Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sometimes referred to euphemistically as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) or Female Circumcision, is one of the most barbaric practices in the world today. It is prohibited by law in the USA and many Western countries. Moreover, several US states have outlawed FGM, while legislation is pending in some others.

FGM is in fact associated with Islam, is supported in contemporary interpretation of Islamic scripture and has been endorsed by Islamic religious leaders. Shariah law manuals require and support the practice.

Muslims in America still practice FGM. At least some Muslims justify it based on religious freedom and, in at least one state in which anti-FGM legislation is currently working its way through the legislative process, one legislator reports receiving a phone call from a Muslim constituent urging her to oppose the legislation as “a conspiracy against the Muslim community.”

One of the most widely read Shariah law texts is Reliance of the Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law.

This book was translated into English in 1991. It has been endorsed by the President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the President of the Fiqh Council of North America, as well as Al Azhar Research Academy in Cairo, Egypt, the Sunni Islamic world’s foremost educational institution.

On page 59 of Reliance one finds this passage:

e4.3    Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)

As an explanation, there are several schools of Shariah jurisprudence, known as “fiqhs.” As the passage above explains, for some female “circumcision” is “obligatory.” For another it is considered “sunna.” For those who are not familiar with the term, sunna in the context of Shariah means a custom or norm established by practice, example, decision or tradition of the prophet Mohammed. As a source of Islamic law, the sunna of the prophet Mohammed is second in importance only to the Quran itself.

And of course, under another Shariah school of jurisprudence, female “circumcision” is seen as a “courtesy to the husband,” whatever that means…