They’ve done a lot of research on it, but what it is they’re still not sure. (Thanks, Bob.)
There I go again, making light of a serious, serious problem. Sherene Hassan, an executive committee member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, is enraged — enraged — that people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who speak about female genital mutilation and honor killing as if they’re Muslim problems, when people other than Muslims practice them.
I know how she feels. The other day a friend of mine was going 90 in a 60 zone, and cars were still zooming past him. When the highway patrolman stopped him for speeding, he pointed out to him that there were plenty of cars going faster — and that meant he wasn’t speeding, right? Right?
“Islamophobia is a disease,” by Sherene Hassan in the Herald Sun, with thanks to Doc Washburn:
…Things were looking up for Muslims. I noticed with some relief that we had managed to avoid the headlines for four consecutive weeks.
This dramatically changed in the aftermath of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s scathing attack on Islam’s treatment of women two weeks ago.
Now more than ever, Islam has become inextricably linked with misogyny.
Ali’s chilling account of the mutilation she was forced to endure as a child rang alarm bells across the nation, and rightly so.
This deplorable act warrants nothing less than unequivocal condemnation.
But the Islamophobic onslaught by talkback callers after her visit was disturbing.
You may have missed Ali noting that female genital mutilation predated Islam because this was almost never emphasised. This, however, does not make it any less true.
Evidence from mummies suggests that female circumcision originated in the Nile valley 4000 years ago.
To this day, it is practised in parts of Africa by some Muslims and Christians and animist tribes.
So what? If Christians and animists practice female genital mutilation in Africa, that should be energetically opposed in all possible ways. However, making sure to point out that some Christians and animists also practice this barbarity does nothing to mitigate the destructive force of the approval given to it by some high Islamic authorities. While many say that there is nothing in Islam which requires female genital mutilation, one of Sunni Islam’s “Four Great Imams,” Ahmad ibn Hanbal (from whom the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence takes its name) quotes Muhammed as saying “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.”
The Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence considers female genital mutilation obligatory. The Hanbalis consider it not obligatory but sunnah — accepted practice. The Hanafis consider it “a mere courtesy to the husband” (‘Umdat al-Salik e4.3).
This gives female genital mutilation an official sanction that it does not enjoy in other contexts, making it much more difficult to eradicate. But Sherene Hassan, instead of acknowledging all this and trying to deal with it, just points the finger at others.
Nevertheless, Ali’s broader message especially as popularly understood, remains clear.
Islam is responsible for perpetuating this vicious practice as evidenced by the Somali imams in her village.
They insisted on it, she said, to “keep girls pure”. Ali is far less forthcoming about the Christian and animist tribes who do the same.
But it seems we are only comfortable thinking of female genital mutilation as an “Islamic practice.”
The same might be said of so-called honour killings, which as fate would have it, also found their way into the headlines last week.
The Daily Telegraph in Britain revealed that 20-year-old Kurd Banaz Mahmod was murdered and buried in a back garden because her parents disapproved of her relationship with an Iranian man.
The report drew a link between honour killings and Islam. It said some Muslim communities in Britain practised sharia law and there was an increase in observance of sharia law partly because of “the rise of Islamic fundamentalism”.
But, here again, we are talking about a pre-Islamic multi-faith phenomenon.
Honour killings have their roots in ancient Hammurabi and Assyrian law.
In the UK, officials state that Italian and Greek migrant families have committed similar atrocities.
Is that so? I suppose it’s possible, but in any case, here again: Italian and Greek migrant families are almost certainly Christian, and thus are transgressing the Christian prohibition of murder when they commit honor killings. By way of contrast, you may recall that the Jordanian Parliament declined on Islamic grounds to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Unless and until Sherene Hassan confronts this, no amount of “Islamophobia”-crying will do anything to end female genital mutilation and honor killing among Muslims.