I’m reviewing articles from a print journal from 1998 for possible inclusion in an online, open access website. One article advances the idea that “there is no evidence that ritual clitoridectomy, unlike male circumcision, is or has ever been a required practice in Islam.” This article is a great example of why apologetics are dangerous.
#1, it focuses energy on “defending Islam” instead of addressing the actual health problems of the practice.
#2, it focuses on the most extreme anti-Muslim expressions to rebut them (i.e. uses “straw man”).
#3, it is not intellectually rigorous.
In this article, the author uses an anecdote to refute the idea that there is a relationship between Islam and female genital mutilation (FGM):
The senior author, [name removed], was born, raised, and lived nearly half his adult life in a practicing Muslim society before coming to the US, and yet had never even heard of this custom.
No doubt Muslims who practice FGM will tell you that the author is failing to practice Islam properly.
Sometimes, it’s just simple factual errors:
Of the nearly 50 Muslim countries in the world today, the practice of female circumcision is strictly limited to Egypt and Sudan, the regions where it was a deep-rooted cultural rite way before Islam reached there. The practice also may be found among Muslims, just as in the rest of the population of Ethiopia, a country that has been overwhelmingly Christian since the 4th century, and which also has the largest population of Jews in Africa.
It uses ancient texts to refute contemporary studies of FGM which attribute the practice to a desire to control women’s sexuality.
I could go on, but I hope I’ve made my point.
The main function of apologetics is to reassure the practitioners of a belief or religion that they are on the right path. Too great a reliance on them, over time, will have the opposite effect, especially in an era when contradictory or more accurate information is more and more widely available.
I recommended to the publisher not to publish this article. I hope the publisher listens to me.