Is female circumcision performed to “curb” sexual pleasure?

No. The Islamic practice of female circumcision is not carried out to curb sexual pleasure. Its has a deep spiritual significance that is related to spiritual (not physical) purity and is not related in anyway to sexuality. If fact, the Prophet specifically instructed practitioners to minimize the procedure to ensure that sexual function was in no way negatively affected. 1

Islam traces many of its traditions to the lineage of Prophets that came before the Prophet Mohammed. The Quran also states that the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed follows the “path” of the Prophet Ibrahim (Quran 1:135). Therefore, there are many Islamic traditions that have their roots from times pre-dating the Prophet Mohammed.

For example, the Hajj, prayers and fasting, all have their roots in Abrahamic traditions. Circumcision is no different. Most interpretations of Judaism consider circumcision mandatory, meanwhile many non-Muslim communities also practice various forms of genital cutting.

Although true, it should be noted that neither male nor female circumcision are mentioned in the Quran, they are explicitly prescribed by the Prophet in the sunnah (Prophetic traditions). Details for a broad range of Islamic practices are not explicitly mentioned or explicated in the Quran either (including prayer, fasting, zakaat, hajj etc).  For example, the Quran only orders Muslims to “pray”, but nowhere in the Quran does it elaborate that one should pray 5 times a day, or how one should pray. Similarly, the Quran does not explain how one should circumvent the holy ka’ba during the tawaaf. Instead, all these details are provided in the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (the sunnah).2 The same goes for male and female circumcision,  they are explicitly mentioned in the sunnah, and this cannot be ignored. Therefore, it is illogical to reject female circumcision simply because it’s not in the Quran, but at the same time ignore that male circumcision isn’t either. 

It is no more possible to define Islam within the four corners of the Quran than to define Christianity (which includes traditions ranging from Presbyterian to Pentecostal to Greek Orthodoxy) solely from a reading of the Bible. Rather, the content of religious belief and practice are guided by interpretive texts and traditions. Thus, many Muslim scholars classify Female Genital Alteration (FGA) as ‘Sunnah’ or practice established by the Prophet Muhammad. Though not prescribed explicitly in the Quran, the practice thus is religiously virtuous. In fact, the colloquial term for FGA procedures in Arabic refers to a ritual state of purity.” 3

Like all large religions, variations in practice and belief occur within the larger body of Islamic belief. There is no single authority on all Islamic practice. Many well respected authorities within the Islamic community have affirmed the importance of circumcision for both boys and girls.1


  1.  The Practice of Female Circumcision, https://femalecircumcision.org/the-practice-of-female-circumcision/ 
  2. (2013, February 24). Quran without Sunnah is not real Islam. Quran Without Sunnah Is Not Real Islam. Retrieved June 1, 2017, from https://muslimvillage.com/2013/02/25/36040/should-muslims-be-sufficed-with-the-quran-without-the-sunnah/
  3. Arora KS, Jacobs AJ. Female genital alteration: a compromise solution. Journal of Medical Ethics (2016).