CIRCUMCISION. Arabic Khitan, khitanah or khatanah. Circumcision is not once alluded to in the Qur’an. The omission is remarkable, and Muslim writers do not attempt any explanation of it. It is held to be sunnah, or founded upon the customs of the Prophet (Fatawa `Alamgiri, vol. iv. p. 237), and dating its institution from the time of Abraham. There is no authentic account of the circumcision of Muhammad, but it is asserted by some writers that he was born circumcised. This, however, is denied by the most eminent scholars (Raddu ‘l-Mukhtar, vol. v. p. 835.)
In the Sahihu ‘l-Bukhari, p. 931, a short chapter is devoted to the subject of khitan or “circumcision,” in which there are three traditions:-
Abu Hurairah relates that the Prophet said one of the observances of Fitrah is circumcision.
Abu Hurairah relates that the Prophet said that Abraham was circumcised when he was eighty years old.
Said ibn Jubair relates that it was asked of Ibn ‘Abbas, “How old were you when the Prophet died?” He said, “I was circumcised in the days when it occurred.” And Jubair says they did not circumcise in those days until men were full grown.
It is recommended to be performed upon a boy between the ages of seven and twelve, but it is lawful to circumcise a child seven days after his birth. In the case of a convert to Islam from some other creed, to whom the operation may be an occasion of great suffering, it can be dispensed with, although it is considered expedient and proper for all new converts to be circumcised. In all cases an adult is expected to circumcise himself, as it is a shame for an adult person to uncover himself to another.
The circumcision of females is also allowed, and is commonly practised in Arabia (Fatawa `Alamgiri, vol. iv. p. 237.)
The barber is generally the person employed for the circumcision of boys, and the operation as practised by Muslims in India is performed in the following manner. A bit of stick is used as a probe, and carried round and round between the glans and prepuce to ascertain the exact extent of the frænum, and that no unnatural adhesions exist. The foreskin is then drawn forwards and a pair of forceps consisting of a couple of pieces of split bamboo, five or six inches long and a quarter of an inch thick, tied firmly together at one end with a string to the extent of an inch, applied from above in an oblique direction, so as to exclude about an inch and a half of the prepuce above and three-quarters of an inch below. The forceps severely grasping it, causes a good deal of pain, but this state of suffering does not continue long, since the next thing to be done is the removal which is done by one stroke of the razor drawn directly downwards. The hemorrhage which follows is inconsiderable and easily stopped by the application of burnt rags and ashes.
According to several Muslim doctors, there were seventeen of the prophets born in a circumcised state, namely, Zakariya, Shis, Idris, Yusuf, Hanzalah, `Isa, Musa, Adam, Nuh, Shu`aib, Sam, Lut, Salih, Sulaiman, Yahya, Hud, and Muhammad. (Durru ‘l-Mukhtar, p. 619.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam