Q: We are Somali Muslim women living in
and bitterly suffer from a traditional act imposed upon us by means of custom, namely,
the pharaonic circumcision wherein the circumcising woman removes the whole clitoris
along with a part of the labia minora and most of the labia majora. In other words, she removes all the external genital organs of the female. This leads to a complete vaginal deformation. Eventually, the whole vaginal opening is stitched in an operation called Al-Ratq that causes intolerable pains to women on their wedding day and when they give birth. In many cases, surgery is also required. Furthermore, frigidity and medical repercussions may also take place causing a woman to lose her life, health, and reproduction. A part of the medical research that elucidates these matters is included in this message. We want to know the legal ruling in this regard. Indeed, the salvation of many Muslim women in many countries is dependant on your judgment. May Allah grant you success, be generous to you, and preserve you for all Muslims.
If the reality is as you mentioned, this kind of circumcision performed in the manner described in the question is not permissible, because it causes women grave harm. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.
As for the permissible form of circumcision, it is to remove a slight part of the clitoris at the anterior of the vulva, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the woman (Part No. 4; Page No. 45) who circumcises females:
Reduce it just slightly and do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and more desirable for a husband.
Al-Tabarany and others)May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.