Cousin Marriage Should be discouraged in Islam


In general, marriage between cousins is allowed in Islam and the practice is quite rampant throughout the Muslim world, mainly based on the following verse of the Quran.

[The Quran 4:23]  Prohibited for you (in marriage) are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, the sisters of your fathers, the sisters of your mothers, the daughters of your brother, the daughters of your sister, your nursing mothers, the girls who nursed from the same woman as you, the mothers of your wives, the daughters of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage – if the marriage has not been consummated, you may marry the daughter. Also prohibited for you are the women who were married to your genetic sons. Also, you shall not be married to two sisters at the same time – but do not break up existing marriages. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

As cousins are not mentioned in [4:23], it is generally acceptable. But one should not take a decision on Islam based on a single Quranic verse only. One should search related verse(s), common sense and scientific evidence as well.

[The Quran 33:50]  O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her– specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

So, as per the verse [33:50] cousin marriage was only allowed for Prophet Muhammad and not for any general Muslim. Therefore, the verses [4:23] and [33:50] seem bit contradictory or at least we may safely say, it is difficult to understand and reconcile.

When there is no hope of child birth, there is no problem but when cousin marriage produces children, genetically it is quite risky! As in general, there is no shortage of women, why a Muslim should take such risk?!

In China, India, most of the United States and some other nations, cousin-marriage is against the law and regarded as incest. Scientists tend to agree that cousin marriage is genetically unhealthy. There are other problems with cousin marriages.

According to the Hanafi school of legists, a man may give his daughter in marriage to his brother’s son without her consent. This goes against free will which results in unhappy marriages. How is it possible to give marriage his daughter without her consent! It is a fundamental human right issue.

From a biological point of view it becomes clear that first cousin marriage is not recommended because close relatives have a higher than normal consanguinity which means an increased chance of sharing genes for recessive traits. With this high amount of shared DNA, you have a higher risk of birth defects in a baby.

In Pakistan, for example, where there has been cousin marriage for generations, and according to professor Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen from South Danish University, the current rate is 70%, one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 percent for married double first cousins, 7.9 percent for first cousins, 9.2 percent for first cousins once removed/double second cousins, 6.9 percent for second cousins, and 5.1 percent among non-consanguineous progeny.

Among double first cousin progeny, 41.2 percent of pre-reproductive deaths were associated with the expression of detrimental recessive genes, with equivalent values of 26.0, 14.9, and 8.1 percent for first cousins; first cousins once removed/double second cousins, and second cousins respectively.

A BBC report discussed Pakistanis in the United Kingdom, 55% of whom marry a first cousin. Given the high rate of such marriages, many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages.

The report states that these children are 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either dies in infancy or develops a serious disability.

The BBC also states that Pakistani-Britons, who account for some 3% of all births in the UK, produce “just under a third” of all British children with genetic illnesses. Published studies show that mean perinatal mortality in the Pakistani community of 15.7 per thousand significantly exceeds that in the indigenous population and all other ethnic groups in Britain.

Therefore, when there is hope or wish to get children, it is definitely not encouraging to marry a cousin. The verse [33:50] of the Quran correctly indicates the same thing as modern science points in this regard.


3 Brilliant Comments - Join Discussion Now!

  1. A. Khan says:

    Cousin Marriage is a Curse on the Muslims . You carry recessive gene disorder and have genetically weak and ugly kids.. They don’t even encourage Close blood relatives amongst Animals here in the West let alone humans .. Sikhs do not Inbreed at all .. They are mostly healthy NO COUSIN MARRIAGE,, During Prophet’s time there was very little choice A. Khan

    • Adnan says:

      In case you didn’t know, Bengali Hindus and Kerelan Hindus DO marry their cousins.

  2. Adnan says:

    Sorry to inform you this but cousin marriage is making a comeback in the US.