Question # 432: Assalam o Alaikum Afzal, Just wanted to ask, is child’s circumcision mandatory in Islam? I know the medical reasons but is there any specific guidance in Quran over this matter? JazakAllah

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Circumcision as prescribed by Islam involves cutting the foreskin covering the glans of the penis. Scientifically, the foreskin of the penis is to protect the head of the penis from the amniotic fluid (i.e. the liquid surrounding and protecting the baby) inside the womb (of the mother). Therefore, it is removed after birth as the baby is later in no need of it.

Further, it is proved from the authentic hadith that circumcision is one of the characteristics of the fitrah (the natural state of man); therefore, a number of the scholars have said that circumcision is obligatory for men. However, they stated that it is not obligatory to circumcise an adult (like, for new Muslims) if there is a fear that circumcision will harm him. Also Refer Question # 164: Circumcision for reverts. Although there is no verse in the Qur’an that directly refers to circumcision, we should remember that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an that it is not for a believer to differ over something which Allah and His Messenger have decided and whoever disobeys their command has certainly gone astray.

Long Answer: Circumcision as prescribed by Islam involves cutting the foreskin covering the glans of the penis. …It is one of the best legislations that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) legislated for His slaves, and with it He beautified their apparent and hidden charms. It is one of the natural dispositions upon which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) created mankind. In addition to this, circumcision has many medical advantages. Furthermore, it is scientifically proven that the white secretions that gather between the foreskin of the penis and the penis cause a continuous scratch to the skin of the penis and to the neck of the womb of the woman with whom this uncircumcised man is married. This continuous scratch causes many diseases to the penis and to the neck of the womb of the wife, like cancer and the like… Part of what was mentioned regarding the wisdom behind creating the foreskin of the penis is to protect the head of the penis from the amniotic fluid (i.e. the liquid surrounding and protecting the baby) inside the womb (of the mother). Therefore, it is removed after birth as the baby is later in no need of it. This is why Islam enjoins male circumcision.

[The following ahadith supports the requirements of circumcision:]

  • Circumcision is one of the characteristics of the fitrah (the natural state of man), and it is one of the symbols of the Muslims, because it is narrated in al-Saheehayn that Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: ‘The (characteristics of) the fitrah are five: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, cutting the fingernails and plucking the armpit hairs.’” So, he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) started with circumcision and said that it is one of the characteristics of the fitrah.
  • Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Ibrahim (عليه السلام) circumcised himself when he was eighty years old, and he circumcised himself with an adze.”

[The following are the fatawa of the scholars with respect to the ruling of circumcision:]

  • Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The most correct view is that it is obligatory in the case of men… it serves an interest which has to do with one of the conditions of prayer, namely purity (taharah), because if the foreskin remains, when the urine comes out of the urethra, some of it will collect there, and this causes burning and infection every time the person moves, and every time the foreskin is squeezed, some drops of urine come out, thus causing najaasah (impurity)…” (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’)
  • This is the view of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him). Ibn Qudamah said in al-Mughni: “As for circumcision, it is obligatory for men…”
  • Ibn al-Sabbaagh said in al-Shaamil: “What is obligatory in the case of a man is to cut the skin on the tip of the penis until the entire glans becomes visible…”
  • Imam Ahmad said: “Ibn ‘Abbas was very strict on this matter, and it was narrated that there is no Hajj and no prayer for him, i.e., if a person is not circumcised his Hajj and prayer are not valid.” (Al-Mughni) He further said: “It is more of an obligation for men, because if a man is not circumcised, this piece of skin will be dangling down over the head of the penis and it will be too difficult to clean left-over urine properly…”
  • Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “With regard to circumcision, whenever he wants, he can be circumcised, but if he is approaching the age of puberty he should be circumcised as the Arabs used to do, to make sure he does not reach puberty when he is not circumcised.” (Al-Fataawa al-Kubra)
  • Circumcision is a duty according to Imam al-Shafi’i.

[There is no verse in the Qur’an that directly refers to circumcision. However, we should remember that] Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is All-Wise; He does not create anything in vain. He says in the Qur’an: “Do they not contemplate within themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers.” (Soorah ar-Rum, 30:8) This is a necessary aspect of faith; a believer should believe in it whether he knows the wisdom behind the creation of Allah or not. As far as we are concerned, wisdom is based on the fact that it is the work of Allah and we are commanded to accept and submissively surrender to His will. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Soorah al-Ahzaab, 33:36)

(The above reply is based on the following resources:

  • Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar
  • Various answers provided by Islam Q&A on similar topics)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam