Conversation with Grand Sheikh Tantawi
Sensation in Cairo
Allahu akbar! On 13th July 2002 following our conversation with him, the Egyptian Minister of Religious Affairs, Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, agreed to our request! We had asked his advice on how best to explain to the world at large, so as to eradicate the practice once and for all, that female genital mutilation is a presumption on God’s part and discriminates against Islam. Despite the fact that Christians and followers of other faiths also follow this custom, we wanted to achieve our aim with the help of Islam because we consider it to be the strongest force within the countries concerned.
The Minister set up a meeting with His Eminence the Grand Sheikh Prof. Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the religious leader of Sunni Islam at Al-Azhar University, the intellectual heart of Islam.
The Grand Sheikh is a man of few words and his standpoint as regards female genital mutilation is unambiguous. He took his pen to our document and on it wrote the following addendum:
“Female genital mutilation is a custom but is not a religious duty. All the hadiths* that have been handed down concerning female genital mutilation are weak (that means they are not authentic)”.
The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi
*(Selection of real and attributed sayings of the Prophet)
|Wolfgang Bindseil, our contact and advisor in the German Embassy in Cairo sent us the following e-mail: “I would like openly to acknowledge that the outcome of your visit exceeded my expectations and I am delighted that you succeeded in having such a constructive conversation not only with the Minister of Religious Affairs in Egypt but also with the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar”.