Khitan ختان (CIRCUMCISION)

The basis and teachings of Islam is based on two foundations (the Qur’an and Hadith), what ever we need to observe or practice has already been stated in the Qur’an with guideline(s), and also the Hadith which is the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). And whenever an issue is raised, we either check the Qur’an, Hadith or both.

Circumcision is carried out as an Islamic rite by Muslims. Male circumcision is widespread in Islam and accepted as an established practice by all Islamic schools of jurisprudence. Although circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur’an itself but it is mentioned in the Hadith and the Sunnah

The Qur’an itself does not mention circumcision explicitly in any verse. In the time of our Noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), circumcision for men was carried out by most pagan Arabian tribes and female circumcision by a female Companion by name Umm Atiyyah.

Many Ahadith has mentioned circumcision in a list of practices known as Fitrah (acts considered to be of a refined person). Abu Hurayrah who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Five things are part of the fitrah: removing the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the nails.” (Reported by al-jamaa’ah). So, it has been a religious custom from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

<strong>The meaning of Circumcision (khitaan)</strong>:
Ibn Al-Qayyim said:
Khitaan is a noun describing the action of the circumciser (khaatin). It is also used to describe the site of the circumcision, as in the hadeeth, “When the two circumcised parts ( al-khitaanaan) meet, ghusl become obligatory.” In the case of a female the word used is <strong>khafad</strong> . In the male it is also called i’dhaar. The one who is uncircumcised is called aghlaf or aqlaf .
Tuhfat al-Mawlood, 1/152.

Circumcision is the Sunnah of Prophet Ibraaheem and the Prophets after him:
Al-Bukhaari (6298) and Muslim (2370) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Ibraaheem (peace be upon him) circumcised himself when he was eighty years old, and he circumcised himself with an adze.”
An adze ( qadoom) is a carpenter’s tool; it was also said that al-Qadoom is a place is Syria.

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is most likely that what is referred to in the hadeeth is the tool. Abu Ya’laa narrated that ‘Ali ibn Rabaah said: “Ibraaheem was commanded to circumcise himself, so he circumcised himself with an adze and it was very painful for him. Then Allaah revealed to him saying, “You rushed to do it before We told you what tool to use.” He said, “O Lord, I did not want to delay obeying Your command.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Circumcision was one of the things with which Allaah tested Ibraaheem, He did it perfectly so Allaah made him a leader of mankind. It was narrated that he was the first one who was circumcised, as mentioned above. What it says in al-Saheeh is that Ibraaheem circumcised himself when he was eighty years old, (Al-Bukhari : Volume 4 : Book 55 : Hadith 575) . After him, circumcision continued among the Messengers and their followers, even the Messiah (Prophet Isa, A. S) . He was circumcised and the Christians affirmed that, and do not deny that, as they also affirmed that he was forbidden the flesh of pigs…
Tuhfat al-Mawdood, p. 158-159

But the scholars (may Allaah have mercy on them) differed as to the ruling on circumcision.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
The most correct view is that it is obligatory in the case of men and Sunnah in the case of women. The difference between them is that in the case of men, it serves an interest which has to do with one of the conditions of prayer, namely purity (tahaarah), because if the foreskin remains, when the urine comes out of the urethra, some of it will collect there, and this causes burning and infection every time the person moves, and every time the foreskin is squeezed, some drops of urine come out, thus causing najaasah (impurity).
In the case of women, it serves a useful purpose which is to reduce desire. This is seeking perfection, not removing something harmful.

<strong>The shar’i (religious) benefits</strong>
Circumcision is one of the commands concerning beautification enjoined by Allaah, which Allaah has prescribed for His slaves to make them beautiful both outwardly and inwardly (physically and spiritually). It is the perfection of the fitrah (natural state of man) with which He created them, and hence it is the perfection of the haneefiyyah (pure monotheism) of the religion of Ibraaheem (Abraham). The origin of the institution of circumcision as the perfection of haneefiyyah was when Allaah made a covenant with Ibraaheem and promised to make him an imaam (leader) of mankind, and promised him that he would be the father of many people, that prophets and kings would come from his loins and that his descendants would be many. And He told him that between him and his descendants there would be the sign of the covenant, which would be that every newborn male among them would be circumcised, and so the covenant would have this sign on their bodies. Circumcision is a sign of having entered into the religion of Ibraaheem, and this is in accordance with the interpretation of the verse (interpretation of the meaning) –
“[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allaah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allaah’s? And we are His worshippers”
[al-Baqarah 2:138] –
as referring to circumcision.
For the haneefs (pure monotheists, i.e., Muslims), circumcision has the same status as baptism does for the worshippers of the cross (i.e., Christians). They purify their children – as they say – when they baptize them in the baptismal water, and they say, now he has become a Christian. Allaah has prescribed for the haneefs their own rite, the symbol of which is circumcision. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allaah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allaah’s? And we are His worshippers”
[al-Baqarah 2:138] –

… So Allaah has made circumcision a symbol of those who belong to Him and to His religion, and who attribute themselves to Him as being utterly enslaved to Him alone…
The point here is that the religion of Allaah is haneefiyyah (pure monotheism) which fills the heart with knowledge and love of Him and sincerity towards Him, and worship of Him alone with no partner or associate, and which marks the body with the characteristics of the fitrah, (Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 72 :: Hadith 777, Narrated Abu Huraira) namely circumcision, removal of the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails, plucking the hair from the armpits.

So the fitrah of Allaah is manifested in the hearts of the haneefs and on their bodies.

<strong>When to Carryout Circumcision </strong>
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. 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
According to some hadith , prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) circumcised his grandsons, Hasan and Husayn , on the seventh day after their birth. Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim also quote from Muhammad that Prophet Abraham performed his own circumcision at the age of eighty. It is also reported by Abu Dawud and
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal that Muhammad stated that circumcision was a “law for men and a preservation of honor for women”.

The circumcision as stated by the Messenger of Allah (saws) is a characteristic of fitrah or nature, and a Sunnah of not only Prophet Mohamed (saws) but also the Sunnah of the friend of Allah and the father of the Prophets, Prophet Ibraheem (a.s.). Circumcision is not compulsory or obligatory in Islam, but rather it is a Sunnah or voluntary act, and if for any reason, the parents of the baby do not wish to get their child circumcised, it would not be condemned as a sin.

<strong>Circumcisions for Reverts</strong>
Regarding a male who accepts Islam and is above the age of puberty, or a child who was not circumcised for some reason until he reached puberty, there are three possibilities:
1) If the male is able to tolerate the act of circumcision and there is no fear of harm being afflicted on him, and also it is done by oneself as not to expose the nakedness (‘awrah) in front of another person, then circumcision should be carried out.
2) If one is able to bear circumcision without the fear of harm, but at the same time it will mean exposing one’s ‘Awrah in front of another person, then there is a difference of opinion between the scholars on whether circumcision should be carried out.
On one hand, we have the order of not exposing your ‘Awrah in front of other people except in dire situations, but on the other hand, we have this great salient feature of Islam. Some of the contemporary scholars have said that in this situation circumcision should be carried out for two reasons:
a) Circumcision is a form of treatment, and the Fuqaha have given a dispensation in exposing the Awra for treatment and medication.
b) The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him &amp; give him peace) is reported to have said: “Whoever accepts Islam should have his circumcision performed” (Talkhis al-Habir). In light of the above narration, the scholars have said that if there is no fear of harm and the adult male is able to bear circumcision, then it should be carried out.
3) The third situation is where the grown up male is not in a position to tolerate or bear the pain of circumcision, or there is fear of harm being inflicted on him. In this case, circumcision can be (and should be) avoided.

Islam is a religion of mercy and orders only that which is within the capacity and capability of an individual. It never commands that which is beyond ones capacity.

Allah Most High says:
“On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear” (Qur’an, 2:286).
The great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Haskafi (may Allah have mercy on him) states:
“If an old person entered Islam, and (medical) experts were of the view that he won’t be able to bear circumcision, then it should not be carried out” (Durr al-Mukhtar).
One of the great Hadith experts (hafidh), Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“If the child attained puberty, and he is weak to an extent that if circumcision was carried out on him, he will perish(die), then the necessity of circumcision will no longer remain” (Fath al-Bari, 10/289).
Another Hadith expert and Hanafi scholar, Imam al-Kashmiri (Allah have mercy on him) states in his commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari:

“I don’t recommend circumcision for those that have reached puberty, as it is very painful and could lead to death”. (Faydh Al-Bari, 4/413).

However, it should be remembered here, that he who opts not to be circumcised should regularly clean the area underneath the foreskin of his sex organ because, in Islam cleanliness of the body is obligatory for performing prayers.

<strong>The health benefits</strong>
Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali al-Baar (a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in the UK and a consultant to the Islamic Medicine department of the King Fahd Centre for Medical Research in the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah) says in his book al-Khitaan (Circumcision):

“Circumcision of newborn boys (i.e., within the first month of life) brings numerous health benefits, including:

1 – Protection against local infection in the penis, which may result from the presence of the foreskin, causing tightening of the foreskin, which may lead to retention of urine or infections of the glans (tip) of the penis – which require circumcision in order to treat these problems. In chronic cases, the child may be exposed to numerous diseases in the future, the most serious of which is cancer of the penis.
2 – Infections of the urethra. Many studies have proven that uncircumcised boys are more exposed to infection of the urethra. In some studies the rate was 39 times more among uncircumcised boys. In other studies the rate was ten times more. Other studies showed that 95% of children who suffered from infections of the urethra were uncircumcised, whereas the rate among circumcised children did not exceed 5%.
In children, infection of the urethra is serious in some cases. In the study by Wisewell on 88 children who suffered infections of the urethra, in 36% of them, the same bacteria was found in the blood also. Three of them contracted meningitis, and two suffered renal failure. Two others died as a result of the spread of the micro-organisms throughout the body.
3 – Protection against cancer of the penis: the studies agree that cancer of the penis is almost non-existent among circumcised men, whereas the rate among uncircumcised men is not insignificant. In the US the rate of penile cancer among circumcised men is zero, whilst among uncircumcised men it is 2.2 in every 100,000 of the uncircumcised population. As most of the inhabitants of the US are circumcised, the cases of this cancer there are between 750 and 1000 per year. If the population were not circumcised, the number of cases would reach 3000. In countries where boys are not circumcised, such as China, Uganda and Puerto Rico, penile cancer represents between 12-22 % of all cancers found in men; this is a very high percentage.
4 – Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Researchers found that the STDs which are transmitted via sexual contact (usually because of fornication/adultery and homosexuality) spread more among those who are not circumcised, especially herpes, soft chancres, syphilis, candida, gonorrhea and genital warts.
There are numerous modern studies which confirm that circumcision reduces the possibility of contracting AIDS when compared to their uncircumcised counterparts. But that does not rule out the possibility of a circumcised man contracting AIDS as the result of sexual contact with a person who has AIDS. Circumcision is not a protection against it, and there is no real way of protecting oneself against the many sexually transmitted diseases apart from avoiding fornication/adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality and other repugnant practices. (From this we can see the wisdom of Islamic sharee’ah in forbidding fornication/adultery and homosexuality).
5 – Protection of wives against cervical cancer. Researchers have noted that the wives of circumcised men have less risk of getting cervical cancer than the wives of uncircumcised men.

May Almighty Allah (S.W.T) guide us and make us steadfast


Nafysah @

References :


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here