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March 21, 2007

Hymen fatwa

Mufti's 'hymen fatwa' causes shock waves among scholars
By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO: Reconstructive hymen surgery for women who lost their virginity before marriage is halal (religiously permissible), said to Aly Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

Gomaa, the highest authority with the power to issue a fatwa (religious edict), appeared the popular terrestrial Channel Two’s talk show El Beit Beitek, where he condoned the controversial fatwa, released by Soad Saleh, the ex-dean of the faculty of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University and noted scholar.

Shiekh Khaled El Gindy, an Al-Azhar scholar and member of the Higher Council of Islamic Studies told The Daily Star Egypt that he agrees with the new fatwa.

"Islam never differentiates between men and women, so it is not rational for us to think that God has placed a sign to indicate the virginity of women without having a similar sign to indicate the virginity of men," El Gindy said.

"Any man who is concerned about his prospective wife’s hymen should first provide a proof that he himself is virgin," he added.

El Gindy voiced his full support for Gomaa.

Not only did Gomaa acknowledge the fatwa but asked women who will undergo the contentious surgery not to tell their future spouses about it, since this is not a question of honesty.

"If God wants us to know everything about each other, He would have given us the ability to read each others' minds, so why did he not do so? Perhaps maybe someone would have a wrong idea about you now but will change it later," Gomaa said.

Even more shocking to many observers, Gomaa said that if a married woman had sexual intercourse with another man but truly regretted her actions and asked God for forgiveness, she should not tell her husband.

"According to Sharia, if a husband knew that his wife had sexual intercourse with anyone else, he should divorce her, so by not telling him she would be protecting her home and her life," he explained.

The fatwa has led to much controversy within Al-Azhar and Egyptian society as a whole.

In Upper Egypt honor crimes are still committed. If a woman loses her virginity out of wedlock, she is considered a big shame on everyone and deserves to die.

In response to such ideas, El Gindy told The Daily Star Egypt that, "Islam does not care for the feelings of ignorant people, just as the law does not protect the idiots."

Sent by LF

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