Oriens 34 (1994): 10-30
'... And He Was Born Circumcised ...': Some Notes on Circumcision in Ḥadīth
Circumcised.pdf " AND HE WAS BORN CIRCUMCISED Some notes on circumcision in Hadith by " M.J. Kister Jerusalem To Professor R. Sellheim as a token of esteem and respect The ritual of circumcision, in practice throughout the Muslim world, is traced back to Ibrahim, the ancestor of the Jews and the Arabs. Arab tradition, like that of the Jews, holds that he was the first who circumcised himself on the order of God. His is said to have performed this ritual at the age of eighty and to have lived until the age of two hundred. Another tradition claims that he carried out circumcision at the age of one hundred and twenty, in a place named Qadum. According to another tradition, the tool used by Ibrahim for the circumcision was named qadum, a pick-axel. 1 Abu Hudhayfa Ishaq b. Bishr, Mubtada'u l-dunya wa-qisasu l-anbiya', MS Bodleiana, Huntington 388, fol. 187b. And see Shil'awayh b. Shahridar al-Daylami, Firdausu l-akhbiJr, ed. Fawwaz Al)mad al-Zimirli and Mubammad al-MuCtll$imbi-llllhi I-Baghdadi, Beirut 1407/1987, I, 58, no. 44; and see the references of the editors. Fac;l1ullahiI-Jilllni, Farjlu lI11hi -$amadfi taudil;!i I I-adabi I-mufrad li-abi mul;!ammadi bni ismll'Tla I-bukhllri, Him$ 1388/1969, II, 668, no. 1244, 673, no. 1250. Mubammad b. Al)mad al-An$llrr l-Qurtubi, al-JiJmieIi-al;!kllmiI-qur'lln = TafsiTU I-qurfubi, Cairo 138711967, II, 99. Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyya, Tul;!fatu l-maudi1d bi-al;!kllmi 1mauli1d, Beirut n. d., pp. 120-124. AI-Tabarllni, Musnad al-shllmiyyin, ed. Hamdi 'Abd al-Majid al-Salafi, Beirut 1409/1989, I, 88, no. 124; and see the references provided by the editor. AbU 1Qllsim 'AIi b. al-Hasan, Ibn 'Asllkir, Tabyinu I-imtinlln bi-I-amri bi-I-ikhtitlln, ed. MajdI FatbI 1Sayyid, Tantll 1410/1989, pp. 33-35, nos. 9-12 (he circumcised himself at the age of eighty) and pp. 37, 39, nos. 17-18 (he circumcised himself at the age of hundred and twenty); and see ibid. the references given by the editor. AI-Muttaqi I-HindI, Kanzu I-'ummlll, Hyderabad 1395/1975, XXII, 36, no. 305. Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Tul;!fatu I-mul;!tlljilll adil/ati I-minhlij, eel. 'Abdallah b. Sa'llf al-LaI)yllni, Mecca al-mukarrama 1406/1986, II, 496, no. 1616; and see the references of the editor. Mubammad b. 'Ali b. TOIOn, Ff1$$U I-khawlltim fimll qila fi I-walll'im, eel. Nizllr Ub~, Damascus 140311983, p. 61. Al)mad b. cAlI b. al-Muthannll al-TamlmI, Musnad abi yrrlll 1maU$iI1,ed.Husayn Salim Asad, Damascus 1407/1987, X, 383-384, no. 5981; and see the abundant references of the editor. AI-Munllwi, Fayr!u I-qadir, sharl;!u l-jllmi'i I-$aghir, Beirut 13911 1972, I, 207-208, no. 284; and see ibid. the discussion whether qadi1m or qaddi1m is a name of a place or of a tool of a carpenter; a harmonizing assumption says that he circumcised himself with a tool named qadi1m in a place called qaddam. Badr al-Din Muhammad b. 'Abdallah al-Shibli, Mal;!lIsinu l-wasl1'ilfi mrrrifati l-awll'il, MS Brit. Library, Or. 1530, fol. 48b-49a: God told Ibrahim that he had already accomplished (the â¢â¢. .. and he was born circumcised ... " 11 A slightly divergent tradition about the circumcision of Ibrahim is recorded by Abu Bakr Ahmad b. cAmr b. Abl cAsim al-Shaybani, in his Kitnbu l-awli)i/2: Ibrahim carried out the circumcision at the age of one hundred and thirty yearsl. A peculiar tradition traced back to Abu Hurayra and recorded in Suvntr's al-Durr al-manthur+, says that Ibrahim circumcised himself in Qadum at the age of thirty years. AI-CAyruquotes a tradition recorded by al-Mawardt saying that Ibrahim circumcised himself at the age of seventy; according to Ibn Qutayba, after this event he lived for a hundred years and died at the age of one hundred and seventy'. Noteworthy is a tradition recorded by al-Bayhaqi in his ai-Sun an alkubra'': God ordered Ibrahrm to circumcise himself and he carried out the order using the qadum, the pick-axe. When the pain increased and became too hard for him to bear, he invoked God. God then asked him why was he so hasty in carrying out the order and Ibrahim answered that he did it because he feared to delay the accomplishment of God's injunction". There is, however, one tradition in which the circumcision of Abraham is not linked with an injunction of God. Abraham is said to have waged war with the Amalekites. Since many warriors of both the fighting troops fell in these battles, it was necessary to make a distinction during the burial of the dead between the believing warriors, fighting on the side of Abraham, and the unbelieving Amalekites. Then Abraham introduced the circumcision in order to distinguish by that mark the believing warriors from the unbelievers". The injunctions of-K.) his religious belief, qad akmalta tmanaka, except a bit, baÂ¢'a, of your body which you whould remove; he then circumcised himself, using for it a pick-axe. Another tradition says that God bade him clean himself on three occasions; at the first time he performed an ablution, at the second time he washed himself, at the third time he carried out the circumcision. And see: al-Baghawl, Maslibl(1u l-sunna, ed. Muhammad SalIm Ibrahim Samara and Jamal Hamdt l-Dhahabl, Beirut 140711987, IV, 18, no. 4428. Muhammad Nasir ai-Din aIAlbant, Silsilatu 1-a(llidIthil-sahtha, Beirut 1405/1985, II, 361, no. 725; and see the references of the author. EF, s. v, khitnn, Shams ai-Din aI-SuyiitJ, [t(lll/u I-akhi$sll bi-/arJll)iJi I-masjidi t-aqss, ed. Ahmad Ramadan Ahmad, Cairo 1984, II, 74 records some technical details of the circumcision: Ibrahim used the pick-axe, qaddum for the circumcision; he drew the pick-axe towards himself and hit it with a stick; then the prepuce fell down without any pain or flow of blood. See these details of the circumcision of Ibrahim in Ibn 'Asikir's Tabylnu l-imtinan, pp. 36-37, no. 15 and in 'Ali' al-Dln 'Ali Dadah aI-SaktawAli aI-Busnawi's MU(lllrJaratal-awll'iI wa-musamarat al-awakhir, Bulaaq 1300, p. 38. 2 Ed. Muhammad b. Ni$ir aIÂ·cAjami, aI-Kuwayt 1405, p. 64, no. 19. 3 See ibid. the references provided by the editor. 4 Cairo 1314, I, 115 sup. S A1-'Ayni, cUmdat al-qllrl shar(l sa(li(li t-bukhsrt, repr, Beirut, n. d., XV, 246. 6 Hyderabad 1355, VIII, 326. 7 See this tradition: aI-SuyiitJ, al-Durr al-manthur, I, 115. Ibn Hajar aI-CAsqalani, Fathu t-bsn shar(l sa(ll(1iI-bukhllrl, Cairo 1301, repr, Beirut, X, 288, pp. 25-26. Ibn Qayyim aI-Jauziyya, Tuhfa: al-maudud, p. 121. A1-Saffilrl, Nuzhatu l-majalis wa-muntakhabu l-najQ'is, Beirut, n. d., p. 490 inf. Ibn 'Asakir, Tabyinu l-imtinan, p. 36, no. 14. 8 Abill;iudhayfa Is\.llq b. Bishr, Mubtada)u l-dunya wa-qisasu t-anbiya', MS fol. 187b. 'Ala) 12 M.J. Kister Muslim tradition is, however, almost unanimous in saying that Ibrahim performed the circumcision on the order of God. As there is no special verse in the Qur-an enjoining the circumcision, commentators of the Qur-an strove to find some indications in the Qur'an implying that God enjoined Ibrahim to carry out the circumcision. Such was the verse 124 in surat al-baqara: ... wa-idhi btala ibrahtma rabbuhu bi-kalimatin faatammahunna ... , "and (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands which he fulfilled ... " One of these commands, kalimat, was, according to some scholars, the injunction of the circumcision''. The story of the circumcision of Abraham according to God's injunction and his suffering is confronted by the story of the circumcision of the Prophet. Unlike Abraham, the Prophet was granted the grace of being born circumcised. The tradition of the miraculous circumcision of the Prophet, as transmitted by his servant Anas b. Malik, says that the Prophet stated: "For the sake of my honourable position at God's Presence I was born circumcised and nobody saw my pudendum," min karamatt Callillahi ann] wulidtu makhtiinan wa-lam yara ahadun sau'ati10. Al-Munawt, who recorded this tradition, adduced a remarkable list of reservations and many critical observations of Muslim orthodox scholars. Some al-Dln 'Ali Dadah al-Saktawart al-Busnawi, Mu~iit;faratu l-awli'i1 wa-musamaratu I-awakhir, p. 38; and see ibid. details about Ibrahim as a military leader. AI-Tha'iabi, Q#t1$al-anbiya', Cairo n. d., pp. 129-130. Al-Saffurl, Nuzhatu l-majdlis, p. 491 sup. 9 See e.g. Isbaq b. Bishr, Mubtad"u l-dunya, MS fol. 188b, sup. Ibn Abi Shayba, alMusannaf, (reprint) XI, 521, no. 11877. Shihabu l-Dln I-Khafaji, Naslmu f-riYllt;f i sharhi shiflJ'i I I-qllt;/lciyllt;f, airo 1327, I, 343 inf. Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyya, Tuhfatu l-maudud, p, 164: ... wa-IC khitan kana mina I-kh#a/i llati btala /lahu subMJnahu biha ibrllhima khalrlahu fa-atammahunna wa-akmalahunna fa-ja'alahu imaman li-t-nasi ... 10 Ibn al-Jauzl, al-Wa/ll bi-ahwali l-mustafa, ed. Mu~~afii cAbd aI-Wiibid, Cairo 1386/1966, p. 97. Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahanl, Dalli'ilu l-nubuwwa, ed. Muhammad Rawwas QaIcajI and 'Abd al-Barr 'Abbas, Beirut 1406/1986, I, 154, no. 91. Ibn Nasir al-Dtn al-Dimashqt, Jamieu I-II/hllrIi maulidi l-nabiyyi l-mukhtar, MS Cambridge Or. 913, fol. 192b, quoted from Abu NuCaym's Dalll'il, and fol. 193a, quoted from al-Khatib al-Baghdadl's Ta'rikh and from Ibn cAsAkir, evidently from his Ta'rikh dimashq. Ibn Kathir, al-Slra al-nabawiyya, ed. Mu~~afa 'Abd aI-Wiibid, Cairo 1385/1966, I, 209. Shihabu l-Dln aI-Khafaji, Nastmu I-riyat;f,I, 363, inf.-364. Al-Zurqant, al-Mawllhibu l-Iaduniyya, Cairo 1326, V, 244. Husayn b. Muhammad al-Diyarbakrl, Ta)rikhu 1khamts Ii a~wali anfasi nafls, Cairo 1283, I, 204 inf. 'Ali b. Burhan aI-Din al-Halabl, Inssnu 1'uyun Ii strati l-amini I-ma'mun = al-Slra al-fralabiyya, Cairo 138211962, I, 59. And see: Muhammad b. Yusuf aI-salil:u, Subulu I-hudll wa-J-rashiJdIi strati khayri I-
rTkh-tahdhlb, Beirut 1399/1979, I, 283. Ibn KathIr, al-S1ra al-nabawiyya, I, 208-209. Ibn al-Jauzi, Sifatu l-safwa, I, 52. Ab1l Nu'aym al-Isfahant, DallPii al-nubuwwa, p. 154, no. 92; and see the references of the editor. Al-MaqrIzi, Imtif-u l-asmif- bi-ma li-l-rasuli mina l-anblPi wa-l-amwalt wa-l-l:uz/adati wa-lmats", ed. Mal.un1ldMuhammad Shakir, Cairo 1941, 1,4 inf. Ibn Nl$ir al-Dln al-DimashqI, Jllmi< al-llthllr, MS fol. 192b, quoted from al-BayhaqI's Dalll'il. Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat al-kubra, Beirut 1380/1960, I, 103. Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashql, Jllmie al-tuhar, MS fol. 192; quoted from Ibn Sa'd's Tabaqllt. Al-'Aq1llI, al-Rasf li-ma ruwiya 'ani l-nabiyyi sallllllllhu 'alayhi wa-sallam mina I-Ji'li wa-l-wasf, Cairo 1406/1986, I, 20; quoted from Ibn Sa'd, 36 I, 112.
â¢â¢. .. and he was born circumcised ...â¢â¢
by Amina the night when she bore the Prophet. He took the child and brought it to Hubal, who was placed in the Ka'ba: he invoked God and thanked Him for His precious gift, the birth of the Prophet!", One tradition links the entrance of cAbd al-Muttalib with the child into the Ka'ba with some socio-religious activities practiced in Mecca in the period of the Jahiliyya, It was cAbd al-Muttalib who invoked in the Sanctuary for the child, it was he who named the child Muhammad and it was he who invited Quraysh and prepared a party for them on the occasion of the birth of Muhammad-". Some traditions say that CAbd al-Muttalib circumcised the child, performing the ritual on the seventh day after his birth39â¢ Mughultay confronts in his al-Zahr al-basim40 the tradition that the Prophet was born circumcised with the tradition that CAbdal-Muttalib circumcised the child on the seventh day of his birth, arranged a party on this occasion and named him Muhammad. Mughultay notes that this tradition seems to be more acceptable than that of the Prophet being born circumcised'", Some of the traditions saying that CAbd al-Muttalib circumcised the child stress that he performed it according to the practice of the Arabs+'. The reliability of the tradition saying that the Arabs practiced circumcision
37 And see Ibn Kathlr, al-Sira al-nabawiyya, 1,208. Ibn 'Asiildr, Tatrtkh -tahdhtb, 1,284. AlBayhaql, Shucab al-tman, ed. 'Abd al-'Aliyy cAbd al-Hamld Hamid, Bombay 140711987, III, 555; and see references of the editor. Abu Hatim Muhammad b. Hibban al-Busti, al-Sira al-nabawiyya wa-akhbaru l-khulafa", excerpted from al-Bustt's Kitabu l-thiqm, ed. 'Aziz Bek and alii, Beirut 140711987, p. 53. 38 See e.g. 'Abd al-Malik al-'I$limi, Simtu l-nujami 1-'awiil1fi anbCI'i l-awl1'i1i wa-l-tawatt, Cairo 1380, I, 263 inf.-264. 39 Al-Maqrtzt, lmtl!'u l-asms-, 1,5. Mughultay, al-Zahr al-basim, MS Leiden Or. 370, fol. 70a, 1.1. Al-Qurtubl, TafsIr, II, 100. Ibn cAsakir, Ttrrtkh-tahdbtb, I, 283. 40 MS Leiden Or. 370, fol. 69 b. 41 cr. Ibn 'Aslikir, Tairtkh-tahdhtb, I, 283. 42 See e.g. Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyya, Tuhfatu l-maudud, p. 158: ... anna jaddahu 'abda 1muttalibi khatanahu 'all1 'lIdati I-'arabi j1 khitani auladihim ... Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyya, Zi1du 1ma'iid, I, 19, sup. And see the utterance attributed to Ibn 'Abbas in al-Suyutt's al-Durr al-manthiir, I, 114, inf. .,. 'ani bni 'abblisin qlIla: sab'un mina l-sunnati fi l-sabiyyi yauma l-sl1bi'i:yusamma wa-yukhtanu wa-yumatu 'anhu l-adhl1 wa-yu'aqqu 'anhu wa-yuhlaqu rcrsuhu wa-yultakhu min 'uqiqatihi wa-yutasaddaqu bi-wazni sha'ri ra'sihi dhahaban au flddatan, Al-Halabt, al-Sira al-halabiyya, I, 59. Shihabu I-DIn al-Khafajl, Nasimu l-riyiJfl, I, 364: .â¢. anna jaddahu 'abda 1murtalibi khatanahu yauma Sl1bicihiwa-ja'ala lahu ma'dubatan wa-sammahu muhammadan, wakanati I-'arabu takhtatinu li-annahu sunnatun tawilrathilhil min isma'i1a wa-ibrahtma 'alayhimli l-salamu, And see al-Ya'qnbt, Ta'rIkh, ed. Muhammad Sadiq Bahru 1-'uliim, Najar 1384/1964, I, 224: wa-kanat adyl1nu I-'arabi mukhtalifatan bi-l-mujawarat! Ii-ahli l-milali wa-l-intiqnli tta 1buldilni wa-I-intijl!'ilti. fa-kanat qurayshun wa-'ilmmatu wuJdi ma'addi bni 'adnlIna 'alil ba'f/i dtni ibrahima ya!luijiina l-bayta wa-yuqtmuna l-manasika wa-yaqruna l-dayfa wa-yucauimiina 1ashhura l-huruma wa-yunkirana l-fawill;.isha wa-l-taql1/u'a wa-t-tazsluma wa-yu'l1qibiina 'all1 1jarl1'imi, fa-lam yazillQ 'all1 dhl1lika mil kl1nQwulata l-bayti ... Al-Khafa]! emphasizes that circumcision among the Arabs was not caused by the neighbourhood of the Jews, wa-Iaysa dhillika li-mujawarati l-yahud â¢..â¢
in pre-Islamic times is convincingly demonstrated by Uri Rubin in his article: "Hanifiyya and Ka'ba, An inquiry into the Arabian pre-Islamic background of din Ibrahim. ,,43 It is indeed noteworthy that the traditions transmitted by Ibn (Abbas emphasize the role of (Abd al-Muttalib and the continuity of the Jahill customs, according to which (Abd al-Muttalib acted. The practice of circumcision of females in the period of the Jahiliyya is indicated in a verse of Nabigha al-Dhubyani, in which he mentions young girls captured in a raid before they were circumcised+'. A third group of traditions says that the angel Jibril performed the circumcision of Muhammad in the abode of Hallma, when he opened his breast and purified his heart45. Arab sources emphasize the persistence of the Abrahamian beliefs in the Arab peninsula=, A tradition recorded on the authority of (Ikrima asserts that uncircumcised persons were not to perform the circumambulation of the Ka'ba, No uncircumcised person ever circumambulated the Ka'ba since the time of Abraham, the tradition says47. Al-Jahiz is quoted as stating that the practice of female and male circumcision remains continuous since the time of Ibrahim and Hajar until now: ... qiila l-jliJ:ziZ:wa-l-khitanu ft l-sarabi ft l-nisli'i wa-l-rijali min ladun ibrtihima 'alayhi I-salamu wa-hajara Uli yaumina hlidha. Al-Jahiz adds the following observation: ... thumma lam yiilad sabiyyun makhtunan au fl surati makhtunin, wa-nasun yaz-umuna anna l-nabiyya $alla llnhu 'alayhi wa-sallam wa-stsn 'alayhi l-salnmu khuliqd makhtunayniv: The Arab character of the practice of circumcision is reflected in the story
43 JSAI, vol. XIII (1990) 103: " ... The pre-Islamic deity of the Ka alati I-samo<, MS Hebrew Univ. AP Ar. 158, Col. 8b, penult.: ... kana 'umaru bnu I-khaflllbi ratjiya Ililhu 'anhu idhil samtia l-duffa wa-l-ghiniJla ankarahu, fa-idhil qtla khiumun au 'ursun sakata. 106 Al-Shaukant, Naylu l-autsr, I, 136, inC.: ... wa-amma man lahu dhakarani fa-in kilnil 'ilmi/ayni wajaba khitanuhuma, wa-in kilna a/laduhumll 'llmilan dana l-akhar khutina. 107 Al-ShaukanJ, Naylu l-autar, I, 136, penult.: ... ukhtullfa /l khitani l-khuntha, fa-qlla yajibu khittmuhu /l farjayhi qabla I-bulaghi, wa-qtla IIIyaiuzu ~attli yatabayyana, wa-huwa 1azharu, And see R.B. Serjeant, "Sex, Birth, Circumcision: Some Notes from South-West Arabia," Hermann von Wissmann-Festschrift, ed. A. Leidlmair, Tiibingen 1962, p. 206; repr. Variorum 1991, n. XIV.
M.J. Kister, ". " and he was born circumcised ... "
The sunan ibrahtm were adopted in Islam and became sunan at-islam, Circumcision became a compulsory condition for converts to Islam. Scholars considered it as a mark of Islam; some of them were of the opinion that it denoted servitude of the believer and his bondage to God, a visible sign that the believer carried out God's injunction. This is reminiscent of the Jewish idea of circumcision, according to which it is a sign of the covenant between God and His people. Circumcision is said to have been imposed on males and females alike. Some scholars advocated, however, the idea that females may be treated with certain leniency, basing their opinion on the utterance of the Prophet: al-khitanu sunnatun li-l-riiali makrumatun li-l-nisa'i, "circumcision is an obligatory ritual practice for men, a virtuous deed for women." As to the circumcision of males, there was a clear tendency to avoid any thought that it had been influenced by the Jewish practice. The early reports concerning circumcision state plainly that the Arabs were not influenced by their Jewish neighbours in that ritual practice. Similarly scholars bade to refrain from following the Jewish date of the circumcision on the seventh day after the birth of the child. A heated discussion concerning the problem whether the Prophet was born circumcised indicates that some scholars assumed that his circumcision was a miraculous event, following in this matter the traditions about other prophets who were born circumcised. It is noteworthy that in some lists of these prophets the names of some prophets from the Arab peninsula were added. Other scholars maintained that the Prophet's grandfather, CAbd al-Muttalib, took the newborn child from his mother, brought him to the Ka'ba, circumcised him and named him Muhammad, The tradition which maintains that he acted according to the Arab usage bears evidence that the tendency of the tradition is to stress the Arab custom of circumcision and the activity of the Prophet's grandfather in a framework of the old Arab tradition. The simple and modest celebrations of the circumcision in early Islam turned into popular and sometimes sumptuous festivities in the various countries of the Muslim empire 108 â¢
See e.g. El2, s.v. khitan,