“Circumcision in science and scripture” by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

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SHAFAQNA- People who hate religion in general, and Islam and Judaism in particular, often attack circumcision as a cruel, barbaric ritual lacking any positive outcome. But in the last two decades several medical studies have shown the positive effect of circumcision; and this had led the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support male circumcision procedures for male newborns and teenagers in the US, according to a draft of federal guidelines released December 2, 2014.

Clinical trials and observational studies have found that men who are circumcised are less likely than their uncircumcised peers to acquire sexually transmitted infections during vaginal sex. Being circumcised reduced the risk of infection with HIV from a female sexual partner by 50% to 60%. It also reduced the risk of getting genital herpes by up to 45% and of getting cancer-causing strains of human papilloma virus by 30%.

Studies have also found that sex with circumcised men is safer for women. They are less likely to become infected with HPV, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis, the CDC guidelines state. There is no medical evidence linking male circumcision to reduced risk of HIV for female partners, the guidelines note.

The CDC states that the risk of adverse events from circumcision is low, and that minor bleeding and inflammation are the biggest problems. The agency says complications arise in less than one-half of 1% of newborns, 9% of children and about 5% of adults. “Severe complications can occur but are exceedingly rare,” the

CDC wrote.

“It’s important to know that male circumcision has been associated with a 50 to 60 percent reduction of HIV transmission, as well as a reduction in sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, bacterial vaginosis, and the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes penile and cervical cancer,” said the director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS at the CDC.

Muslims and Jews do not circumcise their children for medical health reasons, although neither religion believes that circumcision is harmful to a man’s health. However, there are vociferous groups in Europe and the U.S. that attack this religious ritual under the guise of medical and moral concern, claiming that circumcision is painful (like a vaccination) and an unnecessary procedure (like plastic surgery).

Yet more and more evidence is accumulating that circumcision is good for men physically as well as spiritually. According to a recent U.S. study, circumcised men may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who still have their foreskin.

Although most U.S. men are circumcised, the procedure has become less popular over the past decade, and various groups have spoken out against it. In September 2011, the Dutch Medical Association discouraged the practice, calling it a “painful and harmful ritual.”

The foreskin is known to be prone to tiny tears during sex, which may help bacteria and viruses enter the bloodstream. so some viruses can trigger cancer when they are incorporated into human DNA. Another possibility is that sexually transmitted microorganisms could lead to cancer by causing chronic inflammation. One in six U.S. men will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, although only a minority of them will die from the disease.

As I stated above Muslims and Jews do not circumcise their children for medical health reasons. For Jews and Muslims ritual circumcision is a sign of communal loyalty and acceptance of God’s will.

Christianity, Islam and Judaism all teach that circumcision was already practiced by Prophet Abraham, who is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims to this day.

Christians do not believe circumcision is still a required observance. But, even during Medieval times, Christian governments never prohibited ritual circumcision for Jews and Muslims living under their rule. Equally, Jews and Muslims never tried to force Christians to circumcise their children.

Only pagan governments like the Greeks and the Romans, or anti-religious secular governments like Communist Russia, have done this.

These governments are led by people who believe that their own humanistic, rational philosophy is on a much higher level than what has been taught by traditional religions, which they do not believe in.

For Jews, the ritual dates back to God’s covenant with Abraham. The Torah declares: (Genesis 17:7) “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you…

(17:8-11) “And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God. God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

(17:12) “You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old,”

Jews have observed this commandment for almost 4,000 years. More than once, attempts to prevent Jews from circumcising their sons led to resistance, and in the case of Hanukah, to open revolt.

For Muslims circumcision is connected to Allah commanding Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). When Allah says (Qur’an 16:123) “Then We inspired you: ‘Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith’.” And part of the religion of Ibrahim is, as is evident from the verses cited above, to practice circumcision.

Abraham was an old man when he circumcised himself, thus becoming a good example that one is never to old to do God’s will. As a Hadith says: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ” Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old and he circumcised himself with an axe.” (Related by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad.)

Abraham’s first born son Ishmael, was a young boy when he was circumcised, so Muslims do not have to circumcise their son’s on an exact date. A Hadith states: When Ibn Abbas was asked “How old were you when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died?” He replied, “At that time I had been circumcised. At that time people did not circumcise boys till they attained the age of puberty (Baligh).” (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad himself selected the 7th day after birth to circumcise his own grandsons: Abdullah Ibn Jabir and Aisha both said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) performed the Aqiqah of al-Hasan and al-Hussein (the prophets grandsons) circumcising them on the 7th. Day.” (Related in al-Bayhaq & Tabarani)

Thus, for Jews circumcision is a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants for future generations. For Muslims it is a sign of their close connection to Abraham, which is also celebrated each year at the annual Hajj ceremonies.

For both Muslims and Jews it is a sign that one who submits to God’s commandments and covenant cannot expect a life without some pain and suffering. But when endured for the right reasons duty to God’s commandments always leads eventually to great spiritual, and even physical benefits.

Source: Muslimvillage.com

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