2 September 2011

What do different faiths say about FGM?

‘FGM has never been in a part of Christianity as a faith system. There are not scriptural or doctrinal documents existing within the larger Christian tradition that even address the issue. The only contemporary examples of Christians practicing FGM are in Africa (some Copts, Ethiopian Christians and African tribes). As FGM rituals predated the missionaries work in North Africa, many tribes continue to practice as a matter of cultural traditional, unrelated to religious belief’.

‘Mention of female circumcision appears nowhere in Judaism and is not mentioned in the Torah. The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion states that female circumcision was never allowed. The minority Ethiopian Jewish community (Beta Israel) practice FGM in a non-religious ceremony. It may be performed only by a Jewish woman. Toubia (1995) states that “female circumcision is not even mentioned in any religious text” and that scholars in Africa “would testify that (in Africa) traditional tribal rituals commonly supersede religion”. Many Ethiopian Jews who immigrate to Israel abandon the practice of FGM.

Under Islam, ‘FGM is commanded by the Qur’an but Type 1 Circumcision (also called Sunni Circumcision) is practiced by a variety of Sunni Muslims. Sheikh Ali Gomaa has stated “the traditional form of excision is practice totally banned by Islam because of the compelling evidence of the extensive damage if causes tow omen’s bodies and minds”. However, Sheikh Musa Mohammed Ommer, a member of the Executive Committee of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Ethiopia has said “there is not evidence from Islamic sources prohibiting female circumcision”, unless it is infibulation. The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools advocate female genital mutilation, while the Hanfi and Maliki describe it as sunnah.’

The Faith Against FGM Conference I helped organise earlier this year, has now placed five speeches from Christian and Islamic leaders, a specialist FGM health worker and a member of the UK Islam on You Tube (see links below). Three Rabbis from the Jewish community sent statements to be read out (as the conference was on a Saturday/Sabbath).

Professor Gamal Suleiman
Pastor Fyne Chuku
Joy Clarke
Pastor Ogbagebriel Kifle
Dr Reefat Drabu
Sheikh Mohamoud Dalmar