We’re constantly told in the West that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice that has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, but as is always the case with the leftist establishment narrative, reality is otherwise. The latest reminder of that all-important fact comes from Gambia, where the learned imam Abdoulie Fatty (he isn’t one) has condemned – on Islamic grounds — attempts by human rights campaigners to ban FGM.
Gambia’s The Voice reported Monday that “one of the Gambian top Imams has condemned a ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country and talked hard on campaign groups which he said are spreading falsehood about FGM everywhere.” Fatty chose the most important forum of any given week for Muslims, the Friday sermon, to issue this condemnation: he made his statements “as he descended on campaigners against FGM in his last Friday sermon (khutbat) at a Mosque in around Bartex prior the congregational Jumaat prayer.”
Fatty “emphasised that FGM has been in practice since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (ASW) and ‘it was witnessed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) during his time, too.’”
“My dear Muslim people,” the genial imam exhorted his audience, “I am advising us on the fear of God – all of us, let’s follow the teachings of Islam. My dear Muslim people we used to hear it and hearsay and they have a wake campaign and that is the reason why we do this type of sermon anytime they came back but they will meet us like the sun in the sky.”
As far as the good imam was concerned, attempts to ban FGM were part of the infidel West’s cultural imperialism: “We don’t give it to anybody to come and teach us about our den. we don’t give chance to anybody to come and teach us about our culture, white is with their dirty culture and men’s [sic] are marrying to each other and they legalize it, woman and woman are marrying each other and they legalize it, some have even pinned their private part, their breast, and they are sleeping with dogs and they don’t fight for all that. Instead they are fighting for our FGM while we are encouraging them to come because we have a dirty culture and wicked practice. But in as much as our brain that Allah has created with us to contain the knowledge is with us, we will never leave it until we die In Shaa Allah, may God help us, (amen).”
Imam Fatty brushed aside the campaigners’ claims to be defending the human rights of the victimized girls: “You heard them saying they are campaigning that they have pitying on our daughters, sisters, and wives and the saddest thing is that you have seen some Muslims in those gatherings. (As Muslims in such gathering) let them point it out where it is in the Islamic.” That is, he is saying that it is un-Islamic for Muslims to attend these anti-FGM meetings.
It is no surprise that Fatty has done this. And he is not alone in insisting that FGM is Islamic. “It is a religious thing. Do you want to change religion?” said one Egyptian in response to a campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation. “You only listen to what the West is saying.”
FGM is also mandated in Islamic law: “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) (by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the bazr ‘clitoris’ [this is called khufaadh ‘female circumcision’]).” That’s from the manual of Islamic law Umdat al-Salik e4.3 (translated by Mark Durie, The Third Choice, p. 64).
Why is it obligatory? Because Muhammad is held to have said so: “Abu al- Malih ibn Usama’s father relates that the Prophet said: ‘Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.’” (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75)
And in another hadith: “Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: ‘Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.’” (Abu Dawud 41:5251)
That hadith is classified as weak, but this one is classified as sahih (reliable): “Aishah narrated: ‘When the circumcised meets the circumcised, then indeed Ghusl is required. Myself and Allah’s Messenger did that, so we performed Ghusl.’” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 108)
If Muhammad had the genitals of his favorite wife, Aisha, mutilated, that is a strong endorsement of the practice from the man who is an “excellent example” (Qur’an 33:21) for Muslims.
Why does it matter whether or not FGM is Islamic? Because the practice will never be eradicated if its root causes are not confronted. As long as those Muslims continue to believe that Allah and Muhammad want it done, for some that will override all other considerations, in Gambia and everywhere else.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.