Male and female circumcision: Religious, medical, social and legal debate
530 pages
English
YouScribe est heureux de vous offrir cette publication

Male and female circumcision: Religious, medical, social and legal debate

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YouScribe est heureux de vous offrir cette publication
530 pages
English

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This book presents the religious, medical, social and legal debate among Jews, Christians and Muslims around male and female circumcision.If female circumcision today is the subject of a national and international campaign to ban it, male circumcision is accepted and few would dare criticize it. It is estimated wrongly less serious than female circumcision, or with health benefits.The author criticizes this myth maintained by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. He demonstrates that the distinction between male and female circumcision is illusory, both being an unjustifiable flagrant violation of bodily integrity. This distinction is the main reason for the failure of the campaign against female circumcision. We cannot guarantee the right to physical integrity of the girl if we deny this right to his brother.The AuthorSami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh. Christian of Palestinian origin. Swiss citizen. Doctor in law. Habilitated to direct researches. Professor of universities (CNU-France). Responsible for Arab and Islamic Law at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law (1980-2009). Visiting professor in different French, Italian and Swiss universities. Director of the Centre of Arab and Islamic Law. Author of many books, including a French, English and Italian translation of the Koran.

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Publié par
Date de parution 24 novembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781481084932
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 3 Mo

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يملسلاو يبرعلا نوناقلا زكرم
Centre de droit arabe et musulman
Zentrum für arabisches und islamisches Recht
Centro di diritto arabo e musulmano
Centre of Arab and Islamic Law


MALE AND FEMALE
CIRCUMCISION
Religious, medical, social and legal debate


Sami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh


This book can be ordered online at
www.amazon.com
nd2 edition, 2012

Centre of Arab and Islamic Law
Created in May 2009, the Centre of Arab and Islamic Law provides legal
consultations, conferences, translations, research and courses concerning Arab and Islamic
Law, and the relation between Muslims and the West, assistance for students and
researchers. It allows also freely downloading a large number of writings from the
website www.sami-aldeeb.com.

The Author
Sami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh. Christian of Palestinian origin. Swiss citizen. Doctor
in law. Habilitated to direct researches. Professor of universities (CNU-France).
Responsible for Arab and Islamic Law at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law
(1980-2009). Visiting professor in different French, Italian and Swiss universities.
Director of the Centre of Arab and Islamic Law. Author of many books, including
a French, English and Italian translation of the Koran.

Editions
Centre of Arab and Islamic Law
Ochettaz 17
Ch-1025 St-Sulpice
Tel: 0041 [0]21 6916585
Mobile: 0041 [0]78 9246196
Website: www.sami-aldeeb.com
Email: sami.aldeeb@yahoo.fr
© All rights reserved 2012
2 Summary
Foreword by Marilyn Fayre Milos .................................................................................................. 7
Introduction .................................... 9
Part 1. Definition and distribution of circumcision ....... 13
Part 2. Religious debate ................................................................................................................ 25
Chapter 1. Circumcision among the Jews ..................... 25
Chapter 2. Circumcision among Christians .................. 95
Chapter 3. Circumcision among Muslims 136
Part 3. The medical debate .......................................................................................................... 185
Chapter 1. Relationship between clergy and physicians ............................. 185
Chapter 2. Trivializations and exagerations of circumcision ...................... 189
Chapter 3. Circumcision and pain ............................................................................................... 194
Chapter 4. Health damages of circumcision ............................................................................... 202
Chapter 5. Sexual damages from circumcision ........... 213
Chapter 6. Supposed health advantages of circumcision ............................ 230
Chapter 7. Foreskin restoration ................................................................................................... 265
Part 4. The social debate ............. 273
Chapter 1. From self-mutilation to cultural mutilation ............................... 273
Chapter 2. Inlfuence of the milieu on circumcision .... 282
Chapter 3. Influence of religion on circumcision ....................................................................... 288
Chapter 4. Circumcision and control of sexual instinct .............................. 291
Chapter 5. Circumcision and marriage ....................................................................................... 296
Chapter 6. Circumcision in tribal and communal systems .......................... 305
Chapter 7. Circumcision and the instinct of domination............................. 312
Chapter 8. Circumcision and economic factors .......................................................................... 323
Chapter 9. Circumcision and political factors ............. 338
Chapter 10. Psychological and social effects of circumcision .................... 360
Chapter 11. Educational and psychological measures against circumcision .............................. 372
Part 5. The legal debate .............................................................................................................. 381
Chapter 1. Historical legal prohibition of male circumcision ..................... 381
Chapter 2. International condemnation of female circumcision ................. 385
Chapter 3. National condemnation of female circumcision ........................................................ 395
Chapter 4. NGOs opposed to female and male circumcision ..................... 407
Chapter 5. Circumcision and human rights ................................................. 419
Chapter 6. Circumcision and medical dispension ....................................... 446
Chapter 7. Interdiction of circumcision between ideal and feasibility ........ 469
Chapter 8. Circumcision and political asylum ............ 487
Conclusion .................................................................................................. 497
Bibliography ............................... 499
Table of contents ........................ 525

General observations
Comprehensive book
This comprehensive book is available in French in complete (Circoncision masculine et
féminine: débat médical, social et juridique) and reduced version (Circoncision: le complot
du silence). These three books are published at the same publisher
http://www.thebookedition.com. Those who read Arabic can download this book free in
three versions: http://www.sami-aldeeb.com/articles/view.php?id
=131&action=arabic.
Transliteration
The Arabic alphabet can be transliterated in different ways. I avoid the scholarly form
because it is too complicated for a non-specialized reader. The following is the equivalent
of some Arabic letters:
' ء + ع gh غ
kh خ u + w و
d ض + د i + y ي
dh ظ + ذ t ط + ت
sh ش h ح + ـه
s ص + س j ج
Quotations from the Koran and the Bible
I will primarily use the translation of the Koran by Rashad Khalifa, which can be found at
http://www.moslem.org/English.html
Quotations from the Old and New Testament are taken from the Holy Bible: New Revised
Standard Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1992.
Footnotes
In footnotes, I mention the name of author and/or the first elements of the title. Complete
bibliographic data can be found at the end of the book.
Dates
Dates mentioned refer to the Christian era. For Arab authors and people, I used the
bibliographic dictionary: Al-Jabi: Mu'jam al-a'lam. The pertinent date of an author's death is
indicated when the author is quoted for the first time, as well as in the bibliography.
Main abbreviations
- Books of the Old Testament: Genesis (Gn), Exodus (Ex), Leviticus (Lv), Numbers
(Nb), Deuteronomy (Dt), Joshua (Jos), Judges (Jg), Ruth (Rt), Samuel I (I S) and II (II
S), Kings I (I K) and II (II K), Chronicles I (I Ch) and II (II Ch), Ezra (Ezr), Nehemiah
(Ne), Tobit (Tb), Judith (Jdt), Esther (Est), Maccabees I (I M) and II (II M), Job (Jb),
Psalms (Ps), Proverbs (Pr), Ecclesiastes or Qohelet (Qo), Song of Solomon (Song),
Wisdom (Wis), Ecclesiasticus or Sirach (Si), Isaiah (Is), Jeremiah (Jr), Lamentations
(Lm), Baruch (Ba), Ezekiel (Ez), Daniel (Dn), Hosea (Hos), Joel (Jl), Amos (Am),
Obadiah (Ob), Jonah (Jon), Micah (Mi), Nahum (Na), Habakkuk (Ha), Zephaniah
(Zeph), Haggai (Hag), Zechariah (Zech), Malachi (Mal).
- Books of the New Testament: Gospel according to Matthew (Mt), Mark (Mk), Luke
(Lk) and John (Jn); Acts of the Apostles (Acts); Letters of Paul to the Romans (Rm),
Corinthians I (I Co) and II (II Co), Galatians (Ga), Ephesians (Ep), Philippians (Ph),
Colossians (Col), Thessalonians I (I Th) and II (II Th), Timothy I (I Tm) and II (II Tm),
Titus (Tt) and Philemon (Phm); Hebrews (He); Letter of James (Jm); Letters of Peter I
(I P) and II (II P); Letters of John I (I Jn), II (II Jn) and III (III Jn); Letter of Jude (Jude);
and Revelation (Rev).
- B.C.: Before Christ.
- CE: Council of Europe.
- Charter of the UNO: Charter of the United Nations Organization, entry into force 24
October 1945.
- Child's convention: Convention on the rights of the child, entry into force 2 September
1990.
- Covenant on civil rights: International covenant on civil and political rights, entry into
force 23 March 1976.
- Covenant on economic rights: International covenant on economic, social and cultural
rights, entry into force 3 January 1976.
- d. (ca): died (circa).
- ECOSOC: Economic and social council of the United Nations.
- FNUAP: United Nations population fund.
- H.: Hegira era (Muslim calendar).
- HCR: United Nations high commissioner for refugees.
- Inter-African committee: Inter-African committee on traditional practices affecting the
health of women and children.
- NGO(s): Non-governmental organization(s).
- NOCIRC: National organization of circumcision information resource centers.
- NOHARMM: National organization to halt the abuse and routine mutilation of males.
- OAU: Organization of African unity.
- UN: United Nations Organization.
- UNCIRC: Uncircumcising information and resources center.
- UNICEF: United Nations international children's emergency fund.
- Universal declaration: Universal declaration of human rights, adopted and proclaimed
by UN General assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948.
- WHO: World health organization.
- WMA: World medical association.
6 Foreword
1by Marilyn Fayre Milos
As civilization advances, we have increasingly come to recognize the value of debate and
discussion. In the not so distant past, however, this was not the case. Those who questioned
the status quo, or merely sought to clarify it, were at risk of being persecuted, ostracized,
punished, imprisoned, or condemned to death. One calls to mind the injustice done to men
such as William Tyndale, who was incarcerated for 500 days before he was strangled and
burned at the stake in 1536. His crime was translating the Bible into English, which, the
Church feared, might lead people to question authority. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of
Canterbury, was ordered to be burned at Oxford on 21 March 1556 for his desire to reform
the Church. On 16 October 1555, Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and Hugh Latimer,
Bishop of Worcester, were also burned at the stake in Oxford for the “heresy” of seeking to
revivify a moribund state religion. During the reign of Queen Mary, Bloody Mary,
hundreds of innocent people were burnt alive for the crime of independent thought. Latimer's
last words at the stake are well known: "Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the
man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God' grace shall
never be put out".
Galileo (1564-1642), the greatest scientific mind of his age, was condemned of heresy for
his astronomical and mathematical discoveries. In order to escape torture and death, he was
forced to sign a confession, abjuring his discoveries and proclaiming the truth in the
Church's doctrine that the earth was the center of the universe and that it did not move.
Similarly, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition were visited upon hundreds of thousands
of innocent men and women simply because they were suspected of believing something
contrary to official doctrine. Thankfully, our society has evolved to a point where the mere
idea of heresy is an affront to modern sensibilities. Freedom of conscience is now one of
the most highly protected guarantees in Western legal systems. The thought that someone
might be persecuted or prosecuted for his or her beliefs is anathema.
Still, there remain those areas where debate and discussion are still feared and actively
repressed. Perhaps it is because we pride ourselves on the great progress we have made in
the area of social justice that we are loath to admit that there might still be some aspects of
our cultures that should be questioned. It is easier to shut our eyes to social injustice than to
speak out, ask questions and seek to make this a safer and fairer world. From my own
personal experience as a nurse, educator and social activist, I can tell you that the issue of
circumcision is one of those topics that still arouses anger, rage and charges of heresy. It is
not only religious institutions that have sought to silence those who question this practice;
the medical profession, which actively engages, promotes and profits from the
circumcision of children, has traditionally been quick to condemn those who dare question official
medical dogma.
Dr. Aldeeb has meticulously and sensitively documented the lengthy and fascinating
history of the various religious and medical discussions over circumcision. As a world-renown
and highly respected scholar, his expertise in Islamic Law provides fresh perspective on an
important aspect of the history of circumcision that has been largely unavailable to Western
scholars. As his book carefully proves, the debate over circumcision is as old as the
practice itself. The official attempts to quell any debate are also of equal antiquity. I am confi-

1 Director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers.
dent, though, that the valuable historical information in this book will strengthen the
current worldwide debate over circumcision and will infuse it with a greater degree of
rationality and historical perspective.
William Tyndale's last words were: "Lord, open the eyes of the King of England". I believe
that Dr. Aldeeb's monumental efforts will measurably contribute to the growing body of
evidence that is opening the eyes of the world and helping human society continue its
advancement, not only towards a renewed commitment to protecting freedom of conscience,
but also towards a recognition that every human being - regardless of his age, gender, race,
culture, ethnicity, religion, or any other trait - has a right to bodily integrity, sovereignty
over his or her own body and freedom from interference with his or her person.
8 Introduction
A crowd of women, men and children gathered before the house of our Muslim neighbour.
One distributed candy while the song of women within and without the house, mingled
with the shrill screams of children. I asked my parents: "What happens there? Why do
children scream inside? Is this because some children are deprived of candy?" They
explained that children had been circumcised.
I was five years old. I had just attended a circumcision but I didn't understand what that
meant, because of my young age and my membership in a Christian family that doesn't
circumcise its children. The memory of this event has stayed with me, despite the years and
physical distance that separate me from it. This event was a feast at which many delighted
while others screamed!
In 1992, during a bookstore tour in Cairo, I saw a book in Arabic entitled: Male and
Fe1
male Circumcision from a Muslim Point of View . On the cover of the book was a picture
of a boy and a girl with a red knife passing between them. The title triggered my memory
of the circumcision I had witnessed and intrigued me because I discovered that not only
were males circumcised, but also females. After some hesitation, I bought the book. Instead
of reading it, I hid it in my library, far removed from even my own eyes.
Some months later, I was contacted by the Libyan North-South association to participate as
lecturer in a symposium on children's rights. The symposium had been organized in
collaboration with the Department of Sociology at the University of Geneva. I proposed two
topics to the organizers: a child's right to a peaceful education or the sexual mutilation of
children. To my surprise, the promoters chose the latter topic, about which I new absolutely
nothing (except for the event in my youth). Therefore, I needed to unearth the book bought
in Cairo and get to work to prepare for the conference, which was to take place three
2
months later, 30-31 January 1993 . I read an impressive amount of material and met with
representatives of organizations working on the topic.
A great number of lecturers from different countries participated in the symposium. My
lecture was scheduled for the end of the first day. The participants were tired and were
ready to leave. When I began speaking, however, I noted a distinct energy dynamic in the
audience. Some people smiled, while others appeared tense. At the end of my presentation,
half the room applauded and the other half was infuriated. The Libyan president of the
North-South association then remarked, with an angry air, that it seemed to him that the
speaker (me) had forgotten the episode of Salman Rushdie who had been perceived as
attacking the religious convictions of others. I responded by stating that I considered his
remark an insult and I asked him to withdraw it. I explained that my intention was not to
attack convictions of others, but to defend children. Seeing that a part of the audience sided
with me, the president apologized.
This episode opened my eyes. I was quite naive, for I thought that I was doing well in
denouncing male and female circumcision. However, I had somehow forgotten that I was
walking in a minefield full of religious and sexual taboos. This situation presented me with
a challenge: keep silent and allow 15 million children to be mutilated annually, or attack
the practice. I opted for the latter. I felt that I had to defend mutilated children, as well as
protect my professional honour as a lawyer. Ironically, I discovered that members of my

1 Al-Sukkari.
2 Symposium summary in: Nord-Sud XXI, no 3, 1993, p. 63-182.
profession don't protect children from sexual mutilation. Because the fight against sexual
mutilation doesn't yield anything except problems, attorneys had historically washed their
hands. I later discovered that religious leaders and medical authorities have all behaved in
the same way.
Since that day in 1992, I have carried the burden of mutilated children on my back. Every
day that passes, I make both new friends and new enemies.
I started this book by publishing a booklet that contained the results of my research and I
1
sent the booklet to the Swiss libraries . This text has now been translated and published in
various periodicals in French, English and Spanish. I sent a copy to NOCIRC, an American
organization that fights against sexual mutilations in the United States. The organization's
president, Marilyn Fayre Milos, is a nurse who lost her job because of her involvement in
rd
the issue. She invited me to participate in the 3 International Symposium on Sexual
Mutilation held 22-25 May 1994 at the University of Maryland (USA). I presented my text
2
there .
On August 7, 1994, during the UN Conference on population and development in Cairo,
the Cable news network (CNN) released a movie of the circumcision of an Egyptian girl
named Najla by a barber in a popular quarter of Cairo. The day before, the Egyptian
president had declared that female circumcision had practically disappeared in Egypt. The
movie discredited the president's declaration and triggered shockwaves among political,
religious and intellectual circles in Egypt. It was followed by numerous contradictory
positions. Tantawi, the Mufti of Egypt, declared that female circumcision is only a Pharaonic
custom with no link to the Muslim religion; therefore, he said physicians must be the ones
3to decide if female circumcision is damaging . Jad-al-Haq (d. 1996), the Great Sheik of
AlAzhar, the most important Egyptian Islamic center in the world, disagreed with Tantawi:
If a region stops, of common agreement, to practice male and female circumcision, the
chief of the state declares war against that region because circumcision is a part of the
rituals of Islam and its specificities. This means that male and female circumcisions are
4
obligatory .
This contradictory debate between the highest Egyptian religious authorities led to another
contradiction no less shocking for me. That is, the UN conference had condemned female
circumcision, but it was silent concerning routine male circumcision. No NGO spoke out
against male circumcision. CNN avoided making a parallel between female circumcision
and male circumcision, even though about 3,300 children a day undergo routine male
circumcision in the United States alone.
This silence intrigued me. Why is female circumcision condemned, but not male
circumcision? Is this not discrimination against boys? I later discovered that one reason for the
silence was the fear of being labelled an anti-Semite if one attacked male circumcision,
being part of Jewish religious conviction.
thOn 9-11 August 1996, I organized, with NOCIRC, the 4 International Symposium on
Sexual Mutilations at the University of Lausanne. We also decided to publish papers
presented at this symposium, even though papers from the three previous symposia were not

1 Under the title: Mutiler au nom de Yahvé ou d'Allah: Légitimation de la circoncision masculine et féminine.
2 The title of my conference: To mutilate in the name of Jehovah or Allah: legitimization of male and female
circumcision.
3 Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh: Khitan, vol. I, annex 10.
4 Ibid., vol. I, annex 6.
10