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Circumcision and the Law?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I am currently researching a paper on RIC and am trying to avoid the religious aspect of circumcision. However, the Central Union for Child Welfare of Finland made a statement and in that statement said that even if it was made illegal (all, routine and religious) it would probably never be totally eradicated. So, my question is this: If you are (or were) a member of a religion that mandated circumcision and you lived in a country where it was completely illegal, would you circumcise a newborn male? Or, would you wait until that male was old enough to make that decision?

 

I am not sure if I can link to this statement. If I can, I will so that all can read it. It’s a curiosity. I will not use any answer or information gathered here for my paper.

post #2 of 30

I can tell you that there is a strong history in the Jewish tradition of Jewish people who have risked their lives to circumcise their baby boys even when it was against the law.  This is also representative of times when there was tremendous religious persecution against the Jewish faith, and Jewish people in general risked their lives to perform the commandments and transmit their traditions to the next generations.

 

Examples of specific time periods - during the time in Judea that is now celebrated as the chanukah miracle, when the Syrian Greeks controlled Judea, the Syrian Greek rulers outlawed the performance of circumcision and any outward practice of the Jewish religion.  A revolt was launched by Jewish activists who were committed to their faith and wanted the autonomy to practice their faith and worship in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem

 

As a practicing Jew, I can tell you that even if circumcision were outlawed, I would make many sacrifices to ensure that I could fulfill this and many other commandments.   Our faith, traditions, and commandments are extremely important to us.

 

ETA:  I wanted to add that although i am a strong supported of the right of religious circumcision, I am against RIC, as there is no biblical/divine mandate to do so for people who don't have this commandment.  

post #3 of 30

Yup.  What Chavamamela said, entirely.

 

There is a lot of history of circumcision being made illegal and Jews risking their lives to fulfill the mitzva of bris mila.  It is so central to Jewish belief and identity that there is no reason to think that it would be any different if it was outlawed today in the US or anywhere else. 

 

And yes, the outlawing of circumcision 2,500 years ago by the Greeks gave us the holiday of Khanuka.  :)

post #4 of 30

I can't speak for other religions, but Chavale and Merpk have stated it well - for Jews, there is a long history of fulfilling and preserving commandments even when those commandments were deemed illegal by our host government.  (e.g. Many Spanish Jews were baptized during the Inquisition yet remained Jews in private - practicing Shabbat, etc, and giving rise to Crypto-Jews).

 

This is something I asked my DH about after our son was born - if the US had outlawed circumcision, would he still want to give our son a Brit Milah?  He said yes, I agreed.  And FWIW, the covenant of a Brit Milah is not performed by a doctor in a hospital.

post #5 of 30
You might do some reading on Russian Jews. My understanding is that some of them chose NOT to circumcise when it was illegal there under the Communists. Now, there are organizations dedicated to helping new Russian immigrant Jews become circumcised at their now older ages- from old men to boys.
post #6 of 30

Many Russian Jews are ethnic Jews not religious Jews. Many of them view circumcision as an ethnic tradition that needs to be followed regardless if they practice the religion or not. It is this way for many even when they practice other religions. On other hand there were never Laws that prohibited circumcision as medical procedure. It was the religion that was prohibited and many religious and secular Jews who wanted to have their children circumcised found the way to do it.

post #7 of 30

I also wanted to mention that parents who want their daughters to be circumcised just take them to their native country. So parents, at least religious ones would find a way to do it.

post #8 of 30

Jewish. Yes, we'd find a way.

post #9 of 30

*oops double post

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oubliette8 View Post

You might do some reading on Russian Jews. My understanding is that some of them chose NOT to circumcise when it was illegal there under the Communists. Now, there are organizations dedicated to helping new Russian immigrant Jews become circumcised at their now older ages- from old men to boys.

 

Of course "some of them (Russian Jews)" chose not to.  And in the time of the Maccabees in Judea some Jews chose not to as well.  And in the time of the persecution by the Romans in Judea some Jews chose not to.  Some Jews in Spain chose to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition and during the two millenia of persecution in Europe, and in the Middle East some Jews chose to convert to Islam during the ups and downs of persecution in the 14 centuries of Islamic primacy there. 

 

Some Jews chose to stay in Egypt during Moses' time as well, too.  And come to think of it, Moses avoided it himself; it took his wife's persistence to get his sons circumcised.

 

And all of the above (Moses excepted) assimilated into the cultures they chose to assimilate into, and they are all lost to the history of the Jews.  Oh well.

 

Which proves only moreso the intensity of those who choose to stay with it, those who choose to have bris mila.  And in Soviet Russia there were those who managed it ... keeping in mind that you needed a trained mohel to perform a bris, and after the 2 million Soviet Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and the almost-a-million killed under Stalin ... considering that there were only 5 million Jews in Russia before the revolution (1917) ... the fact that "some chose not to" only magnifies the reality and the power of commitment that led so many to choose to, despite the persecution and the danger.

post #11 of 30

I am not Jewish, and I would never have my son circumcised, but I believe very strongly in my faith, and I can only assume that if I were Jewish, I would believe equally strongly in the need for my son to enter into the covenant through circumcision (though I would like to believe that I would favor a more ancient form of the rite that only removes a small piece of the foreskin, but I can't really say what I would believe since I don't).  That said, I don't think you can talk about banning circumcision without talking about religion because it is so integral to the Jewish (and other?) faith.  It would be religious discrimination, plain and simple, to outlaw circumcision without a religious exception.

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faliciagayle View Post
 And FWIW, the covenant of a Brit Milah is not performed by a doctor in a hospital.


Right. I do understand the difference between the two. Some doctors are mohels, but not all.

 

I have really learned from reading all of your posts. The reason I asked, in addition to my curiosity, is that I probably wouldn't. I finished my paper if any wants a copy, pm your email and I'll send all 12 pages of it to you. It is interesting and like I said, there is little if anything about the religious aspect of it.

post #13 of 30

Even if it were made illegal here, we'd still circumcise.  Most likely, we'd just travel to a Muslim country and have it done.

 

I wanted to add that I would not wait until my son was 18 to circumcise from a simple medical standpoint--as well as the fact that in Islam, all prayers that he performed from 10-18 would not be considered valid. (Prior to 10, you're not required to pray.)  I'm married to a physician and we actually had our second son circumcised by a pediatric urologist.  I asked him about that--and he mentioned that it is a much more difficult operation, with a much higher complication rate--as well as more difficult recovery.  Doing that, knowing that, would be considered haram (forbidden) in Islam.

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post

Even if it were made illegal here, we'd still circumcise.  Most likely, we'd just travel to a Muslim country and have it done.

 

I wanted to add that I would not wait until my son was 18 to circumcise from a simple medical standpoint--as well as the fact that in Islam, all prayers that he performed from 10-18 would not be considered valid. (Prior to 10, you're not required to pray.)  I'm married to a physician and we actually had our second son circumcised by a pediatric urologist.  I asked him about that--and he mentioned that it is a much more difficult operation, with a much higher complication rate--as well as more difficult recovery.  Doing that, knowing that, would be considered haram (forbidden) in Islam.

Yes, circumcision on grown men requires surgery with general anaesthetic, stitches, and prolonged healing.
 

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by elisheva View Post



Yes, circumcision on grown men requires surgery with general anaesthetic, stitches, and prolonged healing.
 


My father had a circumcision at 52 for medical reasons, and it was done with a local, not general, anesthetic.

post #16 of 30

Must be different in different circumstances - the case I know of personally was 38 and had general. 

post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post

Even if it were made illegal here, we'd still circumcise.  Most likely, we'd just travel to a Muslim country and have it done.

 

I wanted to add that I would not wait until my son was 18 to circumcise from a simple medical standpoint--as well as the fact that in Islam, all prayers that he performed from 10-18 would not be considered valid. (Prior to 10, you're not required to pray.)  I'm married to a physician and we actually had our second son circumcised by a pediatric urologist.  I asked him about that--and he mentioned that it is a much more difficult operation, with a much higher complication rate--as well as more difficult recovery.  Doing that, knowing that, would be considered haram (forbidden) in Islam.



But there is the argument that there are more long term, unrecognized complications from circumcising infants. I realize that it isn't related to religious circumcision, and all. That being said, there are some serious problems arising in men who were circumcised in a medical setting. The shaft can be bent, there can be skin tags, etc. There are also complications for the infant. The AAP lists approximately 20 in their statement on circumcision.

 

That being said, I try to respect other people's religious preferences. But shouldn't the child have some say? What if he doesn't want to be the same religion as his parents? I am not.

 

I also have one question: Why wouldn't his prayers be considered valid? I thought circumcision in Islam was optional?

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treece View Post





But there is the argument that there are more long term, unrecognized complications from circumcising infants. I realize that it isn't related to religious circumcision, and all. That being said, there are some serious problems arising in men who were circumcised in a medical setting. The shaft can be bent, there can be skin tags, etc. There are also complications for the infant. The AAP lists approximately 20 in their statement on circumcision.

 

That being said, I try to respect other people's religious preferences. But shouldn't the child have some say? What if he doesn't want to be the same religion as his parents? I am not.

 

I also have one question: Why wouldn't his prayers be considered valid? I thought circumcision in Islam was optional?

As we're not supposed to debate circumcision here...I'm not going to go there.  But I advise you to talk with a urologist about which is more prone to complications and difficulty.  I'll venture that 99.99% of urologists would say that if you were to choose between circumcizing an infant vs. an adult male, knowing that it would be done regardless, to do it as an infant.  Well... maybe not 99.99%, as urologists don't typically benefit from infant circumcision, but do earn $$ off of adult circs.

 

I know of no born Muslim males who have not been circumcised--even among secular ones, they are circumcised. If there were a medical reason not to do so (and I can't think of one right now...maybe some sort of hemophelia or some such thing), then one wouldn't circumcise--but for all other males, they are typically circumcised at birth.  In Turkey, they do it around 5, but that's the only exception I'm aware of.   It's Sunnah, a practice of Prophet Muhammad--and part of cleanliness.  It has to do with following Abraham's example as well--whom Muslims revere just as much as Jews and Christians.  "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."(Bukhari)  

 

Depending on the madhab one follows, it can either be fard (obligatory) or highly recommended. Most scholars consider it obligatory.  One theory is that if it were not required, then Abraham would not have undergone it at such a late age.  It is required for one's (well a male's) prayers to be valid according to Ibn Abbas.  It is also required for one to make Hajj according to Ibn Abbas.  

 

As to religious choice, all kids can choose to follow a different path when they are older.  However, as a Muslim parent, it's my responsibility to raise my kids as Muslims--teach them to pray, teach them to love God, have my male sons circumcised, give charity on their behalf, teach them to fast, etc.  Neglecting circumcision would be neglecting my duties as a parent. 

 

 

post #19 of 30

That being uncircumcised invalidates prayers outright is rather far into being a minority position, no?  I mean, I tend to call myself "Hanafi light," wherein it's just not an issue at all, really, so I've never had much cause to look into what others schools of thought have had to say.  But it's always been my impression that -- even by scholars who would determine circ to be fard -- to say that to not do so invalidates prayer is considered to be something of an extremity of strictness.  I'm wrong? 

post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post

That being uncircumcised invalidates prayers outright is rather far into being a minority position, no?  I mean, I tend to call myself "Hanafi light," wherein it's just not an issue at all, really, so I've never had much cause to look into what others schools of thought have had to say.  But it's always been my impression that -- even by scholars who would determine circ to be fard -- to say that to not do so invalidates prayer is considered to be something of an extremity of strictness.  I'm wrong? 



I've heard it from quite a few people, and read it on different sites--but then again, I don't think it's much of an issue because honestly, I do not know of any Muslim males who are not circumcised by 10, KWIM?  Circumcision as a whole is not an issue for me, because I'm not against it for religious purposes.  I believe it relates to tahara--and the feeling that with a foreskin, there's a much greater likelihood of urine remaining.  Even one drop invalidates one's prayers.  Now, if one does one's best... is God going to accept that? I'd like to believe so--but then again, who knows?  My guess is that the parents would be held accountable more than the child if the prayers did not count, but when responsibility switched to the child, I have no idea.  As with all prayers, its up to Allah(swt) as to whether or not they're accepted.  

 

I know there is more leniency regarding converts and this matter, but I haven't seen much leniency for born Muslims who did not have a medical reason for not circing.  Once again, my guess is that the blame for lack of a better term lies with the parents--but then at some point, the child is expected to know that it is required in his faith and make an effort to take care of things himself.  With the greater risk as one gets older, I have no idea how one weighs those things.  If one knows or suspects great risk, then one doesn't have to do it... so as there is substantial more risk as an adult--does one just waive it? Is the "blame" always on the parents? No idea.  Not an issue we face, though as we circed all of our boys as infants.

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