May 1996: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 3

Male Circumcision

Continued from page 2

practices that came through Abraham and Moses.

Arguments on Circumcision

Up until today, it has been a Muslim tradition to circumcise the boys. Since the Quran does not mention the practice, some arguments can be made on the validity of circumcision on religious grounds:

  • Since the verses regarding circumcision are in the previous scriptures, one does not know their authenticity.

  • The practice applies only to Jews, not to Muslims. The Quran does not mention anything about circumcision. Therefore, based on the Quranic verse that God decreed for each religion its own laws and rites (5:48), a Muslim is not responsible for circumcision.

  • Circumcision is based on Hadith (sayings) and old customs, not based on the Quran.

  • God says in the Quran that He perfected us. Therefore it is puzzling why the created should need to “remedy” the perfect handiwork of the Creator.

On the other hand, counter arguments can be made for the following reasons:

  • God describes how the Torah, like the Quran, is a beacon and mercy,

and it contains guidance (5:44). There is no reason to think circumcision is a man-made innovation because the practice does not have an economic or political consequence that would cause it to be invented or even changed with time.

  • The argument that man should not have circumcision since God created him perfect does not make sense if we start using this argument on other issues. Should we not have any surgery, remove a tumor, a bad tooth, and so on, based on that logic? Furthermore, God created all creation perfect, including pigs. Why does He ask us not to eat the meat of pigs then?

  • The Quran comes to confirm and supersede the previous scriptures. It does not give us information on a religious matter if it is already practiced correctly and there is no change from the previous practice. For example, the percentage of Zakat and the units of Salat have not been mentioned. But some practical change in the nights of fasting has been pointed out. (2:187)

  • Abraham was neither Jew, nor Christian. He was a monotheist submitter (3:67). The people most worthy of Abraham are those who follow him, and the prophet Muhammad, and those who believe (3:68). The messengers that came after Abraham, including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were followers of Abraham (16:123). All practices of our religion came through Abraham.

The unanimous practice of male circumcision among the Muslims up until today confirms that circumcision is one of the religious practices that came through Abraham, and it will be practiced by those who follow the religion of Abraham.

Still, one can counter all the above arguments saying that God deliberately left circumcision out of the Quran to leave the practice up to us because of His incredible mercy.

Therefore, there are always two sides of a coin. As part of our test, there is a decision each of us must make, and we will be responsible for whatever we do, and whatever we believe in. God always gives us an alternative way to choose and justify our actions. We can only ask God to direct us to make the right decision.

And we gave Moses the scripture, complete with the best commandments, and detailing everything, and a beacon and mercy, that they may believe in meeting their Lord. This too is a blessed scripture that we have revealed; you shall follow it and lead a righteous life, that you may attain mercy. [6:154-155]

Abdullah Arik


[Note: This discussion has been only on male circumcision. People bring the issue of female circumcision as practiced by certain groups in some Muslim countries. There is no scriptural basis for such practice. It is gross and blasphemous, especially since it is done in the name of religion. The practice has been banned and made illegal in some countries.]