Ali Gomaa, the statue-hatin’, wife-beatin’, Hizballah-supportin’ Mufti of Egypt, now says that female genital mutilation is wrong, apparently reversing the Shafi’i school’s traditional judgment that it is obligatory (cf. ‘Umdat al-Salik e4.3). It will be interesting to see what actions, if any, he takes in order to back up this ruling.
“Mufti bans female circumcision,” from Reuters (thanks to JE):
Egypt’s state-appointed Grand Mufti said today female genital cutting is forbidden by Islam.
His pronouncement came after an 11-year-old girl died while undergoing the procedure at a private medical clinic in southern Egypt.
Genital cutting of girls, often referred to as female genital mutilation or circumcision, is banned in Egypt although the practice remains widespread as a rite of passage for girls and is often viewed as a way to protect their chastity.
“The harmful tradition of circumcision that is practised in Egypt in our era is forbidden,” Mufti Ali Gomaa was quoted as saying by the Egyptian state news agency MENA.
There are a couple of weasel words in there. Does he mean that if it is practiced in a different way from how it is practiced in Egypt in our era, it would be all right?
The statement was the strongest yet against the practice by the Mufti, who is the government’s official arbiter of Islamic law. The Grand Sheikh of Cairo’s prestigious al-Azhar mosque, Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, had previously described the practice as un-Islamic, although some other clerics have supported it.
Both Tantawi and Coptic Pope Shenouda, the leader of Egypt’s minority Christian community, have said that neither the Koran nor the Bible demand or mention female circumcision, which is usually performed on pre-pubescent girls….
The practice is performed on both Muslim and Christian girls in Egypt and Sudan, but is extremely rare in most of the rest of the Arab world. It is also common in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
A 2005 UNICEF report on the practice showed that 97 per cent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had been circumcised.
Egypt’s campaign to end female cutting has included television programs aimed at persuading parents to abandon the ancient practice.