There are reports now suggesting that the ISIS letter ordering the genital mutilation of girls in Mosul is fake. ISIS is denying its authenticity, and they don’t deny much. So maybe it is, I don’t know, I certainly have no way of verifying the authenticity of such information, nor can I evaluate the witnesses who claim it is true to make a more informed judgment than those closer to the ground than I. If it’s doctored, so it is doctored.
My added value to the extent there is any lies in Iraqi law and Islamic law, having spent the better part of my professional life studying the two. And ironically, most of the (substantial) hate mail I got on my last post concerned these. And on these, I am certainly not wrong. To wit,
First, there absolutely is source material, and juristic rulings, within the Sunni and Shi’a traditions, that can be understood to endorse the practice of female genital mutilation. It is not “mandated” by Islam, nor is the conclusion that it is a good thing by any means a necessary conclusion of the source material, nor is its recommendation universally agreed upon. It’s not a major thing in the tradition, and one can read the sources different ways. All I said, and what is clear, is that there exist strains within each of the traditions that endorse it, that render its endorsement not only plausible, but advanced at various times and places among authorities whose place in the tradition is prominent. I’ve offered the material in support of that, I could offer more and I might, if I have time and interest. Looking through the some of the rasail amaliyya of the past several hundred years might be interesting enough . If I have time maybe in the future. There’s already enough though to demonstrate amply the limited claim.
Second, what would make an ISIS demand particularly radical is the notion of state enforcement of this. It is true that in the Sunni tradition a caliph can and does enact edicts to realize the goals of an Islamic state that go above and beyond what Islam requires as a minimum, and that this would be an example of such an edict. Hence, though only recommended, the caliph would maintain that given existing life and the sexualization of the global culture, the caliph is implementing as state policy and as state mandate, this thing.
But even if we humor ISIS in presuming the legitimacy of its caliphate, then as any lawyer knows, when you enact a state policy, you have to think of how it is going to be enforced. This one would require the caliph’s soldiers to identify girls of recalcitrant fathers, their walis, take them against their will somewhere, and perform this operation on them. Because if you say it is mandatory, that’s what mandatory means. And to do something like that, to interfere in that fundamental a relationship as between a wali and his ward, and to do that not to enforce an Islamic requirement, but to advance something much less prominent in the tradition, is, I’ll say it again, quite beyond the bounds for any number of reasons.
That’s all on this for now.