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Circumcision

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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

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    Circumcision

    Rite of passage conveying status change for males, from young boys to responsible men. Opinions differ as to whether it is legally obligatory (fard) or the practice of Muhammad (Sunnah). It is not mentioned in the Quran, but many Muslims believe it is a requirement for conversion to Islam. It is often identified as part of rites of purification (taharah) or traced to the Old Testament practice of Abraham . Circumcision has been variously interpreted as an outward symbol of self-discipline in God's requirements, the inner growth of reason, the submission of base passions to higher spiritual requisites, the physical acknowledgment of God's hegemony over uncontrolled instincts, and the deeper religious commitment expected of a mature Muslim. The practice is not universal. In Europe and North America, it is typically done in a hospital immediately after birth. Among traditional societies in the Middle East, a separate rite occurs between the ages of two and twelve as a part of ritual celebration, and older circumcised boys are immediately required to join older relatives in public prayer and are restricted from moving freely between the male and female parts of the house.

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