Following are excerpts from an interview with Al-Azhar Cleric Farahat Said Al-Munji, which aired on Al-Mihwar TV on May 10, 2007:
Farahat Sa'id Al-Munji: The Prophet said that circumcision is obligatory for men, and is noble for women. This means that for the sake of her honor, a woman can be circumcised. This noble act can be either carried out or not. Moreover, this noble act is subject to restrictions nowadays. I once had a discussion with a gynecologist, who said: "A man brought his daughter to me, and I told him she must be circumcised immediately." Why? Because he discovered that her clitoris was so big that it was bound to cause her pain or bother her when she reached puberty, and therefore, she had to be circumcised. He told me that other girls came to him, and he said they should not be circumcised. Why? Because their clitoris was normal in size, and did not bother them. It would be crazy to deal with such a clitoris, which does not protrude to an extent that might bother the woman, when it rubs against her clothing and so on...
Guys, all these things appear in Islamic law. Don't think we are making these things up. It all exists [in religious law] and is determined... We say that if the clitoris is so on and so forth... What am I saying? When the Prophet Muhammad met Umm Salama in Al-Madina – what did he say to her? "Are you still doing what you sued to do in Mecca?" In other words, are you still circumcising girls, like you used to do in Mecca? She said: Yes. He said: "Trim it, but don't cut it off." According to another version, he said: "Shorten it, but don't cut it off." "Trim it" means leaving room for sexual desire. That little bit on top, which looks like the rooster's crest, is shortened, but just the upper part. She needs to cut off the prepuce, the little bit at the top.
The girl is taken to the gynecologist. If he says that the little bit on top must be cut off – we cut it off, and if he says it doesn't...
Interviewer: In all honesty, would you take your daughter or granddaughter to the doctor, or would you have them circumcised straight away?
Farahat Sa'id Al-Munji: First of all, my granddaughters were not circumcised, and I have not given an order to have them circumcised. Why? First of all, a gynecologist... When a girl reaches the age of four or five, she is taken to the doctor. That is what we did, and he said she was perfectly normal, and that there was nothing to worry about. Those were his exact words: Nothing to worry about. Therefore, she was not circumcised.
Interviewer: Is this common in these parts for some reason?
Farahat Sa'id Al-Munji: At first, they used chastity belts instead of female circumcision. Why were there chastity belts? A man would leave to raid other tribes, he would go off to war, to conduct trade, and so on. He would leave his wife, who may have been young and so on. he would leave her for months on end, or perhaps even a years until he re returned. They would make them something called a chastity belt.
Interviewer: They would make them out of leather and wrap them around the area, and they would make... it was brought up from below, between the thighs, and from the side or the back, and they would put a little lock on it. The lock had one key. The husband kept the key, and the belt remained locked. He would leave a peeing hole at the front. That's it.
Interviewer: He would lock his wife with a key?
Farahat Sa'id Al-Munji:Yes, he left a peeing hole at the front, and another hole at the back, so she cold relieve herself.