U.S. Muslim Leaders Stance on FGM/C (also known as Female Circumcision)

(Originally document can be found here. Republished with permission on 6/7/2017)

We, Muslim organizations, FGM/C Survivors, Islamic scholars, and leaders, strongly condemn the remarks made in the video of Imam Shaker El Sayed where he clearly distinguishes between Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) and female circumcision, and recommends  the performance of female circumcision on young girls “when needed” to prevent them from becoming “hyper-sexual”.  We commend Dar Al Hijrah on their response to these remarks condemning FGM/C.  To further clarify, FGM/C is the same as female circumcision.  When we refer to FGM/C, we are including female circumcision which falls within the definition of this practice. More than half a million women and girls living in the U.S are at risk of undergoing FGM/C both in the U.S. or abroad or have already undergone the procedure, including 169,000 girls under the age of 18, creating a clear urgency for action.  The following presents our stance on the issue of FGM/C:

  1. FGM/C includes all forms of excision of the female genitalia. FGM/C is known as female circumcision, but they are the same practice.  There is no reference to FGM/C in the Holy Quran and the practice is against Islamic doctrine. 
  2. According to the World Health Organization guidance from 2016, FGM/C has no health benefits and serves no medical purpose.  All forms of FGM/C can cause lifelong physical, psychological and spiritual harm to the young girls forced to endure this.  Because FGM/C causes harm, it is prohibited under Islam.  Examples include:
    • Physical harm: This includes health complications such as severe pain: excessive bleeding: general infections;  urinary tract infections; wound healing problems; injury to surrounding genital tissue; menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.); sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.); increased risk of childbirth complications; the recurring  need for additional surgeries; and death
    • Psychological harm: This includes mental illness diagnoses of depression, anxiety, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder/ low self-esteem
    • Spiritual harm: This includes tension on one’s spiritual relationship with God and with one self; detachment from the spiritually-ordained sexual self; strain of physical and mental harm on one’s spiritual connection; feeling ostracized from one’s community as a result of feeling unworthy and ashamed
  1. Islam is a religion rooted in social justice.  Arguing that FGM/C is recommended to curb the sexuality or so-called “hyper-sexuality” in females is wrong.  Islam supports the sexual health of both males and females, and controlling female sexuality is a form of patriarchy, not Islam.
  1. We would like to reiterate that all forms of FGM/C are against the law in the United States. Federal Law makes it illegal to perform FGM/C in all its forms, including female circumcision on girls in the U.S  or to transport a girl out of the U.S to have FGM/C performed in another country. In addition, 25 states in the U.S, including the state of Virginia,  also have laws against FGM/C.

We would like to make clear that FGM/C  is a universally recognized human rights abuse.  It is a form of child abuse, sexual assault, and gender-based violence.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally stand against the practice of FGM/C. We cannot and will not stand for any leader who endorses human rights abuses antithetical to our beautiful faith.

We call on all Muslim organizations to provide sexual/ reproductive health education and sexual violence awareness trainings to ensure that leaders are well equipped to serve the needs of their community. Muslim organizations must provide access to both accurate information and support resources on FGM/C and create safe spaces where open conversations about FGM/C and sexual health can take place and FGM/C survivors can share their stories and have their voices heard without judgment.

Every one of us has a moral responsibility to work toward creating safer communities for our children. Support for this unjust practice under the guise of religion has gone on too long. Today, we invite you to join us in facilitating this change in the following ways:

  1. Speak up when you hear someone promoting FGM/C in the community
  2. Share information and raise awareness in mosques and other community centers
  3. Link up with other service providers to be up to date with latest policies, legislations and referral systems in your state
  4. Be visible and engage at various inter generational, multi-sectoral forums
  5. Make a commitment to educating yourself,  your families , and your communities on sexual & reproductive health and sexual violence in general, and reach out to social workers, and other expert organizations when necessary

Organizations that are equipped to facilitate these activities and conversations are: Dahlia Project, Face of Defiance, Safe Hands for Girls, Global Campaign to End FGM, Sahiyo, WeSpeakOut, HEART Women & Girls, and RAHMA. These organizations can be reached at:

Sahiyo – info@sahiyo.com

WeSpeakOut – info@wespeakout.org

HEART – info@heartwomenandgirls.org

Global Campaign to End FGM – Naimah@globalmediacampaign.com 

RAHMA – info@haverahma.org

Dahlia Project – Leylatheraphy@hotmail.co.uk

Face of Defiance – Leylatheraphy@hotmail.co.uk

Safe Hands for Girls – info@safehandsforgirls.org

DAH statement:

1- The harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is prohibited in Islam as well as the laws of the land.

2- We at Dar Al-Hijrah, DO NOT condone, promote, or support any practice of FGM.

3- The reference to “Hyper-sexuality” is offensive and it is unequivocally rejected. The Board of Directors is particularly disturbed by such comments.

4- We call upon the Muslim Scholars (clergy) to be on the forefront of the campaign against FGM and to condemn silence in the face of these harmful practices.

5- We at Dar Al-Hijrah, are committed to continue sensitivity training of our staff regarding these critical issues.

The Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah, Sh. Shaker Elsayed, in response to his recent statements reaffirms that, “FGM is very harmful to women’s health, and anything in Islam that is harmful is in fact prohibited”.  He also advises the community to seek their doctors counsel to inform them why it is illegal and harmful. He follows that his reference to “hyper-sexuality” is an observation that he admits he should have avoided. He declares, “I take it back, and I do apologize to all those who are offended by it”.

You may refer to Imam Shaker’s statement below.

Statement of clarification
By Imam Shaker Elsayed

On May 19th, 2017, I gave a lecture about the rights of children in Islam at Dar Al-Hijrah. The lecture was aired live online and was later posted on our YouTube channel. The part in which I talked about children’s circumcision created a lot of misunderstanding, specifically regarding girls. I would like to clarify the following:

  1. I specifically said in the lecture that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is considered by Islam to be a very harmful to women’s sexual health. And in Islam anything harmful is prohibited. Therefore, Islam agrees completely with the legal prohibition of FGM, and hence the laws of USA. That is why I referred the audience to their OBGYN to inform them why it is illegal and harmful.
  2. Islam would never support anything that harms anybody’s well-being, such as FGM. As such, this is my position and the position of Dar Al-Hijrah. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Let there be no harm upon yourself or others.”
  3. Regarding the statement I made on “Hyper-sexuality”, I admit that I should have avoided it. I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it. 

Signed By:

Imam Mohamed Magid, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center

Imam Johari Abdul- Malik, Director of Outreach, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center

Imam Suhaib Webb, SWISS

Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director, The Islamic Center at NYU

Imam Jamal Rahman, Interfaith Community Sanctuary, WA

Khadijah Abdullah, RAHMA

Zehra Patwa, WeSpeakOut

Farzana Doctor, WeSpeakOut

Alifya Sulemanji, WeSpeakOut

Mariya Taher, Sahiyo

Leyla Hussein, Dahlia Project

Jaha Mapenzi Dukureh, Safe Hands for Girls

Sister Linda Sarsour, New York, NY

Safia Abulaila, Resident in Counseling, VA.

Ilana Alazzeh, Muslims Against Homophobia

Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Laila Al-Marayati, Muslim Women’s League

Eman Hassaballa Aly, Collaboryst

Shahed Amanullah, Affinis Labs

Dr. Saman Hamidi-Azar, Orange County, CA

Yasmine Badaoui, Miss Muslim

Alejandro Beutel, Washington, DC

Maha Elgenaidi, Director, Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Seemi Ghazi, Lecturer in Classical Arabic, U. Of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada

Nadia Hassan, Young Leaders Institute

Khalil Ismail, Finding Peace Project

Ameena Jandali, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Ghada Khan,
Washington, DC

Maryam Khan, Community Leader, Islamic Center of Connecticut in Windsor

Youssef Kromah, Do it for the Deen

Edina Lekovic, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Jenan Matari, Miss Muslim

Priscilla Martinez, Salam Mama

Dr. Karen McDonnell, Washington, DC

Nadiah Mohajir, HEART Women and Girls

Naeem Muhammad, Native Deen

Muhammad Oda, Muzbnb

Riham Osman, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Angela Peabody, Founder/Executive Director, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation

Tynan Power, Founder/Leader, Masjid Al-Inshirah

Sameera Qureshi, HEART Women and Girls

Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Madison, WI

Mariam Rauf, Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project

Hadi Shakuur, Muzbnb

Sis Sarah Smith, Pennsylvania, USA

Hanaa Soltan, Mideast Global Advisors

Hussain Turk, Esq., Los Angeles HIV Law & Policy Project

Asma Uddin, AltMuslimah

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