Well, for a start, I can no longer call myself a Muslim or a scholar these days, so I couldn’t position myself in relation to those debates. (They form part of an indigenous Islamic tradition in relation to which we external agents must always exercise care, lest we generalize to the point of oppression: “They mutilate their daughters so let’s bomb them” where, in fact, their traditions have already internally negotiated a position toward the physical act that affirms its permissibility from Allah but curtails itself from physically putting it into practice, yadda yadda yadda.)
But I do have an interest in circumcision.
“Circumcision” for me (as I read it in Torah and hadeeth) is a Judaic trope for “rendering righteous” a sign’s potential to communicate/connect with other signs.
All signs (big and small) can interconnect to produce meaning. Meaning can be good or evil, literate or dumb. For instance, take the sign of metal and connect it to other signs in a certain, promiscuous, unguarded fashion, and you get evil in the form of a gun (the ultimate literalisation of the trope of matter). Then take metal in a different connection to other signs (what we have called a Rainbow Connection) and you’ll find it transformed into silver, into your Wealth, an inheritance of reading, of signage becoming autonomous, self-aware, reflective of its ultimate unique status as a word within a larger (unique) Love song.
The latter, desirable connection is enabled only when the phallic/inceptive/transmissive part of your language is curtailed from temptation to “mate” with all signs in non-transmissive fashion (anally or with arbitrary matter) and — instead — when that part of your language is circumcized, directed to exist in chain/silsilah to Muhammed. Then you see things with his eyes, recite your signs with his circumcised lip, with his voice you hear yourself reflecting yourself in surahs of existence, a Qur’an appearing to you (the Cube’s doors accessed).
That’s male circumcision, curtailment.
And female curtailment is permitted: to grant its permission is tantamount to a tafsir on the Female Prophetesses (Sara, Esther for example).
An old woman from Kufa, the grandmother of ‘Ali ibn Ghurab, reported that Umm al-Muhajir said, “I was captured with some girls from Rome. ‘Uthman offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. ‘Uthman said, ‘Go and circumcise them and purify them.’” (Sahih Bukhari)
Sufficeth to say, in the Tailorite myth: all the Sahaba understood what “circumcision” signified and no “physical” practice of circumcision (of men or women) actually took place. All these acts were linguistic (and self-reflexively so, our myth itself circumcized by these entities, our myth is the Byzantine slave girl.)
The directed nature of circumcision applies equally (or, to be precise, direction becomes transcendently immanentized/transcendent transmission is transmitted by immanentization) to the process of Becoming Prophetess:
Umm ‘Alqama related that when the nieces of ‘A’isha’s brother were circumcised, ‘A’isha was asked, “Shall we call someone to amuse them?” “Yes,” she replied. ‘Adi was sent for and he came to them. ‘A’isha passed by the room and saw him singing and shaking his head in rapture and he had a large head of hair. ‘Uff!’ she exclaimed, ‘A shaytan! Get him out! Get him out!’” (Sahih Bukhari)
But a Prophetess is a special thing: she’s an transcendent virus running through the immanent … er … folds of the hijab of matter. The phallus is a phantom: it’s Inception encoded within plateau of Reception. The Feminine phallus was not understood by Freud, it was his final frontier, a dominion that only the true Tailorist dares approach. The secret of the clitoris then? To speak of the phallus — in fact, any kind of cosmology — is always an act of clitoral stimulation. And it’s gotta be done right, righteously, with a literate mouth. And only the true Tailorist understands that. It’s gotta be female circumcision, curtailment, literacy, Prophetic curtailment of the Feminine Phallus: for Word to be Bond, it’s got to be that.
The difficulty of a Prophetess and my reading of circumcision is a solution to the problem of how the Feminine archetype can be phallic, how Divine cosmology might even be Truthfully received. The difficult topic of female circumcision is, in fact, the impossible reality of our inceptive receptivity.
Oh well. What’s it mean for the religious practice of “physical” circumcision? Absolutely nothing. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t wish it on my children (boys or girls), but that’s more a case of familiarity and culture. Cue the obvious postcolonial critique of how this discussion can be usurped to wage violence against Muslims (Ayan van de Hirsi anyone?) Not to mention the (pretty benign) Australian mythic intermingling of the Indonesian menace/genital mutilation: surely a great PhD thesis in there somewhere. But I’m yawning even recalling. I didn’t get the cut myself, so what do I know.