by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik.
In this book, I would like to stress the importance of Muslim feminism and official Islam in the struggle against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Female Genital Mutilation or Female Genital Cutting is a practice still perpetuated in many countries of the Muslim world to control women’s sexual life, oppress them, deprive them of their dignity, and avoid their sexual satisfaction.
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Opposing this horrible tradition, true Islam guarantees sexual rights to women. Women in Islam have the right to be sexually satisfied. Therefore, as a logical consequence, FGM is anti-Islamic, because anything that opposes women and their dignity is anti-Islamic in its core message.
According to the Quranic message, men and women were created in the best form (Quran 95:4 reads: “We have created the human being in the best form”). Regarding marriage and relationships between women and men as Allah’s creatures, Quran 30:21 reads:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”
If Islamic marriage is based on affection and mercy between wife and husband, how can FGM be accepted in an Islamic environment, which supports sexual satisfaction as a means of familiar and social peace and tranquillity?
Many Muslims oppose FGM in the name of Islam, but they are too few, and their voices are not heard. Many prefer to ignore the problem or are afraid of talking about this taboo issue in their communities because the sexual and intimate life of women is a very private affair, not to be discussed in public. However, the fact that the lives of these women is destroyed since their childhood by a horrifying tradition like FGM means that this is not a private matter, but something we have to fight against as a Muslim community, society, and ummah as a whole, women and men.
The paradox of FGM is that women themselves perpetuate this crime. FGM is practised by the older women of a society on small girls to achieve their so-called “purity”; it is a rite of passage to make them “fit for marriage”. It is violence by women against women.
However, in the end FGM destroys the entire society, as women are the pillar of Muslim societies, and according to the Prophet of Islam “Paradise is at the feet of the mother”. The mother has extreme responsibility towards her children and the entire society. Thus, FGM opposes this responsibility because it destroys the life of the following generation of women.
Therefore, my question is: How to struggle against FGM in the name of Islam?
First, we have to prove, using sources from the Quran and Sunna, that Islam is a Creation-oriented faith and belief, which opposes physical mutilation in general because Allah’s creation is perfect.
Secondly, we have to struggle against all traditions opposing the dignity, the rights and the protection granted to women by Islam.
Thirdly, the importance of sexual life in Islam should be highlighted, to remove taboos and to speak out about the violations of female sexual rights in society. Sexual needs are fundamental needs for promoting peace and tranquillity in Muslim families and societies.
Fourthly, men must be involved in the struggle against FGM in Muslim societies. Men must be educated to respect women and to ban their mutilation in the name of Islam. FGM must be fought against to save marital relationships, which are ultimately important in Islam. Moreover, FGM destroys sexual life for both men and women even if it is of course women that suffer more from it on all levels in comparison to men.
Fifthly, women must be educated as regards their self-conscience, their dignity and their self-value. They have to be empowered as women, mothers, daughters, sisters in the name of Islam, because as Zaynab al-Ghazali said:
“If women are the sisters of men as one hadith suggests, then the Islamist occupation with the question of difference and the (secular) feminist claim that Muslim women have a gender-specific concern miss the point”.