Female Genital Mutilation Is 'Un-Islamic,' Says Britain's Largest Muslim Organization

Britain's largest Muslim organization has condemned female genital mutilation as "un-Islamic."

Muslim Women Headscarf Hijab
Women wears a full-face veil as they shop in London September 16, 2013. |

The Muslim Council of Britain has announced a public campaign to speak against FGM and encourage local mosques to do the same by arguing that one of the "basic principles" of Islam is that adherents do not harm one another or themselves. To that end, MCB will send flyers to the 500 mosques which are members of MCB and other community centers warning of the 14 years in prison that those who perform the operation may face.

According to the World Health Organization, FGM "comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."

"FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies," it states. "Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue."

The WHO identifies 125 million girls and women in African and Middle Eastern countries as victims of FGM and blames the practice on a "mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities," including "beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity."

"Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioners often believe the practice has religious support," the website states, although it does not mention Islam by name.

The MCB's flyer reiterates this message.

"FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur'an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute."

Dr. Shuja Shafi, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he was "pleased to address this very important issue."

"Working closely together we can end this practice and ensure it is no longer linked to the religion of Islam or the teachings of the prophet Muhammad."

Dr. Soheir Elneil, whose organization Forward also helped to create the flyer, has a goal of bringing FGM to an end within a generation.

"This is the first time such a publication has been achieved with the full cooperation and support of the relevant parties, and we hope all those working in FGM will find it a helpful tool in the work that they do," she said. "It states that FGM is non-Islamic and is against the teachings of Islam, that it is putting the health of women and girls at risk, and informs the reader of the legal implications in the UK of carrying out the practice."

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