Linked on our blogs with Give someone you never met, a gift they will never forget, with Clinic to fight taboo of female mutilation, and with Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices IAC. – Published on The Voice of the Cape, by Hassan Isilow, January 20, 2011.
… For nearly 17 years, migrants from all parts of the world have been flocking to South Africa, bringing with them their cultural practices. Some of these practices have long died out in South Africa because it violates the dignity and human rights of women and children. A VOC investigation found that one such practice is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is secretly taking place in some migrant communities in South Africa.
However, other ulema have differed on the issue. On 28 May 1949, the Egyptian Fatwa committee on FGM decided that it was not a sin to reject female circumcision. However, in June 1951, the same committee stated that female circumcision is desirable because it curbs “nature” (i.e. sexual drive among women). It stated that medical concerns over the practice are irrelevant. And in January 1981, The Great Sheikh of Al-Azhar (the most famous University of the Islamic World) stated that parents must follow the lessons of the Prophet (PBUH) and not listen to medical authorities because the latter often change their minds. Parents must do their duty and have their daughters circumcised.
However, in a turn of events, the Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gumaa, announced in 2007 that FGM was a prohibited custom. The Mufti’s announcement came two months after he attended an international conference on FGM in Cairo sponsored by TARGET, a German human rights group. The conference held in November 2006 declared that FGM was contrary to Islam and an attack on women.
According to The Age, an online news source, Egypt’s two top Islamic clerics, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, the foremost theological institute in the Sunni Muslim world, and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, are said to have attended the November 2006 conference, which drew scholars from as far afield as Russia. Tantawi and Gomaa are reported to have agreed with TARGERT on the outlawing of FGM.
Locally, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said the practise of FGM has died out in the Cape over the last 30 years. “This is a practise that could be found even in small rural towns until the 1970’s. In most cases, certain senior women in the community were responsible for it; very often it was the ‘motjie imam’, the wife of the imam. However, of late this practise has practically disappeared in the Cape,” said Maulana Yusuf Karaan, mufti of the MJC. He added that the MJC deferred to the fatwa by the late Sheik Tantawi on this issue. VOC/AGENCIES. (full long text).