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TARGET’s Breakthrough:
Islam Outlaws Female Mutilation!

TARGET’s conference of scholars in Cairo ends with a groundbreaking result.

On 22nd and 23rd November, the most senior international scholars of Islam had discussions with doctors at the Azhar University in Cairo on the delicate topic of genital mutilation of girls and the position of Islam on this custom.
The scholars included the Grand Sheikh of the Azhar, Professor Tantawi, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Professor Ali Gom’a, the Egyptian Minister of Religious Affairs, Professor Zakzouk, Sheikh Qaradawi from Qatar, and Islamic scholars from Europe, Asia and Africa. Further participants were Mrs Moushira Khatab, the envoy for the Egyptian First Lady Mrs Mubarak, and Rüdiger Nehberg and Annette Weber for TARGET as initiators of the conference. Grand Mufti Professor Ali Gom’a, the highest authority on Islamic Law in Egypt, acted as patron of the conference.
The sensational result: “Female genital mutilation contravenes the highest values of Islam and is therefore a punishable crime.” In other words: genital mutilation of girls and women is forbidden in Islam!

The Grand Mufti suggested the location and the participants. It could not have gone better. The Azhar is the “Mecca for scholars”. It is also the oldest and largest university in the world. The Grand Mufti is the most senior authority for the creation of binding decrees. His decisions give direction to Muslims across the globe.

The main aim of the two-day conference was to clarify the issue of whether the holy scriptures contain a binding commandment from the Prophet to mutilate girls. The scholars discussed this. There is a Hadith (tradition relating to the words and deeds of the Prophet - written down after his death), from which a Sunna (exemplary behaviour modelled on the Prophet) has previously been derived. As a consequence the “light” circumcision of women became a desirable practice. The Hadith are divided into strong, that means absolutely believable, less strong and weak (thus a less certain tradition) writings.

This was discussed with surprising openness. The theologists were soon agreed that this particular Hadith should be graded as “weak”, thus as less believable. The question that still requires clarification is whether the “light” mutilation can actually be assessed as bodily harm. It is generally belittled and compared to circumcision of men. In “cases of doubt“ the Qur’an demands that we “ask the scientists”! Therefore, five doctors were invited, experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Germany. One speaker was Professor Kentenich from the DRK Hospital in Berlin. Increased value was placed on the doctors’ judgements by patron Ali Gom’a and Sheikh Qaradawi from Qatar. For many Muslims the man from the Gulf State is the “shifting work of reference for Islam”.

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