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Circumcision is generally a religious and cultural based rite. Medical Science advocates that circumcision reduces risks of contraction of HIV and other genital infections among the males. This medical view of circumcision has undoubtedly encouraged men to circumcise if they were to reduce risks of contracting the virus that causes AIDS or any genital and urinary infections. Yet people of various religious and cultural backgrounds have different views about circumcision. So many opinions have been offered on this topic attributing circumcision to one or all or some of the Abrahamic religions (i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism). However the fundamental question here in this piece is how people of various religious backgrounds view circumcision.

 

Historically, circumcision has been seen to be both a religious and cultural rite. It prevails among many ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, America and Australia. Originally, God instituted circumcision among the Hebrews as a rite and a sign of the covenant with Abraham. Circumcision was not for health reasons to Abraham and his descendants; but a religious covenant with God. The Bible has several covenants, but one specific covenant which was sealed with circumcision was that which God made with Abraham (Gen.17). Thus, it is inherently important to understand that it became a religious and cultural rite to Abraham and his descendants. It can then be said that Abraham's circumcision is the oldest of all circumcisions.

Three religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam claim that Abraham is their father. The inheritance of circumcision by Jews, Christians and Muslims is because Abraham is claimed as the father to the three religions. However, later on, people who were not basically Jews or Muslims adopted the practice of circumcision as cultural rite. Furthermore, in the contemporary society, circumcision through scientific and medical research is said to reduce risks of HIV contraction and urinary tract infections.

 

Christian Views of Circumcision:

 

Basically, Christianity does not promote and embrace the teachings of circumcision among its members either as a religious or cultural norm. this is, however, a known practice of the Christian religion, as it places the so-called "faith in Christ" in the heart the most important issue in religion. Thus a Christian can do anything s/he likes so long as the internal faith is there. Nonetheless, the Bible (Acts 15) records an argument over circumcision in the early church as qualification for both salvation and acceptance in the Christian community. The argument brought division among the early believers. Finally, a church council was convened to discuss the matter and it resolved that circumcision should not be imposed on the believing gentiles because salvation is by faith alone. The church council did not consider health implications of  circumcision for Christian believers in this matter. Just as circumcision is not religiously promoted by the Church, so also it does not condemn those who are circumcised. The position of Christianity on circumcision is uncertain. Further, Christianity does not condemn circumcision; whether as a religious, cultural rite or on medical ground. Therefore, circumcision as a religious rite is not one of major Christian teachings; though Christianity has no problem with those members of the Church who are circumcised for medical or cultural reasons.

 

Judaist View of Circumcision:

 

The belief that the Jews are the descendants of Abraham makes them liable to follow almost all of the cultural and religious rites that Abraham believed and practised. Circumcision  is generally considered a Jewish mark for life in the Jewish society; and it can be performed at home or hospital. Later, circumcision became part of Jewish culture and rituals. Jesus Christ was circumcised on the eighth day as required by the Mosaic Law (Luke 2). It is closest to say that the Jews might be following the rituals of Abraham religiously and culturally without the conviction of the covenant that God had with Abraham and health implications it carries. This is cultural-religiosity characteristic of Judaism.

 

Islamic View of Circumcision:

 

Generally, Islam views circumcision as both religious and cultural rite. This is because Muslims believe and accept Islam as a way of life. Mainstream Muslims generally regard circumcision as one of the most fundamental religious rituals that distinguishes them from other people. However, there are diversified opinions on both male and female circumcision and whether they are compulsory or not.  The issue of circumcision in Islam is found in the Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) and not stated directly in the Glorious Qur'an. That notwithstanding, the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) remain the second source of the Islamic legislation, and thus if found authentic in the hadith and not abrogated, it is binding.

The male circumcision is seen in Islam to be obligatory, though with some opinions claiming it's sunnah and not up to the status of being obligatory. But as for the female, it is generally seen as not obligatory, and could even be prohibited if found detrimental to the health of the female.

 

Conclusively, circumcision is deeply rooted in the teachings of all the three Abrahamic religions. However, they differ in their level of adherence to the teachings and practices as prescribed in their books. This is also a very evident phenomenon in the three religious day to day practicing of their religious teachings. Some are so vulnerable to adopting and following their whims and caprices or any culture that comes their way not withstanding what their holy book teaches with regards to such matters. While others are very strict in adhering to the teachings of their books no matter what people may say about them.

 

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