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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Khitān (Arabic: ختان‎) or Khatna (Arabic: ختنة‎) is the term for male circumcision carried out as an Islamic rite. It is also referred to by the term Taharah, 'purity'. Ritual circumcision is not mandated by the Qur'an, but serves to introduce males into the Islamic faith, and works as a sign of belonging to the wider Islamic community.[1] Islamic circumcision has as its closest counterpart, Jewish circumcision (Brit milah), however there are a number of key differences. Muslims are currently the largest single religious group to practice widespread circumcision.[1] However, it is not a condition for converting to Islam or carrying out religious duties.[2][3][4]


Religious sources

The Qur'an itself doesn't mention circumcision. In the time of Muhammad, circumcision was carried out by many Arabian tribes, among them Jews and Christians for religious reasons. Muhammad himself was circumcised, and circumcised his sons. Many of his early disciples were circumcised to symbolise their inclusion within the emerging Islamic community. These facts are mentioned several times in the hadith. Some hadith group circumcision with the fitra (acts considered to be of a refined person). Other such acts include: clipping or shaving pubic hair, cutting nails, cleaning teeth, plucking or shaving the hair under the armpits and clipping (or trimming) the moustache. (Reported in the hadiths of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). So despite its absence from the Qur’an, it has been a religious norm from the beginning of Islam. However, there is another version of the hadith which does not name circumcision as one of the characteristics of fitra and yet another hadith which names ten characteristics, again without naming circumcision. There are arguments from the Qur'an which opposes male circumcision, many Qur'an alone followers adhere to this princicple and argue circumcision to be against the Qur'an.[5]

Amongst Ulema (Muslim legal scholars), there are differing opinions about the compulsion of circumcision in Sharia (Islamic law). Imams Abū Ḥanīfa, founder of the Hanafi school of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and Malik ibn Anas maintain that circumcision is a Sunnah Mu'akkadah — not obligatory but highly recommended. The Shafi`i and Hanbali schools see it as binding on all Muslims.[6]

There is a small movement within Islam, which rejects making male circumcision a religious requirement due to the fact it is not mentioned in the Qur'an. Advocates of this view point to several Qur'anic verses that indicate the perfection of creation (Qur'an 32:7, 82:7–8, 95:4), as well as common perceptions that circumcision is necessary for reasons of hygiene which are strongly disputed by a majority of international medical experts and bodies.[7] Muslim activists include Canadian Dr. Arif Bhimji,[8] Libyan judge Mustafa Kamal al-Mahdawi,[9] and the Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, who links it with her own struggle against female genital mutilation.[10]

Time for circumcision

Islamic sources do not fix a particular time for circumcision. It depends on family, region and country. A majority of Ulema however take the view that parents should get their child circumcised before the age of ten.[11] The preferred age is usually seven although some Muslims are circumcised as early as on the seventh day after birth and as late as at the commencement of puberty.[1] According to some hadith (Abdullah Ibn Jabir and Aisha), Muhammad circumcised his grandsons on the seventh day after their birth. This opinion is popular amongst the hadith and Islamic jurists.


Circumcision being performed in central Asia (probably Turkestan), c. 1865-1872. Restored albumen print.

Whilst Jewish circumcision is closely bound by ritual timing and tradition, Islamic circumcision does not have a strictly mandated procedure, or form of circumcision. These tend to change across cultures, families, and time. In some Islamic countries circumcision is performed after Muslim boys have learnt to recite the whole of the Qur'an from start to finish.[1] In Malaysia and other regions, the boy usually undergoes the operation between the ages of ten and twelve, and is thus a puberty rite, serving to introduce him into the new status of an adult.[12] The procedure is sometimes semi-public, accompanied with music, special foods, and much festivity. [12]

Traditional circumcisions however are steadily becoming rarer throughout the Islamic world, with many Muslim families preferring to have their sons circumcised at birth, or if it is done at an older age it is normally done by a doctor under local anesthetic. There is no equivalent of a Jewish mohel in Islam. Circumcisions are usually carried out in a clinic or hospital. The circumciser is not required to be a Muslim.[1] The general 'style' of circumcision is the traditional stretch and cut which is typically reasonably tight but leaves a lot of the inner foreskin.[12]

Foreskin Restoration In Islam

With modern surgery and foreskin restoration devices available in the market any man can restore his foreskin. As for a Muslim circumcision is only recommended and is not necessary.

See also


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