Male Genital Alteration in Islam

In Islam male circumcision is performed for reasons of ritual cleanliness or purity; the term used is fitra, which implies both physical hygiene and inner purity. Cleanliness is required for prayer to be efficacious; the uncircumcised male faces the possibility that some trace of urine will remain under the foreskin and his prayers will be nullified. Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but is part of the second source of Islamic law: hadith (the sayings and doings of the Prophet). Further, the obligation of circumcision can be inferred from the fact that Allah (God) told the Prophet Muhammed to follow the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham), and Ibrahim considered circumcision important enough to rectify his own uncircumcised state even at the advanced age of ninety-nine.

Depending upon the particular Islamic tradition and which scholars are most influential, male circumcision can be considered either obligatory or strongly recommended. The Prophet Muhammed recommended that circumcision be performed at an early age. In many Muslim cultures, the preferred time is on the seventh day after birth, and that is the common practice among North American Muslims.

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