Q&A (Fatwa)

#190: Ruling on Female Circumcision



“Salam alaykum. please I need somebody to educate us on female circumcision with respect to the hadith of the prophet. Because this is described now as female genital mutilation”



Firstly, we should realise that as Muslims, we take our dos and donts only from Allaah and His Messenger – salallaahu alayhi wasallam – and not from anyone else. This means that we do not allow the description given to female circumcision be the deciding factor in this matter.

Secondly, female circumcision is, in modern days, categorized into three.

1. Clitoridectomy: which is a surgical removal of the clitoris or the reduction of the clitoral glans. This is the kind of female circumcision that is discussed in Islam.

2. Surgical removal of the Labia Minor: this involves the removal of both the clitoris and the removal/reduction of the Labia Minor.

3. Surgical removal of all the outer female organs.

As for the last two, they are a mutilation, even according to Islam. Our Ulamaa narrate that in the reign of Umar bn ‘AbdilAziz – rahimahullaah – the punishment for female genital mutilation was the diyya due to the fact that such a mutilation reduces or eliminates her sexual pleasure in or outside sexual intercourse.

As for Clitoridectomy, this is what the Scholars of Islam discussed and differed about.
Before we go into their statements, it is important we mention the origin of this practice.

According to most historians, this practice began in Egypt and East Africa before it began to spread, and it preceded the circumcision of males. It is said that the geographical locations of the places where this practice took its root were temperate regions and it was first introduced as a way of controling or reducing femal excessive sexual urges and to contrrol the inflamation of the female organs during her arousal, that is because some women have naturally large clitoral glans that may be inflammed to as much as 3cm during arousal. Such an inflammation could cause embarasement for her or the anoyance of her husband during foreplay or during intercourse.

In the United States and Europe, the practice was in place till as late as the late 19th Century as a way of controlling masturbation in women due to its prevalence.

In Islam, the Rasul – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – said in the Hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah – radiyallaahu ‘anhu –

“Five things are a part of Fitra: Circumcision, removal of the pubic hairs, removal of the armpit hairs, cutting of the nails and the trimming of the moustache.” Recorded in the Sahihayn of Al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

Some of the Scholars viewed that the Circumcision mentioned here was not specific to men and should be made to apply to both sexes.

As for female circumcision, Imaam Abu Daawud recorded in his Sunan that the Rasul – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – once said to a woman (Umm ‘Atiyyah) who was responsible for female circumcision: ‘do not take out much as that is more beneficial to the woman and more beloving to the husband’
Shaykh Al-Albaani declared that Hadith Sahih in ‘Sahih Sunan Abi Daawud’

It was a practice the Rasul – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – met the arabs with as they used to do it before a woman gets married so as to prepare her for her husband. This is as opposed to male circumcision which was not common practice and for that reason, the Rasul – salallaahu alayhi wasallam – used to instruct every new man convert to Islam to ensure he is curcumcised.

The Verdict of the Fuqahaa:

1. The Shafi’is and the Hanbalis hold that circumcision is Waajib for both men and women.

This is also the verdict of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn Al-Qayyim among the Hanaabilah, and Al-Qaadi Abubakr bn Al-‘Arabi among the Maliki stalwarts.

An-Nawawi – rahimahullaah – said:

“Circumcision, to our school, is obligatory upon both men and women. This is the verdict of many of the Salaf – this was what Al-Khattaabi narrated. Of those who also considered it waajib include Ahmad. The authentic, official and well-known verdict (of our school) to which a text is attributed to Ash-Shaafi’i – rahimahullaah – and with which the majority fortified themselves, is that it is obligatory on men and women.
(Ref: ‘Al-Majmu’u’ 1/367/368)

Imaam Al-Bahuti Al-Hanbali – rahimahullaah – said:

“And it is obligatory to circumcise males and females” (Kashaafu Al-Qinaa’a 1/80)

Al-Haafidh ibn Hajar said similar thing in ‘Fat’hu Al-Baari’ 10/340

2. The Second verdict is that circumcision for both males and females is a Sunnah and not obligatory.

This is the verdict of Imaam Hasan Al-Basri, the Hanafis, it is a narration from Imaam Maalik and also a narration from Imaam Ahmad – rahimahumullaah.

Imaam Ibn Juzayy Al-Kalbi – rahimahullaah – said:

“As for circumcision, for men then it is an emphasized sunnah according to Maalik and Abu Hanifah just like the other (four aspects of) the fitrah (mentioned in the Hadith) which were mentioned to be obligatory by consensus.”

Ref: ‘Al- Qawaanin Al-Fiqhiyyah’ 1/129

Imaam An-Nawawi – rahimahullaah – said:

“Maalik and Abu Hanifah hold that it is a Sunnah for all (males and females). Same was mentioned by Ar-Raafi’i as an opinion in our school (madh’hab) and he (Ar-Raafi’i) also mentioned a third opinion (known in our school) which is that it is waajib on men and a sunnah for women.”
Ref: ‘Al-Majmu’u’ 1/367

Same was mentioned by the Hanafi Imaam Ibn ‘Aabideen – rahimahullaah – in ‘Haashiyatu Ar-Radd Al-Mukhtaar ‘alaa Ad-durri Al-Mukhtaar’ (6/751)

3. The third verdict is that it is waajib for men and a way of honouring the husband and a mustahabb for women. This is the verdict of some of the Maalikis such as Imaam Sahnun and a third narration attributed to Imaam Ahmad, this is the edict of the Hanbali Imaam Ibn Qudaamah – rahimahullaah – who said:

“As for circumcision, it is waajib on men and a honour for women and it is not a waajib for them. This is the verdict of many of the People of Knowledge.”
Ref: ‘Al-Mughni’ 1/63

The strongest of these fataawa is the third one – inshaa Allaah – for the following reasons:

1. The essence of male circumcision is to take off the fore-skin from the private part.

This fore-skin, if not removed accumulates dirts and impurities and disallows proper tahaarah (purification) after urination and intercourse, and for the fact that Tahaarah is waajib, it is understandable that male circumcision which will help in that be made waajib.

As for feminine circumcision, its main purpose is to limit and reduce female sexual urges.

2. Aside reducing sexual urges, other benefits attributed to female circumcision (Clitoridectomy) are related to the husband’s comfort except for the fact that at times the Clitoral Glans accumulate feminine discharge that may cause odour and pain if inflammed due to arousal.

That is why An-Nawawi said:

“The female circumcision is performed on the upper part of the private part (the Clitoris)” Sharhu Sahih Al-Muslim

3. All of these benefits, aside been relative, are depending on the wish of the husband and his wife, the culture of the people, and the nature of the wife.

4. But of course, if a woman fears that by not getting herself circumcised she will fall into Zina or what is haraam, then it becomes obligatory.

5. However, it is true that had female circumcision been the norm in most modern societies, the rate of Zinaa would reduce.

The inference to derive here is that Female circumcision is not obligatory but Mustahabb for women if her husband requires it of her.

Jazākumullāhu Khayran
Allaahu A’alam
Baarakallaahu feekum!



Islamnode is a platform for the dissemination of sound Knowledge of Islam and an orientation of Muslims of the Sciences of the Din in accordance with the Pristine Knowledge taught by the Rasul – Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam – to the Companions – Ridwanullah ‘Alayhim – and understood by them, their Students and those who followed them of the earliest generations. We follow the Sunnah of the Rasul – Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam – and promote the Works of the Ulama of Sunnah from the first generation to date. Our goal is to propagate the Sciences of Islam, to disseminate the sound understanding of the Salaf and to enable the sound education of Muslims in this era.

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