Often, Muslim boys pass through their major status change - circumcision (khitan) - when they have recited the entire Qur'an [Koran] once through. In Malaysia and other regions where this procedure is followed, the boy undergoes the operation at from ten to twelve years of age. It is thus a real puberty rite, separating the boy from childhood and introducing him to a new status. There is much anxious anticipation of circumcision at the age of puberty, because the initiand is increasingly aware of his own sexuality and needs also to demonstrate his bravery and honor. The adults talk a lot about the fearsomness of the circumciser and make frightening remarks right up to the time of the event, which in some causes is semi-public, although it is more and more often performed in a clinic or hospital. In any event, there is much festivity, with music, special foods, and many guests. While the actual event is taking place, one may hear praise of God, partly, as some observers have suggested, to drown out the boy's cries. But the procedure is relatively safe, and those whom perform it are usually trained and experienced.
I [the author] have witnessed many peremptory circumcision operations in small booths close to the wall of the great Tanta mosque during the autumn mawlid or birthday celebration of the saint, Sidi Ahmad al-Badawi. There, peasant parents simply bring their little boys, from infancy up to ages seven or eight, and the circumciser and usually an assistant hold the boy down while his foreskin is removed. Sometime a man plays a flute or beats a drum. Afterwards the child will be given sweets, like ice cream, and paraded off in honor and triumph as if he were a little prince. Whether the celebration is makeshift and humble or ceremonious and lavish, it is a significant moment in the life of a boy and his parents and siblings. Afterward, if the circumcision takes place around puberty, the boy will enter into full participation in Islamic ritual life, although he may have performed prayers and fasting before, either regularly or occasionally.
Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur'an, but Muslims everywhere regard it as essential, and the Hadith record it as a practice enjoined by all past prophets. Significantly, it is also known by a euphemism: tahara, meaning "purification." The age at which it is performed varies from region to region and even from family to family, but most often age seven is preferred, although it is known from as early as the seventh day following birth all the way up to puberty. Adult converts to Islam have traditionally been required to undergo the operation, but this practice is not universally considered to be essential, especially if there is a health risk. Of courrse, in the Bible there are reports of circumcisiions of adult males and mention of the period of healing that was required afterwards (for example, Gen. 17:9-14,23-27; Josh 5:2-9).
I underwent a traditional Muslim circumcision when I was twelve years old but I'm afraid I don't have any photos of the procedure. Many photographs are often taken before and after but I don't think it is deemed appropriate to photograph the event itself. Traditional circumcisions are steadily becoming rarer with many Muslim families preferring to have their sons done at birth or if they done older it is normally done by a doctor under local anesthetic. It is all good and well but I cant help feel boys are being deprived of a very significant event. Too much is made of the pain which is intense but surprisingly brief. The down side is there is little choice of styles - the traditional stretch and cut is typically reasonable tight but leaves a lot of the inner foreskin. I have no complaints but it's not everybody's choice. Both my sons were ritually done and neither of them have any regrets, on the contrary, they feel proud.
Serdar is pleased about the little cut
How Turks in Berlin Celebrate the Traditional Circumcision Ceremony
Translated by CIRCLIST Member from the original German text
Saturday evening in a backyard of a house in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In a former factory building you will find a newly established festival-hall and it is filled with 300 guests. On long with white sheet covered tables are Coke- and Winebottles. A music-group plays the popular turkish song "Hepsi seninmi?" and well dressed young women and men are dancing. Normally turkish weddings are celebrated here. This evening there is a special event, the "Sunnet Dugunu" the circumcision ceremony.
Soon a real man, the most important person of this evening, is the seven year old Serdar Baladin. With his white dress and his turban-like cap he sits like a maharadscha on a bed. Curious he observes the going-on in the hall. Serdar is one of over one thousand turkish boys which are circumcised in Berlin per year. This 3000 year old tradition is done as well among the turkish families in Germany. With a little surgery the boys foreskin is cut off. "A man becomes a real man if he is circumcised and has done his national service", the Turkish are saying.
No "Sunnetci", the circumciser, is yet in sight. The guests are busy with eating and listening to the music-group. Serdar belongs not to the boys which are scared of the procedure. He is pleased about his circumcision, "because it's fun". "I become a man and later I'll get married". Serdars wishes are still the ones of a little boy: A remote-controlled car, a spider, a snake and a playhouse are on his list. It's a tradition that the boys get money and goldcoins at this event. Serdar knows exactly what he's doing with the money: "I put it to the bank, nobody can take it. If I'm a grown up I will buy a car."
At about 10PM Akif Ozcan enters the hall. The only turkish circumciser living in Germany is doing his job quickly. After a local anaesthesia he puts an electric knife on the boys foreskin and makes a quick cut. Afterwards Serdar gets a special dressing. A week later he can go to the playground again. After the ceremonie Serdar gets his presents and the guests go back dancing. Ozcan packs his things together. He's an experienced circumciser. Neverless the 56 year old is every time very careful: "It's a little operation on an important organ, you have to be very careful," he says with a quite voice, "I can do it in the meantime without looking, but it's better to be a little bit afraid of." "You better be careful", Akif Ozcan did about 3000 circumcisions in his career. He can't forget his first circumcision until today. He was scared, he shook, he's saying today. "Perhaps it's because my own circumcision didn't go well. I was 11 years old. It hurt a lot and I was ill for two months", Ozcan says and his face gets serious, "It hurt a lot and bleeded constantly. A relative was a doctor, he treated me afterwards. Indeed there was not enough qualified personnel in Turkey.
Sometimes even barbers, which had a sharp razor blade, did the job. Often the knowledge was given from father to son. Today medical schools for circumcisers are in almost every bigger town in Turkey. After the exam they collect experiences on the side of an older college before they circumcise by themself."
This was the way the career of Akif Ozcan started. After eleven years as circumciser in different turkish cities he came 1971 to Berlin were he worked as a male nurse in the Urban-Hospital of Kreuzberg. Eight years ago he stopped and began to work as Sunnetci as a full time job. After long negotiations his turkish diploma got accepted by the government of Berlin. Since then he drives through the whole republic and circumcises about 200 boys per year. In the meantime he has a lot of german customers too. German men, who marry muslem women or convert to the Islam, are circumcised by him. This little procedure could be done easily on adults as well. There's only one difficulty:
"Some men get erections during the healing process. Because of this there is a tension on the wound and it doesn't heal as quick as it does on little children", Ozcan says,"but after ten days the men are doing fine again. With the benefits of modern medicine, the circumcision is taking place without lots of pain and bleeding and the patient can walk again after a short time."
Circumcision has a high position in turkish society. Accordingly the circumciser has an important role. Akif Ozcan likes his special position in Germany. But neverless he wants to go back to Turkey and open a practice south of Antalya.
Berliner Zeitung 16.8.1995
Circumcision Museum in Turkey
(Language purists please bear with me. I don't have a character set available to me that will add the correct Turkish umlauts and other points.)
I have just returned from a visit to the Sadberk Hanm Muzesi. It is a museum formed by a private foundation, primarily dedicated to showing one person's domestic collection - domestic in the sense that it consists mainly of household objects assembled by a woman of means whose occupation was running a household and bringing up four children. I have been trying to get there for almost ten years; I am a carpet collector and this place is noted for its collection of embroidery.
The most spectacular set piece is the famous Sunnet bed, decorated for the circumcision ceremony that marked a boy's formal entrance into adult membership of the Muslim faith. This impressive bed alone makes the visit to the museum worthwhile. The tradition it represents is virtually dead and even where still observed of an extremely private nature. These beds were made by the women in the family or their friends/relatives. Its preparation is always described as the women's part of the SUNNET DUGUNU (circumcision feast) taking place with the ladies in the house dressed in traditional costumes, as for wedding ceremonies,
The bed is decorated with rich counterpanes and valences and the tester (canopy) is then draped with embroidered napkins and hand towels joined together to make curtains and flounces. The front of these curtains is in turn decorated with KESE, small hand-knitted decorative purses. These held gifts of money or jewelry for the boy to be circumcised. Few families would have had enough grand napkins to make the curtains, so the traditions was that pieces were lent by relatives for the display, all carefully marked to ensure that they were later returned to the right owners. There were also exquisite linen towels made specially for one use only. These had a slit for the penis to be pulled through and protected the fine clothes of the day from blood or cuts. So rare is the tradition today that the museum had to bring an elderly lady from Ankara to set up the display correctly.
If you go to Istanbul I urge you to take the time for a visit to this beautiful old Ottoman house in the Azaryan Yalisi on the Eastern shore at BUYUKDERE. All good hotel concierges can direct you there.
Extracted from 'The Marsh Arabs'
by Wilfred Thesiger
On my way north to the Fartus, I happened to stop at a raba in a large village in the Amaira country. The owner was not at home, but a tall, good-looking youth welcomed us. The men who had brought me returned to their village as soon as they had drunk tea. My host himself, whose name was Abid, short for 'the Slave of God', arrived at sunset. 'What have you got in those boxes?' he asked after dinner. 'Medicines.' 'Are you a doctor?' 'I know about medicine.' 'Can you circumcise?'
I had never done this operation but had watched many in hospitals and among the tribes, so I took a chance and answered: 'Yes.' 'Will you circumcise my son Kharaibid? It is years since someone came here who knew how to circumcise and I want him done so that he can marry.' He pointed to the lad who had received me and who, at this moment, was busy pouring out coffee. Rather apprehensively, I agreed to operate in the morning.
Circumcision, although nowhere mentioned in the Koran, is generally regarded as obligatory for Muslims, following the example of the Prophet himself who was circumcised in accordance with Arab custom. No uncircumcised person may lawfully make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Among the tribes in southern Iraq, whether Madan or shepherds, the operation was often deferred till manhood, as in the present case, and was seldom performed before puberty. It was done by specialists who travelled round from village to village in the summer. Their traditional fee was a cock, but more often they charged five shillings.
The examples of their work which I saw later were terrifying. They used a dirty razor, a piece of string and no antiseptics. Having finished, they sprinkled the wound with a special powder, made from the dried foreskins of their previous victims, and then bound it up tight with a rag. People living under these conditions acquire a remarkable resistance to infection, but they could not resist this, and boys sometimes took two months to recover, suffering great pain in the meanwhile.
One young man came to me for treatment ten days after his circumcision, and although I am fairly inured to unpleasant sights and smells, the stench made me retch. His entire penis, his scrotum and the inside of his thighs were a suppurating mess from which the skin was sloughing away, the pus trickling down his legs. I cured him eventually with antibiotics. In spite of the social stigma of being uncircumcised, some boys not unnaturally refused. In other cases the fathers would not allow their sons to be operated on, because there was no one else to look after the buffaloes. A few maintained that they had been circumcised by an angel at birth, a superstition that is also current in Egypt. Later I visited villages, among the Suaid and Kaulaba in particular, where I heard that hardly anyone was circumcised - almost incredible among Muslims.
In the morning, Abid suggested I should do the operation out of doors, in order not to defile the house with blood. A small crowd waited among the buffaloes in the yard, which was not the ideal surgery. A number of Kharaibid's contemporaries had turned up, to give him moral support as I presumed. I selected an intelligent-looking boy as my assistant. Kharaibid produced a large wooden mortar, turned it upside down and sat on it. I could have wished for a simpler first operation. Examination showed that he had an 'attached foreskin'. I prepared a syringe with local anaesthetic, but Kharaibid said immediately, 'What is that for?' I explained that an injection would stop him feeling any pain. 'No, no, I don't want any needles stuck into me; just cut it off,' and nothing I could say would change his mind.
By then I was wondering if he was as nervous as I was, though he showed no signs of it. While I operated, which in this case took some time, he sat absolutely motionless, and after I had finished said, 'Thank you', and stood up. My assistant, who had been holding the various forceps, dropped them in the manure and pushed another boy aside, sat down on the mortar and said, 'Now it's my turn.' I realized with a shock that Kharaibid's nine friends had all come to be circumcised. The youngest was about fifteen, the eldest twenty-four, and I learnt later that they all recovered in a few days. Evidently sulphonamide powder and penicillin were more efficacious than powdered foreskins. The news had reached the next village by the time I got there and I found a score of boys waiting for me.
In time few of these people were prepared to let the local specialists circumcise them; they preferred to wait until I visited their village or to come and find me somewhere else. On one exhausting occasion, a hundred and fifteen turned up, and I was hard at work from dawn till midnight. They believed that, after circumcision, the smell of baking bread, or of scent, would inflame the wound. Consequently their custom was to stuff their nostrils with pieces of cloth and hang onions round their necks, if they could find any in the local shop. Nor might they eat fish, curds or water melons, or drink more than a few sips of water till they were healed. The local practitioners seized on these superstitions as a ready-made excuse for their incompetence. When some wretched youth hobbled past in agony with legs wide apart, they would explain sententiously, 'Of course, the stupid fool hasn't taken enough care to block his nostrils. He must have smelt baking bread, or perhaps has drunk too much water.'
Muslim circumcision: The circumciser fingers the child's penis until it is erect, then pulls the prepuce all the way down, completely exposing the glans, which he examines, and removes any sebaceous matter. There are several ways of clamping, tying, or compressing the foreskin after it is drawn tightly forward, whereupon it is removed with an expert flick of the blade. Now comes the delicate operation. When the clamp is removed, the integumental skin, or outer layer of the prepuce retracts as far as, or sometimes, beyond the rim of the glans. The sheath of the penis is thus shortened by the removal of it's forward fold, which is now a mere remnant, the so called pretual root. The thin inner layer of the foreskin is then lacerated and turned back over the corona to join the thicker skin and form a kind of cicatrical ring, or narrow band of scar tissue around the neck of the glans. The wound is now anointed and bandaged, healing in a week's time. In Bedouin tribes circumcision is a puberty rite, or test of manhood, enacted on boys between the ages of ten and fifteen. The rite is called es-selkh (the flaying). As the name implies,not merely the prepuce, but the entire sheath of the penis is longitudinally slit and sliced off, leaving the "rod" like a skinned eel. As a rule, youths look forward to the ordeal with masochistic or fatalistic abandon. They pull each other's drawers down and stand proudly naked, not daring to move a muscle or cry out
Jacabus observed that in Arab circumcision the skin of the sheath of the penis and the mucous membrane are cut at the same level, and after the operation is completed there is absolutely no prepuce. This is the desired result. The penis is literally strained to stiffness when erect, for the skin is stretched tight, and the entire glans, including the corona, and the neck of the corona are fully exposed by the retraction.
Muslim Circumcision Ritual In The Sudan: A couple of weeks ago, I met a young man from Sudan who is a university student here in Europe. Eventually our conversation came to the topic of male circumcision in Sudan, and with pride and real enthusiasm he gave me detailed information about traditional circumcision rites in his country. Please feel free to publish this report on your web site, along with the other reports from countries around the world. Since I am not a native speaker, I would be happy if you could correct any errors in spelling or construction prior to publication. Martin
Sudan is divided in two parts, the Christian south and the Muslim north. In the north, each boy has to be circumcised before joining school at the age of eight. Wealthier parents, who mostly live in the cities, have their sons' foreskins cut in a hospital right after birth. In the provinces outside of larger cities, boys get circumcised when they are between four and six years of age. All circumcisions are performed by an old and experienced man, the circumciser of the village. Before a boy gets his circumcision, his parents arrange an appointment with the circumciser, who examines the bared little boy's penis thoroughly. The old man retracts the black foreskin from the pink glans in order to break any adhesions. Then he cleans the glans and inner foreskin with sesame or olive oil, which also allows the foreskin to be moved smoothly back and forth over the tender glans. This procedure "may be even more painful for the boy than the circumcision itself" and is repeated on the following days if necessary. During these examinations, the circumciser gets a good idea of the boy's penis size and the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Some days later, the boy's circumcision is celebrated with all family members gathered, giving lots of presents to the boy. This is an important day on his way to becoming a man and "no man would ever forget his circumcision". His father or an uncle takes the honour to hold the boy during the procedure and presents his bared genitalia to the circumciser. The boy's attention is then distracted by flute players and the other adults, while the circumciser does his work. First, the old man moves the little foreskin back and forth to make sure it easily slides over the oiled glans and the whole area is clean. Then he inserts a special straw (from a savannah grass) into the hose of the foreskin. The width of the straw must be about the same as the glans, and the circumciser can choose the right straw from a set that he brings along. With this straw, he pushes back the glans whilst the foreskin gets pulled forward over the straw as far as possible. The circumcised then ties a thin cord around the foreskin directly where the tip of the glans is. Now the elastic foreskin is firmly attached to the straw and the glans is marked by the cord. With one quick motion of his sharp knife, the circumciser cuts just in front of the cord through the foreskin and the straw. After the knot has been untied, the elastic outer foreskin retracts behind the glans and the inner layer would be pushed back manually so that the cuts are adapted, but not stitched. The circumcised the applies a powder made from crushed paracetamol tablets on the wound in order to stop bleeding and to release pain, then the freshly circumcised penis gets bandaged. The bandages would be changed every day and new paracetamol powder would be applied until the cut has healed. According to the Sudanese student, the cut itself is less painful than the healing and repeated change of the bandage during the following. It is very important that the glans is absolutely uncovered by skin after the circumcision, otherwise the boy would not be regarded as circumcised and would need to be cut again.
Better Late Than Never. I was fortunate to be in Indonesia for six months some years back. The majority are of the Moslem faith and the boys I encountered all looked forward to being circumcised. I attend the circumcision of a 15 year old boy, who was very glad to finally be circumcised. Most boys were done earlier (around 6-10) and he felt he was somehow less of a man then they were. He really wanted to be circumcised. It was done, like the boy in the Nasilsiniz photos, in a doctors office with pain killer. He was very happy it was finally done, and all of his many friends attended his circumcision (which caused him no embarrassment at all.)
From Love War and Fancy by Sir Richard Barton
There is a difference between the Hebrew and the Muslim rite. The Jewish operator, after snipping off the foreskin, rips up the prepuce with his sharp thumb nails so that the external cutis does not retract far from the integral; and the wound, when healed, shows a narrow ring of cicatrice. This ripping is not done by Muslims. They use a stick as a probe passed round between the glans and prepuce to ascertain the extent of the frenum and that there is no abnormal adhesion. The foreskin is then drawn forward and fixed by the forceps, a fork of two bamboo splints, five or six inches long by a quarter thick, or in some cases an iron like our compasses. This is tied lightly over the foreskin so as to exclude about an inch and a half of the prepuce above and three quarters below. A single stroke of the razor drawn downwards removes the skin. The slight bleeding is stopped by burnt rags or ashes.
Turkey's Circumcision King Savors Boom
By: AYSE SARIOGLU
ANKARA, Turkey --Turkey's school summer vacations are boom time for Circumcision King Kemal Ozkan. "Each year about 1 million boys come of circumcision age in Turkey," 58-year-old paramedic Ozkan said. Up to 20 boys a day will pass through his private Istanbul clinic with proud parents paying as much as $200 for the privilege. "Few of them are taken to hospitals because the hospitals are full and mostly equipped for major surgeries," he said.
Circumcision is one of the most strictly observed religious practices in secular, though predominantly Muslim, Turkey.
Muslim families, 99% of Turkey's 55 million population, regard circumcision as the first step to manhood. Turkish doctors consider circumcision a hygienic and prophylactic practice.
Dr. Demokan Erol, chief urologist in an Ankara hospital, said: "Research shows that in communities where early-age circumcision is widely practiced, cancers of the male genitalia have a very low incidence. "I say the best age is from 5 to 9."
Why is the operation not done on babies at birth? "The boys must be able to remember the occasion," said Ozkan, with 58,000 circumcisions to his credit in his 26-year-career.
And what an occasion it is for Turkish boys as families indulge their every whim and shower them with presents before the painful but blessedly brief surgery.
However poor the family, all Turkish boys preparing for circumcision wear an embroidered satin pillbox hat and sash.
Though painkillers are rarely part of the ritual, each boy is accompanied by an adult male to give him courage as he faces the knife. The male companion or kirve assumes lifelong obligations to the boy, much like a Christian godfather.
The skills of Ozkan and the hygienic conditions under which he performs are not mirrored in much of rural Turkey. In the villages paramedics have rarely had special training in circumcision. Often the operation is performed by handymen whose sole claim to proficiency is inherited from their fathers.
Though the Ministry of Health has no exact figures of deaths or mutilations caused by amateur practitioners, complaints from around the country have spurred government this year to launch a free, nationwide circumcision service.
The ministry will provide surgeons, paramedics and nurses to offer supervised health care in each of Turkey's 73 provinces during the main circumcision season. "Unfortunately some of the government-appointed medics are not properly taught to circumcise, but a brief training can make them proficient in modern methods," Ozkan said.
Will the free government circumcision service be bad for business? Ozkan doesn't think so.
Missionary Muslims Find Albania to Be Fertile Ground
James Drake, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
TIRANA, ALBANIA --
It's early Friday morning rush hour in the Albanian capital of Tirana, and from the top of the minaret adjoining the downtown 18th-century Ethem Begmosque, a muezzin is summoning the faithful to prayer.
Nominally, at least, some two-thirds of Albania's 3.4 million people are Muslim, a legacy of 400 years of Turkish occupation that ended in 1912. Butduring 45 years of post-World War II state atheism, whole generations of Albanians grew up knowing little about the faith of their forefathers. Now, Muslim leaders report a mood of spiritual reawakening.
"On Fridays and holy days, the main Tirana mosques are full," exults HafizSabri Koci, chairman of the Muslim Committee in Albania, the country'sruling Islamic body. "It's like a small revolution."
But not a revolution from within. When the Communist regime finally fell in1991, missionaries from fundamentalist Islamic states such as Iran, Libya,and Saudi Arabia were quick to come calling. And the message they brought to
Europe's poorest nation is making some people very anxious.
A major bulwark of resistance to Islamic expansion disappeared when the government collapsed this spring following the failure of fraudulent pyramid investment schemes. Before the crisis erupted, official institutions had worked to dampen over ardent evangelism.
"I have to emphasize that most Albanians who go to mosque obey the law and are good citizens. Islam offers them moral and spiritual values [which] helpthem face the hardship of their lives," explains Foreign Ministry spokesman Itland BiÁprendi.
But he is concerned that - unlike the many Christian religious revivalists active in Albania - the Islamic activists see a religious state as their ultimate goal.
That's not something Albania's more-radical born-again Muslims would dispute. "We believe there should be no difference between religious law and the laws of parliament. The laws laid down by the Prophet [Muhammad] coverall aspects of our daily lives," insists Nexhmedin Kahrimani, an 11th-graderat the Tirana Muslim High School for Boys. After having been shut down for half a century, the school reopened two years ago due to generous sponsorship from Qatar, one of the Gulf states.
As one of his school's star pupils, Nexhmedin has already received offers of scholarships to study engineering in Turkey and Malaysia when he graduates -well worth the circumcision he had to endure in order to gain entrance to the academy, he says.
Others are less enthusiastic. The Albanian Helsinki Human Rights Committee has sharply criticized the activities of some Arab educational foundations in Albania, alleging they are bribing poor parents with money and "brainwashing" their children with religious fervor.
In the central Albanian countryside, Alb-Iran, a nonprofit foundation funded by donations from the Tehran government and Iranian businessmen, has established more than 100 farming cooperatives, providing modern machinery and dispensing advice about effective marketing, crop rotation, and disease-resistant strains of seed. But cynics point out that in addition to tractors and combine harvesters, each Alb-Iran co-op has also received a brand new mosque.
I think the situation in Indonesia (majority circumcised, i.e. the norm) is different to the situation in central Europe where non-medical circumcision is confined to ethnic minorities. The majority of boys, wherever they live, just want to be like their peers whether that means being cut or wearing Nike trainers. If you're not then you may become an outcast and that's difficult to cope with in your formative years.
Two Turkish brothers I know are both pleased and proud to be circumcised but have both grown up in N London - an area where circumcision rate is higher than normal due to the ethnic communities there. They were both done young and have no recollection of the event. I would imagine though that while many Turkish boys may wish to be circumcised to follow their culture that doesn't mean they want to endure the actual operation.
Like others, I don't believe it is necessary for these boys to suffer shame and pain.
"Circumcision is a very important celebration in Morocco. When young boys are circumcised, they are dressed as kings and paraded around on a horse. Music is played, and friends bring gifts to mark the occasion." A photo of smiling Moroccan boys about to circumcised is attached.
To those who want a good circumcision, in a wonderful place, at much lower cost than in Europe, here is my experience:
Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country in North Africa with a population of 33 million. It has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla), and Mauritania to the south.
I am a French who WANTED to be circumcised, that's very unusual in a Latin country, be it France, Spain or Italy, and not common in Germany or Belgium. After extensive research on the net, I made the final decision that I wanted a Low & Tight circ, as is commonly done in Europe.
From various Internet sites I found out that finding a doctor willing to do it in France is not easy since only Jews, Muslims and men suffering phimosis do have a circ. Circumcision is simply regarded as unnecessary, brutal and an act against nature. Nature gave us a foreskin, Nature can't be wrong. It's amazing to think that, from those who believe in God, depending on their religion, some think that God created us and naturally that means we are perfect and must not modify our body, while others, at the opposite, consider it an obligation to remove that tiny part of skin that covers the glans...in the name of God.
Anyway, after reading stories sometimes passionate about the subject, with many details proving that for some reasons, I should do nothing while others claim that I MUST have a circ, I finally decided to have it, as I wanted all my life since childhood.
I have lived for a few months in a wonderful place called Marrakech, the "Red City" which eventually gave its name to the country. In Morocco, all boys are cut either at birth, or sometimes around 8. It is considered there as hygienic, healthier and over the years has become routine even though it is not an obligation in the Koran. Personally I had no religious or medical reason, I wanted a circ for my own comfort, that's all, just to feel better, especially in summer in a hot place like Marrakech.
Finding a doc was easy, when I called to have an appointment, the secretary did not ask any question, visibly such a request from a European is not uncommon, even if few of them do so, except those who marry a Muslim girl. The doc admitted that he has regularly European customers.
During the appointment, the doc asked many questions about my medical history, allergies etc, the date was set to the next week, 8 days later, on June 19th, I specified I wanted a low & tight circ and chose to keep the frenulum. In the meantime I was asked to have a blood test to make sure I had no risk of bleeding or whatever (cost 150 Dirhams, 14 euros). The visit cost me 200 Dirhams, approximately 19 euros.
The circ took place in a clinic at 11:00 am, I had an anesthesia and woke up 60 or 90 minutes later to hear that everything went all right. My dick was enveloped in a tight bandage, I just had some discomfort but no real pain. I could touch the end of the glans which was obviously not covered by the foreskin any more. I was then carried to my room and slept for a few hours. At 16:30 I got up to go to the rest room, as I returned to my bed I felt hot and had to lay on the bed for a few minutes more. (The side effect of the anesthesia) The doc came sometime later, enquired about my feelings, whether I had any ache or problem, and asked only at that moment for the payment of the operation, that was 1700 Dirhams (less than 170 Euros), as predicted. He gave me a prescription for various antiseptic and other medicines. I was then released from the clinic. Feeling OK I decided to walk back home, about 1800 meters from there, and bought the medics on the way at a cost of about 300 Dirhams (less than 30 Euros).
The following days I removed and replaced the bandage, the cut was neat, straight around the shaft, with about 15mm of inner foreskin left (I expected less) a stitch every 6-8 mm and absolutely no sign of any infection. There was some swelling behind the glans, nothing to worry about, the pictures I took every day during the first week clearly show the evolution. Apart from the erections which woke me up several times, especially the second night, I never encountered any problem, my glans is free, at last, never smells bad late in the afternoon as sometimes before, I pee straight as before.
During the first days after the op, I was advised to rest for a while, but could not for various reasons, I spent two days and two nights in a truck, believe me it's not fun, all I had to do was position my dick and myself to feel the less discomfort possible (!). No bleeding occurred, but I had spare bandages, just in case.
Today, 3 weeks and 3 days after the op, I still have some traces of stitches left, the discomfort around the frenulum is almost forgotten, only a small ball of skin is still there, but should reduce later as I saw on some photos or other circ'd men. I am so happy I had a neat, clean, almost painless circumcision, I strongly recommend the doc who performed the operation, I presume other Moroccan doctors can do as well, but my own personal experience is very satisfactory.
The people in this country are very friendly, the city of Marrakech and other places in the country are worth a long visit, you can even find alcohol and pork easily, many girls do not cover their long black hair.... The total cost ended up slightly above 220 Euros, the job is perfect, I had almost no bleeding, no infection whatsoever, the swelling is long gone, the discomfort quite bearable during the first days.
If you are in Europe, want to have a circ, save money and visit a wonderful place, I recommend a "circ-vacation" trip to Marrakech, you will never regret it. Too bad you can't have sex at least for the first 4 weeks ! Jacking off is possible after only 20 days and will be one of the best to remember !
If you consider a vacation trip there, ask your local travel agency or see on the net what's available. I know that a week including plane and hotel with breakfast starts at about 300 Euros. At that price don't ask for a palace. Rooms at 200 Euros a night are also available ! A friend of mine recently rented a 3 room apartment furnished at 60 Euros a night in the city center. He had traveled by car all the way from Paris through Spain.
If you have no social coverage, the cost in France may sometimes arise over 1100 Euros ! (approx U$S 1400) With social coverage it will cost you between zero and 300 Euros (U$S 390)
I dated a guy who was from Albania. I knew he was Muslim so I could not wait to see his cock once I knew he was an Albanian Muslim. He had been circumcised at 11 and he told me it was the best experience of his life. He said that one day he was playing and his father, uncle and brother just pinned him down in the living room. His brother held his arms, father held his legs and uncle sat on his waist pinning him down so he could not move. His uncle then circumcised him. Unfortunately, my friend didn't know what method.. but it sure sounded freehand. Though the scar is impeccably clean. However he has a raised scar with no dark lines at all about 1.25 inches from the corona. His cock is beautiful hard and has a beautiful mushroom head. After the circ he said he laid in bed for about 10 days with his legs up resting on a bar to promote healing and drank a lot of water.
His circ scar seemed rather sensitive, he did not have a frenulum. Licking the scar seemed to provoke a pleasurable response.
From an Islamic web site in Northern Ireland comes this information on Circumcision in Islam.
"The practices related to Fitrah are five: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and removing the hair of the armpits." (Related by Bukhari, al-Muwatta & the Group)
Contrary to the Jewish tradition, in Islam circumcision (Khitan) is not a symbol of Allah's covenant with humans. Furthermore it is not mentioned anywhere in the Qur'an and most references to circumcision occur in the examples and traditions of the Prophet (s.A.w.) and those of his companions."And whatsoever the Messenger of Allah gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it)." (59:7)
The Hadith, the acts and the approvals together constitute the Sunnah. This is the second source of Islamic Law. The Ahadith are not to be confused with the Qur'anic verses which the Prophet (s.A.w.) recited and reported, but did not compose himself. If the ruling is not found in the Qur'an, it is looked for in the Ahadith. Once a sound Hadith is found, it is acceptable. So if the matter is not mentioned in the Qur'an, this does not affect in any way the validity of a ruling found only in the Hadith. This is how the Fuqaha', (Jurists who posses the skills and tools) derive Islamic rulings with respect to the first two primary sources of Islamic Law - the Qur'an and the Sunnah. And there are also other sources such as Qiyas and Ijma'. Usually it is not a straight forward process as some might think, just like an architect building a house. And that is why it is necessary when deliberating about any Fiqh issues, it has to be according to the Qur'an and Sunnah and facilitated with the guidance of the scholars of Islam.
"O' you who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those of authority (Ulama') among you." (4:59)
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the skin surrounding the head of the boys penis (Hasyafah) and the skin dangling above the girl's vagina. Circumcision, Khitan, falls under the category of Sunan al-Fitra. These are acts that come naturally to human beings to cleanse and to keep pure. Here Fitra stands for the Sunnah of the Prophet of Allah (s.A.w.). The conduct of our Prophet (s.A.w.) is compatible to nature and Fitra here implies the inner sense of cleanliness.
As-Shawkani said in his book Nayl al-Awtar (1/184):
"What the Prophet (s.A.w.) means by Fitra is that if these characteristics are followed by a man, he would be described as a man of Fitra, which Allah (s.w.t.) has gifted his servants with, and encouraged them to follow, so that they attain a high degree of respectability and dignity."
Allah (s.w.t.) ordered Prophet Muhammad (s.A.w.) to follow the religion of Ibrahim (a.s.). when Allah says:
"Then We inspired you: 'Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith'." (16:123)
And part of the religion of Ibrahim is circumcision.
The prophet (s.A.w.) said: "The Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old and he circumcised himself with an adze." (Related by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad.)
Ibn Abbas (r.a.) was asked "How old were you when the Prophet (s.A.w.) died?" He replied, "At that time I had been circumcised. At that time people did not circumcise the boys till they attained the age of puberty (Baligh)." (Related by Bukhari)
Most Fuqaha' say that circumcision is obligatory upon the men and this is the opinion of Jumhur (the majority of the scholars). If it were not obligatory, then Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) would not have troubled himself at such a later stage of his life. However, the Hanafi and the Maliki schools consider male circumcision only as Sunnah Muakkadah - the Stressed Sunnah, not obligatory but is still strongly recommended. This is the most lenient position in Shari'ah, regarding male circumcision.
This is based on the Hadith:
"Circumcision is Sunnah for men, a noble action for women" (Related by Ahmad & al-Bayhaq)
And al-Hasan al-Basri said: "That all peoples, white and black, Romans, Persians and Abbysinnians accepted Islam in the time of the Prophet (s.A.w.) and none of them were investigated concerning circumcision"
The Shafi'i school says that circumcision is obligatory (Fard) upon the men and the women. While Imam Ahmad said: "Circumcision is obligatory (Wajib) upon the men and it is only good for the women".
Ibn Abbas, one of the most liberal Fuqaha' among the Sahabah recommends circumcision strongly, saying that the prayer (Solah) and the Hajj of a man who is not circumcised are of no value. Imam Malik said that an uncircumcised man cannot lead the prayer although Qadi Iyadh, one of the later Maliki scholars from the Murabitun (western Muslimdom) says that it is Makruhat (disliked) for the uncircumcised Imam to lead the prayer.
Ibn Hajr al-Haytami's work of al-Zawajir 'an Iqtiraf al-Kaba'ir which is similar to ad-Dhahabi's work of al-Kaba'ir (the Great Sins), lists down actions that the Jumhur of Fuqaha' has agreed upon as acts of misconduct. Under the chapter of 'Justice', Ibn Hajr writes: "men not getting circumcised, even after having reached puberty (Baligh) is an enormity" if done so without a valid reason.
For more detailed references see: Al-Sharh al-Kabir 2/126; Sharh ar-Risalah 1/393; Al-Mughni 1/58; al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah pg. 192; al-Ifsah li Ibn Habirah 1/206; al-Darar al-Mubahah fi al-Hazr wa al-Ibahah li al-Shaybani al-Nahlawi pg. 33 and Sharh al-Inayah ala al-Hidayah fi Takmilah al-Fath vol. 8 pg. 99.
Circumcision for New Muslims?
Another Hadith demonstrates further the importance for male circumcision:
The Prophet (s.A.w.) told a man who had just embraced Islam,
"Remove the hairs from the time of disbelief from you and get yourself circumcised."
(Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud & al-Bayhaq)
Shaykh Abdullah Nasih Ulwan wrote in Tarbiyatul Awlad fil Islam (1/124):
"Circumcision has been ordered. It is one of the Fitra (natural) acts of cleanliness. It has been legislated as a completion of purification in the case of men. For that reason, it is obligatory. The Hadith:
"Remove the hairs from the time of disbelief from you and get yourself circumcised." apparently implies obligation (…) However, if it may cause the new Muslims to flee from Islam, this order may be delayed after they have become steadfast in Islam and they love Islam."
For the new Muslims, circumcision would be a firm sign of commitment to the new Faith. Circumcision for men is a very simple operation, and does not cause much complications. It is a minor operation in which the foreskin of the male sexual organ is cut away. Jerome and Julia Rainerm writes: "The hygienic value of circumcision has today been generally conceded, and some physicians recommended the operation as a routine measure for all male infants, it is part of the routine of bathing an uncircumcised boy to draw back the foreskin and sponge the head of the penis, for general cleanliness and also to remove pasty white secretion called smegma, which accumulates under the foreskin and may lead to local irritation unless it is regularly cleansed. Whenever a new born is found to have a foreskin with urination, the physician recommends circumcision." (Sexual Pleasures in Marriage, pages 185-186)
Shaykh Syed Mutawalli ad-Darsh says:
"The male convert should be circumcised, as this is part of the natural manners recommend in Islam. If circumcision would pose any risk to health it may be delayed until the person is fitter and more able to cope with it. The scholars refer to the example of Ibrahim (a.s.) who circumcised himself at the age of eighty. Some Muslim scholars would not accept an uncircumcised person leading prayers. Incidentally, there is no requirement of circumcision for females in Islam (…)
It is really best to have it at that earliest suitable time. That is when the weather is suitable, the health is good and there are no mitigating circumstances (…)
In conclusion, once a man becomes a Muslim at whatever age, as long as he is healthy and there are no complications, he-I stress he not she-ought to choose the right moment and be circumcised."
The Fuqaha' differs on two other issues relating to circumcision, which are, when to observe circumcision and the validity of women circumcision.
The Time for Circumcision:
During the time of the Prophet (s.A.w.), circumcision was done for boys at about the time of their Aqiqah, as reported in al-Bayhaq. Other Ahadith mention it being done later. The details here are not important but it goes without saying that this minor operation is easier on a baby than it is on an older boy. If it is essential, circumcision can be delayed for practical reasons, but it would be sensible to perform circumcision before the boy starts praying regularly due to practical purposes of simplifying Taharah, or being clean.
Abdullah Ibn Jabir (r.a.) and Aisha (r.a.) said:
"The Prophet (s.A.w.) performed the Aqiqah of al-Hasan and al-Hussein and circumcised them on the 7th. day." (Related by al-Bayhaq & Tabarani)
On the timing of circumcision, as-Shawkani says (Nayl al-Awtar 1/132):
"There is nothing that states explicitly about its time. As-Shafi'i maintains its observance is necessary during minority, but the majority of the Fuqaha' (Jumhur) hold that there is no time limit defined for circumcision. Its observance is not obligatory during the age of minority (baby) as was proven by the Hadith of Ibn Abbas (circumcised at the age of 10). A small group among the Shafi'i school holds that it is prohibited to be circumcised before the age of ten but this opinion cannot be used because there is a Hadith related from Aisha, that the Prophet (s.A.w.) circumcised Hassan and Hussein on their seventh day prior to their birth."
Imam Nawawi says:
"circumcision is recommended to be performed on the seventh day of infancy-the day of Aqiqah…" (Al-Majmu 1/303)
Ibn al-Qayyim writes:
"When Wahb Ibn Munabbih (a Tabiin) was asked about the wisdom of circumcising on the 7th. day he said: 'To make it easy for the child.'" (Tuhfatul Mawdud pg.112)
While according to the Maliki school, it is better to delay the circumcision until the age when he is taught how to pray. That is between the ages of 7 and 10. (Fiqh al-Islam wa Adillatihi 3/742)
Circumcision of Girls (Khafd):
If the circumcision of women is to be done, it involves cutting only the outer portion of the clitoris and not as is done in some Muslim countries as cutting off all the entire clitoris. 'Female circumcision' of the type practised by some people in Somalia, Egypt and some other African countries is a mutilation forbidden in Islam.
There is a Hadith reported by Umm 'Atiyyah: "A woman used to perform circumcision in Madinah. The Prophet (s.A.w.) said to her: 'When you circumcise, do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.'" (Related by Abu Dawud & al-Bayhaq)
When explaining this Hadith, the Ulama' say this Hadith points out that if a woman is circumcised, it would make her more sensitive during sexual intercourse and that they are told not to cut off all the clitoris for this would result in sexual problems. It is only removing the prepuce (bazr) of the clitoris, not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert. Most Ulama' say that this Hadith does not convey that it is an obligation for it only carries a request. The Hadith quoted above may be speaking about a social custom where women used to be circumcised. Furthermore this Hadith is considered Da'if (a weak Hadith). Abu Dawud himself commented: "It is not a strong tradition. It has been transmitted in Mursal form (missing link of the Sahabah). A narrator, Muhammad bin Hassan is obscure, and this Hadith is Da'if."
For most of the Shafi'i school, circumcision is obligatory upon the women. While the Hanbali school and few scholars of the Shafi'i school holds that circumcision of women in not obligatory but Sunnah, while the Hanafi and the Maliki consider it a mere courtesy to the husband. And according to some scholars, female circumcision is customarily done in a hot climate. (Fiqh al-Islam wa Adillatihi 3/741)
The medical doctors have differences of view regarding female circumcision just as our Fuqaha' have differences of opinion regarding it. Some of the medical scholars encourage this practise while the others disagree with it. Actually the harm that is associated with female circumcision is because of either cutting it too much (as it is against the method prescribed in the Shari'ah) or the circumcision is carried out by inexperienced persons or by using dirty equipment which can cause other complications such as infections.
"Allah does not want to place burden on you. Rather, He wants to purify you and to complete His favours to you so that you may be grateful." (5:7)
In Islam, Fitrah is of 2 types, spiritual and physical. The mental and spiritual Fitrah cleanses the heart while the social and physical Fitrah cleanses the body as in circumcision. And disparity is not stressed between the different types of Fitrah whether it is spiritual or physical, a Muslim would strive to keep close to Allah and His Messenger.
Circumcision is an important aspect of Taharah and purity, which is so strongly emphasised in Islam, for when the foreskin is not removed, urine and other secretions can collect under the folded skin. In Islamic hygiene, all Muslims regularly wash with water at the toilet in a process called Istinja' to remove what is impure (Najas), otherwise Wudhu' (ablution) is not acceptable. This area can become the site of very painful infections from bacterial growth and the minor operation of circumcision greatly simplifies basic hygiene for men and boys.
New Muslim Dad, Circumcises Adoptive Sons
Our mother remarried a charming Arab man and we all went to live with him in Dubai - my brother and sister and I. Because he was a very religious Muslim we all were keen to convert to Islam as well and we were to go to a religious school as well. Our mother always now wore a veil and a long dress, as did our sister, and they began to follow the customs and ways of the Arab women who lived nearby. My brother and I would play with the Arab boys in the neighborhood.
We had arrived in Dubai during the summer, when school was out, and our new father soon called us two boys in to talk to him, as he said, so that he could prepare us for our new life as Muslims. He explained that, as part of the religious practices, Muslim men shaved off their pubic hair and pit hair. He then asked us to take our clothes off so that he could show us how to do this. We were both very eager to become just like the other boys and do these new and exciting things. My brother was 16 years old and when he stripped off I saw that he had black pubes and also some armpit hair. Our new father, taking a razor, carefully dry shaved off all of this hair, being careful not to make any cuts. And then my brother was hairless and his cock and balls fully exposed. Then I stripped, but as I was just 13 I didn't have any pubic hair yet, so we looked the same. Our father said that he would teach me how to do it again when my pubes started to grow.
The other important thing was, he said, that we also needed to be circumcised, and all Muslims were, but that we would all have to go to the medical clinic the next day in order to have this done. Our father explained that I was the perfect age for this operation, and that although my brother was a bit older it was a very important thing to have done, so that we would both be circumcised and shaved before starting at our new school where all the other boys would also be the same. We were a little bit nervous, but very excited about our circumcisions, and that we would be just like all the others boys was a very good thing.
The next day the whole family went to the clinic. First, our father, my brother and I, went in to see the Doctor. We both stripped and lay on adjacent tables. Our father explained that we had been shaved yesterday and were now ready to be circumcised. The Doctor asked us whether we were ready, and we both eagerly said yes. The Doctor asked our father just how he thought the circs should be done and he replied that they should be very low and very tight. We both agreed. This way of doing the operation meant that all the inner lining of the foreskin would be removed, as would as much as possible of the outer skin, so that there would be absolutely no movement along the shaft. In addition, the frenulum would be completely removed, making an incision as deep as possible so that the back of the head would be very smooth. Then the Doctor went ahead with the operation. We have both been completely pleased with the results and are glad to be clean, Muslim men. We both remain completely shaved to this day, and have had our sons circumcised as well.
New Turkish Dad Has Step-Son Circumcised
My mother remarried when I was eleven and my new father was Turkish. One day
he explained that when we went to Istanbul for the holidays I was going to have
a little operation on my penis and at bath time he explained that the skin at
the end would be removed. My foreskin had always been tight and it was difficult
to wash my whole glans so what he said made sense. On the day of the circumcision in Istanbul I had to dress in a white suit and wear a red sash and then we went round to my father's brother's house for a party. I can't say I enjoyed it much knowing what was about to happen. After a few hours my father took me into the bedroom with a few of the men at the party and then I started shaking when I saw the knife. I was so scared I couldn't undo the buttons on my trousers so my dad took them off. Although I hadn't started puberty I was very embarrassed about having the men see me naked. My dad sat down on a chair and then I had to sit on his lap and they put my arms under my knees and then my dad held my hand which meant my genitals were fully exposed. Two other men held my feet and knees so I couldn't move. The circumciser pulled at my penis until I had an erection and then he quickly pulled my foreskin right back and examined my glans. Once he had done that he waited until I had gone soft and then he pulled my foreskin out as far as he could and then he put a little clamp thing on to protect my glans. I remember seeing him pick up the knife and I knew this was it and I had hardly finished the thought and it was completely sliced off in one. For the first second I didn't feel anything and then it felt as my penis had been set on fire and I started screaming.
Moslem-American Circ in New York City
I had the honor of seeing something that I imagine is quite rare these days, and I'm very glad I got to see it. I had the great honor of witnessing a ritual circumcision of my 15-year-old Moslem friend. It took place in a small party hall in Brooklyn. I didn't understand much since I don't speak Arabic, but his parents told him he could invite some good friends, so me and two of my other friends got to see.
Anyway, when we arrived his father said hello, etc. My friend came over and said something to his father in Arabic, then stayed and chatted with us for a while, you know normal teen-aged talk. After a while an uncle called him over and he went to deal with family, so far this wasn't unlike any normal family gathering. But that was not to remain. As we stood around chatting amongst ourselves, we noticed there was not one woman in the room. I dunno why we didn't notice before then but I guess we were just being normal, semi-unaware teens. Something else struck us as odd, I guess we noticed this only after our conversation had slowed down and we'd begun to look around. That was that the youngest person in the room was our friend's slightly younger cousin. We would later find out why.
It was around this time that his father came back over to us. He pulled us all to the side, explaining he wanted to explain some stuff to us in private. He took us into the side room, and began to explain the ritual. He told us that the foreskin was given to Allah, blah blah blah. He then told us that it was the tradition of his people, I think from Jordan, that only men witness the great ritual, and that no woman was permitted to see the uncircumcised penis of any other than her son. He then said that he needed to confirm that we were "XXXX"(I don't remember the Arabic word). At the time I assumed he meant, of age. But what it meant was something like sacrifices to Allah, my friend later told me. He then told us to pull down our pants and underwear, such that he might confirm. What we didn't realize at the time was that he was looking not for pubic hair, which is what I thought was the sign of coming of age (but I found out from circ on Jordanian Moslems shave their pubic hair). He looked at my penis for a few seconds, then moved on to my friend where he studied more closely, then my other. My friends and me had seen each other naked regularly, at the showers at the health club near our houses, and at the public showers at the beach. I knew each of their cocks, the friend he checked first after me had a loose circ that produced the real acorn effect, covering just the corona, and he was looking to assure he was cut. My other friend is not circed. He looked at his penis quickly, then the father cursed under his breath. He explained to us that he thought his son had already explained that only a circumcised male may be present at the ceremony unless he was one waiting to be circed at the same ceremony. He was nice about it, but told my uncut friend that he would have to either wait outside in the vestibule, leave, or he offered to have my friend circed also, even though it was expensive, because Jihad as he interpreted it included that (explains the forced circs in India.). My friend declined on the spot, saying he didn't want to go through the pain, and that he'd wait in the vestibule or on the sidewalk. So my friend left. Me, my other friend, and his father returned to the main room. His father immediately went to the grandfather, whom I assume was the one who forced the father to do that, considering our being there was not really accepted by the relatives, though they didn't seem to object much either.
Soon everyone got real quiet and knelt on those prayer mats they use. The father got in front on a mat facing everyone and began to pray. We took the opportunity to try something new and went on mats and mimicked their actions even though we didn't understand the words. Soon the praying stopped and everyone sat more comfortably. The father moved his pad and put a plastic sheet in its place (I presume to protect the floor). Our friend who was on a mat near the middle of the room stood up and walked slowly towards the front. He had a look on his face that said he was proud, yet scared.
When he got to the plastic sheet his father stripped him naked. He took a quick look at his sons genitals, then picked up a ritual-looking dagger and began to shave off all his pubic hair. Then he called for two uncles. The uncles each took hold of an arm, and the father held his legs together. A man stood up from the front row, a small bag at his side. He walked to the front center, said some words in Arabic, then removed some things from the bag. He took the ceremonial dagger my friend had been shaved with and washed it with some liquid, I think rubbing alcohol or some other sterilizing agent, it was in a medicinal container. He took a shield device made of two metal rods, and pulled on my friends foreskin, pulling it quite taught, my friend began to look very afraid. The man took the stretched skin and put one metal rod below it. My friends legs began to quiver but the family held him up and he did not budge. The man took the other metal rod and swung it over the top, lightly pressing the foreskin between the two rods. He then very quickly pressed it tight and attached the unhinged end together. my friends eyes began to tear a bit, and when the clamp was first closed he audibly cried a little, just a quick "oww." With the shield now in place he felt the penis one more time being sure he hadn't caught any of the glans in the clip. Once he was sure he turned a screw or something and the clip tightened, my friend grimaced again.
Now the ceremony was about to reach its peak. the man said some stuff in Arabic, and suddenly my friend got a happy look on his face, if only for a second. He was about to become a man. The man took the dagger and showed it to my friend. He looked for a second then nodded, the father was shown and he did the same. The man took the clip in one hand and the dagger in the other. The relatives braced their grips as the man moved the dagger up to the clip. He said two words, I think Allah akbah, then in one quick move sliced the whole skin off. My friend began to shake and cry, the men slowly put him down, and let him lie there in agony. Nobody moved for about five minutes, then the man approached my friend, who was writhing in agony. The clip was removed and the cut bled a little, it was lightly bandaged after the relatives all walked by and looked at it, nodding approval.
After my friend had rested for about a half an hour he emerged while refreshments were being served. He told us he was a man now, and we told him it was an interesting ritual. The party lasted a few more hours, then he went home to rest and we went and saw a movie.
The Imperial Circumcision
from "Constantinople: City of the worlds desire, 1453-1924"
by Philip Mansel
St Martins Press, 1996
Imperial grandeur flooded the streets of Constantinople during celebrations for the circumcision of the Sultans sons or the marriage of his daughters. Like the selamlik, the celebrations were more public than in Western monarchies. On 27 June 1530 Suleyman the Magnificent, at the height of his power and glory, started the celebrations for the circumcision of his sons Mustafa, Mehmed, and Selim. Tents were erected in the largest open space in the city, the old Roman hippodrome. Protected from rain by a green covering, with interiors sewn with tulips, roses, and carnations embroidered in silver and gold, and held upright by gold-plated poles, the Sultans tents were palaces of silk and canvas. His throne was placed under an awning of cloth of gold. The 32-year-old Sultan was surrounded by the dignitaries of the empire, headed by the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha, and attended by captive princes.
Where the future Empress Theodora had exposed herself to cheering Byzantine crowds, jugglers and buffoons entertained the more decorous subjects of the Ottoman Sultan. Where teams of Blues and Greens had competed in chariot races, soldiers fought sailors in simulated combat. Tightrope walkers walked along cords strung between the Obelisk of Thutmose III (1549-1503 BC), brought from Egypt and erected under Theodosius I in 390, and a stone pillar from the same reign. Presents of crystal, Chinese porcelain, Syrian damask, Indian muslin, and slaves from Ethiopia and Hungary, given to the Sultan by his viziers, Kurdish beys and foreign ambassadors, were displayed to the public. Poets recited works composed in honour of the occasion.
The claims of Islam were not forgotten. During contests of Koranic scholarship between ulema, one professor died of vexation at not being able to find the right words. On the eighteenth day, the Sultans sons were fetched from the old palace in the centre of the city: their circumcisions were performed in the palace which the Grand Vizier Ibrahim had built overlooking the Hippodrome (the present Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art). In celebration the Sultan gave kaftans to viziers and ulema. The public was fed on roast oxen, out of which rushed live foxes, jackals, and wolves in order to impress the crowd.
In 1582 the circumcision of Prince Mehmed, son of Murad III, was an affair of state, planned a year in advance. Senior officials were given special festive functions. The commander-in-chief of Anatolia, for example, was appointed superintendent of sherbets. Some I,500 copper plates and trays were made for the banquets. The palaces around the Hippodrome were restored to provide better seating, and viewing, for ambassadors from Samarkand, Persia, Georgia, Morocco, Venice, Poland, and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as for the ladies of the palace behind a grilled stand.
On I June the Sultans arrival opened the celebrations. Two innovations show the emergence of an urban ethos. All the guilds of Constantinople processed past the Sultan on his golden throne, at the rate of two or three a day. On horse-drawn floats they displayed their skill at a particular trade. One float showed a tiled hamam with men in black skirts performing ablutions and massage. Cooks went by showing sheeps and bulls heads and feet, crying Take it my dear, all greasy, all hot, all vinegared and garlicked! Tar makers threw pitch and tar into the crowd and played a thousand merry tricks of that kind. Keepers of lunatic asylums led laughing and weeping madmen in gold and silver chains. A contingent of 150 boys covered in bits of glass flashed reflections of the summer sun back to spectators, to display the mirrormakers skill. Fireworks representing cities, churches, and unicorns were prepared with the help of a captured English engineer called Edward Webbe. The Sultan offered a series of banquets, one evening to the pashas, the next to the ulema, the third to his troops. A thousand plates of rice and twenty roast ox were prepared every evening for the people of Constantinople.
In a humble way, Jews and Christians joined in the celebrations. Both Greek and Armenian Patriarchs, as well as the Mufti and dervishes, made obeisance to the Sultan, blessing him with the words: May God maintain Sultan Murad in long happiness! A mock battle in the Hippodrome pitted Muslims against Christians. Naturally the first won, and captured the Christians castle, out of which emerged four pigs - a contemptuous reference to Christians consumption of pork. The populace was regaled with Jewish comedies and dances. One hundred Greeks from Galata, in red jackets and Phrygian caps, with bells attached to their legs, performed lascivious dances from Alexandria. Some Christians (but not Jews) were so overcome by the occasionor, according to a Christian source, by offers of moneythat they held up their thumbs as a sign of readiness to convert to Islam. They were at once carried off to the palace to be circumcised.
The prince, the future Mehmed III, dressed in scarlet satin and white brocade, with heron plumes in his turban and a red ruby in his right ear, was circumcised on 7 July. The foreskin was despatched on a golden plate to the princes mother: his grandmother was sent the knife with which it was severed. The cutter was rewarded with 3,000 gold coins, a golden bowl and ewer, thirty lengths of cloth, robes of honour and, subsequently, marriage to one of the Sultans daughters. Finally the Sultan returned to the palace on 22 July. The celebrations had lasted so longfifty-five daysthat the start of the campaigning season was delayed. Constantinople might have been another Capua, the city whose pleasures diverted Hannibals army from the attack on Rome.
In I720 four of the Sultans sons were circumcised and two of his nieces married at the same time. Four nine-metre high nahils and forty small nahils were made for each prince. The celebrations on the Okmeydan, outside the city walls near Galata, lasted fifteen days and nights: five thousand other boys were circumcised at the same time. There was a procession of guilds past the Sultan, sitting in the Alay (Ceremonial) Kiosk built on the palace wall specifically to enable him to observe what was happening outside. Carriages were driven on tightropes between the masts of ships anchored in the Bosphorus.
Grandiose celebrations also marked the birth of a child to the Sultan.
From the sea walls of the palace cannon fired seven rounds for a boy, three for a girl, five times in twenty-four hours. Firmans announced the news to the rest of the empire. Processions escorted a jewelled cradle and cradle-cover through the streets of the city to the imperial palace. In the palace the bedroom of the mother was crowded with the wives of the most senior officials of the empire, who rose in respect when the cradle arrived.
The night sky also reflected the Sultans splendour. To mark dynastic weddings and circumcisions, and religious festivals such as the Prophets birthday, ships, mosques and palaces were illuminated by small lamps. Illuminated messages, strung between the minarets, spelt out: My sovereign, may you live a thousand years! Boats with red, blue or green paper lanterns, looking like fireflies, turned the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn into a sea of fire.
On the recruitment, conversion, and circumcision of Janissaries
Greeks, Armenians, Italians, and Jews were brought to the city mainly for economic reasons. The dynastic state itself imported a fifth racial element. The Ottoman government was called the Gate, from the part of the rulers palace most visibly associated with power: Ottoman government was seen as the administration of the state and of justice in front of the Sultans gate by his extended household and administrators. The main body of the Sultans officials and soldiers were slaves known as kapi kulu, or slaves of the Gate. Their composition reflected Ottoman faith in racial variety. They were youths between the ages of 8 and 16, conscripted according to need from the rural Christian population of the Balkans and, less frequently, Anatolia, by the process known as devshirme or gathering. They could not be Turkish. After the conquest of Bosnia in I463, although the Koran forbade the enslavement of Muslims, Muslim Slavs could be gathered. Muslims of Turkish origin could not.
The youths date of birth and details of parentage were recorded. They were then taken to Constantinople, circumcised, and converted to Islam. The best looking and best born were educated in the palace school or a Pashas household, and eventually entered government service. The others were given to the Turksent to farms in Anatolia to learn Turkish.
They then worked as gardeners in the imperial palace, sailors in the imperial navy, or on building sites in the city. Eventually they joined the Janissaries. A force numbering some fifteen to twenty thousand, the Janissaries were the spearhead of the Ottoman army and the principal military and police force in Constantinople itself. They patrolled the walls, garrisoned the Seven Towers, enforced law and order, guarded the Patriarch and the Sultan himself. Some Christian families were heart-broken to see their children gathered. There was a song:
Be damned, O Emperor, be thrice damned
For the evil you have done and the evil you do.
You catch and shackle the old and the archpriests
In order to take the children as Janissaries.
Their parents weep and their sisters and brothers too And I cry until it pains me; As long as I live I shall cry, For last year it was my son and this year my brother.
More worldly families were delighted to see their children secure a footing on the Ottoman career ladder. Slavery was less degrading in the Islamic than in the Christian world. Devshirme youths educated in the Sultans or viziers households had the chance to occupy the highest posts in the empireand look after their relations. Slaves of the Gate were free from many of the legal restraints imposed on other slaves in matters of marriage and property. It was the Bosnian Slavs themselves who demanded to remain eligible for gathering, despite their conversion from Christianity to Islam. A Venetian Bailo wrote that the Janissaries take great pleasure in being able to say "I am a slave of the Grand Signior", since they know that this is a lordship or republic of slaves where it is theirs to command. A hundred years ago, might not selected Irish Catholic youths have felt a similar pride, if they had been converted to Protestantism, sent to Eton and then told to govern the British Empire as servants of the Queen Empress?
Circumcision a snip in Kabul, thanks to Turks
Kabul - Turkish troops leading the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan won friends amongst hundreds of Afghan
families on Tuesday after army doctors carried out a mass circumcision of boys
who had missed the important Muslim ceremony for one reason or another.
Army doctors from the prestigious Gulhame Military
Medical academy in Turkey circumcised more than 90 boys on Tuesday and plan to
perform the operation on up to 200 others over the next two days.
“Being circumcised is an important rite of passage for
any Muslim male,” said a Turkish officer overseeing the event who asked not to
be identified. “It is accepted even by non- Muslims for health and
hygiene reasons, but for us it is part of our faith,” he said.
Most Afghan boys are circumcised between the age of two
and five by religious elders who say a prayer before removing the foreskin with
a knife - without anaesthetic. If the boys are lucky, they will be plunged
into an icy stream before the ritual in order to numb any pain.
But the Turkish operation - while yielding to tradition -
was a strictly medical procedure with a local anaesthetic being applied before
the foreskin was removed with a sort of soldering- iron gun that cuts through
the flesh and seals the wound behind it at the same time.
Before the operation, the boys were given a huge party
with special Turkish cakes and treats. A band played childrens’ songs as
religious elders walked among the boys, muttering prayers and patting them on
their heads. “These boys have missed being circumcised because perhaps
there was trouble in their homes or their parents were too poor to afford it,”
said the Turkish officer. “Wherever we travel, we like to help the
community by doing these sort of things - even at the rural areas at home.”
The boys being circumcised on Tuesday - aged between two
and 11 - were a mixture of ashen-faced fear and confused apprehension as they
awaited their turn with the team of eight surgeons and their assistants.
Divided into groups of eight, it took just one nervous
wail to get everyone else blubbing in fear, but once the local anaesthetic took
effect they calmed down and generally looked on at the goings-on between their
legs with keen interest.
Once the operation was complete, the boys were given a traditional white tunic, dressed in a large nappy and sent on their way - clutching a bag of presents from a Turkish charity that raised money for the ceremony. Each bag contained a leather football, a pair of boots and a full soccer strip in the colours of the Turkish national team that surprised the world by finishing third in the World Cup won by Brazil last month.
“It takes about five to eight minutes to do each person,” said an army doctor. “If you want, I would be happy to do you and your colleagues.”
I have spent quiet a few years in the Indian sub-Continent, which needless to say, has a large Muslim population. India, where I spent a lot of time, has 1 to 1.2 billion people and about 15% to 18% population that was of the Islamic faith. Making that approximately 200 million Muslims and therefore at least 100 million Muslim males. I therefore had a good bit of exposure to Islamic/Muslim traditions including marriage, death and customs at birth and/or at puberty – i.e. circumcision.
Muslims are mainly comprised of Shias and Sunnis.
My experience was that Shias usually circumcised their boys soon after birth. There was no set rule of how soon. Some did it like here in the States – a RIC, while other did it on the eight day like the jewish tradition of Bris (only in days and not in the cut).
But, the Sunnis circumcised their boys anywhere between the ages of 7 and 11, sometimes even at 12 and 13 years. And in some rare occasions where the family was really poor or circumcision had not be done due to one of the various reasons it was done definitely before the young man got married.
The Sunnis explained to me that around 7 to 11 is the age when most boys have completed their Islamic School (Sunday School/Madrassas – Its still Sunday School since India like all Western Countries is off on Saturday and Sunday) and ready to go to read the daily (5 times) Namaz and are therefore are required to be circumcised at that age.
I also have interacted with some Muslim Arabs from Saudi who live in Europe and was told that they to circumcise their boys at age 7 to 11 and have a big celebration on that day. Very often its not done for just one boy, but a bunch of kids are all cut on the same day and a common celebration is held. I am not sure if Saudis are Sunnis and this is the distinguishing factor which decides at what age the boy will be cut (meaning Sunnis vs Shias).
I would believe that Afghans are mainly Sunnis and also lack facilities and are poor, which often is the cause for delays in circumcision, and therefore may be cutting their boys just before puberty.
Like all Muslim countries Iraqi men are circumcised. In the Middle East that includes the Israelis and as part of the two cultures many Christians are also circumcised, especially in Muslim Egypt. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church all males are circumcised and baptized. Muslims are not ritually circumcised as Jews are. It is well known that the Muslim bible, The Koran, does not mention circumcision. The main rationale for Muslim circumcision is hygiene. This is particularly necessary in the torrid desert heat of summer with temperatures reaching 120 degrees. One of the earliest references to circumcision is in an Egyptian wall carving with men lined up to be cut. The by-line says: "This will be for your good" (about 2400 B.C.). Incidently the ancient Egyptians, especially among royalty and the upper classes, had cleanliness as a rigorous virtue.
On the U.S. national news tonight it was reported how difficult it is for U.S. soldiers to walk miles in the summer heat of Iraq. They find an abandoned house to rest in the heat of the afternoon and another to sleep in at night. The NBC reporter with them said that they have not had a shower in two weeks and their uniforms haven't been washed in a month. They have fungus infections on their feet as well as jock itch. It is fortunate that most all of them were routinely circumcised at birth. The Hispanics and any others that missed out on RIC, will likely be done by US Army docs during their tour . The British, largely uncut troops, are no doubt bearing the constant walking and the heat with itchy if not fully infected foreskins. Ancient desert civilizations had better sense and during prior desert campaigns, the British routinely circumcised their men to give them an equal footing with the enemy. Can we surmise the same is going on today?
and the Law