If you know details, you would also like your children to be circumcised
– Dr. Javed Jamil
Abusive remarks by BJP MP Ramesh Bhiduri against a Muslim MP, Kunwar Danish Ali speak volumes of what kind of training they have been getting as part of their political and social campaigns. But he will soon realize that the abusive words (like Mulla and the word for “circumcised”) he used are in fact derivatives of the great words that mark the Islamic system of Holistic Health and Holistic Peace.
“Mullas” (Molvi being the original word) are the experts of Islam who teach the practices that bring peace in this world as well as in the Hereafter. These teachings prohibit everything harmful (Pork, Alcohol, Drugs) and every practice disastrous (Sex outside a proper male-female marriage, murders, thefts, corruption of all kinds including exploitative economic practices) and promote everything good including prayers, fasting, charity, campaign against evil practices, etc. In this article, I will focus on the practice of circumcision and why it has been gaining huge acceptance throughout the world in recent times.
Circumcision is becoming increasingly popular due to the evidence accumulating that it has a very strong protective effect against all sex transmitted diseases, including AIDS as well as HPV related Cervical Cancer. It also prevents Cancer of Penis. A report from Africa says:
“As hospital wards overflow, avoiding HIV has become a consuming concern for Swazis. Since the South African report appeared saying that circumcised men are 60 percent less likely to contract HIV, the shift in Swazi attitudes toward circumcision – once widely viewed as unmanly – has been dramatic and swift….
“Hospitals that once rarely performed circumcisions have recently been doing 10 to 15 a week, with two-month waiting lists. A physician with a radio show has called on his listeners to have the surgery, which removes the foreskin and along with it the cells most vulnerable to HIV. A lawmaker has advocated the procedure in a speech to parliament and demanded that the government increase capacity and subsidies for it….
“The South African study was the first to experimentally test the effectiveness of circumcision in preventing HIV, but dozens of studies have shown that infection rates are far higher in regions with low circumcision rate.”
The Scientific fraternity is usually not sympathetic towards religion. But increasingly greater numbers of medical experts have argued in favour of circumcision. In the US, circumcision enjoyed great popularity in the last century. But after 1999, when the American Academy of Paediatrics issued a policy statement saying the potential medical benefits of neonatal circumcision weren’t strong enough to recommend it as a routine procedure, the popularity declined. The group shifted its stance however again recently saying newer studies indicate the health benefits of circumcision do outweigh the risks and that parents should be told of its protective effects.
Ronald Gray, a Physician and Professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, makes the case in favour of neonatal circumcision. Here are a few excerpts from his article,” Yes: The Benefits Are Many, While the Risks Are Few”.
“The health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, and the procedure should be accessible to all families who want it. So said a task force convened by the American Academy of Paediatrics to review the latest scientific evidence on circumcision and update the group’s policy stance… Here are the facts, based on published, peer-reviewed and independently monitored studies:
“The benefits of circumcision that accrue during childhood include a marked reduction in urinary-tract infections, which affect one in 100 uncircumcised boys, mainly during the first two years of life, and inflammation or infection under the foreskin, which affects around 17 in 100 uncircumcised boys before the age of 8. Circumcision reduces the risk of these problems by around 60%. In adulthood, circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in men by 50% to 60%, and is now recommended by the World Health Organization as an HIV prevention strategy….
“Circumcision also lowers the risk of acquiring herpes infection and genital ulcers in men. It reduces infection with human papilloma viruses, or HPV, in both men and their female partners. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., causing cervical, penile and anal cancers and genital warts. Female partners of circumcised men have lower rates of vaginal infections and genital ulcers….
“Circumcision doesn’t impair sexual potency or pleasure, according to randomized controlled trials. These studies are considered the most credible because they compare men who are circumcised at random versus men who aren’t, and the men who are circumcised during the trial can assess whether their pleasure or potency is affected by the procedure.
“In short, infant male circumcision has lifelong health benefits that outweigh the immediate risks, and parents should be counselled so they can decide what is best for their child.”
I happened to be the first in the world to argue in my book, Islamic Model for Control of Aids (published in 1995) that circumcision should be included in aids control programmes. The WHO accepted this twelve years later. According to reports, in 2007, the WHO reviewed the totality of evidence concerning male circumcision and HIV, and issued the following joint recommendations with UNAIDS.
- Male circumcision should now be recognized as an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention.
- Promoting male circumcision should be recognized as an additional, important strategy for the prevention of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men.
- Circumcision should only be performed after informed consent.
Kim Dickson, coordinator of the working group that authored the report, commented:
- Male circumcision “would have greatest impact” in countries where the HIV infection rate among heterosexual males is greater than 15 percent and fewer than 20 percent of males who are circumcised.
- WHO further recommends that the procedure must be done by a trained healthcare professional.
And the role of circumcision in preventing Cancer of Cervix in females is now beyond doubt. More than 3 lakh (three hundred thousands) women die of Cancer Cervix in the world every year, and it is extremely rare in women having circumcised partners. In India, a report by National Institute of Health says,
“Around 453 million Indian women aged 15 years and above are at risk of developing cancer. Estimates from the HPV information centre show that 96922 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and 60078 of them die of this disease in the country.”
It is important to know that Cancer Cervix has extremely low incidence in Muslim women.
Interestingly, following the publication of my book in 1995, then Shiv Sena Supremo, Late Bal Thackeray talked of introducing “Hindu Khatna”, suggesting circumcision with the condition that there should be some distinguishing feature to recognise Hindus.
Now, it is time for people like Bhiduri and his well-wishers to think about accepting circumcision as a highly useful practice or continue to target Muslims for adopting this gem of a practice. Instead of throwing Muslim MPs out, they should invite them to give presentation on Beneficial Practices of Islam.
[Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over 20 books including, “A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an”, “Economics First or Health First?”, “Justice Imprisoned”, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe” and just published work, “Prevention and Management of Viral Pandemics: Islamic Guidelines”.]