Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CRIKEY: Hang on a minute! Neo-con half-truths under the microscope ...

Neo-cons and the missing Muslim turned Catholic. There’s been some hoo-haa over the Pope overseeing the baptism of an Italian ex-Muslim commentator Magdi Cristiano Allam during the Vatican Easter service. Apparently neo-Cons across cyberspace are expecting monolithically violent responses from the Muslim world, much like the response that we’re still waiting for after neo-Con Daniel Pipes revealed that Barack Obama was allegedly once a Muslim. The problem is that I haven’t found a single media outlet from the nominally Muslim world making a fuss. One Jordanian chap has labelled the baptism "provocative", hardly a declaration of World War III. Most of the sectarian noise is being made by neo-Con sites like and National Review (and understandably from Catholic religious publications). In Australia, only Piersed Akurmen has thus far registered Allam on his radar. Still, let’s hope imbecilic and undemocratic rulers of Muslim states don’t orchestrate a repeat of the violent responses to the Danish cartoons...

Speaking out through keeping mum at the Daily Tele. The Daily Telegraph has an interesting definition of "speaking out". Its report on the Lindsay leaflet debacle today claims the women at the heart of the incident "spoke out yesterday". There’s just one problem: both former Federal Liberal MP for Lindsay Jacky Kelly and former candidate Karen Chijoff said absolutely nothing. Kelly even went so far as to remind the Tele that she was no longer an MP and therefore wouldn’t be talking about her private life. Chijoff refused to say anything beyond what we already have known for months – that she is no longer with her husband. As for former NSW Liberal Party State Executive member and former Helen Coonan staffer Jeff Egan, he didn’t even return calls. Now that’s what I call speaking out!

Challenging Janet (again). Janet Albrechtsen today continues with her obsessive monoculturalism, writing about stringent citizenship tests which the UK government has adopted, apparently following the Australian model. She doesn’t mention whether the tests will be multiple-choice and include questions about Don Bradman or English illegal immigrant Simpson and his donkey. She also mentions reports of Somali traditional courts in the UK deciding even criminal cases, as well as FGM. All this is mentioned in the context of Rowan Williams’ comments about sharia law. Is Albrechtsen claiming the Somali courts and the practise of FGM are religiously-based? If so, how does she explain that FGM is also prevalent amongst Christian, Jewish and Animist African communities? And why doesn’t she also mention the fact that American legal academic Noah Feldman mentioned in a recent essay for the New York Times Magazine i.e. that each time Dr Williams spoke about sharia, he specifically states his remarks applied equally to Jewish sacred law? Or does Janet think Jewish sacred law has no role in our Judeo-Christian heritage?

(First published in the Crikey daily alert for Wednesday 26 March 2008.)

Words © Irfan Yusuf 2008

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Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you only refer to Female Genital Mutilation as an acronym FGM. As if it was like UNICEF or UNHCR or BHG or RHD and not an absolutely barbaric crime against women and humanity. Female Genital Mutilation is about 77% in Egypt with no prevalence at all in Egyptian Christian communities.

You write: "Is Albrechtsen claiming the Somali courts and the practise of FGM are religiously-based?"

Where are the condemnations by Muhammed when he encountered it? Muhammed irrationally condemned plenty of things and irrationally proposed many practices but never condemned Female Genital mutilation. Why are muslim scholars not proposing the cutting off of hands or some other typically muslim measure for this crime against humanity?

Although there is no mention of it in the Quran itself, there are several hadiths, where Female Genital Mutilation is encouraged by Mohammad.

The first hadith is from Abu Dawud (Book 41, Number 5251): Um ‘Atiyyah is reported as an exciser of female slaves who had immigrated with Mohammad.
On one occasion Mohammad allegedly asked her if she kept practicing her profession, to which she responded in the affirmative. Then she added: “unless it is forbidden and you order me to stop doing it.” Mohammad replied: “yes, it is allowed.”
Mohammad then gave Um ‘Atiyyah specific instructions on the methodology for female circumcision (Aldeeb, 1994, p. 6), explaining to her that his method of “female circumcision” would bring radiance to the face of the woman.
This hadith is also quoted by al-Hakim and al-Baihaqi on the authority of al-Dhaahhak ibn Qais (al-Sabbagh, 1998, p. 17).

Another well-known hadith is that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. He relates in his Musnad (5:75) from Abu al-Malih ibn, Usama’s father, that Mohammad said:
“Circumcision is sunna (tradition) for men and an honorable quality for women”

A third hadith states: “If the two circumcision organs (khitanan) meet, ritual ablution (gusl), becomes obligatory.” This is cited in Malik, Muslim, al-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah in their respective hadith collections and can also be found in other collections (al-Sabbagh, 1998, p. 38).

There are many documented justifications by Islamic scholars through the ages, based on these Hadiths. And many of them, coincidentally, are from the same aforementioned Al-Azhar university. Possibly because Egypt is pretty much FGM-central, with 97% of women there having been subjected to it. You’d think if the practice contradicted Sharia it would have become less prevalent, if not stamped out by now. Islamic countries don’t seem to have much trouble minimising alcohol consumption, for example. Anyway, lets hear from the Sheikhs:

In Reliance of the Traveler, a classical manual of Islamic law, endorsed by Al-Azhar in 1991 as conforming ‘to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community,’ we find the following, with notes from several scholars and the translator:

e4.3 Circumcision is obligatory (commentary of Sheikh ‘Umar Barakat: “for both men and women”). For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Arabic: Bazr) of the clitoris (remark by the translator: “not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert”). (comment by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wakil Durubi: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)”

A look at the original Arabic show the text to actually say:

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 clitoris
this is called HufaaD).

“The religious view is, if you are not circumcised you won’t have clean genitals after urinating. If then you pray, your prayer won’t be legal.”

Ultimately, according to some Islamic schools FGM is obligatory (a minority position), and according to most others it is “noble”/”honourable” or sunna (tradition), which clearly serves as a powerful motivator based on religion. In both cases it can thus be described as an Islamic practice and will continue to be so until Muslims stop practicing it, Skeikhs stop using the Sunnah to justify it and its practitioners stop citing the Islamic religion as a motivating factor.

Anonymous said...

Is your hatred of Janet Albrechtsen religiously based?

Irf said...

Anon @ 8:10, can you show us why your translation of Umdat as-Salik is more correct than that of Nuh Keller? What are your qualifications in Arabic and from where were they obtained?

Can you also comment on the extent to which the ahadith you cited actually render FGM compulsory under Islamic sacred law?

Further, for the benefit of South Asian Muslims like me who do not take their understanding of religious law from al-Azhar, can you please advise of any South Asian texts which regard FGM as acceptable, let alone compulsory? Can you also please provide evidence that FGM is practised amongst South Asian, Iranian, Lebanese and Turko-Mongolian (i.e. Turkish, Central European, Central Asian, Caucasian and Chinese) Muslims?

In particular can you show me where female circumcision is mentioned in Behishti Zewar? Or in its Barelwi equivalent?

If you cannot answer any of my questions, can you please tell me from where you cut and paste your lengthy remarks?

Anonymous said...

Suddenly you have decided to take your understanding of religious law from just South Asian texts. Which puts you at odds with actual south asian muslims.

According to the study, of 100 mothers in the Kemayoran community in Jakarta, 97 percent of their female children had been circumcised"

Where are the fatwas banning female genital mutilation? You continue to spin your defence of Islam with lies and untruths when it is indefensible.

You are worse than a jew denying the Holocaust. You are a muslim denying mutilation when you full know it has a religious basis.

Irf said...

anon, you still haven't answered my questions about your arabic credentials. Why should I accept your translation of Umdat as-Saalik as being more authoritative than the translation of a scholar who is prepared to show his identity AND his qualifications? Why should I prefer the rants of a brain-dead, inbred fool who leaves anonymous messages which are largely cut and pasted from other websites?

And now you cite Indonesia as an example of South Asia. Are you a complete geographical fruitloop? Is Indonesia in South Asia?

You site one community in Jakarta. You don't say whether they are Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists or Javanese Spiritists. You find a sample of 100. One hundred in a city of 20 million.

Which scholarly sources are this sample of 100 relying on? You can't tell because you don't even know what faith they belong to.

No getting back to South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Assam), where can we find female circumcision practised in any form? Where can we find Muslim theological authorities and popular legal texts common to this region promoting FGM?

And where do we find it in Indian diaspora communities in Fiji, South Africa, East Africa, South America, North America, Australasia, Malaysia and Singapore?

Finally, how dare you insult the memories of the holocaust victims of all nationalities and faiths by comparing their slaughter to FGM?

Anonymous said...

There are at least 1,000,000 Dawoodi Bohra in India. Of all the Shia sects they are the most authoritarian and demand total obedience to a religious heirachy which makes Female Genital Mutilation obligatory and almost universal. With a history as traders they have additional authoritarian communities wherever the Indian diaspora has spread.

Anonymous said...

anon, just because they have strict obedience to religiouds hierarchy, it doesn't mean they practise FGM. if strictness of hierarchy was the only indicator, it must mean all Opus Dei and orthodox jewish women have had much more than just their genitals mutilated.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Ghadially R.

PIP: The nature and practice of female circumcision in India among the Daudi Bohra is discussed. The Daudi Bohra are a sect of the Ismaili Shia sect numbering half a million residing principally in the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat with 50% in Bombay alone. The spiritual head has considerable control over his followers and supports but does not enforce female circumcision. In Sabak or Sunday school in there is instruction by the clergy wives that disgrace will come to a family that does not have their girls circumcised. The most common practice is the sunna variety, which involves removal of the tip of the clitoris. Information was obtained from informal interviews with about 50 mothers of young daughters, 2 practitioners of circumcision, and secondary sources. 70% of the mothers did not question and followed the practice of sunna. 20% debated the practice with family and friends, and only 10% did not have sunna performed.

Where are the muslims calling for heavy prison? Where are the muslims calling for a total ban? Has Irfan Yusuf/Semper Grasis demanded a ban?
No because Irfan Yusuf and his fake nom de plume are argumentative poo stirrers who have no interest in women except to give Irfan Yusuf an opportunity to lie and deceive about the true nature of Islam.

Anonymous said...

anon, if i and irf are the same person then you must be jesus christ!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.