Chapter 20: Thou Shalt Taste the Iron


In western countries, I’m told it is compulsory for people to get their male children circumcised at birth (please correct me if I’m wrong). However, that’s not the case in India, where it’s an optional thing. For practicing Muslims though, be they in India or any part of the world, circumcision is an absolute must for the male child—the earlier the better, because according to our beliefs a boy born to Muslim parents will not be a Muslim until he is circumcised.

Scientifically, of course, male circumcision has many benefits—lowering the chances of getting STDs or urinary infections and many others…but this is not a medical blog so you’ll just have to find out about the rest elsewhere.

Now, there are close to zero boys in my family. I have just one sibling, and that’s a girl. My father’s brother has two girls, and my father’s two sisters have two girls each. Only his third and youngest sister has two boys and a girl but they’ve lived in the US all their lives. So I have no experience whatsoever of how boys are brought up. Especially not how they are circumcised.

My mother’s only brother does have a boy but he was circumcised in a hospital. My boy wasn’t. If I had my way, he’d have been operated upon at a hospital, too. But you can’t always have your way, can you?

I suppose most of you are gonna freak out coz I sure did. But this is how it all happened:

The local jarrah who is a semi-doctor plus circumcision specialist comes to your house and performs the whole process without any anesthesia. I think I’d have died if I knew beforehand what it really entails. I actually thought that it’d be like his vaccination—he’d cry of course but I’d soothe him and everything would be fine. On hindsight, this would sound funny if it weren’t so … scary…

Afterwards, my aunt narrated her son’s experience and said that even if you get it done at the hospital, the pain is all the same once the anesthesia wears out. And, as she verified, the younger the baby, the faster the healing. The pain was certainly gone after the first day, but if I ever decided to have another baby, and if it happens to be a son again, I’m certainly putting my foot down about the at-home procedure…and here’s why:

I’ll never forget my tiny son’s scream from the other room… and I’ll never forget bursting into tears at that sound…. I’ll never forget that day when I cried whenever he cried… and not because I was angry or frustrated… I just wanted his pain to end.

And I’ll never forget weeping in the bathroom while taking a bath … listening to his wails outside… and making an earnest prayer to the Lord… “Please, please, dear God… just take away his pain and give it to me instead. I’ll take it. I will.”

That’s when, I think, I understood what a mother’s love is all about.

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12 thoughts on “Chapter 20: Thou Shalt Taste the Iron

  1. In Australia (where I live anyway) nobody gets their boys circumcised unless they medically need to. If they do it by choice usually the baby is recommended to be about a year old and its done under general anaesthetic. We didn’t even discuss it in my house. I understand the benefits but I hate the idea of putting my boy through that.

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    • Lisa thanks for telling me about your side of the world. It’s great to be able to see another perspective. Yes, I can absolutely understand why you wouldn’t want to put your boy through this. I can totally see your point of view. I had a hard time coping with it, too.

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  2. In Canada, the procedure is optional and the decision of each boy’s parents. It used to be very common for reasons of cleanliness but now many parents feel that the benefits of don’t outweigh the child’s pain and that boys can be taught to clean properly without circumcision. It would still be popular for religious reasons and as we are diverse here in Canada, that makes the decision more clear for some.
    I can relate to your wishing you could take the pain for your child. I remember my mom always saying she wished she could be sick for us and I felt that way for my children, too. It’s so hard to watch you children suffer, even as young adults. Once a Mom, always a Mom. xo

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    • Thank you for correcting me. Different people have different opinions on this issue. I respect everyone’s opinion, and each person’s right to live their own way– as long as it doesnt’t hurt others or interfere with their rights.

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      • Some so-called Muslims in the UK want compulsory clitoridectomy irrespective of the woman’s religion. Circumcision makes far more sense.

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      • I do not know frok where these new ‘islamic references’ are cropping up. I am a Shia Muslim and none of our texts has any reference to this. And especially not the Quran. My family traces direct descent from Prophet Mohammad and never ever have I heard of anyone undergoing this. Any of our ancestors. I have been married into a family of Islamic Mujtahids– priests and scholars– and no one in that family has ever ever undergone that procedure. I live in India which has a population of 1027 crores, wherein Muslims form the second largest group. Not one incident has ever been heard of. If it is indeed such an integral part of Islamic culture why havent all these millions of people even heard of it, let alone undergo it? On the other hand, male circumcision is practiced in each and every household. So FGM is definitely not a part of Islam, and if you really wabt references in support of my argument, I will get them for you. People who want to malign Islam and use it for their own malicious purposes are fabricating these disgusting and horrid references.

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    • Hi, this is in response to your second comment. Female Genital Mutilation has no basis in Islam. It is actually related to African culture and is wrongly connected to the Muslim religion. Islamic Texts and scholars do not support clitoridectomy. So,yes, as you say, they are only “so-called” Muslims who are demanding this.

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    • Also, please read carefully the link you have sent me. The second last paragraph clearly states there is no justification of FGM either in the Bible or the Tanukh or The Quran. And the girl whose example is given here is also an African, which makes me reiterate that it is primarily an African cultural thing that has somehow been wrongly assimilated into Islam.

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      • Did I say FGM was Muslim? Ironically, changing African culture would “racist”; i.e. cultural genocide.

        Islam is a religion that is international in outlook, that is meant for all humanity. This makes it so easy for enemies of Islam to deny they are racist, and to state that they oppose a totalitarian political ideology, like Communism or National Socialism.

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