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    What is the reason behind Khatna (circumcision) ?
    2. Can a person become Muslim without Khatna?
    3. What is the proper time for performing Khatna?

    (Luqman ; Shillong)

    A. Circumcision (Khatna) is a Sunnah of all prophets. Allah ordained upon prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) to circumcise himself and his son Ismael (A.S.) and according to Torah made it obligatory for all his progeny and followers to follow suit. Jews to this day comply with the order. Prophet Issa (Jesus) A.S. was circumcised and there is nothing on record that he absolved his followers of the order. After the Christ’s departure, his self-proclaimed disciple (Saul) Paul prevailed upon other disciples to declare the abrogation of this Sunnah of the prophets.

    The circumcision is known as the Sunnah of Ibrahim (A.S.) as he was the first prophet on record to have received the order thereof. However, knowing today the medical advantages of circumcision, and considering that all the earlier prophets were pre-historic and their Shariahs are not available, it is more probable that the earlier prophets had also been told to undergo the discipline.

    We know that cleanliness of male genitals is almost impossible without circumcision. Besides the problem of maintaining cleanliness for prayers and recitation of Qur’an, the unhygienic state of genitals might cause many a disease not only in the male but to his wife also. A recent survey of nursing homes revealed that almost all the women patients of genital cancer were non-Muslims. More recently the research papers of two Melbourne University obstetrics and scientists Prof. Roger Short Dr. Robert Szabo have announced that circumcision of all male babies is a must for prevention of Aids and sexually transmitted disease. Following are some extracts from the news published in Times of India.

    “New evidence suggests that circumcision of all male babies could help to halt the global Aids epidemic... Prof. Roger short and his co-author (of the research paper) are convinced that a high level of receptors - sites to which invading organism attach themselves - on the inside of the foreskin make it responsible for transmission.

    Short and Szabo noted a sharp difference in the prevalence of HIV infection in the ‘Aids belt’ countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In some areas the infection rates are as high as 25%, in other areas as low as 1 percent. The lower infection rates were clearly associated with the practice of male circumcision. “The presence of an intact foreskin”, says the Short-Szabo paper, “has consistently been shown to be the single most significant factor associated with the much higher prevalence of HIV in countries of the Asian belt”.

    The link is stronger than with more familiar indicators such as promiscuity, other sexually transmitted diseases and multiple marriage.

    Even more startling evidence came from a recent studying Uganda, reported in February. This showed that among a large group of discordant couples, where one is infected and one not, no circumcised male became infected over 30 months, even though their wives were HIV positive! Short describes these results as startlingly significant.

    Outside Africa there is the same pattern. Countries with low circumcision rates such as Thailand, India and Cambodia, have between 10 and 50 times the rates of infection compared with countries with high circumcision rates such as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia... Shot and Szabo believe that about 80% of male HIV infections in the world happen through the foreskin...” (P. 15 New Delhi edition of Times of India, March 28, 2000)

    Fiq’h scholars differ in their opinion about the compulsion of circumcision in Shariah. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik and a majority of others it is a Sunnah while some scholars including Imam Shafa’i, it is Waajib. Looking at its necessity for cleanliness and hygiene and considering that Allah had ordained Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) to circumcise himself when he was 80, it seems that Waajib is more likely. Were it not at least next to Fardh (i.e.), prophet Ibrahim would have been spared at his old age. Circumcising his son Ismael would have been sufficient for the initiation or renewal of a Sunnah.

    A majority of Ulema are of the opinion that the parents should get a male child circumcised before the age of 10.



    Islamic Rules for Circumcision
    By Mustafa A.Ahmed
    Cirumcision is a universal practice which is greatly influenced by cultural and religious traditions. It is the most frequent operation on males not only in Islamic countries, but also other parts of the world. For example, in the United States of America more than one million male infants are circumcised each year (1). The performance of circumcision is one of the rules of cleanliness in Islam. It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) mentioned:

    Five are the acts quite akin to fitra: circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping (or shaving) the moustache Recorded in “Sahih Muslim”, “Sahih Bukhari”, “Musnad Ahmed” and “Sunnah At-Tirmidhi”).

    The word fitra in relation to cleanliness can refer to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh) with regard to this matter, and fitra also “implies an inner sense of cleanliness in man which is proof of his moral convictions and mental health”.

    Circumcision means removal of the foreskin of the penis. The Islamic scholar Al-Mawardi said, “The ideal method is to remove the skin completely from the beginning of the glans, and the minimum condition is that nothing is left to cover the end of the glans.” The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) recommended performing circumcision at an early age. Al- Mawardi stated that the chosen time is the 7th day after birth, but it can be carried out up to 40 days after birth or thereafter until the age of 7 years, depending upon the health of the infant or child at the time.

    There is an ongoing debate on the value of neonatal circumcision (1). Indeed, the position of the American Academy of Paediatrics since 1975 has been that there are no valid or absolute medical indications for routine circumcision of newborn male infants. On the other hand, the results of recent clinical and epidemiological studies are supportive of the practice of circumcision in newborn and infant males. From a two-part study involving cohorts of 3,924 and 422,328 infants respectively Wiswell and Roscelli found a higher rate of urinary tract infection in uncircumcised compared with male circumcised infants. These investigators observed that as the circumcision frequency rate decreases, the incidence of urinary tract infections increases.

    Infection usually begins in the foreskin which becomes swollen and difficult to retract. A medium for bacterial growth and further spread of infection is provided by the faecal material trapped between the foreskin and glans of the penis. Such a condition probably leads to other more serious complications. The cause for cancer of the penis is not known, but it is associated with related infections. According to current belief, cancer of the penis occurs less frequently among Muslims and Jews. Whether this is so and is a benefit of circumcision should be investigated in carefully controlled clinical studies. Foreskin complications are more common in uncircumcised children. According to the report of Herzog and Alvarez early circumcision of male infants protects them from these conditions. Proper hygienic care of the penis, which includes regular washing, will prevent some infections, but among children this is difficult to maintain and is probably not as effective as circumcision. Some conditions, such as phimosis, often lead to circumcision at a later age that could have been prevented if it had been performed earlier. The possible risk for long term urological complications in the infected, uncircumcised male infant has not been properly studied. It is known, however, that as many as 50% of male infants with urinary tract infections will subsequently reveal demonstrable radiologic abnormalities.

    Thus, the performance of circumcision and the practice of Sunan Al- Fitra as recommended in Islam is medically beneficial and reflects the wisdom of the Islamic statements.


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