General News of Wednesday, 16 March 2005
From: Eunice Menka, GNA Special Correspondent, Abuja
Abuja, March 16, GNA - An Islamic scholar has told delegates attending an African Regional Conference on "Islam and the Family Well-Being" that there was no legal text in Islam authorising the practice of female circumcision and genital mutilation.
Dr Ahmend Talib, Dean of the Faculty of Sharia, Al Azhar University, Cairo, said: "All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs...it is not an obligation in Islam."
The Islamic scholar was speaking on the topic "Female Genital Cutting and Harmful Practices Against Mother and Child" at the conference, which opened in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday. UNFPA is organising the meeting for Islamic faith-based organisations across Africa.
Some 125 delegates made up of Imams, Muslim scholars, oulemas, malams, representatives of Muslim youth and women groups are attending the five-day meeting.
According to Dr Talib, it was remarkable that Saudi Arabia, a strong Islamic country, had no single case of a female being circumcised.
He urged the participants to rise up against the practice and help in addressing the problem.
Dr Talib said the reason why female circumcision was done was to reduce sexual desire among young girls so that they would not fall into any sexual relations with a man while they were still not married. He, however, said this was wrong since the position of Islam was that both men and women were meant to have pleasure as married couples to procreate.
Sheikh Tahir Usman Bauchi, a Nigerian delegate, who spoke on the role and responsibilities of a woman in Islamic practice, said the woman was entitled to various rights including the right to choose whom to marry.
She said Islam also teaches that the girl-child should not be discriminated against.