A top United Nations official has claimed that ISIS is ordering genital mutilations in Mosul. Allegedly, ISIS wants all women aged 11 to 46 to undergo genital mutilation, which would remove the most sensitive areas of a woman’s reproductive organs and essentially eliminate any pleasure felt from sex. The authenticity of the alleged Fatwa, however, is being called into question.

ISIS

ISIS: Fatwa might not have been intended for issue

The Fatwa itself was found to be riddled with typos and signed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a name ISIS no longer uses to refer to itself. It’s possible then that the fatwa itself is old, and was never intended to be issued, is part of an elaborate scheme by another party to discredit ISIS, or was issued by a lower ranking person with no authority within the organization.

ISIS has already shot down the alleged order as propaganda, however, BBC is reporting that residents of Mosul are claiming that it is indeed true. At the same time, other reports from people on the ground, including local journalists, are claiming that ISIS has not told anyone that they must undergo the circumcision.

At the moment, there is no evidence to confirm that ISIS is really pushing for FGM.

Genital Mutilation Common In Nearby Kurdistan

While Genital Mutilation is often seen as an “African” phenomena, it is actually quite widespread in the nearby Kurdish regions of Iraq. FGM rates are estimated to be as high as 80 percent in some regions of Kurdistan.

Genital mutilation is also common in Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, and numerous other countries. Given that ISIS has attracted fighters from across the world, it is possible that people from said regions have been pushing for the practice to be adopted in Iraq.

Little Basis For FGM In Islam

Still, genital mutilation is more of a cultural, rather than religious phenomena, and few extremist Sunni groups have ever attempted to carry out genital mutilation. The basis for female circumcision within Islam itself is rather tenuous. The only time it’s referenced is in an “unofficial” hadith by Sunan Abu Dawud who knew the Prophet but was not among those given “official” status.

Sunan Abu Dawud stated: “It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: ‘Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands.”- Even in this statement Prophet was calling for restraint.

Often, the Prophet did not directly challenge long held cultural beliefs but instead pushed for more gradual change. This could have been one of the instances in which Prophet was pushing for gradual progress on the issue and simply not looking to upset the social order. FGM has been common throughout human history and preceded the founding of Islam.