Traditions and cultural practices in Arab and African nations have long been the source of many misconceptions about Islam, particularly among those who do not know much about the Islamic doctrine and its teachings.

Among such practices and probably the most detestable of all is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also called Female Circumcision, and widely practiced in Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East and Southeast Asia, and mistakenly linked to Islam.

FGM always brought to my mind how this practice, which I stress has no link to Islam, resembles body piercing, which many doctors, not just religious figures, discourage.

Body piercing has been identified by the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. as a possible vehicle for transmission of hepatitis B, C, D and G, and HIV. So it is not less harmful than female circumcision, which has been on top of the agendas of human rights activists in recent years, and wrongly classified as an Islamic tradition.

What is common between the two practices is that both are different forms of desecration of the human body. Both FGM, still practiced in some African countries by Muslims and non-Muslims, and body piercing, which is growing among young people especially in Europe and America- are  acts that ought to be avoided.

Body piercing has been warned against by most religious figures even in the West as well as medical professionals for the danger it poses to the human body, including bleeding and nerve damage. Statistics also proved that piercing lead in many cases to diffferent kinds of infection.

And four years ago, Dr. Ali Gomaa, the current Grand Mufti of Egypt, ruled that female circumcision should be avoided. The ruling is in accordance with Egyptian law, that also forbids the practice. This ruling came on the sidelines of a conference initiated by a research and a documentary on FGM in Somalia by the German action group Target.

The edict issued by Egypt’s Grand Mufti is now also used in Western Europe, part of global initiative aimed at eliminating the practice.

Those who undergo body piercing, piercing their bodies in stranger and stranger places – in the mouth, on their navels, through cheeks and even in the genitals, consider it a form of body art and self-expression, and those who circumcise their daughters, in highly secretive rituals, believe it preserved their chastity- But God has warned, in both Christianity and Islam, against changing or humiliating his creation.

Examples in Islam:

“It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape- and made your shapes beautiful” – Qur’an 40:64

“Our Sustainer! Thou hast not created (any of) this in vain” – Qur’an 3:191

And an example in Christianity:

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

Our care and respect for our body entails that we avoid what puts it in danger. Applying logic is a human instinct that we should never forsake.

 

Wassalaam

Maha Youssuf