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IRSYAD AL-FATWA SERIES 258: THE RULING OF CIRCUMCISION BY A NON-MUSLIM DOCTOR

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Question:

What is the Islamic ruling regarding my child’s circumcision since it was done by a non-Muslim doctor?

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

First, circumcision is an act of worship that is sanctioned in Islam.

Circumcision means to surgically remove the foreskin, the tissue covering the head of the penis for man. While for woman it’s the removal of the outer layer of the clitoris.

Among the evidences that states the sanctioning of circumcision are:

  • Allah SWT states in the Quran:

ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۖ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

“Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth; and he was not of those who associate with Allah.”

Surah al-Nahl (123)

Followed by a narration by Abu Hurairah RA:

‏ اخْتَتَنَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَعْدَ ثَمَانِينَ سَنَةً، وَاخْتَتَنَ بِالْقَدُومِ

"(The Prophet) Abraham circumcised himself after he had passed the age of eighty years and he circumcised himself with an adze."

Sunan al-Tirmizi (2799)

From Allah’s statement and the hadith above, it is commanded to follow the things that are commanded to the Prophet Abraham AS.

  • A hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, he said, the Prophet PBUH said:

الْفِطْرَةُ خَمْسٌ - أَوْ خَمْسٌ مِنَ الْفِطْرَةِ – الْخِتَانُ ، وَالاِسْتِحْدَادُ ، وَتَقْلِيمُ الأَظْفَار ،ِ وَنَتْفُ الإِبْطِ ، وَقَصُّ الشَّارِبِ

“Five are the acts of fitra: circumcision, removing the pubes, clipping the moustache, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (6227)

Second, the issue of whether children’s private parts are considered aurah.

The final opinion in mazhab al-Syafie is that private parts of a boy or a girl is considered as aurah, and looking at it is prohibited, bar one exception of the mother during suckling period until the end of tarbiyyah according to Ibn Qattan’s opinion. See Nihayah al- Muhtaj (2/193) and Tuhfah al-Muhtaj (7/196)

Third, the issue of exposing aurah for medical purposes in front of non-Muslim doctors

In this issue, we see the close similarities to the issue of exposing aurah for woman to non-Muslim doctors for medical purposes. Among the contemporary fatwas regarding woman exposing her aurah in front of non-Muslim doctors are:

  • Fatwa al-Majlis al-Islami li al-Ilfa’ Bait al-Maqdis [1]:

There’s a need for the woman to prioritize female Muslim doctor then female non-Muslim doctor then male Muslim doctor and lastly male non-Muslim doctor. During the treatment time, other aurah must be covered, and the exposed aurah is taken care of (try to cover as much as possible). For the whole duration of treatment, the patient must be accompanied by her mahram

  • Fatwa Dar al-Ifta’ al-Misriyyah [2]:

If it does not fall under desperate or exigent situation, then doctors of the same gender should be prioritized because aurah with the same gender is lighter than with different gender. However, if it’s an exigent or desperate situation, what is originally prohibited will be permitted. Desperate situation is not only when destruction or failing in treatment has happened but even when the feeling of fear for destruction or failure in treatment is considered a desperate situation. Hence, in accordance to Maqasid al-Syariah, one of it is the protection of life, Shafiites fuqaha hold the opinion of prioritizing the doctor’s expertise rather than the gender or religion.

 

Conclusion

After analysing the issues above, we hold the opinion that the problem of non-Muslim doctors looking at private parts of children can be deduced (qiyas) to the problem of woman exposing her aurah to non-Muslim doctors. This is due to the fact that the ‘illah (ratio legis) for these two problems is aurah.

The following are the conclusions that can be drawn for this problem:

  • Circumcision is an obligatory worship in mazhab al-Syafie.
  • Private parts of children, boy or girl is aurah from the time the baby is born is the final opinion in the mazhab.
  • The ruling for getting treatment from non-Muslim doctors is permitted if his expertise is needed, or it’s hard to get an expert Muslim doctor.

May Allah gives us understanding in practising His religion. Amin.

References

[1] See http://www.fatawah.net/Fatawah/321.aspx

[2] See http://dar-alifta.org.eg/AR/ViewFatwa.aspx?ID=12903&LangID=1&MuftiType=0


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