Part 1 introduced the subject of Female Circumcision in Islam (IFC), contrasting it with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a subject currently under popular discussion in the Western world; FGM is a practice rightly to be condemned as contradictory to Islam. The two are distinct. We also presented ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) fully accepting FC and defining how it is to be done; and we argued for the position that IFC is best taken to be wajib, an obligation, although some schools consider it mukarramah (recommended). Here, in Part 2 we present compelling evidence, as discovered by modern medical researchers, for the benefits of IFC for both the wife and the husband.
Health Benefits of Female Circumcision
As we saw in Part 1, the clitoral prepuce is very similar to the male foreskin in both structure and potential harm when left without surgical removal. The foul-smelling, cheese-like smegma, which is secreted below the clitoral prepuce, is similar to the smegma produced under the male foreskin. Under the foreskin is an ideal breeding ground for germs which can result in serious health issues when that hard-to-get-at, enclosed area is not kept clean. The best solution to avoid this problem in the female, aside from the inconvenient frequent washing under the prepuce, is circumcision, i.e., the removal of that thin covering which tends to prevent full cleanliness.
In fact, circumcision is all the more important an issue to address in the female than it is in the male. Let us be clear —and women know this only too well, but do not like to admit it— that the genital hygiene of uncircumcised women is, on average, poorer than that of men because of the numerous folds and the semi-hidden position of her clitoris. Whether we women like it or not, we need to admit that it is much easier for men to retract and clean regular buildup of the smegma collecting beneath their foreskins than for women to clean under the prepuse of their clitoris. This is because of the anatomical differences in our genital organs. This is why Dr. Edwin D. Hirsch included in his 1962 book Sexual Fear, comments on how to conquer frigidity:
“The ‘buried’ or concealed clitoris is a common anatomical cause of sexual anesthesia. Frequently this is due to lack of clitoral hygiene. We know this to be a causative factor, for when the ‘buried’ glans clitoridis is elevated out of its bed by separating the strands of tissue which have grown over it, clumps of stale, foul-smelling secretion (smegma) surround this structure. Periodically the hood or foreskin of the clitoris should be retracted so that the accumulated secretions that collect thereunder may be easily removed by soap suds and a slight amount of friction. When the fear of this hygienic process is done away with, a large number of frigidity cases will be automatically corrected” (Taken directly from https://sailanmuslim.com/sailan-muslimah/female-circumcision-an-islamic-perspective/ “Health Benefits” paragraph 2)
Among the various medical studies that have shown the harmful nature of the female foreskin are the 1922 studies of researchers Clodi and Schoppers in the Wiener Klinische Wochenshrift which revealed that the germ which causes the sexually transmitted disease (STD) Gonorrhea / gonococci thrives “in the fissure between the clitoris and the prepuce” …where “they could find none in the urethra, vigina and cervix.” (p. 304), in fact infecting as many as 74 percent of the cases studied. They noted that the discovery had much relevance to infection and re-infection of the female genitals, as the continued presence of these micro-organisms delayed a cure.
Also, the researchers I. Pilot and A.E. Canter (“Studies of Fusiform bacilli and spirochetes,” The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1923) examined the smegma of women obtained by pushing back the clitoral prepuce and guess what… to their horror, they discovered harmful staphylococci which they wrote were capable of causing ulcerative and gangrenous processes in the female genitals. Such processes, needless to say, had the potential to cause genital cancers in women. (ibid “Health Benefits” paragraph 3)
This is not all. We all know how frequently Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) occur in women. But did you know that they most frequently occur in women who have not been circumcised. Dr. Royal Benson did some research on this and found that UTIs which very often plague women was very likely caused by smegma buildup between the prepuse and the clitoris. The solution he recommended was simple: circumcision of the female as of the male. (https://sailanmuslim.com/sailan-muslimah/female-circumcision-an-islamic-perspective/, “Health Benefits” paragraph 5)
Oral sex is controversial and whether it is allowed or not in Islam is debatable. But the fact is that many women do engage in it. The practice is fraught with much danger to their partners if these women are not circumcised in that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), when transported from the private parts to the partner’s mouth can result in oral cancer. The HPV virus has been shown to have a very congenial environment under the prepuce of the clitoris, where it thrives and breeds. Maura Gillison and team showed in the New England Journal of Medicine (2007) that HPV infection is the strongest risk factor for oral cancer when transmitted by oral sex. Again, female circumcision would preclude the risk of oral cancer through this pathway. (ibid, “Health Benefits” paragraph 9)
Sexual Benefits of Female Circumcision
Did you know that there are a variety of studies, although not widely available, suggesting that IFC (Islamic Female Circumcision) meaning removal of the clitoral prepuce —a.k.a. “hoodectomy”— improves sexual pleasure in women? Among them are these:
- F. McDonald, “Circumcision of the Female” published in the General Practitioner of September, 1958
(ibid, “Fulfilling Sex Lives”)
- -W. G. Rathmann, “Female Circumcision, Indications and a New Technique.” General Practitioner, September, 1959
(ibid, “Fulfilling Sex Lives”)
- -Dr. Takey Crist’s “Female Circumcision” contributed to Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality August, 1977.
(ibid, “Fulfilling Sex Lives”)
- -Saeed Mohamad Ahmad Thabet and Ahmed S.M.A. Thabet, “Defective sexuality and female circumcision: the cause and the possible management,” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, February 2003
This last pair of researhers, associated with the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, showed that Islamic female circumcision (IFC) had no adverse effect on women’s sexuality and actually improved it —in contrast to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which reduced sexual pleasure. This groundbreaking study involved three groups:
- 30 uncircumcised women (the control group),
- 30 minorly circumcised women (Islamic circumcisions involving excision solely of the clitoral prepuce)
- 30 circumcised mutilated women (FGM involving excision of the glans, the whole clitoris and labia minora)
So what did this study find? Something very interesting. It found that sexual sensitivity was not affected in minorly (Islamically) circumcised cases though it was markedly affected in the mutilated (FGM) cases. Here are the sex scores of the three groups:
Orgasm Average Score:
- The uncircumcised control group showed a score of 12.5 (± 1)
- The minorly (Islamically) circumcised group scored 12.4 (± 7)
- The mutilated (FGM) group scored 6.0 (± 9).
Sexual Satisfaction Average Score:
- The uncircumcised control group scored 8.0 (± 9)
- The minorly (Islamically) circumcised scored 8.3 ( ± 1)
- The mutilated (FGM) scored 7.3 (± 84).
So it is clear that in the Orgasm Score the uncircumcised and Islamically circumcised were roughly the same, while in the Sexual Satisfaction Score the Islamically circumcised did better than the uncircumcised group.
My Conclusion: Let’s consider it, ladies!
As we have shown, female circumcision is established in the Islamic faith as fully permissable and even recommendable—when done properly as described by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Part 1). To many of us it is an obligatory duty when we study it with an unbiased mind, as I have done.
The association of Islamic Female circumcision (IFC) with the horrors of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has put off some Muslim women from even contemplating the benefits of the IFC procedure. Sadly, the mistaken belief that IFC is in the same category as FGM, coupled with deliberate misinformation conflating the two, has resulted in certain countries, especially in the West, outlawing it in the case of minors.
The wording of the law in many cases, as in the United Kingdom in 2003 and New Zealand in 1996), would appear to apply to FGM but not to IFC, as described here in the following articles of law:
- The United Kingdom Act regarding FGM states: (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris. (2) But no offence is committed by an approved person who performs (a) a surgical operation on a girl which is necessary for her physical or mental health.
- The definition of FGM in section 204A(1) of the Crimes Act 1961 (New Zealand) is as follows: “’Female genital mutilation’ means the excision, infibulation, or mutilation of the whole or part of the labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris of any person.”
Thus, it could be expected that hoodectomy is to be allowed under the laws of the U.K. and New Zealand since the procedure does not harm the clitoris and serves a hygienic purpose. This has yet to be tested in the courts, however.
It is not known whether this definition includes Islamic Female Circumcision, which is limited to the removal of the prepuce (“hood”) of the clitoris and which does not mutilate, or even touch, the clitoris itself. However, if the definition does include the limited form of female circumcision permitted in Islam (removal of the prepuce only), the procedure could still be performed under section 204A(3), which permits medical or surgical procedures for the sake of the person’s physical or mental health. This is entirely consistent with the Islamic conditions which are attached to the procedure. I would be grateful if some of our readers could present the current and up-to-date legal situation in other countries.
Further, be aware that ‘[Clitoral] Hoodectomy,’ or ‘Clitoral Hood Reduction’ the more popular term for female circumcision, is deemed a perfectly legal cosmetic procedure in the West and cosmetic surgery is certainly allowed everywhere for adult women. In fact, in the US, thousands of women choose to get it done yearly and there is nothing to stop Muslim women having it done as adults in keeping with our religious obligations and practices.
As we noted earlier, what Islam requires for female circumcision is to remove the partial ring of skin around the clitoris, and nothing more. This is a very simple medical procedure and is analogous to removing the foreskin of our little boys. It can be done at any age. No fuss, only the anaesthetic injection hurts a bit, like an ant bite, and after that it heals up. It’s sore for a day or so.
In Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia it can be done at a much younger age including in infancy —as done in the case of baby boys in the US. It is done in a very hygienic environment, in a clinical setting, by trained female practitioners. A recent state fatwa (2009) in Malaysia, by the National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs, requires that all Muslim women be circumcised, laying down the proper Islamic procedure to be followed, which has facilitated medicalization of the practice. Rumah Sunatan, Indonesia’s largest chain of circumcision clinics now offers circumcision for girls as well.
Let me conclude with a statement by one sister after I explained to her its benefits:
“I’m getting mine done for hygiene reasons and sexual satisfaction; and I believe it is Sunnah. Also think about it Sisters, your husband is the last man in your intimate life, In Sha Allah, so you will want to become satisfied by him with the greatest ease and also make your intimacy as hygienic as possible, Alhamdullilah.”