Editor's Note: In an election season seized by phony issues and dedicated to buying off voters with their own money, can we finally discuss topics of critical concern to the nation? One such subject area is the extent to which Canada should stoop to accommodate religious and cultural practices that run counter to Western values characterized by fundamental freedoms and equality before the law. One such practice is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In this article, Doğan Akman opens a debate that is long past due. He does so by citing the lack of action on the part of the Trudeau government to eradicate FGM in Canada. He suggests that it could be for political reasons as Trudeau uses the Charter-blessed concept of "multiculturalism" to court Canada’s Muslim population, a significant portion of which comes from countries where FGM is routinely practised. Akman argues that the government would do better by asserting Canadian fundamental freedoms of the individual over and above any commitment the nation has to multiculturalism. He then goes on to prescribe a number of measures tailored to prevent Canadian girls from being subjected to the barbaric practice of FGM. Akman notes that previous governments have also failed to take action and that it is high time for this to change. Mr. Akman is retired from the Federal Department of Justice where he worked as a Crown Prosecutor and then civil litigator specializing in aboriginal law. His “Times of Israel” blog can be found at https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/dogan-akman/
High time for all the political parties to declare their commitment to stop the barbaric violation of the Charter rights of Canadian girls through the barbaric practice of FGM by Doğan D. Akman During the August 2018 failed Canadian diplomatic initiative to force Saudi Arabia’s hand to release from detention two activist Saudi sisters and in response to the Saudis’ expulsion of the Canadian Ambassador, Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Foreign Affairs grandly declared:”…Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression around the world. We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy…Canada will continue to advocate human rights and for brave women and men who push for these fundamental rights around the world.” The Prime Minister picking up where his Minister left off declared: ” Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world…We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and indeed for universal values and human rights at any occasion.” The Questions These grandiose declarations, led me to the question as to whether, Mr. Trudeau and his Ministers practice the same values and pay the same respect to the sanctity of women’s and girls’ human rights in Canada? If the answer is in the affirmative, why has the government been sitting on its hands instead of vigorously fighting what the Prime Minister personally has already admitted to be the barbaric practice of FGM? Why have the Conservatives, in Parliament, for a while, made hay of the government’s failure to address this problem but then then dropped it, never to raise it again? What about the other parties sitting in Parliament who chose to continue to remain silent instead of doing the right thing. This is clearly and undeniably a barbaric situation in a country whose governments and citizens claim to champion human rights.
In an article published in April, 2015, Dr. Corinne Packer and her colleagues at the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine of the University of Ottawa, describe FGM as follows: “[FGM] involves the cutting or removal of a girl’s genitals and reconfiguration of the genital area. In the most extreme cases, a girl’s entire labia and clitoris are cut off. At a minimum, this practice interferes with the female experience of sexual intercourse and childbirth. The physical, psychological, sexual and socially harmful effects of [FGM] have been well-documented, including the risk of death to infants and girls… The procedure is conducted, on girls between infancy and age 15”. The procedure is performed by some doctors, without medical justification, and in most instances by persons without any medical training, and judging from a seizure made by Canadian customs officials in 2001, often enough with rudimentary tools, which are hardly maintained in proper sanitary conditions. According to the United Nations Population Fund, some of the reasons used to justify FGM are:
a) To repair female genitalia which some communities consider to be dirty and ugly;
b) To initiate a girl into womanhood in keeping with the community’s cultural heritage;
c) To control a woman’s sexuality;
d) To ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterwards, and
e) To increase male sexual pleasure.
Prior to 1997, under the Canadian Criminal Code, FGM was classified as an offence under the generic heading of aggravated assault. By 1996, the Conservative Canadian government of having become increasingly aware of and concerned with the existence of the practice in the country and proceeded to amend the Criminal Code to address the gravity of problem. In 1997, the Parliament of Canada passed an amendment to the Criminal Code with the Preamble, which inter alia, reads: WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the practice of female genital mutilation and in particular where that practice involves children; expressly prohibits all forms of genital mutilation in Canada. Dr. Packer et al. summarised the amendment as follows: “The amendment [describes] the forms of FGM as `wounds' or `maims' and includes ‘to excise, infibulate or mutilate, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a person. No consent to female genital mutilation is valid except where:
(a) a surgical procedure is performed, by a person duly qualified by provincial law to practise medicine, for the benefit of the physical health of the person or for the purpose of that person having normal reproductive functions or normal sexual appearance or function; or
(b) the person is at least eighteen years of age and there is no resulting bodily harm.”
The religious perspective From a religious perspective, FGM is abhorrent both to Judaism and Christianity. Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri(1) in Reliance of the Traveller- The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law [’Umdat al Salik”] (2) wrote: “e.4.3 Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women… for women, removing the pre-puce (Ar.bazr) of the clitoris (n. not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert) (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna(3), while Hanafis consider it to be a mere courtesy to the husband)”. However, as the Editor’s comments in parenthesis indicate, at least two branches of this religion, not to mention the reform school, refuse to see the matter as being obligatory. I suggest that to the extent, the fundamentalist branches of Islam, as for example is the case of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia adopt the obligatory prescription and the Hanbalis and the Hanafis have not, that is a reflection of the problems of construction, reconstruction, and/or interpretation of hadith evidence influenced in large measure by the political, social, cultural and economic cultures prevailing at the material times and since. The very fact that the governments of the majority of African Muslim countries have seen fit to enact legislation banning FGM without endangering their hold on power strongly suggests that Naqib Al-Misri’s reading and interpretation of the Islamic Law is not the one universally accepted in a large number Muslim countries. On the other hand, it is equally plausible to hypothesise that since these or some of these governments did not intend, or did not have the means to enforce the law, the enactment of the legislation is a moot issue. At all events, based on the past pronouncements of the Supreme Court of Canada on the matter of religion, I submit that in determining the merits of a case where these conflicting beliefs are in issue, I believe that the Court would not be drawn into the religious debate by choosing one interpretation of the hadith evidence over another conflicting one. However, I am reasonably confident that if the Supreme Court of Canada were to receive incontrovertible evidence of the nature and scope of the immediate and long term grave dangers to the health and well-being of girls resulting from an FGM procedure, the Court will uphold the validity of the provisions of the Criminal Code with respect to FGM. The onset of the political controversy on FGM In 2011, the FGM problem became a “political football” when the governing Conservative Party revised the Citizenship Study Guide (“the Guide”) supplied to immigrants to help them prepare for their citizenship examination and inserted the following paragraph: In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings’, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under the law.” At the time and since then, there has been no doubt that the paragraph was directed to Muslim Canadians, residents, immigrants and refugees. Justin Trudeau, then a rookie Liberal member of Parliament, and member of the party’s “shadow cabinet”, tasked to deal with the government’s refugee, immigration and citizenship policies and practices, took strong exception to the wording of the paragraph. Trudeau charged that the government should have a) called all violence against women “absolutely unacceptable” and b) made “a better attempt at responsible neutrality”. Later, Trudeau retracted his comments and apologised publicly, after being chastened by the public outrage caused by his comments, and more importantly, by the outrage of the feminist movement with respect to which Trudeau long intended to help make and later did make the respect for and promotion of its ideals and goals a key plank of the Liberal election platform. He is reported to have said: ”I want to make clear that I think the acts described are heinous, barbaric acts that are totally unacceptable in our society" , although there appears to be some discrepancy in the news reports as to whether he used the word “barbaric” or refused to do so. I think it is generally believed or accepted that he did refuse to do so, among other reasons, because of the importance of the Muslim vote in his own electoral riding as well as in many other federal (as well as provincial) ridings both in Quebec and Ontario. The strategy paid off in the 2015 general election: First, the Liberals won a good many seats where the Muslim vote was either determinative or a played a significant role in the outcome and contributed to his electoral victory; Second, the Liberals were also rewarded by the strong feminist and feminine vote in their favour across the country, and Finally, in all of this the Liberals were assisted by Stephen Harper’s ill-advised and abhorrent negativist strategy to make political hay against certain cultural and religious practices of a particular segment of the Muslim community. By 2016, the Prime Minister, inevitably, turned his attention to the wording of the troublesome paragraph published by the Conservatives in 2011. The problem placed Trudeau between the proverbial rock and not one but many hard places, as the solution had to reconcile a) on the one hand, Canadian values, human rights and the domestic public opinion that abhors the “barbaric” matters described in the paragraph, with the values and culture of some segments of the Muslim community, and especially those originating from countries where FGM is widely practiced; while
b) on the other hand, his response to this segment of the Muslim with,
i) his pro-active feminist policies focused on women, and more particularly on vulnerable women and girls; ii) FGM policies and practices of some of the European Union countries such as the U.K., Holland ,France and those of U.S, Australia and New Zealand, and iii) the declarations of the U.N; reckon with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women which in turn contradict the professed religious grounds and values of the countries whose inhabitants practice FGM, while contributing to Canada’s supply of immigrants and refugees.
Hence, in the absence of a clever way out of the conundrum, the problem would translate into a zero-sum game between that segment of the Canadian society that consider the practice of FGM to be right and proper and want to carry on with it, and the rest, that considers it barbaric and demands that the practice be done away with; the kind of game that politicians both in and out of government generally abhor. In response, Mr. Trudeau resorted to four time-honoured political strategies when the government is faced with a seemingly insoluble political problem: First, he delayed the final decision for as long as possible while deciding whether to set up a Royal Commission or a study group of some sort to examine the problem and to make recommendations; Second, he assigned his Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRC) to form a study group and submit his recommendations to him. This turned out to be a counter-productive exercise as the first interim draft of the new citizenship guide he received in 2016 omitted the references to barbaric cultural practices including FGM, as being against the law. Clearly, the formulation did not sit well with the feminist Prime Minister. Third, to smother the issue with money to finance projects to give the impression that something is being done to address the problem. Finally, in January 2017, he appointed Ahmed D. Hussen as the new Minister of IRC to take over the study group. Minister Hussen arrived in Canada as a lone Somali refugee youngster and made it good as a lawyer and in politics. This appointment in turn brought its own potential conflicts. For example, a 2013 UNICEF report estimated the prevalence of FGM in girls and women among four African countries as follows: 98% in Somalia, 91% in Egypt, 89% in Eritrea and 88% in Sierra Leone. The Somali rate places Minister Hussen in a quandary of his own, vis-a-vis his Somalian constituency as well as with a segment of the Muslim community. Further, if the problem could not be resolved in a manner that minimally appeases the pro-FGM constituency, Mr. Hussen stands the risks of being branded as a traitor by a particular segment of the Muslim community; lose face not only with the Somalis, but also with other members of his constituency at large who expect him to stand up to defend and protect the community’s honour, cultural inheritance, religious and traditional practices. Mr. Hussen then assigned his departmental officials to work on developing, what in bureaucratic jargon is called, a “fully refresh” Guide. The drafting of document which was reasonably expected to take at most one year to finalise, remains a work in progress with no end in sight, certainly not during the current elections. The third limb of the overall strategy did not have much, if any, impact on the home front faring. In 2017, the Federal Department of Justice awarded $350,000 to a Quebec organisation working on, of all things, to “raise awareness around FGM”. In June of 2017, the government also set aside $101 million for a strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence, and $150 million over five years to be given to local women’s organizations. On the whole, such studies do not provide much, if anything, fit for newspaper headlines. Just as, if not more critically, the movements that are associated with organisations that receive or stand a fair chance to receive such financing are unlikely to bite the hand that do or will feed them. Indeed, to date, the so-called feminist movements and their organisations have been eerily silent on the problem instead of applying public pressure on the two levels of government to formulate policies, programs and practices designed to fight effectively the FGM problem. In July 2017, the investigation conducted by the major daily Toronto Star revealed that Canadian girls are being sent abroad to undergo FGM. In response, the Minister of Status of Woman, who happens to be a Muslim and the Minister of International Development, issued the following joint statement in which, inter-alia, they stated “… [FGM] is an abhorrent and unacceptable practice. It is one of the most severe violations of the human rights of vulnerable women and girls…Canada’s government is committed to addressing [it] both at home and abroad.” In speaking to the journalists, the Ministers indicated that Canada “has and will continue to make efforts to prevent and address FGM.” A reply that singularly lacks substance, focus and drive to deal with the problem. The statement further begs the twin questions: first, how does the government precisely propose to achieve that; second, what is the government doing to get the provinces motivated to become actively and effectively involved in fighting the FGM problem, particularly since the provinces possess the requisite constitutional powers to attend to the prevention, investigation, enforcement, prosecution and deterrence of the FGM as well as the institutional framework to carry out this work. In the meantime, the Conservative Party, for a while kept asking both Mr. Hussen and the Prime Minister whether or not the proposed new Guide will retain the reference to FGM as a crime. Despite the effluxion of close to two years spent in the preparation of the Guide, Mr. Hussen’s quasi-standard reply to this question has been that he is “in consultation”. And par for the course, the Prime Minister, has yet to give a direct and informative answer. For example, in December 2017, he responded to a question similar to those asked to the two Liberal Ministers by saying that “he personally brought up this issue during a visit to Liberia …challenging local leaders and governments to step up on the fight against FGM… We will continue to lead pushing for an end to these barbaric practices of [FGM] everywhere around the world. This is something…and here in Canada, we take very seriously.” The reference to Canada, in reprise and the substance of the reply, betrays the government’s intention to do nothing that might alienate part of its Muslim electorate. In February 2018, Canada’s Minister of International Development announced that the government will spend $3 million to help stamp out female genital mutilation (FGM) in a particular region of the West African country of Benin which has a very high rate of FGM. The announcement was made to coincide with the International Day for Zero Toleration on FGM. This project is expected to help 57,000 young girls, as well female survivors of sexual violence, and leaders from civil society, and health and education professionals. According to the Minister, Canada is also engaging with other countries, UN organizations and non-government groups to advocate and take action to eliminate this practice. (Italics mine) This project is, and the subsequent ones will be, financed as part of the Liberal government’s $650 million feminist international assistance program. The funds allocated to FGM will be used to conduct research into the extent of the practice and why it persists. It will also be used to develop educational workshops and to support health and educational professionals working on intervention, and other similar projects will follow. At all events, to the extent the research is conducted in specific regions of African and in countries comprising the Middle-East and in the east beyond, it is self-evident that due to significant socio-cultural, economic and political differences between these countries and Canada, the findings of the studies will be of limited value to Canada, possibly save with respect to the immigrants and refugees originating from the specific countries and areas where the research will be conducted. In making the announcement, the Minister described the practice of to FGM as: “… really a matter of belief and cultural norm, so we have to have this conversation with mothers, grandmothers, religious and traditional leaders, to end this practice”. Noteworthy in this announcement is the fact while the Minister speaks in terms of the eradication of the practice “on the international front”. Such terms did not cross the Ministerial lips during the 2017 domestic funding announcements nor, for that matter, the Prime Ministerial ones before or at any other time since then . If one were to take at face value the Minister’s identification of the starting point to be the eradication of the problem, then the question arises as to whether to date, Mr. Hussen, during his consultations, has had these conversations. If the conversations occurred, judging from the current state of affairs, evidently these did not lead to a consensus in favour of eradication. On the other hand, if Mr. Hussen did not have these conversations and does not intend to have them, then clearly, the government has no intention to eradicate the practice. This in turn leads me to the question as to how the Canadian values and human rights in action at home are stacking up against those of other western countries fighting the scrooge of FGM. The short answer to the question is that Canada, not having done much, if anything at all, of significance, has very little, if anything, worth stacking. The U.S., U.K. and Australia conducted research which determined the number of girls at risk on the home front, which turned out to be 507,000 in the U.S; 197,000 in the U.K, and 83,000 in Australia. Further, during the early summer of 2017, the U.S. Homeland Security launched a pilot program to help prevent vacation cutting where security agents are trained to identify at risk girls based on the U.K. initiative at London’s Heathrow airport. According to various reports identified in Dr. Packer’s paper, by 2012, France had 40 successful prosecutions; Denmark started prosecuting, the latest, in 2009; Australia began to do so in 2014, while the picture in the U.K on this score appears to be somewhat disconcerting. To date Canada’s provincial Attorneys- General who prosecute offences under the Criminal Code, have yet to prosecute a single breach of the 1997 provisions of the Criminal Code The broad outlines of a proposed strategy Based on my experience and observations as a former judge of Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador and of those who prosecute offences committed by one member of the family against another or others of them, the investigation, detection and prosecution of FGM offences present special difficulties because these processes almost inevitably penetrate the realm of very private family relationships into which, the victims or members of the family or both, dare not enter for fear of the consequences of doing so. Hence, the difficulties of figuring out a way to prevent detect and investigate the commission of FGM offences and prosecution of offences committed within the family are considerable. However, I submit that the Government of Canada, if willing, can start to address the problems identified above with a number of measures, in collaboration with morally principled provincial and territorial governments. These are:
Parliament to enact a law to the effect that save for the exceptions set out in the current provision of the Criminal Code dealing with FGM, given the adverse short and long term serious adverse effects of FGM on the person undergoing it, a person cannot undergo an FGM procedure on non-medical grounds prior to reaching the age of majority and without providing a written fully informed free consent witnessed by two medical doctors.
To require immigrants and refugees to sign under oath a declaration before their entry into the country and, where this proves impossible or impractical for refugees, immediately before seeking refugee status that they will not directly or indirectly arrange for, assist in the arrangement and/or in the performance FGM and in the event they refuse to do so, to refuse them entry or decline to grant them refugee status.
To amend the provisions of the Criminal Code in order to render the performance of FGM a strict liability offence for one or both parents depending on the facts of the case), and for person(s) who have custody or are guardian(s) of the child at the material time.
To explain to immigrants and refugees clearly the nature of criminal liability and the consequences of conviction regards assisting in the arrangement and/or in the performance of FGM.
To revoke the landed immigrant status or refugee status of persons convicted of an FGM and related offences committed while waiting to acquire the appropriate status or after acquiring either status.
To establish a mandatory duty to report forthwith cases of FGM to the appropriate authorities including the law enforcement agencies and to the IRC. This mandatory responsibility needs to embrace all public venues including, but not limited to, medical, welfare and educational services and could mirror current reporting arrangements now in place for child abuse purposes.
Publish a yearly report with respect to the matters addressed here.
The Charter issues Clearly, some measures proposed in these paragraphs can be seen to raise Charter issues in the light of the freedoms guaranteed under
a) section 2 (a) and (b) under the heading of Fundamental Freedoms which inter-alia reads: “2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression…;” and
b) section 27 which reads: “27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multi-cultural heritage of Canada.”
I submit that, while at first blush these provisions, appear to support the case of individuals who would refuse to comply with the requirements set out above, the appearance is illusory as section 27 in turn must be read in the light of section 1 of the Charter which reads: “1.The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Surely, short of obtaining a judgment that declares the section creating the FGM offence breaches sections 2(a) and (b) and 27 in a manner that cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter, these sections cannot be invoked in cases where the parents rely on these provisions in order to commit a criminal offence. Further, as pointed out by the Supreme Court of Canada, the rights and freedoms stipulated in the Charter are not absolute; and that where there exists a conflict between two or more of them, as would be in the matter at hand, the Court is obligated to reconcile them having regard to the facts of the case. In an FGM prosecution, I submit that, the Court would give full effect to the Charter rights of the child by abridging the freedoms of the parents guaranteed in section 2(a) and (b) and qualifying the scope of section 27 under section 1. This approach would also be fully consistent with the well-established legal proposition that the health and welfare, rights and freedoms of the child are paramount to those of the parents acting together or in an adversarial position. Summing up – The Charter Ironically, this matter highlights a fundamental problem of the Charter. This problem flows from the Preamble to the Charter: “…Canada is founded upon principles that recognise the supremacy of God and the rule of law”, in the light of the mandatory language of section 28 of the Charter, cited above, which emphasises the “preservation” and “enhancement” of the multicultural heritage of Canadians, particularly having regard to the current government’s policy reading religion into the term “multicultural”. This in turn raises the twin questions: Whose G-d and when? Whose rule of law and when? And the current federal government’s refusals to answer and address these questions publicly and in a forthright manner in the matter at hand, are at the source of the failure of the government to deal forcefully and effectively with the problem of FGM. The problems at hand are compounded by a fundamental flaw of the Charter; namely, the absence of provisions that stipulate clearly the duties and obligations of the inhabitants, the newcomers and those seeking admission to or refuge in the country which go along with the rights and freedoms they enjoy or hope to do so. Summing up - The political perspective Trudeau the vociferous self-declared feminist and defender of vulnerable women and girls at risk on the world stage and at home, is having an awful problem trying to reconcile the moral, medical, socio-cultural and legal imperatives to fight barbaric practices in Canada with his bizarre notion that the Islamic religion is an integral part of multiculturalism. This notion, in turn, seemingly permits newcomers to invoke their religious beliefs and obligations embodied in their culture, traditions and practices imported from the old country that fundamentally breach the international codes of human rights, the Canadian human rights legislation, the cultural and religious values and traditions of the country, entrenched in part, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a number of which are enforced through the corresponding provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code. From the foregoing statement of facts and analysis, the Prime Minister and his government espouse and promote three distinct sets of Canadian values, human and Charter rights. These are: First, a set for the international stage, often enough applied in a manner so as not to upset or to appease the subscribers to the third set. A second set for the home front, to cater to the electorate wedded to the cultural and moral heritage, customs, values of Canada and to multi-culturalism; a defender of the Charter and of international humanitarian laws, conventions and aid programs, on whose stages they relish the idea of Canada playing the “BIG GOOD GUY”, and yet seems indifferent to the pressing problem of and to plight of girls forced to undergo the FGM procedure. A third set, also for the home front, that seeks to reconcile the first and second set of values with a third set comprising, the customs, traditions that form the cultural and moral heritage where religion plays the paramount role, imported to Canada and practiced by that segment of the Canadian society whose members either originate from countries where FGM is practiced and/or are intent to engage in this practice on religious grounds or simply support the absolute right to carry on with practice based on their religious convictions. For their part, based on the history of the problem to date, the provincial and territorial governments, and in particular their respective Attorney-general, the law enforcement agencies and ministers responsible for health, education, welfare, social affairs are only too happy to remain on the side lines, as there is not much, if any, enduring political profit to be made from discharging their responsibilities in this matter while there is much to be lost electorally. The inescapable conclusion As matters now stand, the successive Canadian governments - save for Stephen Harper who, at least brought this barbaric practice to Canadians’ attention and secured the enactment the Criminal Code provision, and their respective oppositions have and continue to engage, with no relief in sight, in the most unconscionable, cruel and cynical violation of the inherent human and the Charter rights of defenceless Canadian girls aged 1 to 15 at risk, whose one or both parents subscribe to the third set of values. The current government in particular does so, while providing substantial financial assistance to other countries to enable them to fight and eradicate the FGM practice or as in the case of U.N.W.R.A. to help protect vulnerable women and children. The usual “statement of apology in the future” feel good formula which Canadian politicians, save for the late Pierre Trudeau, are so fond of resorting to, absolutely cannot and must not do for this heinous practice and crime. I think the time is long past for the electorate to set out to make a critical difference in the outcome of the current general election by demanding, not simply one but, all the political parties to commit themselves clearly and unequivocally to cleanse Canada of its shameful behaviour on this matter; and to outline the specific programs which they intend to use to fight the FGM practice and, to the extent humanly possible, to eradicate it.
(1) d.769/1368 (2)In Arabic with facing English text, commentary and Appendices ), Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Translator and Editor, Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, revised edition,1994. (3) “Sunnah” or “sunna”: Body of Islamic religious law which is based upon the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad; also defined as "a path, a way, a manner of life"; "all the traditions and practices" of the Islamic prophet that "have become models to be followed" by Muslims.