Male infants, worldwide, are circumcised for various social, religious and/or medical reasons.
Generally, the ritual of circumcision is traced back to the time of the greatest of prophets Ibraheem (peace be upon him) when Allah commanded him to circumcise himself, his son Ishmael and all his male family members, and he followed Allah's order.
Today Muslims are the largest religious nation to circumcise their male offspring. This ritual shows their belonging and closeness to their spiritual ancestor and the physical forefather, Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him).
Because circumcision was also practised by all prophets, traditionally it has been in practice throughout the history among the followers of Prophet Ibraheem and establishes an Islamic connection to the ritual.
Allah ordered the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Ibraheem (peace be upon him). Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
"Then We inspired you: 'Follow the religion of Ibraheem, the upright in Faith'." [The Holy Qur'an 16:123]
And an important part of the religion of Ibrahim is circumcision.
The Prophet Ibraheem showed by his actions that he completely sumbitted himself to God's will, and encouraged his family and household members to obey Allah's commands without fail.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
"The Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old." [Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad]
But unlike the Jewish tradition, in Islam circumcision is not a symbol of Allah's covenant with humans.
The Holy Qur'an does not impose an obligation on parents to circumcise their children, but the prophet Mohammed is reported to have stated that "Circumcision is a sunnah
(customary or traditional) for the men. Most references to male circumcision occur in the examples and traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore the scholars strongly recommend circumcision for male.
From this point of view,
traditionally, adult male converts to Islam are encouraged to undergo the operation.
Furthermore, besides submission to the Will of God, male circumcision is an important ritual aimed at improving cleanliness. Therefore, in Arabic, circumcision is also known as tahara
, meaning purification or cleanliness.
Islam strongly emphasises cleanliness and purification both spiritual and physical. The mental and spiritual purification cleanses the heart while the social and physical purification cleanses the body as in circumcision. It also indicate that circumcised males are regarded as more pure (clean).
Although circumcision is not one of the Five Pillars of the Faith, which consist of: the profession of faith, daily prayer, fasting at Ramadan, giving money to the poor (charity), and the pilgrimage to Mecca. However, this ritual is an act of purification and connects the person to the Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him) and his religion, Islam.
The Qur'an says:
"Allah does not want to place burden on you. Rather, He wants to purify you and to complete His favours to you so that you may be grateful." [The Holy Qur'an 5:7]
The Hadith, the acts and the approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) together constitute the Sunnah. This is the second source of Islamic Law.
God says in the Holy Qur'an:
"Verily in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah." [The Holy Qur'an 33:21]
A Hadith related by Bukhari reads: "The practices related to Fitrah (the nature) are five: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and removing the hair of the armpits."
Circumcision, throughout history, has been thought to provide a measure of protection against infections of the foreskin.
In fact these are general practices that humans have discovered by instinct to be good for them with or without organized religion.
All the practices grouped under the fitrah
(The Natural Way) heading indicate a certain understanding of the importance of hygiene that would have been evident to people living in any age, even without the dictates of any religious philosophy.
Circumcision: a measure of protection against cancer
the HIV infections
Circumcision, throughout history, has been thought to provide a measure of protection against infections of the foreskin. The surgical removal of the skin surrounding the head of the penis makes it easier to keep the penis clean because urine cannot get trapped there.
It is also a preventive measure against infection and diseases, becuase without circumcision excrements may collect under the foreskin which may lead to fatal diseases such as cancer. It's been suggested in modren studies that penile cancer and transmission of the HIV infection are less likely in circumcised men.
According to the Islamic tradition there is no fixed age for Muslim circumcision therefore it varies depending on family, region and country.
Hadith are reported indicating that the Prophet Muhammad’s grand sons, Hassan and Hussaiyn (peace be upon them) were circumcised on the seventh day after their birth and daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, Fatima (peace be upon them) herself is quoted talking about her sons’ circumcision on the seventh day after their birth.
Therefore, commonly, the preferred age considered is the seventh day after birth and can be as late as puberty. Though the medical profession has encouraged medical circumcisions in the first week after birth to reduce complications.
According to Muslim scholars the male convert should be circumcised, as this is part of the natural manners recommend in Islam. However, if circumcision would pose any health risks such as cause
ing other complications or infections, it may be delayed until the person becomes more able to cope with it. In such situation the scholars refer to the example of Ibrahim (peace be upon him) who circumcised himself at the age of eighty.
Circumcision: according to the Bible
We read very clear instructions about circumcision in the present Bible, in the book of Genesis:
Abraham was 99 years old. God appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be perfect. I may make you father of many nations. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. This shall be the mark of the covenant between Me and you. Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised on the flesh of his foreskin. His son Ishmael was thirteen years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised. On that very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. And all the males of his household. [Genesis, chapter 17]