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Rites of Passage

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Rites of Passage

    The most important Islamic rites of passage are circumcision and marriage, signaling the end of childhood and initiation into the culturally and religiously defined roles of adulthood. Although not mentioned in the Quran, male circumcision is the most widely observed rite of passage throughout the Muslim world. Circumcision usually occurs between the ages of three and fifteen years, depending on regional custom, and may follow some achievement, such as a boy's first Quran recitation from memory. It is commonly held during the month of Muhammad 's birthday and is accompanied by festive celebrations and Quranic recitations. Circumcision signals the boy's entrance into full participation in Islamic ritual world and into the gendered world of men. The wedding is the equivalent puberty rite for a girl, marking her movement from girl and daughter to woman and wife. After marriage, a girl may move to the home of her husband's family, her movements may be restricted, and she may receive greater respect and authority. Processions, special clothing, and feasts often accompany a wedding.

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