Mr President and Ma,
It is quite disheartening to know that you issued an executive order to ban female circumcision in The Gambia. Sometimes I wonder what kind of Islam you are propagating; one minute you are out there articulating and commanding like a devout muslim and another moment you are doing things that totally go against Islam. You recently issued directives to ban female circumcision and under 18 marriages. Do you even know what Islam says about these issues and how it addresses them? The age 18 is a western invented cap which has nothing to do with a girl’s attainment of adolescence. Most girls in this era reach puberty at the age of 13 and 14 on average which is the baseline period for marriage in Islam and not your own invented age limit. What you have done is to leave girls who have reached puberty before 18 with no option if they can’t control their urges but to indulge in premarital affairs. You keep ranting that we are muslims and will live by the book yet virtually every word and action of yours goes totally against the Quran and sunnah. Listen to your scholars and lower your wings over them so that you learn and be guided.
Now to Gamcotrap; I once listened to your radio program – “sitabaa koto” one morning as well as the comments and sentiments from diverse callers with a great mind and meticulousness in order to ascertain your justification for the fight against what you call female genital mutilation. At this point I want to confess that I have personally met both you (Dr. Touray) and Amie and am marvelled by your level of conviction, determination and zeal to succeed in your struggles including female circumcision as I call it, but I found both of you as perfect gentlewomen-a fact I cannot rubble under the carpet.
Notwithstanding, I wish to register my discomfort and disagreement with some very disturbing remarks I heard from your panel that morning regarding the status of circumcision in Islam. Allow me to quote that you said “female circumcision is not DEEN as it has not been mentioned anywhere in the Quran or in the authentic traditions of the Prophet (S.A.W).” I was even more abashed when a gentleman from Salikenia in Badibou I presume, called debunking in the strongest possible terms that female circumcision is not Islam. With all due respect gentle man and ladies, Islam is not a religion that every “fodayring” and “fodaybaa” can express his/her own personal opinion or opinions of some misguided, self centered and petro dollar scholars. I intend to demystify all these misconceptions with textual proofs from the authentic traditions of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) insha Allah and hopefully we will land at a common ground.
Firstly I wish to strongly condemn the way and manner in which the practice of female circumcision is conducted in the Gambia as it is extreme and culminate into lot of hardship and prejudice for the victims. This I would second your opinion that it is unislamic and barbaric and should be discouraged at all levels in our society. However, the fact that we have a harmful tradition in our society in this matter does not give us carte blank to condemn a practice which is considered Sunnah accordingly to the majority of the rightly guided exegesis of Islam in the likes of Imam Ahmad, Ibn Hajar, Shaikh Uthaymeen, An Nawawi, Ibn Al Qayyim amongst others. I have culled some useful references from the hadith and scholarly opinions regarding the manner in which it should be done and status of the practice in Islam (whether Sunnah or not). At this point I want to warn that it is dangerous and blasphemous for anyone to propagate the idea that female circumcision is barbaric and unislamic. Although we don’t know of reports that the prophet (S.A.W) circumcised any of his daughters but it is proven that he acquiesced to the practice through some people who were performing it and other authentic reports that could be traced back to him in no uncertain terms. Let’s examine some of the following reports and scholarly opinions that substantiate my point;
It is narrated that the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) advised a woman who did circumcision in Madeenah as to the proper way of circumcision. It was narrated by Abu Dawood (5271), al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat, and al-Bayhaqi in al-Shu’ab from Umm ‘Atiyyah al-Ansaariyyah that a woman used to do circumcision in Madeenah, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to her: “Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman and more liked by the husband.” This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
According to another report: “Take only a little and do not go to extremes.” Although I am aware of the fact that some people doubt the authenticity of this hadith but even for the sake of sheer argument there is still a mountain of evidence on this issue.
It is also indicated by the general meaning of the evidence that has been narrated concerning circumcision, such as the hadeeth in al-Bukhaari (5891) and Muslim (527) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him): I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and plucking the armpit hair.”
In Saheeh Muslim (349) it is narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory.”
According to a report narrated by al-Tirmidhi (109) and elsewhere: “When the two circumcised parts meet…”
Al-Bukhaari used this phrase as a chapter heading.
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said: What is meant by this metaphor is the circumcised parts of the man and the woman.
Female circumcision is done by cutting a small part of the skin that looks like a rooster’s comb, above the exit of the urethra. The Sunnah is not to cut all of it, but rather a part of it. Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (19/28).
The Shaafa’is, the Hanbalis according to the well-known view of their madhhab, and others are of the view that circumcising women is obligatory. Many scholars are of the view that it is not obligatory in the case of women; rather it is Sunnah and is an honour for them.
But we would like to point out here that it has medical benefits to which attention should be paid, regardless of the difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether it is obligatory or mustahabb (liked).
In light of all these insurmountable evidences accentuated above; how can anyone declare all out war against a tradition that is already legislated as per the life the Prophet (s.a.w)?
Finally, I am appealing to you Mr President and the executive of GAMCOTRAP to look back and reflect on the course you are fighting.
I hope this letter would serve as a gentle reminder for you and please fear Allah in this regard.
Your brother in Islam