Female Genital Alteration

It would be a mistake to assume an identity between Islam and female genital alteration. Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the most conservative Muslim nations, abjure the practice, while non-Muslim minorities living in predominantly Islamic cultures sometimes embrace it. Further, traditional genital surgeries are performed in some non-Islamic African cultures. Nonetheless, the majority of people who practice some form of this custom identify with Islam, either as a religion or as a culture.

As is the case with male circumcision, the female procedure is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but claims for its legitimacy come from hadith. The use of the word sunna (meaning to follow the path of the Prophet) as the term signifying one form of the female procedure suggests that the practice is commendatory or virtuous. Similarly, the colloquial Arabic term for female circumcision is taharas referring to a state of ritual purity. The hadith include a saying of the Prophet that ritual circumcisers should "not overdo it, because [the clitoris] is lucky for the woman and dear to the husband." This hadith (although considered somewhat weak in its authenticity) is used by some Muslims to argue against the more severe forms of female genital alteration (Winkel).

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