The Icelandic parliament is considering legislating a ban on infant male circumcision. If the bill becomes law, parents may be imprisoned up to six years for having their boys circumcised. According to the New York Times: “The bill is perceived as an anti-immigration issue directed against Muslims” (Caron, C. (2018, February 28). Bill Banning Circumcision in Iceland Alarms Religious Groups.) Nevertheless, an increasingly number of Muslim modernists and so-called ‘progressives’ are beginning to question the Islamic custom of male infant circumcision. They tend to argue that circumcision is never once mentioned in the Holy Quran, which states: “Indeed, We created man in the best mould” (Sura 95:4), an obviously general statement. It is true that circumcision isn’t specifically mentioned in the Holy Quran, but the latter does endorse the Abrahamic Covenant: “You follow the Religion of Abraham, upright” (Sura 16:123), which is also known as the Covenant of Circumcision. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ reportedly said that Abraham was circumcised after the age of eighty years, though the Old Testament informs us he was ninety-nine years old. It may be reconciled that the Prophet ﷺ intended to draw attention to the fact that Abraham was quite elderly when circumcised, beyond the age of eighty, as it says in the narration:
اخْتَتَنَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَعْدَ ثَمَانِينَ سَنَةً، وَاخْتَتَنَ بِالْقَدُومِ
“Abraham was circumcised after eighty years, and he was circumcised with an adze.”
In another narration, Abu HurairaRA narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said:
اخْتَتَنَ إِِبْرَاهِيمُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حِينَ بَلَغَ عِشْرِينَ وَمِائَةَ سَنَةٍ ، وَعَاشَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ ثَمَانِينَ سَنَةً ، وَاخْتَتَنَ بِالْقَدُومِ
“Abraham the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was circumcised when he reached 120 years, and he lived for eighty years after that. He was circumcised with an adze.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban)
Abraham had his son Ishmael circumcised on the same day, indicating that the covenant of circumcision includes his Ishmaelite progeny too and not just the Israelites (Genesis 17:23-27).
In the Muhammadi Shari’a, male circumcision is likewise mandatory. It is not only the personal Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ as well as his Sahaba (companions) and the Salaf (early Muslim community), but the Prophet ﷺ actually declared circumcision an act of fitra. Ibn ShihabRA said: “When a man became Muslim, he was ordered to have himself circumcised, even if he was old” (al-Adab al-Mufrad #1252). The Prophet ﷺ ordered an uncircumcised man who had just converted to Islam to get circumcised (Sunan Abi Dawud #356). It is also narrated that:
عَنْ جَابِرٍ ، قَالَ : عَقَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ وَالْحُسَيْنِ وَخَتَنَهُمَا لِسَبْعَةِ أَيَّامٍ
JabirRA said: “Allah’s Apostle ﷺ performed the Aqiqa of al-HasanRA and al-HusainRA, and had them both circumcised on the seventh day.” (al-Sunan al-Kubra of al-Bayhaqi)
Hence, it is from the Sunna to circumcise a boy on his seventh day, while still an infant, the same day of the Aqiqa, when two rams are sacrificed on his behalf.