Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I first learned of this news while reading a tweet from writer and activist Mona Eltahawy.

A private hospital in Egypt has been shut down after a 17-year-old girl died from complications of female genital mutilation:

Suez governor Ahmed Al-Hitamy shut down a private hospital in the city after a young girl died on Sunday while undergoing a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure, which is illegal according to Egyptian law.

Mayar Mohamed, 17, went to the hospital with her twin sister to undergo the surgery. Her sister survived, but Mayar suffered from complications during the procedure, which caused severe bleeding that eventually led to her death.

As I was reading this, all I could say to myself was a common Arabic Muslim phrase used to express shock: “La Hawla Wa La Quwwata Illa Billah,” or “There is no power or movement except with God.”

The statistics surrounding this barbaric practice in Egypt (the country of my ancestry) are astounding:

Egypt was among the countries that witnessed a fast decline in the prevalence of FGM rates from 1987 to 2015. According to a UNICEF report, it ranked sixth among countries that practice FGM worldwide, with an overall percentage of 85% among girls and women aged between 15 to 49 years old.

A government survey released earlier in August 2015 showed that 61% of girls between 15 to 17 years of age underwent FGM during 2014, compared to 74% during 2008.

While it is heartening that the numbers are decreasing, even one girl is way too many. As a father of four daughters, I am sickened and outraged.

Contrary to what some may say, this practice is not about Islam. It is a cultural practice that transcends religion and has affected millions of women and girls around the world. As a physician, I can say with utmost honesty and sincerity that this barbaric procedure has absolutely no health benefits whatsoever. It is truly mutilation, nothing less. As a Muslim trying to live a righteous life, that some would justify it using Islam offends me even more.

In fact, it is Islam that motivates me to speak out against this barbarism. It calls to mind this verse of the Qur’an, which condemns female infanticide:

And they ascribe daughters unto God, Who is limitless in His glory – whereas for themselves [they would choose, if they could, only] what they desire for: for, whenever any of them is given the glad tiding of [the birth of] a girl, his face darkens, and he is filled with suppressed anger, avoiding all people because of the [alleged] evil of the glad tiding which he has received [and debating within himself]: “Shall he keep this [child] despite the contempt [which he feels for it], or shall he bury it in the dust? Evil indeed is whatever they decide!” (16:57-59)

I am sure that the parents subjecting their daughters to this horrific practice do not mean to hurt them. They just do not know any better. That is why, along with government and health officials, NGOs, and activists, religious leaders need to be more forceful in their condemnation of this practice and education of the people that there is nothing sacred about this practice at all.

All of us, for the sake of God and these girls, must say in one loud voice:

Leave. Our. Girls. Alone

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