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Popular Saudi Sheikh Alarefe warns of the way FGM is done

6.8.2014. By Stop FGM Middle East.

Responding to a question by a caller on his Youtube program, the Saudi Sheikh Mohammad Al Arefe warned of female genital mutilation saying: “Today it’s chaos, women who do it are not experts and they ruin the girls’ vagina and impact her adult life… if we need to do it, it should be done by a doctor or else it shouldn’t be done at all (…)”. He also distanced himself from the strict Shafa’i interpretation which sees FGM as a must and he questioned the strength of the Hadith which calls FGM a good deed: “because it has been proven that it is not a good deed, and it was a habit done by Arabs pre Islam.”

With 9 million followers on twitter, Mohammad Al Arefe is one of the most popular religious scholars worldwide. In the discussion about FGM his words count immensely because he is an official representative of the conservative Wahabi interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia which for many pious Muslims worldwide is a place they look for advice. Al Arefe holds a post as Imam of the Mosque of the King Fahd academy of the Saudi Navy and was a student of Abdel Aziz Ibn Baz, the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia until 1999.

While Alarefe did not condemn FGM all together and did in fact assert that it was in accordance with Islam if done properly his warnings are still of great value in times when Salafists in many countries demand women to undergo FGM.

It is due to devoted opponents of FGM and activists in Middle Eastern countries that a number of prominent Islamic scholars have gone into opposition to FGM. Only recently, the Shia Ayatollah Khamenei and Ayatollah Al Sistani opposed FGM. With Sheikh Alerefe as an example going ahead hopefully other prominent Sunni scholars will follow.

Here is the translation of Al Arefe’s Youtube session:

Caller: I want to know the Shari’a opinion on the Pharaonic circumcision, where they cut the clitoris. I want to know about the Sunni circumcision, and where it’s hard to do it out side the hospital rooms and were it requires anesthesia, what should a regular Muslim do?

Arefe:

God bless you (…) As for the circumcision, the Arabs, before the prophet came into the world, were very familiar with circumcision whether for men or for women. Abu Sufyan when he met Hercules, was checked before Hercules people and they found out he was circumcised, and he (Hercules) says this is where the faculty of circumcision has emerged!

It was also known in Egypt (where the Pharao name stems from), and it was mentioned many times in Hadith of the Prophet: ‘ If the two circumcised have met, you will have to wash again(.) And when he meant the “two circumcised” he meant for both men and women. The circumcision is a sunnah and a wajib.  Because prophet Ibrahim was circumcised when he was 80, so circumcision for men is wajib, () and where it’s proven to be healthy and useful.

But for women, some sects are not so serious about it like Malikis and some are too orthodox about it like Shafa’i who see it as wajib.

But now, unfortunately, those who do it, they do it in ways its harmful. Oum Ateyah who used to do it while living during the prophet times, was banned to cut deep. Today its chaos, women who do it are not experts and they ruin the girls’ vagina, and impact her adult life besides the (health) implications it has… if we need to do it, it should be done by a doctor or else it shouldn’t be done at all (…)

There is hadith saying that circumcision is a good deed to women, but is a wajib for men (tabari) but its a weak hadith, because it has been proven that it is not a good deed, and it was a habit done by Arabs pre Islam.

If it was done by a doctor then it should be ok, but if its done like today, and then it can’t be ok.