Muslims Talk About Female Genital Mutilation

April 1, 2007

Source: Spero Forum

The decision by Muslim religious leaders in northeastern Kenya to talk about the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM) during Friday prayers has turned into a significant campaign against the practice.

"We have managed to educate people and convince many parents, including those with strong traditional beliefs, that circumcising girls is not a requirement in Islam," said Sheikh Harun Rashid of Isiolo Rahma Mosque.

"Our first assignment was to inform the parents that the holy book [Quran] teaches that the painful act is not an obligation; it is a tradition and not a religious obligation," he told IRIN in Isiolo.

The campaign, which started in a small way 10 years ago, is now spearheaded by the Muslim Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya. It still relies heavily on teachings delivered during Friday prayers, to reach the large Muslim populations in northeastern Kenya. More than 30 Mosques exist in Isiolo and Garissa towns alone, and the campaign has been extended to the coastal province as well.

"Our approach is different and cheap, unlike those [workshops] done in hotels," Rashid added. "Our simple campaigns by imams and Islamic schoolteachers are mainly conducted on Friday when large numbers of Muslims attend weekly prayers so we convince many."