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Female circumcision, has been a point of contention for many years with regard to Islam, as Islam or more specifically the Quran and "secret" texts of it have often been used as the sited foundation of the practice. What is abundantly clear is that this practice in its mildest to most extreme forms predates the Quran and the Prophet Mohamed. Once again this may be an example of a situation where Mohamed observed something that he believed was hurting women and he attempted to control the practice. Though there is also evidence that this is not something Mohamed would ever have observed, as it was a secluded practice, performed by women on women and that it was not prolific within the region, where he lived and traveled.
Leonard 168) the Quranic evidence associated with circumcision is limited to two passages. One Hadeeth discusses circumcision in this manner. "Circumcision is a commendable act for men (Sunnah) and an honorable thing for women (Makromah)." According to scholarly sources the two most common observations made about this Hadeeth are that, "a) a distinction is made between male circumcision which is described in a stronger religious term (Sunnah) or commendable while another weaker description is given to female circumcision (Makromah) which implies no religious obligation. b) This Hadeeth is of weak authenticity (dha'eef) according to Hadeeth scholars." The second passage put up for interpretation is more authentic according to Hadeeth scholars and is said to have been spoken by the prophet while he was passing a woman performing circumcision on a young girl. His instructions were:
Cut off only the foreskin (outer fold of skin over the clitoris; the prepuce) but do not cut off deeply (i.e. The clitoris itself), for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband." While the Prophet (P) did not explicitly ban this practice, his words project a great deal of sensitivity to the instinctive needs of females and their matrimonial happiness and legitimate enjoyment. Reference to the brightness of the face and to better relationship with the husband is clear indications of his sensitivity and compassion.
Reformation was the flavor of the day and Mohamed and his interpreters had a great deal to say about the excesses of power, among men and therefore the protection of women. It must be said that the Quran, just as with any other doctrine of faith or pronouncement of philosophical truth can be interpreted and utilized for the sake of ambition. In cultures and societies where ambition, through progress is sought by enfranchising the previously disenfranchised, namely women, there is a much more reformative style of interpretation and in societies where ambition is sought through extreme enforcement of archaic ideals, such as is the case of the fundamentalist movements, the interpretation is strict, often erring, as many beleive on the side of conservatism.
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Leonard, Lori. "9 Adopting Female "circumcision" in Southern Chad: the Experience of Myabe." Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change. Ed. Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000. 167-191.
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