialists.
The objective study by neutral experts and specialists, who do not follow their wishes and the wishes of others shows that the circumcision, in its current form, harms women’s physical and psychological state and affects their marital life. Therefore, this practice and all allowed acts that bring about damages must be stopped.
We do have today a legitimate reason to have a different opinion from that of the ancient scholars because we possess a lot of statistics and accurate information. They did believe that the Fatwa can be changed according to time, place and situation. If they were in possession of these new facts, they would have changed their opinion. For they were keen on showing the reality.
Based on what we said, we consider that circumcision or cutting a part of woman’s body without medical care, according to the current way of practice and without justification, is not permitted and is illegal. It enters in the aspect of changing God's creation which is a work of the devil and it is not permitted by God.
Whoever wants to have more information on this issue should read our detailed Fatwa in our book (Contemporary Fatwa, band 4).