By Andrew Bostom
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America’s (AMJA’s) mission statement maintains the organization was,
…founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America…AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities…
A report in The Muslim Observer published October 21, 2010 highlighting AMJA’s “seventh annual American conference of imams,” confirmed that the organization is accepted as such by the mainstream American Muslim community. AMJA and its “training” conference for American imams were described in these banal terms:
The organization AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) has a list of scholars associated with it which stretches from Al-Azhar University to Virginia’s Open University, and back across the ocean to the professors at Saudi universities. Its website, amjaonline.com, provides fatawa on many issues and promises 24-hour access to scholars who can give legal opinions on the issues people face. AMJA focuses on providing fatwas to Americans, and believes it is able to provide culturally appropriate fatwas although many of their scholars are not American–because they have some American scholars and because of the technological ties that bind AMJA’s American scholars with those abroad.
AMJA just had, in Houston, its seventh annual American conference of imams, and two local Michigan imams attended, namely Imam Musa of Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center, and Imam Ali of MCWS. Mr. Sadiqul Hassan of AMJA explained that “the event was the 7th annual imam workshop…” Mr. Hassan said that AMJA is “a fiqh council basically,” with “scholars who live abroad and inside the US; we have experts in different fields to educate about life in the US–fatawa are based on life in the US.”
AMJA rulings also support the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which the United Nations has called “a dangerous and potentially life-threatening procedure that causes unspeakable pain and suffering.” Fatwa #1639 from Dr. Hatem al-Haj justified the horrific practice, by citing the canonical hadith in which Islam’s prophet Muhammad endorsed its practice, stating:
[…] Some extremists from the west and their devout followers in the Muslim world like to brand all circumcision as female genital mutilation (FGM). For those, we say, why is male circumcision not MGM? Male circumcision is widely practiced in the west. Yet it would be considered by the Chinese MGM (Male Genital Mutilation).
The benefits of male circumcision are beginning to be more recognized in the medical societies, even though still contested by a few. Fifty years ago, no one knew that male circumcision has medical benefits. The same could be true with female circumcision. They may figure out the benefits of the practice in fifty or five hundred years. […]
Al-Haj then went on to implicitly sanction the practice of taking a Muslim female outside of her American milieu to have the procedure performed—in violation of the US “TRANSPORT FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION” act.
The question is not to ban female circumcision because of the position of certain nations, but How do we regulate it as Muslims? What should we -western Muslims- do? For Muslims who live in the west, since it is not mandatory and it is at the same time illegal in the west, and would bring about harm to the people who practice it, I wouldn`t advise having it done, as long as you are a resident/citizen of the west. We however should never doubt anything in our religion because of the bad publicity the media creates about it
A concordant fatwa issued in Arabic (translation by Al-Mutarjim) on the website of the Secretary-General of AMJA and the chief member of its Resident Fatwa Committee, Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, declares that FGM is “an honor” for women, Al-Sawy also acknowledges that the procedure—in accord with a continuum of Islamic rationale from al-Jahiz in the mid-9th century, to former Muslim Papal equivalent, i.e., Al-Azhar University Grand Imam Jad al-Haq through 1996—is explicitly implemented to reduce a woman’s otherwise unbridled “concupiscence,” i.e., lust:
But for the woman, the purpose [of circumcision] is the benefit that it has in lessening her lust, which is a wholesome request. There is no harm in removing it. In short, female circumcision is an honor (which) does not rise to the level of a duty, in clear language. Stated another way, it is neither forbidden nor required.